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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 ...
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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. The degradations of a slave existence and the courage to survive under the most harrowing conditions have rarely been recorded with such painful honesty.
Sufferings in Africa is a classic travel-adventure narrative, and a fascinating testament of white Americans enslaved abroad - during a time when slavery flourished through the United States. (51/2 X 81/4, 336 pages)
Posted October 31, 2006
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!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 26, 2008
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