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Charlie English

The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu

Hay Festival 2017, 

A medieval centre of learning, Hay’s twin-town was home to tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts on subjects ranging from religion to poetry, law to history, pharmacology to astronomy. When al-Qaeda–linked jihadists surged across Mali in 2012, a remarkable thing happened: a team of librarians and archivists joined forces to spirit the manuscripts into hiding. This is their story. Chaired by Francine Stock.

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