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Manuscript Found in Accra

Manuscript Found in Accra

4.0 38
by Paulo Coelho, Margaret Jull Costa (Translator)

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The latest novel from #1 internationally best-selling author Paulo Coelho is a classic of inspiration and reflection, a meditation on life, love, and the significance of change.

A novel of philosophical reflection set in Jerusalem during the time of the Crusades. Here a community of Christians, Arabs, and Jews who have long lived together harmoniously have


The latest novel from #1 internationally best-selling author Paulo Coelho is a classic of inspiration and reflection, a meditation on life, love, and the significance of change.

A novel of philosophical reflection set in Jerusalem during the time of the Crusades. Here a community of Christians, Arabs, and Jews who have long lived together harmoniously have been warned of an imminent attack and certain destruction.  Contemplating their demise, the community assembles to seek the wise counsel of a Greek Copt, who imparts comforting and guiding wisdom on the enduring attributes of human character. The novel unfolds as a sequence of parables on love, faith, sex, friendship, beauty, bravery, loyalty, and success. 

Editorial Reviews

Though set in Jerusalem during the final year of the eleventh century, this Paolo Coehlo fable reverberates with contemporary meaning. In the novel, Christians, Jews, and Arabs who have lived peacefully together must now contemplate the prospect of their demise at the hands of Crusaders. Searching for consolation, if not resolution, they consult a Greek Copt wise man. Hailed in reviews as the universal work yet by the author of the international bestseller Aleph.

Publishers Weekly
A self-help sheen hangs over this book by the internationally bestselling author of The Alchemist, which reads much more like a collection of bland aphorisms than a work of fiction. It is Jerusalem, the year 1099, and as French soldiers prepare to invade, a group gathers around a trite sage known as “the Copt.” The topics broached are wide-ranging and somewhat random: a young woman asks about solitude and the Copt gives her a circuitous answer: “If you are never alone, you cannot know yourself. And if you do not know yourself, you will begin to fear the void. But the void does not exist.” A boy, worrying he may be useless, is told: “Don’t try to be useful. Try to be yourself; that is enough, and that makes all the difference.” Another woman decides that the time is right to ask about elegance and is told that elegance is more about how one wears clothes than the clothes themselves. If Coelho is attempting parody, he has failed, this being both too long and too broad. The wisdom to be found here could be found in many other, better places. Agent: Sant Jordi Asociados (Spain). (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Another treacly and pseudo-profound set of pronouncements, these from "the Copt," a Greek living in Jerusalem at the end of the 11th century. The conceit of the book is that, in 1974, Sir Walter Wilkinson discovered a papyrus manuscript written in Arabic, Hebrew and Latin. (Coelho is, if nothing else, eclectic in his cultural attributions.) This manuscript, purportedly revealing the wisdom of the Copt on the eve of the capture of Jerusalem by French crusaders in 1099, is in the form of call and response from various townspeople--Muslims, Christians and Jews. A sample setup: "And someone said: ‘When everything looks black, we need to raise our spirits. So, talk to us about beauty.' " This is all the opening the Copt needs to pontificate in a style reminiscent of warmed-over Kahlil Gibran: "All the beings created under the sun, from birds to mountains, from flowers to rivers, reflect the miracle of creation." Or, "to those who believe that adventures are dangerous, I say, try routine; that kills you far more quickly." Or, "[e]verything is permitted, if everything is accepted." Coelho's style is terse and epigrammatic, but despite the framing device, there's really no narrative here, only a series of assertions that reflect the Copt's surprisingly New-Age sensibilities. On the other hand, perhaps this isn't so surprising since at the beginning of the manuscript, the Copt announces that he "do[es] not believe very much will change in the next thousand years." This "novel" will appeal to those who like their philosophy predigested yet served on platters.
From the Publisher
“Coelho’s writing is beautifully poetic but his message is what counts.” —Daily Express
“His writing is like a path of energy that inadvertently leads readers to themselves, toward their mysterious and faraway souls.”  —Le Figaro
“His books have had a life enhancing impact on millions of people “ —The Times (London)
“An exceptional writer.”  —USA Today

“An intriguing and playful premise.” —The Boston Globe

“Full of worthy musings and quotable quotes on a variety of subjects—from solitude and love to beauty and miracles. . . . Like all Coelho’s other works, the earnestness, simplicity and clarity of [Manuscript Found in Accra’s] prose start touching your soul and transforming your thoughts.” —The International Herald Tribune

