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Book Nook: The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu.... by Joshua Hammer

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As we scan the world around us we can focus on many troubling things that are happening. Just to name a few that spring from the forefront of my perceptions at this moment: climate change, the horrifying situation in Syria, and the wanton destruction of precious cultural treasures by groups that justify their violence somehow through their warped concepts of what is unacceptable to them.

On that last matter we can see this happening in many different places. In Afghanistan the Taliban destroyed ancient statues of the Buddha. In Syria the group known as ISIS willfully demolished ancient structures and art in the city Palmyra. Archeological sites around the world are being looted and destroyed by thieves.

A few years ago a group of Islamic insurgents swept into northern Mali in Africa. They possessed weaponry that had been obtained from arsenals in Libya after that nation melted down in another flash of the chaos and destruction that is boiling up in places like northern Africa and the Middle East. These invaders swept into the ancient city of Timbuktu. Did you know that Timbuktu is a place where thousands of ancient books and manuscripts had been hidden away for centuries?

In his book "The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts" Joshua Hammer tells the thrilling tale of how this rich cultural legacy was preserved despite the onslaught of invaders who could have chosen to destroy these irreplaceable objects. If you love books and you understand the threat that our cultural legacy is facing right now you'll want to read this one. It reads like a novel with thrills and twists that are gripping and ultimately, inspiring.

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Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them. Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.