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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...
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.
This is a book written in 1817 of a first person account of a shipwreck and subsequent enslavement of an American merchant crew in what is modern day Western Sahara. The tale is told by the Captain - James Riley. The fact that he lived to tell the tale meant that he and part of his crew reached freedom via the time-honored path of ransom. But you know all this already.Is the book a good read?Before answering, I should point out that the book apparently sold 1 million copies through multiple edit...
I loved this book. I learned about it from a podcast (Futility Closet), and decided to pick it up as part of some research I'm doing for a project. I was so inspired by Riley's response to such terrible conditions, his willingness to continue to serve his men, trust God, and work hard in the midst of circumstances where I'm certain I wouldn't have had close to the same amount of fortitude. And while the writing style isn't amazing in of itself, I was fascinated by the different people and condit...
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.
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.
The brutality of human beings is beyond belief. What Riley and his crew experienced mirrored that of Holocaust victims, Bataan Death Marchers, American slaves, and other who've faced absolute cruelty at the hands of our own species. The mental strength of these men is extraordinary. I was most impressed with Riley's Christian attitude—be the best slaves he could be. I cannot imagine maintaining that standard amidst their drudgery.
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 pivotal account of the sufferings of an ordinary man... as he led his crew through shipwreck and enslavement, and on a redemption trek across the desert. He had to endure not only his own humiliation and pain; but that of his shipmates, with one being gutted and dragged across the beach. Realizing that they had escaped the sea to be enslaved and killed, they floated helplessly again on the sea. Eventually, they chose to land and face the dangers again. With that choice came slavery and a long
“Sufferings in Africa” is an autobiographical tale of Captain James Riley, an American naval captain, who was shipwrecked off the coast of North Africa in 1815. In Captain Riley’s words, “I had only been tutored in the school of adversity, in order that I might be prepared for fulfilling the purpose for which I had been created.” That purpose was to lead, endure, and encourage a handful of destitute seaman through the cruel and unrelenting Saharan desert.Overall, I enjoyed the book, and especial...
Having heard that this book was a favorite of Abraham Lincoln’s and that it may have influenced his hatred of slavery, I looked forward to reading it. The story of Captain James Riley is riveting. He accounts both the sufferings of his crew, the hand of God blessing them from time to time, and includes cultural notes. Although by modern day standards his reference to “negroes” and “barbarians” is objectionable, we have to remember that such was the world he lived in. If anything, Captain Riley i...
This is the story of an 1800's ship captain who ran aground in Africa, was captured as a slave, and managed to get home. It's dramatic and emotional, with battles and intrigue. It's well written, especially given the era it was written in. And it's been verified by contemporaries as all true. Most famously, Abraham Lincoln said it was one of the most influential books that he read (causing him to think differently about slavery).
Very fascinating book. I really enjoyed reading it and it was informative as to the culture, etc, in NW Africa at the time. I also found some electronic copies online that had additional chapters with Riley's thoughts on various aspects of the NW African cultures at the time.
It’s one of those books that you can’t put down. It’s an easy and quick read. A book about survival in the face of brutality.
Pre-civil rights & Pre-civil war.Amazing slavery story in North Africa
A true tale of living horror. It's unbelievable that they survived through everything, and it's a true testament to God's goodness. Very moving.
Really interesting book. A little slow at times
I liked the view of a very foreign way of life, that's so harsh I have to find some more books to collaborate.
Written in 1817 this is a good anthropological and sociological report of a country and people different from anything the author had encountered and because so different understandable why the book would have been a big success in 1817. From the dramatic title I imagined the author was going to be enslaved for years. However, the book is an account of approximately 120 days in captivity, 120 repetitive days: sand, camels, lack of water, sand, camels, lack of water. No doubt the author was very
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...
Published in 1817. True survival adventure. 12 shipwrecked sailors returned. "The Arab is high-spirited, brave, avaricious, rapacious, revengeful; and, strange as it may appear, is at the same time hospitable and compassionate:he is proud of being able to maintain his independence, though on a dreary desart, and despises those who are so mean and degraded as to submit to any government but that of the Most High. He struts about sole master of what wealth he posses, always ready to defend it, and...
A fascinating glimpse of three diverse culturesThe 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...
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...
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.
One word describes Riley's adventures, Brutal. From being shipwrecked to enduring brutal conditions, this book gives us a great insight into conditions in those days. I highly enjoy the fact he took time when back home to recount his capture and document this. Countless other people endured these conditions including present day and it's good to see there was light at the end of the tunnel. Highly recommended read.
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.
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.
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.
Had this been a novel I would have put it down for it became ponderously boring half way in. I stuck with it for the sake of knowledge. You can gain or refresh some knowledge of the Sahara, Western Africa and the attitude of Muslims toward non Muslim. Think of this as a boring text book you had to read to learn a little bit.
The overarching story of this true tale and many of the details contained within it are really interesting. However - I found this book really dry and hard to get through in places - it's a very old work and certainly reads that way. I'm glad I read it - but I'm not sure I'd be too quick to recommend it to anyone else (as it would probably be better to just give them a quick summary)