“Coelho . . .  shows himself again to be a cerebral and subtle writer.” —The New York Journal of Books
“Spiritualists and wanderlusts will eagerly devour . . .  [Coelho’s] search for all things meaningful.” —The Washington Post 

 “Coelho masterfully presents his points wrapped in the … familiar guise of an ancient story.” —Portland Book Review

“A timeless and powerful exploration of personal growth, everyday wisdom and joy.” —Bookscan (London)

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
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5.40(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.92(d)

Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from the Hardcover edition

Alas, that is not true. I am only twenty-one, my parents gave me love and an education, and I married a woman I love and who loves me in return. However, tomorrow, life will undertake to separate us, and we must each set off in search of our own path, our own destiny or our own way of facing death.

As far as our family is concerned, today is the fourteenth of July, 1099. For the family of Yakob, the childhood friend with whom I used to play in this city of Jerusalem, it is the year 4859—he always takes great pride in telling me that Judaism is a far older religion than mine. For the worthy Ibn al-Athir, who spent his life trying to record a history that is now coming to a conclusion, the year 492 is about to end. We do not agree about dates or about the best way to worship God, but in every other respect we live together in peace.

A week ago, our commanders held a meeting. The French soldiers are infinitely superior and far better equipped than ours. We were given a choice: to abandon the city or fight to the death, because we will certainly be defeated. Most of us decided to stay.

The Muslims are, at this moment, gathered at the Al-Aqsa mosque, while the Jews choose to assemble their soldiers in Mihrab Dawud, and the Christians, who live in various different quarters, are charged with defending the southern part of the city.

Outside, we can already see the siege towers built from the enemy’s dismantled ships. Judging from the enemy’s movements, we assume that they will attack tomorrow morning, spilling our blood in the name of the Pope, the “liberation” of the city, and the “divine will.”

This evening, in the same square where, a millennium ago, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate handed Jesus over to the mob to be crucified, a group of men and women of all ages went to see the Greek, whom we all know as the Copt.

The Copt is a strange man. As an adolescent, he decided to leave his native city of Athens to go in search of money and adventure. He ended up knocking on the doors of our city, close to starvation. When he was well received, he gradually abandoned the idea of continuing his journey and resolved to stay.

He managed to find work in a shoemaker’s shop, and—just like Ibn al-Athir—he started recording every- thing he saw and heard for posterity. He did not seek to join any particular religion, and no one tried to persuade him otherwise. As far as he is concerned, we are not in the years 1099 or 4859, much less at the end of 492. The Copt believes only in the present moment and what he calls Moira—the unknown god, the Divine Energy, responsible for a single law, which, if ever broken, will bring about the end of the world.

Alongside the Copt were the patriarchs of the three religions that had settled in Jerusalem. No government official was present during this conversation; they were too preoccupied with making the final preparations for a resistance that we believe will prove utterly pointless.

“Many centuries ago, a man was judged and condemned in this square,” the Greek said. “On the road to the right, while he was walking toward his death, he passed a group of women. When he saw them weeping, he said: ‘Weep not for me, weep for Jerusalem.’ He prophesied what is happening now. ‘From tomorrow, harmony will become discord. Joy will be replaced by grief. Peace will give way to a war that will last into an unimaginably distant future.’ ”

No one said anything, because none of us knew exactly why we were there. Would we have to listen to yet another sermon about these invaders calling themselves “crusaders”?

For a moment, the Copt appeared to savor the general confusion. And then, after a long silence, he explained:

“They can destroy the city, but they cannot destroy everything the city has taught us, which is why it is vital that this knowledge does not suffer the same fate as our walls, houses, and streets. But what is knowledge?”

When no one replied, he went on:

“It isn’t the absolute truth about life and death, but the thing that helps us to live and confront the challenges of day-to-day life. It isn’t what we learn from books, which serves only to fuel futile arguments about what happened or will happen; it is the knowledge that lives in the hearts of men and women of good will.”

The Copt said:

“I am a learned man, and yet, despite having spent all these years restoring antiquities, classifying objects, recording dates, and discussing politics, I still don’t know quite what to say to you. But I will ask the Divine Energy to purify my heart. You will ask me questions, and I will answer them. That is what the teachers of Ancient Greece did; their disciples would ask them questions about problems they had not yet considered, and the teachers would answer them.”

