Sufferings in Africa
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Sufferings in Africa

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  165 ratings  ·  32 reviews
In this classic tale of adventure, a young American sea captain named James Riley, shipwrecked off the western coast of North Africa in 1915, was captured by a band of nomadic Arabs, and sold into slavery. Thus begins an epic adventure of survival and a quest for freedom that takes him across the Sahara desert.This dramatic account of Captain Riley's trials and sufferings...more
MP3 Book, 0 pages
Published July 11th 2008 by Blackstone Audio, Inc. (first published 2000)
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This book is an incredible read! I can see why President Lincoln listed as one of the most influential books he read as a young man. Sufferings in Africa is not merely a woeful tale fraught with melodramatic prose; instead, it is a riveting look into the invincibility of the human spirit juxtaposed with the frailty of the human body. The events chronicled in this book are made even more powerful by Riley's simple writing style and his unflinching delve into the downward spiral of despair and des...more
Easy reading, with historical insights from one of history's participants. Very interesting and eye opening. While it tells firsthand of the author's experience of being a slave, it also chronicles the pervasive slave culture in Africa at the time, which included all races as slaves. The systematized slave trade routes, and enslavement of blacks by other blacks, are documented by the stories of Riley's former Arab master.
Wow!! This book is a true story of James Riley, a ship captain and his crew who were shipwrecked in 1815 off the coast of Africa. They are slaves to a nomadic Arab group and he tells their story of suffering as they cross the Sahara Desert. A good read!
A wonderful story of survival in an unbelievable environment, of suffering in body and mind. The time period is early 1800's. The story contains many details about life, the people, and the area. Very interesting.
Such a curious mixture of cruelty and compassion and of honor and dishonor. The setting and people are exotic, almost stereotypically so, and in fact, if I didn't know that this was a true story, I'd think this was a very standard 19th century Anglo-American piece of action/adventure fiction. The fact that this story seems fictional but is not, really made me wonder about a lot of things as I read this book. What motivates people to practice slavery, and does that motivation vary across cultures...more
A fascinating glimpse of three diverse cultures

The author's lack of education shows in his writing, but is entirely made up for by his passionate and descriptive telling of the incredible ordeals he survived.

I was acutely uncomfortable with the descriptors he used in depicting facial features of African tribesmen. In that one aspect I did find the author arrogant, insulting and unenlightened. Yet, looking beyond that one very human flaw, I was surprised to find an uncommon temperance and depth i...more
I sought out this book after seeing a special about the author on the History Channel (which is odd because the subject matter of "Sufferings in Africa" falls outside of the normal History Channel programming triad of Hitler, Jesus, and Nostradamus).

Sufferings in Africa is the true story of Captain James Riley. Riley and his American crew were shipwrecked on the western coast of Africa in 1815. Very soon they realize that the nomads who inhabit the areas in and around the great Sahara desert are...more
Sep 22, 2010 Natalie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: armchair adventurers, history buffs, survival story readers
This is a seaman's survival story set as far as you can get from the plight of the sailors in Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, but except for Apsley Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World, Volumes 1 and 2: Antarctic 1910-1913, I can think of no survival memoir that relates quite so remarkable a tale.
Taking into account the writing style and time this book was written is fine... but still its a 300 page book with 125 pages of actual story in. Does anyone else notice that he manages to grasp arabic almost perfectly in 2 months and yet still needs a translator for the exact same questions 2 months later? His poor shipmates seem to be as helpless as babies since he was the only one who did anything helpful the entire trip. yes Lincoln read it growing up but when you only have 7 or so books tota...more
Jul 03, 2014 Lisa marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Eric Albrecht Recommendation.
Don Weidinger
1815 slave, virtues to be happy, 2.5fathoms or 15’, devil is good when pleased, Abe.
It's not the best true adventure book I've ever read, but it's a solid one. Highlights include a comparison of the taste of camel's urine to that of the author's own, and a description of women whose breasts are so pendulous that they flip them over their shoulders to feed their young. I would recommend this to anyone who especially enjoys stories of shipwrecks, disasters and so on, but not to the general reader.
While this book is compelling and interesting, it is also very wordy. I really liked the beginning of the book, but once he begins talking about their ordeals i'n the desert it slows way down and kind of becomes a bore. Still, it was an interesting read to see what it was like for a white man used to the comforts of life get to experience slavery.
Jan Costas
Reasons I wanted to read this book: about real people, lived in Saudi Arabia, a man of faith, one of Lincoln's favorite books. I am blown away and humbled by what a human can endure and come out so much stronger. The lot of the Arab tribes is not much better than their slaves. Truly an incredible insight to survival in the desert.
Kevin Movius
Incredible story of survival. I listened to this on cd, but did not mentally drift as I have with other audiobooks. This was riveting in the telling without any "you won't believe what happens next" pretense or hype. The guy is just telling an incredible adventure he wishes he did not have and we are the fortunate ones.
Terje Staalstrom
Interesting. Comprehensive and surprisingly detailed. Heavy reading for today's reader as language is old fashioned.
Stefani S.
Abraham Lincoln listed this as a book that influenced his life. It is an incredible tale and to read something that Abraham Lincoln read and was influenced by enhanced the reading all the more.

This man experienced amazing miracles while enduring this ordeal. Well worth the reading!
Excellent true account of a ship captain and his crew taken into slavery after their ship wrecked off the coast of northern Africa. The story is clean but graphically disturbing in it's account of starvation, beatings and physical hardship.
Amazing survival story!!!
Mike Gillett
Beautiful account of Captain Riley. Through all the sufferings he muses on Hope and Faith. His un-conquer able spirit led to his, as well as that of his companions, freedom. The book influences ones view on the worth of a man and turns one against slavery.
Amazing diary of survival on the Sahara Desert and the high seas by an American sea captain who fought his way through cruel slavery by desert dwellers! Primary source from the early 1800's, very exciting and well written. Totally engrossing read!!
If you can soldier on through the repetitive descriptions of desert vistas this is a fascinating read and a tribute to the human will to survive seemingly insurmountable odds. Very inspiring and one of the better books I've read in awhile.
If you are like me, and really just can't get enough human suffering in your own life, then why not read about human suffering in other people's lives???
You'll learn a lot about camels, starvation, Arabs, and weight loss.
From the Skeletons of the Zahara by Dean King, This book was by Captain James Riley and like the Skeletons of the Zahara, He gives a description of his adventures and being captured by the Arabs.
This is another case of take-with-a-grain-of-salt given the time period and the author's mindset, but it certainly kept me turning the pages.
Very inspirational. This true story makes you realize how fortunate we all are. Its a story of true survival and I found it quite moving.
abraham lincoln said this was one of the three best books he ever read,the Bible being one of them. It's an absolutely incredible story
Kelly Bumgarner
A bit wordy, but it came across as genuine and honest. Extremely fascinating, I felt as though I was there.
I loved this book, taking into account that it is written by someone who clearly is not a writer.
Certainly not light reading, but worth the effort!
Suffering at its best, with no holds barred.
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