The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

Joshua Hammer, The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: and their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2016.

This is a book that I purchased solely because of the title - or at least because of the title and a review that I heard on NPR. It sounded interesting enough to me that after I heard the title and review, I ordered a copy and had it sent to my son, who is a librarian. I though that the title alone, might make it a book he would enjoy. Like me, he knew veery little about Mali and the recent history of the region, so this nonfiction volume was a real lesson in geography, history and culture for him. He did enjoy it and reported that it is a tale of true adventure. Then, because it is the kind of person he is, he gave the book to me and having the relationship we do, I started to read it the night I received it. It is a really fun read and I, too, found myself immersed in stories of places and people that I did not know well.

We always speak of Timbuktu as remote and isolated and dream of it as palace to visit once in a lifetime, but I don't think I would have been able to locate it on a map, or tell you the name of the country in which it is located, prior to reading this book. The genuine heroism of one man who knew how to enlist others in a very important task resulted in a close call, but the successful defense of countless irreplaceable historic manuscripts from what was nearly certain destruction by Islamic extremists. The adventures reported in the book keep readers engaged and gives a deep sense of the present day on-the-ground reality in Mali.

I don't say this about very many books, even those about which I am enthusiastic, but this book truly is a delight to read.