Books

Skeletons on the Zahara

Skeletons on the Zahara cover
Skeletons on the Zahara cover
I’m resisting writing about the USA’s presidential election because I fear it will turn into a lengthy rant, and I know you guys don’t care what I think. In lieu of that I figured I’d write something that was a little more interesting. I just finished Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King. This is another book recommended and given to me by a fellow VSO volunteer, which means I paid nothing for it. It also means: if you’re a volunteer in Kenya (even non VSO) I will give it to you for free!

This was a fascinating story of an American trade ship that crashed on the West coast of Africa in 1815. The crew ends up being robbed and enslaved by the locals, which sounds like it was more common than you might think in the nineteenth century. I wonder if would have steered clear of the merchant marine line of work if I lived during those times. Anyways, the men experience the harshness of life on the desert, constantly shifting to find clean water and shrubs for their owners’ camels.

I learned things in this book that I am sure will come in handy some day if I can manage to remember them when the time finally comes. In addition to torture, the men endure eating raw (and sometimes putrid) meat, drinking their own urine (and also camel urine), every kind of ailment you can think of (concussions, dysentery, hemorrhoids, dehydration, blah blah). I think I saw somewhere that it had been turned into a movie, or maybe a TV series or something, you might go check it out if you have the means (such as: don’t live in Africa and therefore have a sweet internet connection). In any case, it’s a good read.

It’s a true story, by the way.

2 Comments

  1. CK

    The description at Amazon.com says Thoreau gave it a thumbs up – that’s all I need to hear. 7 bucks shipped, since I’m not in Kenya :)

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