×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

To Timbuktu for a Haircut: A Journey through West Africa
     

To Timbuktu for a Haircut: A Journey through West Africa

by Rick Antonson
 

See All Formats & Editions

Timbuktu: the African city known to legend as a land of scholars, splendor and mystery, a golden age in the Sahara Desert. But to many it is a vaguely recognizable name – a flippant tag for “the most remote place on earth.” With this fabled city as his goal, author Rick Antonson began a month-long trek. His initial plan? To get a haircut.

Overview

Timbuktu: the African city known to legend as a land of scholars, splendor and mystery, a golden age in the Sahara Desert. But to many it is a vaguely recognizable name – a flippant tag for “the most remote place on earth.” With this fabled city as his goal, author Rick Antonson began a month-long trek. His initial plan? To get a haircut.

Aided by an adventuresome spirit, Rick endures a forty-five hour train ride, a swindling travel agent, “Third World, three-lane” roads, rivers, and a flat deck ferry boat before finally reaching Timbuktu. Rick narrates the history of this elusive destination through the teachings of his Malian guide Zak, and encounters with stranded tourists, a camel owner, a riverboat captain, and the people who call Timbuktu home.

Antonson’s eloquence and quiet wit highlight the city’s myths—the centuries old capital and traveler’s dream—as well as its realities: A city gripped by poverty, where historic treasures lie close to the sands of destruction. Indeed, some 700,000 ancient manuscripts remain there, endangered. Both a travelogue and a history of a place long forgotten, To Timbuktu for a Haircut emerges as a plea to preserve the past and open cultural dialogues on a global scale.

The second edition of this important book outlines the volatile political situations in Timbuktu following the spring 2012 military coup in Mali and the subsequent capture of the city by Islamic extremists. Literally, it is a race against time to save the city’s irreplaceable artifacts, mosques, and monuments, and to understand why Timbuktu’s past is essential to the future of Africa.

Editorial Reviews

From a ride up the River Niger to an open-air music festival in the desert, from the sudden close friendships that bloom during such travel to the machinations of an unscrupulous tour coordinator who seems intent on foiling his travel goals at every juncture, Antonson handles the joys and occasional frustrations of his trip in vivid, straightforward prose and with a wry sense of humour. - Vancouver Sun, June 7, 2008

nicely embroidered with local tones and textures, a regional history of West Africa, the Tuareg people and accounts of early European exploration. Globe and Mail August 9

Anyone interested in traveling to Africa should put Antonsons book on the list, right after malaria tablets. National Post, Saturday, July 26

"Antonsons (story) is engagingly real, laying bare his frustrations and doubts. A month of travel might not seem like enough to stretch into a whole book, but Antonsons storytelling flows so well that the blow-by-blow account never gets tedious. Georgia Straight (Vancouver, BC) July 10, 2008

Library Journal
09/01/2013
The idea came in Antonson's youth, triggered by a response from his father, who was being pestered by the author and his older brother to disclose where he was going: "I'm going to Timbuktu to get my hair cut!" And so began Antonson's quest: one day he, too, would go to Timbuktu to get a haircut! Flash forward years later, and Antonson—world traveler, president and CEO of Tourism Vancouver, and vice chair of the Pacific Asia Travel Association—finds himself on a voyage by train, car, boat, and camel, accompanied by memorable individuals, among them a guide named Zak and, occasionally, a cook named Nema, through Senegal and Mali. Originally published in 2008, this revised and updated edition is supplemented by a discussion of the new realities facing Timbuktu and Mali in general, as a result of the activities of Islamic extremists; the author also provides updates on the people he met on his trip. Maps, illustrations, and photos are included. VERDICT A delightful book filled with humor and adventure. Readers will enjoy this engaging and lively story of one man's travels, but they will also learn about the history of the area, past explorers, and the famed manuscripts of Timbuktu.—Melissa Aho, Univ. of Minnesota Bio-Medical Lib., Minneapolis
Kirkus Reviews
A journey through some of the least traveled sections of Africa. When Antonson (Route 66 Still Kicks, 2012) had a month free from work, he decided to travel alone to the remotest place he could think of: Timbuktu. The source of legends, Timbuktu is in the heart of Mali, a region not easily traversed by the Western traveler--only 1,000 people a year visit the city--and it's this remoteness that inspired the author. Some of the strongest moments of the book occur early on, when Antonson chronicles his ride on a "ghost train" across Mali. He offers cringe-worthy descriptions of the filth and tight quarters of the train and colorful portraits of the boisterous villages at which they stopped. Most movingly, he shows the trust and friendships that developed between him and his roommates. Once off the train, Antonson made his way to Timbuktu to attend a world music festival, then spent a single, anticlimactic day in the city itself. Here, he learned of the thousands of ancient manuscripts in need of saving, a cause he later took up upon returning home. The author intersperses historical details of the region and fascinating portraits of previous Western explorers. In the last third of the book, Antonson recounts his walking trek through the Dogon region with an amiable guide. At times, there's an aloofness to the author's interactions with the Africans he meets. He seems most concerned with whether they would help him with his travel plans and appears overly insistent on getting his way. He spends quite a few pages on Mohammed, his swindling tour guide, who, while intended to seem devious, actually comes across as quite comic. The book was originally published in 2008, and this second edition includes an afterword by the author about the recent violence in Mali and the threat to Timbuktu. Not just for the armchair traveler, this book would serve as a useful guide for those interested in exploring Mali.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781626364882
Publisher:
Skyhorse Publishing
Publication date:
07/01/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
File size:
7 MB

Meet the Author

Rick Antonson is the president and CEO of Tourism Vancouver, and past chair of the board for Destination Marketing Association International, based in Washington, D.C. Rick is the author of the widely acclaimed To Timbuktu for a Haircut: A Journey Through West Africa, coauthor of Slumach’s Gold: In Search of a Legend, and The Fraser Valley.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews