Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King is non-fiction. The story relates the experiences of a shipwrecked Yankee merchant vessel in 1815. The author sets up the space and time so that you don't need to be a historian to understand the era.
Captain Riley wrote a book about his captivity on the Zahara (Sahara). Almost half of the crew did not return to the US. The Yankees eat locusts and drink camel urine to survive their slavery. The hope is that they will get to Morrocco and be ransomed to the US consulate. Only there isn't really a consul. The nearest is at Gibralter. Captain Riley's guilty conscience, slavery in Africa, and an understanding of human stamina kept me up nights reading. Even though I knew who made it back to Connecticut I was still enthralled.
Dean King wrote that during his on site research in North Africa that he found the nomads living basically the same on the edge of existence type lifestyle. After reading this book I have a new view of subsistence existence.
After Riley's rescue and return to America he became a staunch abolishnist (understandable) and spent time in Washington DC speaking out about his own slavery. All of the returnees had residual illnesses including arthritus, respiratory disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
I'm reading Skeletons again... only this time I have a map infront of me.
So if you get a chance to read this let me know what you think.