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Timbuctoo Hardcover – July 5, 2012
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TAHIR SHAH S TIMBUCTOO has arrived with eerie, serendipitous, timing. In the months leading up to its publication, a coup d etat and ensuing power vacuum in the West African nation of Mali has resulted in extremists taking over the country s northern region (where Timbuktu is located). Islamic militants, said to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, and who have piggy-backed on a long-running Tuareg rebellion, have since been busy consolidating their Taliban-style rule. Although the larger episode has received little coverage from Western news organizations, famous for turning a blind eye to African affairs, the most recent twists in the Malian plot have managed to focus the world s attention, if only for a brief moment, on a forlorn corner of the world which Shah reminds us was once the obsession of Europe. --The Los Angeles Review of Books
An opulent, large-format edition, printed in Hong Kong, this curious and original book has evaded the usual censorship imposed by Anglo-American publishers. Shah has organised the whole endeavour himself, following in the self-publishing footsteps of fellow British-Asian author Timothy Mo. His book manages to be politically incorrect in a subtle, decorous and wry manner. The moral is that the English were and are unwashed, cruel, duplicitous, imperialist barbarians. If you want an unmediated account of what some liberal, Western-educated Muslims really think of our unjust, decrepit, corrupt society, then read this amusing, entertainingly uncomfortable book. --The Independent
About the Author
Tahir Shah is the author of fifteen books, many of which chronicle a wide range of outlandish journeys through Africa, Asia and the Americas. For him, there's nothing so important as deciphering the hidden underbelly of the lands through which he travels. Shunning well-trodden tourist paths, he avoids celebrated landmarks, preferring instead to position himself on a busy street corner or in a dusty cafe and observe life go by. Insisting that we can all be explorers, he says there's wonderment to be found wherever we are - it's just a matter of seeing the world with fresh eyes.
Shah's forthcoming novel, TIMBUCTOO, is inspired by a true life tale from two centuries ago. The story of the first Christian to venture to Timbuctoo and back - a young illiterate American sailor - it has been an obsession since Shah discovered it in the bowels of the London Library twenty years ago.
He recently published a collection of his entitled TRAVELS WITH MYSELF, a body of work as varied and as any, with reportage pieces as diverse as the women on America's Death Row, to the trials and tribulations of his encounter in a Pakistani torture jail.
Another recent work, IN ARABIAN NIGHTS, looks at how stories are used in cultures such as Morocco, as a matrix by which information, values and ideas are passed on from one generation to the next. That book follows on the heels of the celebrated CALIPH'S HOUSE: A Year in Casablanca, lauded as one of Time Magazine's Top 10 Books of the year.
His other works include an epic quest through Peru's cloud forest for the greatest lost city of the Incas (HOUSE OF THE TIGER KING), as well as a journey through Ethiopia in search of the source of King Solomon's gold (IN SEARCH OF KING SOLOMON'S MINES). Previous to that, Shah published an account of a journey through the Amazon on the trail of the Birdmen of the Amazon (TRAIL OF FEATHERS), as well as a book of his experiences in India, as a godman's pupil (SORCERER'S APPRENTICE).
Tahir Shah's books have appeared in thirty languages and in more than seventy editions. They are celebrated for their original viewpoint, and for combining hardship with vivid description.
He also makes documentary films, which are shown worldwide on National Geographical Television, and The History Channel. The latest, LOST TREASURE OF AFGHANISTAN, has been screened on British TV and shown worldwide. While researching the programme Shah was arrested along with his film crew and incarcerated in a Pakistani torture jail, where they spent sixteen terrifying days and nights.
His other documentaries include: HOUSE OF THE TIGER KING, SEARCH FOR THE LOST CITY OF GOLD, and THE SEARCH FOR KING SOLOMON'S MINES. And, in addition to documentaries, Shah writes for the big screen. His best known work in this genre is the award-winning Imax feature JOURNEY TO MECCA, telling the tale of the fourteenth century Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta's first pilgrimage to Mecca.
Tahir Shah lives at Dar Khalifa, a sprawling mansion set squarely in the middle of a Casablanca shantytown. He's married to the graphic designer, Rachana Shah, and has two children, Ariane and Timur. His father was the Sufi writer, Idries Shah.
Top customer reviews
The same can be said about the life and writings of other members of this eminent family who have brought us so much knowledge of important things to be found in places usually unsuspected in the West because we ordinarily think that anything worth knowing must come from our own cultural area. And if we ever got anything else from other places, it was long time ago and now we are the best. Shah demonstrates aspects of cultural exchanges and synthesis.
To be a little more specific but without giving away details which might spoil the pleasure of reading this or other of his books, let us just say that in spite of being well-traveled and a well educated in the area of social sciences, I knew very little about most things presented here not only about the old Africa but also many aspects of life in England at that time. And then there are abundant and subtle observations about human nature in general, both in weakness and strengths which we normally are blind about.
If you want to be captivated and also to learn, also about yourself, it is the book for you.
Also, this is the limited edition, beautiful in every aspect, including many old maps, demonstrating what the most educated people thought about the world at that time. (BTW such maps are also included in Shah's "Scorpion Soup").
And there is a web site for this book ([...] offering - inter alia - a challenge to break the Timbuctoo Code and locate the Treasure. So far, the solution eluded me - I must be more mechanical in my thinking than I am ready to admit to myself and to change. But that looks like a life-long quest in which this book certainly assists.
travel voyage into the Regency Period (during the time of the "madness of
King George"). Full of love, greed, loyalty, betrayal, redemption,and so
many other of the finest and the worst of human qualities and
characteristics, Timbuctoo has at its core the story of a great and true
love, sustaining all, through an amazing adventure.
The author's writing style bursts with vitality, and the pages are
loaded with fascinating historical and cultural detail, which in
no way impedes the flow of the 'can't-put-it-down' quality of the story.
The characters in the book are many and diverse, from the sublime
to the ridiculous, and most everything in between, marvelously
filled out and brought to life in the many stories-within-stories
in the tale. From the dregs of human degeneracy to the devotion
of steadfast love, the many players tell their stories here.
The author has managed a writing style where there is a sense
of old-time prose, and yet it flows with great energy and
From beginning to end I thoroughly enjoyed reading Timbuctoo on Kindle,
and I can't wait to get my copy of the hard cover book!
At times we say how reality is more extreme than our wildest imagination can portray and that is exactly the case here.
Shah's book is an adventure that is full of facts, with layered stories and minute descriptions that are wonderful, full of life and love for truth.
Who would have ever thought that there were white slaves in the early 19th century in this part of the world? Who really understood the effects of the Regency period, i.e. the ruler being a Mad King and the Prince Regent portrayed with an eye for such detail?
There is an underlying love story which demonstrates not only a romantic relationship, but which is also a story on a steadfast love of truth.
This quest for truth stands out amidst the other truths. There are descriptions of the cruelty of which human beings are capable, as long as they believe in their own petty truth. These are, of course, as much relevant in today's world and give a new, historical perspective, enabling us to look at ourselves slightly differently in the modern world.
Shah has obviously done a lot of research into the reality of those days of the Regency period. This enhances the quality of the portrayal of that world, making it easier to enter and take part in.
This is a must-read, original book that will be hard to put down (in the literal and figurative sense of the word). Wonderful!
Most recent customer reviews
A compelling read of an unusual kind.This is a narrative (see other reviews for story line) with arrows in its quiver and reflections in its mirror, and a...Read more
The Book is an absolute pleasure to read,
I highly recommend it
The book is handsomely crafted, a true pleasure to the...Read more