I was also struck by how even-handed the book was. I think I am generous in rating this book 3. I learned about it from a podcast Futility Closet , and decided to pick it up as part of some research I'm doing for a project. Even today, it is rare to find a narrative that illuminates the degradations of slave existence with such brutal honesty. It is a tale fit for the movies Dean King made a documentary , which may explain its enduring popularity in comparison with the more complex and subtle Barbary enslavement narratives, where victims and persecutors, the damned and the saved, the righteous and the foolish are often so much harder to tell apart. They would be captured by a band of nomadic Arabs, herded across the Sahara Desert, beaten, forced to witness astounding brutalities, sold into slavery, and starved. Adams was a slave for over three years and with his wandering masters made it as far as Timbuktu.
First published in 1817, this dramatic saga soon became a national bestseller with more than one million copies sold. It is the true story of an American sea captain who is shipwrecked and taken prisoner, then enslaved, by Arabs. A slave would be worked until close to death, and then either traded or killed. Strong Freedom in the Zone. Shipwrecked off the western coast of North Africa in August of 1815, James Riley and his crew could not have imagined the trials awaiting them as they gathered their beached belongings and considered their next move. This is a book written in 1817 of a first person account of a shipwreck and subsequent enslavement of an American merchant crew in what is modern day Western Sahara.
Riley watched most of his crew die one by one, killed off by cruelty or caprice, as his own weight dropped from 240 pounds to a mere 90 at the time of his rescue. What motivates people to practice slavery, and does that motivation vary across cultures Such a curious mixture of cruelty and compassion and of honor and dishonor. Yet, looking beyond that one very human flaw, I was surprised to find an uncommon temperance and depth in his faith, thoughts and reactions. This dramatic account of Captain Riley's trials and sufferings sold more than 1,000,000 copies in his day, and was even read by a young and impressionable Abraham Lincoln. Few true tales of adventure and survival are as astonishing as this one, and nearly two hundred years after the ordeal, the story continues to horrify, captivate, and inspire every new generation of readers.
Riley was the Captain of the American merchant ship. I'm not sure I'd have had the same will or capacity to survive. Many of these captivity narratives are now being republished. Two of the missing men were later returned to the States, and Riley heard of two Arabs who were out in the desert by marauders. He struts about sole master of what wealth he posses, always ready to defend it, and Published in 1817.
Even today, it is rare to find a narrative that illuminates the degradations of slave existence with such brutal honesty. Overall, I enjoyed the book, and especially how Captain Riley continually looked to Providence i. Eventually they arrived at the outskirts, and Hamet took the note, which was addressed to the town's consul, into town. Listed by Abraham Lincoln, alongside the Bible and Pilgrim's Progress, as one of the books that most influenced his life, few true tales of adventure and survival are as astonishing as this one. The surprising final act of Sidi Hamet comes at the end of the book and is another confusing example of the clash of cultures. I stuck with it for the sake of knowledge.
Overall, it's a very interesting read. Paul Baepler, in White Slaves, African Masters Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999 , offered several tales of brutal treatment by such slaves, made worse, if possible, by the terrifying and bleak Saharan landscapes and by the desperate conditions they were forced to share with the nomadic Berbers, who themselves lived on the margins of survival. Riley sent his remaining men home to America but stayed behind for just a few days. Even today, the Sahara can hardly be described as over-explored or -explained, and Riley is excellent at this. I cannot imagine maintaining that standard amidst their drudgery. In that one aspect I did find the author arrogant, insulting and unenlightened.
But you know all this already. Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King Little, Brown, March, 2004. Davis, author of Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters, looks at the story in the context of other similar tales of Europeans being taken as slaves on the North African coast. Horribly mistreated, they were beaten, , starved, and forced to drink their own and camel urine. Riley watched most of his crew die one by one, killed off by cruelty or caprice, as his own weight dropped from 240 pounds to a mere 90 at his rescue.
Riley also seems to have photographic memory of the long, more-than-one year, journey - this makes the account sometimes hard to believe in spots - but the overall story rings true. After nine days, out of food and water, they returned to the shore at an isolated beach further south, with the realization that they would probably be killed just as quickly as Michele. First published in 1817, this dramatic saga soon became a national bestseller with over a million copies sold. I was most impressed with Riley's Christian attitude—be the best slaves he could be. With a new introduction and annotations by bestselling historian and writer Dean King, this is the definitive edition of one of the greatest survival stories ever written.