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The Storied City: The Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save Its Past
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Penguin Publishing Group 2017
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Description
“Timbuktu is a real place, and Charlie English will fuel your wanderlust with true descriptions of the fabled city’s past, present, and future.” –Fodor’s Two tales of a city: The historical race to “discover” one of the world’s most mythologized places, and the story of how a contemporary band of archivists and librarians, fighting to save its ancient manuscripts from destruction at the hands of al Qaeda, added another layer to the legend. To Westerners, the name “Timbuktu” long conjured a tantalizing paradise, an African El Dorado where even the slaves wore gold. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, a series of explorers gripped by the fever for “discovery”  tried repeatedly to reach the fabled city.  But one expedition after another went disastrously awry, succumbing to attack, the climate, and disease. Timbuktu was rich in another way too. A medieval center of learning, it was home to tens of thousands—according to some, hundreds of thousands—of ancient manuscripts, on subjects ranging from religion to poetry, law to history, pharmacology, and astronomy. When al-Qaeda–linked jihadists surged across Mali in 2012, threatening the existence of these precious documents, a remarkable thing happened: a team of librarians and archivists joined forces to spirit the manuscripts into hiding. Relying on extensive research and firsthand reporting, Charlie English expertly twines these two suspenseful strands into a fraught and fascinating account of one of the planet's extraordinary places, and the myths from which it has become inseparable.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
05/02/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780698197145
ASIN:
B01K1ATZKO
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Charlie English. (2017). The Storied City: The Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save Its Past. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Charlie English. 2017. The Storied City: The Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save Its Past. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Charlie English, The Storied City: The Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save Its Past. Penguin Publishing Group, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Charlie English. The Storied City: The Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save Its Past. Penguin Publishing Group, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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fullDescription
“Timbuktu is a real place, and Charlie English will fuel your wanderlust with true descriptions of the fabled city’s past, present, and future.” –Fodor’s 
Two tales of a city: The historical race to “discover” one of the world’s most mythologized places, and the story of how a contemporary band of archivists and librarians, fighting to save its ancient manuscripts from destruction at the hands of al Qaeda, added another layer to the legend.

To Westerners, the name “Timbuktu” long conjured a tantalizing paradise, an African El Dorado where even the slaves wore gold. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, a series of explorers gripped by the fever for “discovery”  tried repeatedly to reach the fabled city.  But one expedition after another went disastrously awry, succumbing to attack, the climate, and disease. Timbuktu was rich in another way too. A medieval center of learning, it was home to tens of thousands—according to some, hundreds of thousands—of ancient manuscripts, on subjects ranging from religion to poetry, law to history, pharmacology, and astronomy. When al-Qaeda–linked jihadists surged across Mali in 2012, threatening the existence of these precious documents, a remarkable thing happened: a team of librarians and archivists joined forces to spirit the manuscripts into hiding.
Relying on extensive research and firsthand reporting, Charlie English expertly twines these two suspenseful strands into a fraught and fascinating account of one of the planet's extraordinary places, and the myths from which it has become inseparable.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 13, 2017
        Like a real-life El Dorado, Timbuktu titillated European explorers for centuries, but its quotidian realities were shielded from their view by the arid desert and distrustful nomads. The modern-day city remains threatened by violent extremists, and its real riches, unbeknownst to the early explorers, are its manuscripts, an unrivaled library of Islamic literature predating Oxford and Cambridge. English (The Snow Tourist), international editor of the Guardian, draws parallels between the intrepid, mostly ill-fated adventurers who were intent on bringing fabulous news of Timbuktu back to Europe and today’s fearless, scholarly inhabitants, who resolutely strive to save the yellowing tomes from destruction at the hands of al-Qaeda. “Any well-informed European asked in 1788 to travel into Africa’s interior should have recognized the journey as the death sentence it was and stayed at home,” English writes. “But the African Association’s recruits were not well-informed. That, in many ways, was the point.” The city’s inhabitants, far more cognizant of the dangers they face, have nevertheless persevered. English shares his firsthand observations of the region’s people and its treasures, offering a no less fantastical or unlikely tale than those imagined in the fever-dreams of the first Europeans to venture up the Niger. Agent: Stuart Krichevsky, Stuart Krichevsky Literary.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        March 1, 2017
        Timbuktu has generated myths that persist into the 21st century.Like Xanadu and El Dorado, Timbuktu, in Mali, has long been a subject of legend and fantasy, a glistening city of incalculable riches. Reports circulated in medieval Europe, for example, that "giant gold-digging ants...harvested the precious metal from African riverbeds." In a compelling work of history and historiography, journalist English (The Snow Tourist: A Search for the World's Purest, Deepest Snowfall, 2009), former head of international news for the Guardian, chronicles the journeys of early explorers who contributed to those legends. Drawing on extensive interviews in Mali, the U.S., Europe, and South Africa, the author questions the recent, much-publicized accounts of Timbuktu's vast libraries, their contents and quantity, and survival from alleged jihadi threats. Timbuktu's riches resulted from its favored location, downstream from the Niger River delta. For centuries, it was "the crossroads of the river trade and the caravan routes, the meeting place, in the old dictum, 'of all who travel by camel or canoe.' " Crossing the Sahara to get there, however, was often perilous for Europeans. Many succumbed to malaria, dehydration, or starvation; others were attacked by Tuareg tribes or Muslim armies. One enterprising French explorer spent three years learning Arabic, studying Islamic texts, and practicing Muslim customs before he embarked, disguised in Arab costume, in 1827. English describes in vivid detail the journeys of intrepid explorers such as Mungo Park, Joseph Banks, and Heinrich Barth, whose exploits have been recounted in other fine books about Timbuktu. Where English breaks ground is by rigorously questioning the contemporary myth of Timbuktu as an intellectual hotbed, with libraries containing hundreds of thousands of important historical manuscripts, allegedly rescued by brave librarians from jihadis who wanted to destroy them. He echoes the skepticism of many academics who believe the documents' historical value "was as over-revved as the numbers," citing Henry Louis Gates, in particular, as inflating the manuscripts' significance. English's sources, moreover, dispute the claim of any jihadi threat. Engrossing history of a city with the enduring power to fascinate.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        April 1, 2017
        Timbuktu. The name of the city nestled in the curve of the Niger River at an important trade crossroads in West Africa carries the whiff of exoticism, adventure, and mystery. For decades, explorers attempted to chart a way to reach the city, braving deadly diseases and the dangers of the interior, only to find the reality did not match the tales of a metropolis with roofs of gold. And in the early part of the twenty-first century, the makings of another legend emerged from Timbuktu, when it was said that a group of librarians had saved hundreds of thousands of precious manuscripts from jihadists occupying the city. Captivated by this tale, journalist English sets out to uncover what happened during the occupation in 2012. He weaves together the narratives of the European quest for Timbuktu, beginning with a society founded in 1788, and the modern-day threat to the city's cultural heritage. With a clear-eyed and straightforward approach, English thoroughly dispels the myths about Timbuktu to reveal a truth that is, in many ways, even more remarkable.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        December 1, 2016

