The Storied City: The Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save Its Past by Charlie English

The Storied City: The Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save Its Past

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...

Title:The Storied City: The Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save Its Past
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:1594634289
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:432 pages

The Storied City: The Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save Its Past Reviews

  • Kori Morris
    Mar 10, 2017

    In my 3rd grade class we discussed Timbuktu, and since then I have yearned to learn more, and eventually visit. I haven't bought a plane ticket yet, but I did get a book on Timbuktu.

    Important background: There are a lot of racist myths towards Africa that people believe even today. One of them: "Primitive" Africans had no writing and no clear history. To quote a British historian named in the novel, speaking in 1963, "Perhaps in the future, there will be some African history to teach. But at pre

    In my 3rd grade class we discussed Timbuktu, and since then I have yearned to learn more, and eventually visit. I haven't bought a plane ticket yet, but I did get a book on Timbuktu.

    Important background: There are a lot of racist myths towards Africa that people believe even today. One of them: "Primitive" Africans had no writing and no clear history. To quote a British historian named in the novel, speaking in 1963, "Perhaps in the future, there will be some African history to teach. But at present there is none. There is only the history of Europeans in Africa. The rest is darkness."

    In truth there were some cultural and ethnic groups in African who have had an almost singularly oral tradition, though since the days of colonization that has not been true. But since Africa has more diversity than any other continent by sheer count of ethnic groups (cultures are not so defineable and countable), the myth of Africa having no written history is unequivicably untrue. (also, I learned when I was young that specifically Timbuktu had a famous library long ago - it's surprising to me that people still don't know this).

    Told in the past and the present, Charlie English conveys the history and present of Timbuktu in the context of European colonialism, in the context of the modern radical Islamic revolts, and in the context of books. I love this book, and if you're interested in any of the above, you will too.

  • Kevin
    May 05, 2017

    I received this book through goodreads giveaways. First, I have nominal background on African history and/or culture. So, when I saw this giveaway, I thought this would be a great opportunity to expand my knowledge. The book alternates between the western history of the discovery of Timbuktu and the 2012 invasion of jihadists and the effort to protect the manuscripts of Timbuktu. While engaging and informative, I wished there was a bit more background on Timbuktu prior to western influence as we

    I received this book through goodreads giveaways. First, I have nominal background on African history and/or culture. So, when I saw this giveaway, I thought this would be a great opportunity to expand my knowledge. The book alternates between the western history of the discovery of Timbuktu and the 2012 invasion of jihadists and the effort to protect the manuscripts of Timbuktu. While engaging and informative, I wished there was a bit more background on Timbuktu prior to western influence as well as examples of what was in the manuscripts. While the author touches on these aspects, it's a bit 'thin' on content. Overall, an interesting narrative that's well structured and worth the read.

  • Lori Tatar
    May 19, 2017

    The Storied City: The Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save Its Past by Charlie English paves the way toward understanding the differences between Westerners and other cultures, particularly Arabian. It explores multiple expeditions fraught with all kinds of peril from disease to hunger, murder to insufficient water. Attempts to discover and exploit a whole other, seemingly hidden culture and city are met with tremendous resistance from men as well as from environmental factors.

    T

    The Storied City: The Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save Its Past by Charlie English paves the way toward understanding the differences between Westerners and other cultures, particularly Arabian. It explores multiple expeditions fraught with all kinds of peril from disease to hunger, murder to insufficient water. Attempts to discover and exploit a whole other, seemingly hidden culture and city are met with tremendous resistance from men as well as from environmental factors.

    The book blends early travels with current sentiments and hardships on both sides as it takes the reader on a journey for a destination very similar to El Dorado, with similar findings once discovered. Timbuktu has always had an identity of its own, full of beauty, mystery and secrets. Very few outsiders get to know her. This history offers great insight into understanding why.

  • Catherine
    Jun 02, 2017

    I loved this book! The history, in and of itself was mind-boggling. I am very impressed with this author and the research they put into this project. Bravo!!!

  • J.J.
    Jun 15, 2017

    Was kind of one of elusive squid books. You invested all this time to find out what happened and then it closed with but did it?!

  • Siria
    May 28, 2017

    Timbuktu is a name that's had a hold on the western imagination for centuries. In this book, Charlie English traces the history of foreign fascination with the fabled city, drawing parallels between the dangers faced by the European explorers who tried to find it and the attempts by the city's modern inhabitants to save their priceless manuscripts from destruction at the hands of Islamists. English describes past and present in vivid detail, and pushes further than the standard popular history a

    Timbuktu is a name that's had a hold on the western imagination for centuries. In this book, Charlie English traces the history of foreign fascination with the fabled city, drawing parallels between the dangers faced by the European explorers who tried to find it and the attempts by the city's modern inhabitants to save their priceless manuscripts from destruction at the hands of Islamists. English describes past and present in vivid detail, and pushes further than the standard popular history account in not being content to accept the mythology of the manuscripts and their rescue at face value. His scepticism, and the way in pushes back against the easy but adrenaline-filled narrative, is refreshing. Overall an engrossing read.

    I do wish the photo inserts had been printed in colour, though. It's so difficult to get a decent grasp of the materiality of the manuscripts when they've all been flattened out into black and white.

  • Andi
    Jun 21, 2017

    This was a solid 4-star book right till the very last chapter and then the epilogue happened. While it was a step up from "Three Cups of Tea" insofar as it had the decency to admit that it is very likely fabricated and heavily embellished, that information would have been much more well-received as a Prologue. Part of why I read non-fiction is to learn new things. When I invest hours of my time engaged in what is presented as the history of the manuscripts of Timbuktu, I expect it to be the actu

    This was a solid 4-star book right till the very last chapter and then the epilogue happened. While it was a step up from "Three Cups of Tea" insofar as it had the decency to admit that it is very likely fabricated and heavily embellished, that information would have been much more well-received as a Prologue. Part of why I read non-fiction is to learn new things. When I invest hours of my time engaged in what is presented as the history of the manuscripts of Timbuktu, I expect it to be the actual history of the manuscripts of Timbuktu.

    That being said, it was a fascinating read and I did learn quite a bit about the history and culture of the peoples involved including the nearly universal inclination to embellish, exaggerate, and outright fabricate circumstances and events to suit one's agenda.

  • Carole Evans
    Jun 28, 2017

    Excellently written, it reads like a novel but it's well researched and fascinating, part exploration part

    History, and protection of ancient manuscripts, Timbuktu is somehow a fabled city, mythological and mystical. It's well worth reading.

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