“And what shall we do with your answers?” someone asked.

“Some will write down what I say. Others will remember my words. The important thing is that tonight you will set off for the four corners of the world, telling others what you have heard. That way, the soul of Jerusalem will be preserved. And one day, we will be able to rebuild Jerusalem, not just as a city, but as a center of knowledge and a place where peace will once again reign.”

“We all know what awaits us tomorrow,” said another man. “Wouldn’t it be better to discuss how to negotiate for peace or prepare ourselves for battle?”

The Copt looked at the other religious men beside him and then immediately turned back to the crowd.

“None of us can know what tomorrow will hold, because each day has its good and its bad moments. So, when you ask your questions, forget about the troops outside and the fear inside. Our task is not to leave a record of what happened on this date for those who will inherit the Earth; history will take care of that. Therefore, we will speak about our daily lives, about the difficulties we have had to face. That is all the future will be interested in, because I do not believe very much will change in the next thousand years.”


Meet the Author

Paulo Coelho is the author of many international bestsellers, including The Pilgrimage, The Alchemist, The Fifth Mountain, Eleven Minutes, and Aleph.  In 2007, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2009, he received the Guinness World Record for the Most Translated Author for the same book (The Alchemist).

Brief Biography

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date of Birth:
August 24, 1947
Place of Birth:
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Left law school in second year

