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Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival Paperback – April 12, 2005
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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The book fires on all cylinders thanks to the story and King’s writing. The author actually traveled to Africa and followed in Riley’s footsteps to get a better understanding of what the men went through. This first-hand experience reveals itself in King’s descriptions of the merciless landscape.
For lovers of history and adventure, “Skeletons on the Zahara” is a must . . .
However, the process of converting the book to a Kindle file is flawed. Words are periodically omitted with the substitution of "note 1." Apparently the transposed work has not been proof read. This same problem exists in other Kindle books I have read and should be noted and corrected by Amazon. That is why I am rating this Kindle edition only four stars.
Life and survival in the Sahara demand a totally different set of cultural rules that seem harsh but which guarantee the greatest chance of survival for the most people. This book helps the reader understand the cultural differences between people in the context in which their morals and values evolve.
When I read that it was one of Abraham Lincoln's favorite books, I had to read it. I am glad I did. You will not forget it. How sad that this incident has been totally omitted from our schools' history books. It is the kind of story that fosters religious and cultural tolerance as well as a love of history.
Yes, I agree with the person who said it is hard to follow the maps on the Kindle. Kindle books still have a lot of improving to do. But, I still found it to be a fantastic book!
Working from primary sources penned by two of those who lived to tell the tale, King relates the story of the beleaguered crew and their struggle against both the brutal environment and the equally brutal treatment meted out by their captors. Obviously, conditions in the Sahara are extremely harsh, but no matter what tribulations Nature brought, Man seemed determined to needlessly add to them. The tribesmen who captured and then in various turns sold and bought the members of the crew mostly seem to have been deliberately and needlessly cruel, the more so since these desert inhabitants were Muslims to whom Christians were infidels deserving of no pity. It is, of course, worth noting that none of the tribesmen were exactly overly blessed with an abundance of resources, so in a good number of cases, the desert families were suffering from hunger and thirst right along with their slaves.
The author provides a good deal of background material on the local culture, history, and geography, and also, to the degree that the materials are available, in giving the reader details on the crew and their time and place. King's prose flows smoothly and is not without a few novelistic flairs of colorful description. He does a good job of interweaving the various narrative strands, although due to the nature of the tribal folk and the very setting itself, a good portion of the story is repetitive, boiling down to "they traveled 30 miles that day, dying of thirst, and then the erstwhile Arab partners drew arms on each other and fought".
Illustrations and maps are plentiful, as are citations to sources. King's research has been thorough and also taps into the survival tales of other crews stranded in that region in the early 1800s. This is a gripping tale that is very well told and should leave the reader wishing that at least a few of the crew's tormentors had met sundry nasty fates.
Most recent customer reviews
Things about it will scorch you, but you won’t forget it. Slow start to the book.Read more