The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts

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Simon and Schuster, Apr 19, 2016 - History - 288 pages
To save ancient Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven in this “fast-paced narrative that is…part intellectual history, part geopolitical tract, and part out-and-out thriller” (The Washington Post).

In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that were crumbling in the trunks of desert shepherds. His goal: to preserve this crucial part of the world’s patrimony in a gorgeous library. But then Al Qaeda showed up at the door.

“Part history, part scholarly adventure story, and part journalist survey….Joshua Hammer writes with verve and expertise” (The New York Times Book Review) about how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist from the legendary city of Timbuktu, became one of the world’s greatest smugglers by saving the texts from sure destruction. With bravery and patience, Haidara organized a dangerous operation to sneak all 350,000 volumes out of the city to the safety of southern Mali. His heroic heist “has all the elements of a classic adventure novel” (The Seattle Times), and is a reminder that ordinary citizens often do the most to protect the beauty of their culture. His the story is one of a man who, through extreme circumstances, discovered his higher calling and was changed forever by it.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DinadansFriend - www.librarything.com

A book of great immediacy, and an interesting vision of what shifts the retention of knowledge might have to sink to in the face of religious prejudice. Mr. Hammer has an essentially journalistic ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - LisCarey - www.librarything.com

Timbuktu is a city with a storied history, and one lesser-known piece of that history is that twice during the Middle Ages it was the center of a flowering of education and scholarship. In the 1980s ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
12
Section 3
30
Section 4
48
Section 5
57
Section 6
70
Section 7
89
Section 8
99
Section 11
135
Section 12
154
Section 13
164
Section 14
178
Section 15
187
Section 16
192
Section 17
198
Section 18
209

Section 9
115
Section 10
126
Section 19
218
Copyright

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About the author (2016)

Joshua Hammer is the New York Times bestselling author of The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu. He has written for The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Smithsonian, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, National Geographic, and Outside. He lives in Berlin.

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