Sufferings in Africa

By James Riley,

Book cover of Sufferings in Africa: The Astonishing Account of a New England Sea Captain Enslaved by North African Arabs

Book description

In August 1815, New England sea captain James Riley and his crew were shipwrecked off the coast of Moroccan Western Sahara. They headed inland, only to be captured by marauding Sahrawi natives who kept them as slaves. Riley and his crew were beaten, sun-burnt, starved, and forced to drink camel…

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Why read it?

1 author picked Sufferings in Africa as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This remarkable tale is not as well known as others, in part because it was written in 1817 and by a less accomplished writer, but it is hard to beat as a true account of nearly unsurvivable hardship. Captain James Riley, captured when his American ship—Commerce—runs aground south of Morocco, is taken into the Sahara desert along with several of his crew as slaves of Bedouins. Barefoot, terribly sunburnt, forced to drink camel urine, they walk hundreds of miles behind their master’s camels until finally ransomed by an American consul. This shocking reversal of the usual slavery tale is a…

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