Griffin Bay Book Club Friday night, August 25, 7:00 pm in the café
Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu
And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts
Griffin Bay Book Club’s August read is a true-life adventure story, a riveting account of how a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulled off a brazen heist in order to save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda. Please join our discussion on Friday, August 25, 7:00 in the café.
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 the Author
Joshua Hammer was a bureau chief for Newsweek and correspondent-at-large on five continents. He is now a contributing editor to Smithsonian and Outside, and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books.
Please join us on Friday night August 25, 7:00 pm.
Griffin Bay Book Club invites all readers and book lovers to join our discussions. Our reading experiences are enhanced and enriched through our members’ different perspectives. Join us throughout the year on the last Friday of the month.