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Manuscript Found in Accra 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
The_Real_Brendon_Burchard More than 1 year ago
A wise man sits in a square taking questions about life on the eve of his town's massacre by an invading army. His wisdom, delivered in simple yet profound sentences, can alter the course of your life. A must-read for anyone interested in living a courageous, loving, meaningful life. My favorite quotes: 23. Defeat ends when we launch into another battle. Failure has no end; it is a lifetime choice. 30. The act of discovering who we are will force us to accept that we can go further than we think. 31. .. saying no does not always show a lack of generosity, and that saying yes is not always a virtue. 40. Ask a flower in the field: "Do you feel useful? After all you do nothing but produce the same flowers over and over." And the flower will answer: "I am beautiful, and beauty is my reason fro living." Ask the river: "Do you feel useful, given that all you do is keep flowing in the same direction?" And the river will answer: "I'm not trying to be useful; I'm trying to be a river." Nothing in this world is useless in the eyes of God. 41. Don't try to be useful. Try to be yourself; that is enough, and that makes all the difference.  42. Do one thing: Live the life you always wanted to live. Avoid criticizing others and concentrate on fulfilling your dreams. 48. Dreaming carries no risks. The dangerous thing is trying to transform your dreams into reality. 53. "Difficulty" is the name of an ancient tool that was created purely to help us define who we are. 54. And to those who believe that adventures are dangerous, I say, try routine; that kills you far more quickly. 68. Because Enthusiasm is the Sacred Fire. 135. And may this lead us to behave impeccably, making use of the four cardinal virtues: boldness, elegance, love, and friendship. 146. Excessive caution destroys the soul and the heart, because living is an act of courage, and an act of courage is always an act of love." 151. Our soul is governed by four invisible forces: love, death, power, and time. 153. Therefore, what the future holds for you depends entirely on your capacity for love. 153. The greatest gift God gave us is the power to make decisions. 154. And precisely when everything seems to be going well and your dream is almost within your grasp, that is when you must be more alert than ever. Because when your dream is almost within your grasp, you will be assailed by terrible GUILT. 169: The wounded person should ask himself: "Is it worth filling my heart with hatred and dragging the weight of it around with me?" 177. On loyalty: And beware of the pain you can cause yourself by allowing a vile and cowardly heart to be part of your world. ONce the evil has been done, there is no point in blaming anyone: the owner of the house was the one who opened the door. 178. The most important of wars is not waged with a lofty spirit or a soul accepting of its fate. It is the war that is going on now, as we speak, and whose battlefield is the Spirit, where Good and Evil, Courage and Cowardice, Love and Fear face one another. Surprisingly, I loved this book as much as I loved THE ALCHEMIST. Brendon Burchard - #1 New York Times bestselling author of THE CHARGE and THE MILLIONAIRE MESSENGER.
Annia2 More than 1 year ago
Just perfect! Paulo Coelho is one of my favorite authors. He always writes such amazing books! And the best thing is that all his books are short, but at the same time intense and beautiful. I’ve always thought that he is simple but profound, and his histories make you rethink your whole world. I remember reading The Alchemist when I was 16… in a very specific way, it just changed me. And because of that, I wanted to read “Manuscript found in Accra” as soon as I got the chance. It is just… great. As other Coelho’s books, it takes you to another world and the story just surrounds you. You can’t stop reading and you see yourself immersed in a charming but deep history. “Manuscript found in Accra” just goes back to the beginning. I really appreciated that while I was reading, and I felt again that magic, like when I read “The Alchemist”. That magic is exactly what makes books great. And this new book makes you think about some of the most basic things of your life and your world. It is original but structured, easy to read and inspiring. Just perfect… as always.
Silvia_SJ More than 1 year ago
"Magnificent" Paulo Coelho always surprises me! When I thought everything was done, he comes up with a new idea and releases this incredible new book. Structured through questions, the book is magnificent. As other Coelho’s books, it takes you to another world and the story surrounds you in a beautiful way. You can’t stop reading and you see yourself immersed in a charming but deep history. I couldn’t stop reading!
GemmaC More than 1 year ago
There is always a book, or an author, that changes your life. Even though sometimes it might be just a little bit, it just changes you.  That happened to me a long time ago with The Alchemist, and since then, I’ve been a huge fan of Paulo Coelho’s books. I have been expected his new book for a long time, and I have to say that it didn’t disappointed me. “Manuscript found in Accra” is brilliant, because it exposes in a simple but yet deep way some of the most interesting questions ever. Indeed, the book is structured  through questions, and that makes it simple but great. It is so basic, but so profound at the same time, that I think that I will read it again! As usual, Paulo Coelho writes (with majesty) about some of the most important values, such as love, change or faith.
The_Alternative More than 1 year ago
Book Review - Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho Manuscript Found in Accra  Paulo Coelho  Hardcover  Publisher: Knopf  Publication Date: April 2, 2013  ISBN-13: 978-0385349833  208 pages      Paulo Coelho’s Manuscript Found in Accra overflows with platitudes, beatitudes, and parables seemingly written for the 20th Century but found in the 11th in the holiest city on the planet. It is the eve of the First Crusade, July 14th, 1099 and Jerusalem lies in siege awaiting the invasion of Christian forces under the command of Godfrey of Bouillon, Robert II of Flanders, and Raymond IV of Toulouse. Forces of thousands of white-mantled soldiers surround the city’s gates. There, inside that holy city’s walls, on the eve of destruction, men, women, and children of every age and faith gather at a cistern to listen to the wisdom of a mysterious teacher known only as the Copt. He has summoned the panicked townspeople so that he can address their fears with truth; truths that resonate through the ages, truths that transform the audience into better human beings just for having heard them.      Coelho records the last days of a terrified people using platitudes and parables as a wise teacher instructs the crowd on how to live better lives, even in the midst of sure death for many of them. Using the voice of the mysterious Copt, Coelho addresses the human condition in adverse times and how harmony, joy, and peace bookended with discord, grief, and war define our lives. He speaks of daily life and difficulties overcome and how to live rather than the coming war and what is about to happen to the people of Jerusalem. He speaks of what matters – love, beauty, knowledge, art, poetry, sex, grace, and the future – and of finding your own way or “Personal Legend” even in the middle of war and of “being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.”       In the end, what Paulo Coelho teaches us in all of his recent works is that there is a “correct” way to live our lives. Forget color, race, money, religion, or position – there is a right way to conduct your life. Be decent and respect each other, love one another, and be at peace. One would hope that we could honor that philosophy by one day becoming apt students of this school of thought… 4 ½ stars out of 5 The Alternative One  Southeast Wisconsin
