Two tales of a city: The historical race to reach one of the world's most mythologized places, and the story of how a contemporary band of archivists and librarians, fighting to save its ancient manuscripts from destruction at the hands of al Qaeda, added another layer to the legend.To Westerners, the name ‘Timbuktu' long conjured a tantalising paradise, an African El Dorado where even the slaves wore gold. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, a series of explorers gripped by the fever for discovery tried repeatedly to reach the fabled city. But one expedition after another went disastrously awry, succumbing to attack, climate, and disease.
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