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

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Synopsis

To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven.

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 had fallen into obscurity. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu tells the incredible story of how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist and historian from the legendary city of Timbuktu, later became one of the world’s greatest and most brazen smugglers.

In 2012, thousands of Al Qaeda militants from northwest Africa seized control of most of Mali, including Timbuktu. They imposed Sharia law, chopped off the hands of accused thieves, stoned to death unmarried couples, and threatened to destroy the great manuscripts. As the militants tightened their control over Timbuktu, Haidara organized a dangerous operation to sneak all 350,000 volumes out of the city to the safety of southern Mali.

Over the past twenty years, journalist Joshua Hammer visited Timbuktu numerous times and is uniquely qualified to tell the story of Haidara’s heroic and ultimately successful effort to outwit Al Qaeda and preserve Mali’s—and the world’s—literary patrimony. Hammer explores the city’s manuscript heritage and offers never-before-reported details about the militants’ march into northwest Africa. But above all, The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu is an inspiring account of the victory of art and literature over extremism.
 

About Joshua Hammer

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Joshua Hammer is a veteran foreign and war correspondent for Newsweek who has covered conflicts on four continents. He is the author of two previous books, A Season in Bethlehem and Chosen by God: A Brother's Journey. He has contributed articles to The New Yorker, Smithsonian, and many other publications. He lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with his wife and two sons.
 
Published April 19, 2016 by Simon & Schuster. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

Hammer (Yokohama Burning: The Deadly 1923 Earthquake and Fire That Helped Forge the Path to World War II) delivers an engrossing and dramatic story about smuggling manuscripts out of Timbuktu during the occupation of Mali by al-Qaeda militants. Listeners are treated to an exciting history of the ...

Jun 15 2016 | Read Full Review of The Bad-Ass Librarians of Tim...
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