Sufferings in Africa: The Incredible True Story of a Shipwreck, Enslavement, and Survival on the Saharaby James Riley, Dean King
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. Shipwrecked off the western coast of North Africa in August of 1815, James Riley and his crew had no idea of the trials awaiting them as they gathered their beached belongings. 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. 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.
First published in 1817, this dramatic saga soon became a national bestseller with over a million copies sold. Even today, it is rare to find a narrative that illuminates the degradations of slave existence with such brutal honesty.
- Skyhorse Publishing
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Amazingly detailed and heart wrenching One of the best books i have ever read
This is a truly incredible story. It should be required reading for all middle or high school students. It is rare to find a true story of Americans enslaved abroad-- even rarer to find one so thrilling to read!
The author of the book, Captain James Riley, bravely wrote and acknowledged his role in his ship's disaster of wrecking off the North African coast back in 1815. This is an incredible tale of survival under the most brutal and pain-racking conditions one can imagine. The American brig, Commerce, hit a storm off the North African coast and was wrecked. The crew manages to reach the beach in their boats and collapse with exhaustion. However, the wreck and chance of plunder attracts an Arab nomad band to the scene. It is at this point that the captain and crew get a taste of the welcome they that will be met with from natives who are as merciless and unforgiving as the Sahara desert they live in. Although they manage to avoid capture and probable execution on their first encounter with the Arab nomads, the second encounter finds them starved, hopeless, and without water for several days running. So, they are enslaved and stripped naked by their captors. Their skin sizzles and blisters horribly under the ferocious Saharan sun while they walk barefooted and bloody over the sharp, rocky desert floor for many days - each day weaker with the spark of life slowly ebbing from their eyes. Then their band encounters their personal savior, Abdallah, who is an Arab merchant crossing the Sahara along with his brother. He buys the captain and most of the crew at Riley's repeated emotional entreaties, planning to sell them back to the English consul, Mr. Willshire, in far away Mogadore (for a profit, of course). Yet despite their new master and his profit motive, their continued survival is highly tentative as starvation, thirst, fatigue, continual danger of brigands, and even Abdallah's own brother conspire to steal these forsaken, hapless captives. And even though Riley must have suffered immeasurably he still managed to sear his inconceivable experiences into his memory and learned to speak some Arabic as well. Their thirst was often so remorseless that they routinely drank camel urine and subsisted on the most meager food imaginable. This is a remarkable true story and one which vividly portrays the unspeakable sufferings by the unprepared and unwary stranded in the deserts of North Africa. Read the book, skip the visit!