Captain Riley

november 2014 noble square chicago cold evening autumnal sunset

I just finished reading Skeletons on the Zahara, by Dean King. The book is the true story of the shipwreck of the Commerce, an 18th century brig hailing from Middletown, Connecticut. They sailed down the Connecticut River to the open ocean with no idea of what was in store.

chef andres padilla richard james 3rdarm

The horrors they faced in the dessert, surviving on camels milk, snails and the fleeting kindness of nomadic Arabs, helped me imagine some of the feelings the American journalists kidnapped by ISIS may have faced. As a 5-year-old boy, Abraham Lincoln read the source material, Captain James Riley’s memoir Sufferings in Africa, and it had a big effect. Lincoln would later state it was one of 3 books underpinning his political ideology as it related to slavery.

2 thoughts on “Captain Riley”

  1. Oh, Arthur! Such a good book…but they were on the desert, not the dessert! They weren’t stranded on a chocolate cream pie!
    Your Aunt, Ms Thistlebottom the English Teacher

  2. hey Ms Thistlebottom, perhaps he Arthur has an intriguing story for a kids story, being stranded on a dessert…
    I’m sure we have all been faced with the awful situation of ordering a dessert after an amazing meal, only to be too full to want be able to eat that slice of apple pie, lemon tart or fudge brownie once it comes. Nobody wants to touch it, taste it; their guilty sense of gluttony stops them from indulging. Except people like me and Arthur, we risk it all and finish what we started. To forge through when everybody should; won’t; can’t. That is what it is like facing the horrors of a dessert…

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