        A former international editor of the Guardian, English recalls the intrepid librarians featured in Joshua Hammer's The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, who rescued hundreds of thousands of ancient manuscripts from depredation when Al Qaeda militants swarmed through Mali in 2012. But he does more, chronicling Timbuktu as a fabled kingdom desperately sought out by Western explorers after they heard rumors of its riches.

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        March 1, 2017

        In 2011 and 2012, British journalist English reported the jihadist invasion of the West African nation of Mali and capture of the ancient city of Timbuktu. As tombs and other cultural artifacts were destroyed, English became interested in the city's rich history. Tens of thousands, possibly as many as 500,000, historic manuscripts, had been collected over the past three decades to create new understanding of the complex political and cultural history of the region and to challenge previous views that Africa had "no history." The threat to the manuscripts and their rescue by a coterie of librarians and archivists became a moving story of bravery, ingenuity, and dedication to cultural preservation. The contemporary tale of adventure led English to assemble and retell more than 200 years' worth of European exploration to find Timbuktu and to understand the trade routes and African dynasties that made it flourish. English alternates chapters between 18th- and 19th-century explorers and 21st-century threats in a fascinating, if somewhat confusing, tale. VERDICT This volume brings together archival work and contemporary interviews to reveal aspects of Timbuktu history and culture, but the result is sometimes frustrating and unclear. Readers interested in the 2011 events might be better served by Joshua Hammer's The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu.--Elizabeth Hayford, formerly with Associated Coll. of the Midwest, Evanston, IL

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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“Timbuktu is a real place, and Charlie English will fuel your wanderlust with true descriptions of the fabled city’s past, present, and future.” –Fodor’s 
Two tales of a city: The historical race to “discover” one of the world’s most mythologized places, and the story of how a contemporary band of archivists and librarians, fighting to save its ancient manuscripts from destruction at the hands of al Qaeda, added another layer to the legend.

To Westerners, the name “Timbuktu” long conjured a tantalizing paradise, an African El Dorado where even the slaves wore gold. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, a series of explorers gripped by the fever for “discovery”  tried repeatedly to reach the fabled city.  But one expedition after another went disastrously awry, succumbing to attack, the climate, and disease. Timbuktu was rich in another way too. A...
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