The Literary Refugees of Timbuktu 

For centuries, Timbuktu, Mali, has quietly housed some of the greatest treasures of the ancient world: hundreds of thousands of scientific, literary, and religious manuscripts. But when Al Qaeda jihadists seized control of the city in the wake of a coup in 2012, the manuscripts found themselves in dire threat of destruction. To save them, a group of unlikely allies worked together to organize one of the most brazen evacuations of cultural heritage ever attempted...and succeeded in rescuing 95 % of Timbuktu’s ancient written heritage. 

One of my favorite pieces of writing, published in the peer-reviewed academic journal, Preservation, Digital Technology, and Culture. My primary review feedback came in the best (underhanded) compliment I’ve ever received: that my writing was “too accessible” and “not academic enough.” If an average reader can engage with an academic topic, enjoy it, and learn something from it — well, that’s the highest achievement I can ask for as a writer. 

P.S.: the journal published the story anyway.

Click to read the story: