26 February, 2017

The bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu: and their race to save the world's most precious manuscripts by Joshua Hammer

Reading history books might seem a bore to some people but when you read about the recent past, history takes on a different, more relevant meaning. This amazing book covers events that took place not long ago, in one of the most unexpected places in the world - Timbuktu, the legendary city known for its rich culture and heritage.

The bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu recounts the tale of Abdel Kader Haidara, a young adventurer and collector for a government library journeying across the Sahara and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts. His goal was to preserve these texts in a gorgeous library. As he worked tirelessly to fulfil this ambition, Al Qaeda showed up at the door.
The incredible story that follows tells of how this mild-mannered archivist and historian became one of the world’s greatest and most brazen smugglers as he saved these texts from sure destruction.

Joshua Hammer has done an amazing job, through meticulous research and interviews, in bringing this story to life. Some chapters might have more historical detail than others, giving readers a complete picture of the situation that arose in Northern Mali at that time. I would not consider this as academic history book, but a thriller. There’s suspense, intrigue and a heist that races against time - giving it a semblance to an Ocean’s Eleven movie!

I'd be lying if I said I hadn’t learned anything from this book. Not only did I become aware of the growing conflicts that citizens of Northern Mali had to live through, I also learned of the courage and bravery that ordinary citizens of Mali displayed in their struggle to protect and preserve the beauty of their rich culture.

An amazing and inspiring read for anyone who enjoys learning more of the world we live in today!

Title: The bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu: and their race to save the world's most precious manuscripts
Author: Joshua Hammer

Recommended by Surani R, Waitakere Central Library, Henderson. 
Surani R enjoys reading biographies, travelogues, some non-fiction, and loves fiction that makes you laugh out loud. She also finds comfort in children’s fiction with thought-provoking stories. 

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