The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu

The name “Timbuktu” has long conjured a tantalizing paradise, an African El Dorado where even the slaves were rumored to wear 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 expedition after expedition went disastrously awry, succumbing to enslavement, attack, and disease. Timbuktu was rich in another way too. An ancient center of learning, it was home to tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts, on subjects ranging from religion to poetry, law to history. When al-Qaeda–linked jihadists surged across Mali in 2012, threatening their existence, an extraordinary thing happened: a team of librarians and archivists conspired to spirit the manuscripts into hiding. Relying on extensive research and firsthand reporting, Charlie English expertly twines these two suspenseful strands into a fraught and fascinating account of one of the planet's extraordinary places.

UK and international edition

The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu is published by William Collins.


In the US

The Storied City (US edition of The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu) is published by Riverhead.


In Germany

Die Bücher Schmuggler von Timbuktu is published by Hoffmann and Campe.

In Italy

I ladri di libri di Timbuctù is published by Mondadori. 

The Snow Tourist

In this unique book, part eulogy, part history, part travelogue, Charlie English goes in search of the best snow on the planet. Along the way he explains the extraordinary hold this commonplace phenomenon has over us, and reveals the ongoing drama of our relationship with it. Combining on-the-slopes experience with off-piste research, Charlie English's journey begins with the magical moment when his two-year old son sees snow for the first time, before setting off in the footsteps of the Romantic poets over the Alps, following the sled-tracks of the Inuit across Greenland, and meeting up with a flurry of fellow enthusiasts, from snow-making scientists in Japan and global warming experts at Caltech to plough drivers in Alaska. This is a book for anyone who reaches for their mittens at the sight of the first flake.

'A compelling and heart-warming book.' Irish Times

'A wonder and a delight. The perfect winter book.' Metro


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© 2018 Charlie English