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Timbuctoo [Hardcover]

Tahir Shah
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
RRP: 35.00
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Book Description

5 July 2012
For centuries, the greatest explorers of their age were dispatched from the power-houses of Europe London, Paris and Berlin on a quest unlike any other: To be the first white Christian to visit, and then to sack, the fabled metropolis of Timbuctoo. Most of them never returned alive. At the height of the Timbuctoo mania, two hundred years ago, it was widely believed that the elusive Saharan city was fashioned in entirety from the purest gold everything from the buildings to the cobble-stones, from the buckets to the bedsteads was said to be made from it. One winter night in 1815, a young illiterate American seaman named Robert Adams was discovered half-naked and starving on the snow-bound streets of London. His skin seared from years in the African desert, he claimed to have been a guest of the King of Timbuctoo. Thought of an American claiming anything let alone the greatest prize in exploration was abhorrent in the extreme. Closing ranks against their unwelcome American guest, the British Establishment lampooned his tale, and began a campaign of discrediting him, one that continues even today. An astonishing tale based on true-life endurance, Tahir Shah s epic novel Timbuctoo brilliantly recreates the obsessions of the time, as a backdrop for one of the greatest love stories ever told. Timbuctoo will be released on June 28, 2012. This is a limited edition hardback, very very high spec, and designed along the lines of the travel books of two centuries ago. It weighs 2 kilos (almost 4.5 lbs), has fabulous marbled endpapers, a silk bookmark, a pouch at the rear with inserts, and six huge fold-out maps. The paper is wood-free, and the cover embossed with raised gold type. In addition, each copy contains the clues needed to begin a treasure hunt that could result in locating one of four golden treasures of Timbuctoo. The book is a thing of extraordinary beauty, and the kind of book that will last two hundred years or more.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Secretum Mundi Publishing; Limited Edition edition (5 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0957242905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0957242906
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 20.8 x 5.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 450,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More 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 café 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.

In the tradition of A Thousand and One Nights, Shah's first 2013 release, SCORPION SOUP, is a treasury of nested tales. One linking effortlessly into the next, the stories form a cornucopia of lore and values, the kind that has for centuries shaped the cultural landscape of the East. Amusing, poignant, and thoroughly entertaining, the collection stays with you, conjuring a magic all of its own.

Shah's 2012 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.

His 2011 collection entitled TRAVELS WITH MYSELF is 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.

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Product Description

Review

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 café 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.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timbuctoo: A great read 24 Jun 2012
By Eric T
Format:Kindle Edition
If you like a story about the oppressed, the downtrodden or the outsider coming through in spite of harrowing events, grave injustices and enormous odds stacked against them; characters you love to hate; and a good old-fashioned love story, then you may well find wonderful resonances and enjoyment in Tahir Shah's epic novel, Timbuctoo. There are some anti-establishment sentiments in the mix and, given some of the characters' proclivities and activities -- such as the Prince Regent's whimsical excesses and the making of fortunes from trade in unfortunate African slaves -- rightly so, I feel. These themes are timeless.

There's a wise, old saying that you only possess that which would survive a shipwreck. In Robert Adams' case, this was faith, hope, gritty determination and above all the passionate love which fuelled and drove these qualities in him, and to which he clung on for dear life. We're all shipwrecked when we're brought into this world, become enslaved in one way or another and, separated from our "beloved", we yearn to be reunited. There's something about this process that touches on the mystical. In a sense, then, like the old woodcutter in the traditional story of Mushkil Gusha (Remover of All Difficulties), Robert Adams is telling us our own archetypal story and also showing us a way through all this to freedom. The details are very different for each individual, but the underlying pattern is the same.

I found that the author's use of short chapters and often short paragraphs split up the novel into easily manageable "bites", added to the pace of the story and also heightened the drama. With many deft twists and turns in the captivating plot, the book was a real page turner and unputdownable.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book! 27 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I love this book! Timbuctoo is, for me, a richly rewarding virtual time-
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
readability.

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!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a corker! 14 July 2012
Format:Hardcover
A certain scepticism about all the hoohah, changing to astonishment at the level of physical production for the tome- a return to old style craft publishing values. Truly a worthy container indeed! As for the content I think the other reviewers have it all nailed. It's a corker! Wonderful read that will transport you effortlessly to another time, another place...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely riveting read - and an ebook bargain 27 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This is the first time I have managed to read an entire book on an electronic device. That must be because it is such an absolutely riveting read.

