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 20 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.
©2016 Joshua Hammer. Recorded by arrangement with Simon and Schuster, Inc. (P)2016 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
I missed this book on a Goodreads Giveaway, but I caught up with it as Whispersync on the cheap courtesy of BookGorilla. It combines histories of North Africa (especially Mali), Islam, religious scrolls and the people who have been protecting them, and so much more. The title's catchy, but it ought to be Bad-a$$ Archivists, I think. One man made it his life's work to gather and protect scrolls from everywhere he could, despite extremists and other crazies. It is a very involved and often tense tale, but also written with a detail and sensitivity that makes it riveting. There is much to be learned here, and we all hope for positive change.
Paul Boehmer is a fine audio performer and brings so much to life with his talents.
I was familiar with the events surrounding this story and eager to learn more. Even as a fan of nonfiction and history, I almost abandoned this book several times. This story is better suited to a long magazine feature. The writing is dry and fails to capture the nuanced characters who collaborated to save the manuscripts of Timbuktu.
I couldn't stand the narrator. He put a strong emphasis on vowel sounds that quickly became grating. The book itself might have been good, I can't say. I really struggled to keep listening, but realized that my brain was only paying attention to the pronunciation, and gave up.
A wonderful Rick weaving of the cultural history of the Timbuktu region, a chilling view of the rise and subsiding of Al Qaeda in the area, and the courageous work of saving the ancient folios containing Timbuktu's history.
I am only on Chapter 2, but I will have to listen to it again because I have no idea what I just heard. The staccato narration makes it hard to focus on the meaning of the words spoken. This could be the most fascinating book...but I'll probably not be able to stick through it long enough to know!
not so far
You can tell that the author put an incredible amount of research into the book but in the process lost sight of the real story. I had an incredibly hard time following the characters and story line because it was all over the place and I wasn't clear on how it all tied together. Overall, the narration and story line were a mess making it pretty unbearable.
I think this is an important book to read because it gives a preview of what it would be like to live under Sharia law...my main criticism of this audio version is the speaker. He has an energetic voice but it is maddening to hear him put the wrong emphasis on certain syllables or hear him pause in the wrong places. It does not sound professional and is very maddening.
I also criticize the writers simplistic sentence structure. The subject matter of the book is very informative and should be read widely in spite of the simplistic writing style.
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