(K. Brent Tomer),
The Storied City: The Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save its Past. By Charlie English. Riverhead; 416 pages; $28. Published in Britain as The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu; William Collins; £20
TOMBUT. Tenbuch. Tombouctou. Timbuktu. The names called to Europe from out across the Sahara, never quite certain. Was it a New Jerusalem? An African Carthage? A Moorish Florence? Nobody knew: explorer after explorer had tried to reach it, to send word back to Europe of this fabled city on the Niger river, but until well into the 19th century every attempt had ended in death or failure. Perched on the outer reaches of European knowledge, Timbuktu powerfully captured what Edward Said, a Palestinian-American scholar, called the “Orientalist” imagination. For centuries, myth was piled upon myth.
In “The Storied City”, Charlie English, a veteran journalist for the Guardian, traces how…Continue reading