A man is telling his story, of endurance almost past belief, of powerlessness, of terrible suffering yet of inner resolve. He is telling it in a London club to an audience who know only comfort and whose only challenges are in social decorum. And they have reason not to believe him for he is an outsider claiming knowledge that contradicts the greedy dream they share.

The narration of this man who was trafficked as a white slave through the hellish sun roasted Sahara is interwoven with a cold winter in London, that inconveniences the rich (but threatens the survival of the disregarded poor. (Oh it makes me regret impatience if the bus is late)

This is a very vivid account that brings alive the period, the people the physical sense of London before motor vehicles and electricity and phones as well as the unpredictable life of those with little or no say over what happens to them.

As I said I read this in digital format - and it is a bargain - but I am looking forward to the release of the real book edition, which sounds like it is one for book lovers - and might well make book lovers of those who aren't.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre Happenings in Regency London 28 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There are people even today who are unsure about whether Timbuctu exists or whether the word is just a metaphor for somewhere really remote. In early nineteenth century England Timbuctoo signified a city of great wealth where anything that could be fashioned from gold was. By the time a destitute Robert Adams was found close to death near Covent garden, the Royal Committee for Africa was planning a major expedition to find and plunder the fabled city. The revelation that Adams had been to Timbuctoo was not received with unalloyed joy but, since a naval blocade prevented his return to his native America, it was decided that he recite his story in the presence of Simon Cochran, Secretary to the Committee.

The story Robert Adams tells, of his shipwreck and involuntary, nightmarish journey through the Sahara weaves like a timeless thread through the rest of the narrative. He is a Christian Odysseus at the mercy of the Dark Continent rather than the Wine-dark Sea, where endurance of privation, brutality, loneliness, terror and temptation is only possible because he manages to keep alive the hope of reaching home and being reunited with his Penelope, his dearly beloved wife, Christina.

As Adams waits for the war between England and America to end and for a ship to take him home, we are drawn deeper and deeper into the life of Regency London, meeting the rich and powerful with no conception of work, the numerous servants upon whom they rely but who are considered unworthy of notice, the scientific and literary elite represented by Sir Joseph Banks, George Byron and Jane Austen, and others who earn their living independently in unorthodox ways.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
This book is the most unusual I have come across for quite some time. It is set in the regency period when our aptly named 'Mad' King George III was on the throne of Britain and... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Bodicia
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read. Tahir follow his family tradition of great...
A fascinant story that mixes reality and fiction. Its publication comes precisely at a time when the attention of the western world turn to the problems of Mali and cultural... Read more
Published 15 months ago by miguel
5.0 out of 5 stars Timbuctoo by Tahir Shah
This is a terrific book - a real ripping yarn involving ship wrecks, Regency London, exotic Timbuctoo, a great plot and even some love interest. Read more
Published 15 months ago by clare m h
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Xmas gift
I absolutely loved this book. Tahir Shah manages to make the pages alive. If you like Shah's writing, you will love Timbactoo and if you don't know his writing, Timbuctoo is the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Ina
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
This book was extremely well written, inspirational and captivating. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it. Can't say more than that!
Published 16 months ago by C. BELL
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous read-enlightenment, salon, exoticism all rolled into one!
I have not had the pleasure of the printed version of Timbuctoo, but I devoured the e-book. The brief chapters weave a story in the true tradition of storytelling, taking us from... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Kristi Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Timbuctoo: After Tahir Shah's amazing alternative travel books, his...
I received a free copy of this ebook from the "Cave ab homine unius libri (Beware the man who owns just one book)" web-site: [...] (and I also bought the hard-back edition). Read more
Published 18 months ago by Andrew
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars for Good Reason
Tahir Shah's `Timbuctoo' is one of the most wonderful, engaging, descriptive and informative tales I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Read more
Published 19 months ago by ShonUK
5.0 out of 5 stars Divine Comedy
I like to support my local bookshop. When I stood at the desk to order the proper copy of TIMBUCTOO, I hesitated - the price, autsch. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Ashen Venema
5.0 out of 5 stars Timbuctoo: all you need is Love!
The very fact that Tahir has devised a wonderful treasure hunt that starts by breaking a code gives the hint on how to approach this masterpiece. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Adriano De Matteis
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