Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival
Author: Dean King
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Release Date: April 12, 2005
A spectacular true odyssey through the extremes of the Sahara Desert in the early 19th century. Reader and protagonist alike are challenged into new ways of understanding culture clash, slavery and the place of Islam in the social fabric of desert-dwelling peoples.
In a calm May morning in 1815, Captain James Riley and the crew of the Commerce left port in Connecticut for an ordinary trading voyage. They could never have imagined what awaited them.
Their nightmare began with a dreadful shipwreck off the coast of Africa, a hair-raising confrontation with hostile native tribesmen within hours of being washed ashore, and a hellish confinement in a rickety longboat as they tried, without success, to escape the fearsome coast. Eventually captured by desert nomads and sold into slavery, Riley and his men were dragged along on an insane journey through the bone-dry heart of the Sahara—a region unknown to Westerners. Along the way the Americans would encounter everything that could possibly test them: barbarism, murder, starvation, plagues of locusts, death, sandstorms that lasted for days, dehydration, and hostile tribes that roamed the desert on armies of camels. They would discover ancient cities and secret oases. They would also discover a surprising bond between a Muslim trader and an American sea captain, men who began as strangers, were forced to become allies in order to survive, and, in the tempering heat of the desert, became friends—even as the captain hatched a daring betrayal in order to save his men.
From the cold waters of the Atlantic to the searing Saharan sands, Skeletons on the Zahara is a spectacular odyssey through the extremes. Destined to become a classic among adventure narratives, Dean King's masterpiece is an unforgettable tale of survival, courage, and brotherhood.