Nania_75 More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written. It is short but intense and deep. I am re-reading it and I think I will buy it as a gift for a lot of people...it's like 'The Alchemist', great and simple.  The English edition I bought is just amazing, and I think that it would be perfect for a lot of people I know! HIghly recomended!
sillybee More than 1 year ago
This was an initially quick read, but a book I am sure to read again and again and ponder. I always enjoy Paulo Coehlo's writing and philosophy, and this book was no disappointment. I like the different style of this book but I also prefer more or a story that unfolds.
S_Walker More than 1 year ago
I have always loved Paulo Coelho’s books; they are so concise in a great way, so beautiful but challenging. He is simple but profound and his histories will make you rethink your whole world. Because all of that, I expected “Manuscript found in Accra” to be great. And it just… is. As other Coelho’s books, it takes you to another world and the story surrounds you in a beautiful way. You can’t stop reading and you see yourself immersed in a charming but deep history. We live in a very changing world, and “Manuscript found in Accra” just goes back to the beginning. I really appreciated that while I was reading, and I felt again that magic, like when I was 16 and I read “The Alchemist”. That magic is exactly what makes books great. And this new book makes you think about some of the most basic things of your life and your world. It is original but structured, easy to read and inspiring. As Paulo Coelho usually does, the new book is not very long, but it’s precise and intense, and it just gets to the point. Because it’s easy to read, I would recommend read it even twice! Some quotes and some sentences are so thoughtful that I would say that the whole book requires re-reading. Indeed, the plot, the quotes, the philosophy behind it… everything makes it just simple but at the same time magnificent. I couldn’t stop reading. It was just pure wisdom. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its short but it has a lot to say. This is perhaps my new favorite book from coelho
dabDB More than 1 year ago
Wonderful lessons for the young....awesome reminders for the older. Making an effort to see the world differently today. So far...so good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read for all of us looking for the walls to tear down to discover our passion and true love devine energy within Finding the courage to step beyond our comfort to an adventure of discovering and living our soul purpose Truely Inspired me to jump in deeper than I felt comfortable
Literary_Marie More than 1 year ago
"And to those who believe that adventures are dangerous, I say, try routine; that kills you far more quickly." ~ pg. 54 Manuscript Found in Accra is the latest novel from internationally known best-selling author Paulo Coelho. It is set in Jerusalem on July 14, 1099. A community of Christians, Arabs and Jews assemble to seek guidance of a Greek philosopher named Copt. He summoned the people of Jerusalem to ask questions as they await the invasion of crusaders. The townspeople have questions about fear, defeat, love, loyalty, success, faith and many more topics we experience as humans. The Copt answers the questions in a precise, beautiful way. Simple wisdom at its finest. Manuscript Found in Accra follows the tradition of The Alchemist and of Paulo Coelho's tweets. The parables are brief lessons full of wisdom and spiritual themes that will inspire readers and maybe spur a moment of reflection. It may be a short novel at less than 200 pages but it is meaningful and guaranteed to impact readers' lives. "Therefore, Lord, give us this day our daily miracle. And forgive us if we are not always capable of recognizing it." ~ pg. 137 Manuscript Found in Accra has certainly made my Best Books of the year list. It is a book I will definitely re-read because the knowledge within applies to my everyday life and actually changed my perspective on a couple things. I'm glad I did not hesitate adding this book to my personal library for reading pleasure and as a life reference. If you thought The Alchemist was a life-changing book, then you will appreciate this profound read. "Solitude is not the absence of Love, but its complement. If you are never alone, you cannot know yourself." ~ pgs. 29-30 Literary Marie of Precision Reviews
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was so close to my philosophy on life i have named it "My Bible".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoy it very much! Speedy delivery in excellent condition!
SweetCarlota More than 1 year ago
Paulo Coelho never disappoints! Love the message and the concept.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good to take notes and revisit, again and again
Odu_Educated More than 1 year ago
Another wonderful book by a great writer. This book has a lot of timeless gems about love, family, education, ambition, just to name a few. Wonderful read!
sobu More than 1 year ago
couldn't get through this one - felt like a biblical lecture - boring boring boring
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter’s friend listed this as one of the 10 best books she had ever read. I had some doubt but I must say after reading this book I completely agree. I am now on my fourth book by Paulo Coelho. I find his writing inspiring and uplifting. I would recommend if you have not already read this book that you do soon as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I originally borrowed the book from the library and after reading it I decided I wanted to own it. It really had me reflect on life's challenges and how to face them. It gave me a new perspective on different issues that all people go through at some point in their lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written; provacative; a fascinating story that delivers meaningful messages; almost felt as if it were non-fiction; extremely readable and great for discussion.
ladyjatbay More than 1 year ago
First I have read about five of PC's books and so I was expecting this to be a novel. I didn't quite get why his name was on the book if it was a translation of the manuscripts. It would normally say edited by or translated by. As I have read "The Prophet," by Kahlil Gibran, years ago and found it much more poetic, I didn't see this as much different. It was more basic and less sarcastic then Krishnamurti but basically the same. I think this is more of a beginners book for someone who is new to self-awareness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago