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Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival
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WS Book Club! > February 2015: Skeletons on the Zahara

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Jason | 22 comments Mod
This book was voted in as our group read for February. I just so happened to have read this one already so I'll be sure to chime in with my thoughts. Buckle up for the ride. This is a wild one!!


Jason | 22 comments Mod
I absolutely loved this book! It's a tough story to read at times but is a tough book to put down. Many things had to come together perfectly for the survival of some of the characters. I learned a lot about the region and culture in which the story took place. This book was utterly amazing in its scope!

I'll be curious to see what the rest of you think about this book. Feel free to copy/paste your GR review in to this thread or post new content here. This will also be a great place to pose questions to the group, and so forth. Enjoy!


message 3: by J. (new) - added it

J. Gowin | 10 comments I just got my copy from Amazon this weekend.


Jason | 22 comments Mod
That's great J. I look forward to hearing what you think about it!


Kris (krisjnic) | 4 comments I totally agree, Michael. I just picked up David Robert's "
Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration" (an account of Douglas Mawson's ill-fated antarctic trip) and have read "Mawson's Will" also. There are a slew of Arctic and Antarctic accounts that leave you with the same sort of awe: how on earth do people survive such journeys? (I've read accounts of women, too - in particular one in the jungle that I just can't recall at the moment.)

Such stories - and Skeletons is a fabulous example - tell themselves. It does not seem to matter whether it is the author's experience or a contemporary's reporting, even with the flowery yet stoic prose of earlier centuries, or the modern author digging up history. The stories tell themselves, leaving you feeling too hot and thirsty (like in Skeletons) or too cold and famished (like Arctic tales). I wonder what it is about such amazing depravity and courage that inspires or moves us as the reader?

I also agree with Jason. Skeletons does a neat job of educating us about culture, without being judgemental. You put the book down feeling as if you understand more about the world.


Jason | 22 comments Mod
I too have read Mawson's Will and Endurance. Both were amazing. They're perfect examples of how little nature cares about us. It does it's thing, day after day. That puts a pretty heavy burden on mankind in extreme environments to be creative, resourceful, and to fight for survival. Shackleton's leadership inspired his men to survive more than a full year in sub-human conditions. And not a single man perished! Mawson lost his first man (and much of their gear) after only 6 weeks, yet he still was able to overcome some of the world's harshest conditions and return alive.

What I loved so much about Skeletons was that the party wasn't composed of explorers or men who had prepared for years for the environment they were entering. These were average guys who found it within themselves to endure some pretty inhospitable conditions and even more inhospitable people.


H.L. Miller | 11 comments OK, I finally finished. It was a great narrative of the story. I like when the author included other information about the area and the people that weren't in the first hand accounts. I found myself often wishing I was reading Riley's account and may in the future. I guess you never know what you can endure until you are put to the test. It is incredible how resilient the human body and mind are.


Jason | 22 comments Mod
You make a good point H.L. I also found myself wishing that I can read Riley's account. The different perspectives would've been an interesting contrast against each other.


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