• To Timbuktu for a Haircut

  • A Journey Through West Africa
  • By: Rick Antonson
  • Narrated by: James Conlan
  • Length: 9 hrs and 18 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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To Timbuktu for a Haircut

By: Rick Antonson
Narrated by: James Conlan
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Editorial reviews

Narrator James Conlan's earnest performance will remind listeners of a well-traveled and loquacious friend with a thirst for adventure. Conlan imbues Antonson's story of his month-long trek to get a haircut in the elusive African city of Timbuktu with an intrepid spirit. In the process of Antonson's travels by train, four-wheel drive, river pinasse, camel, and foot, listeners will discover myths and learn about sad realities - one of which is that the city's cultural artifacts, including 700,000 ancient manuscripts, are in danger of disappearing. Although Antonson's stories are full of wry humor, he is serious about the need to preserve the past and open cultural dialogues on a global scale.

Publisher's summary

"Although Timbuktu exists, there is a common belief that it is, in fact, nowhere."

Timbuktu: the African city known to legend as a land of scholars, splendor and mystery, a golden age in the Sahara Desert. But to many it is a vaguely recognizable name - a flippant tag for "the most remote place on earth." With this fabled city as his goal, author Rick Antonson began a month-long trek. His initial plan? To get a haircut.

Aided by an adventuresome spirit, Rick endures a 45-hour train ride, a swindling travel agent, "Third World, three-lane" roads, rivers, and a flat deck ferry boat before finally reaching Timbuktu. Rick narrates the history of this elusive destination through the teachings of his Malian guide Zak, and encounters with stranded tourists, a camel owner, a riverboat captain, and the people who call Timbuktu home.

Antonson’s eloquence and quiet wit highlight the city’s myths - the centuries old capital and traveler’s dream - as well as its realities: A city gripped by poverty, where historic treasures lie close to the sands of destruction. Indeed, some 700,000 ancient manuscripts remain there, endangered. Both a travelogue and a history of a place long forgotten, To Timbuktu for a Haircut emerges as a plea to preserve the past and open cultural dialogues on a global scale.

The second edition of this important book outlines the volatile political situations in Timbuktu following the spring 2012 military coup in Mali and the subsequent capture of the city by Islamic extremists. Literally, it is a race against time to save the city’s irreplaceable artifacts, mosques, and monuments, and to understand why Timbuktu’s past is essential to the future of Africa.

©2008 Rick Antonson (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

“Rick Antonson’s classic travel memoir.” (Chicago Tribune)

“Anyone planning a trip to Africa should put Antonson’s book on their packing list right after malaria tablets.” (National Post)

“The remarkable combination of Rick Antonson exploring the ancient mysteries of Timbuktu matched with the rich culture of Mali that he captures so well...makes a page-turner from start to finish.” (Jerry W. Bird, editor, Africa Travel Magazine)

“Great characters, great stories, and truly great adventures. Not to mention...a great read.” (Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor, CBS News)

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