In Search of King Solomon’s Mines: A Quest in Ethiopia by Tahir Shah

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It began with a map in Jerusalem. The map showed a trail leading to the fabled mines of King Solomon, which have enthralled and tormented all those who have searched for them. Bewitched by the legends, Tahir Shah resolved to take up the quest. Chasing clues from past travellers’ tales and local folklore to the Copper Scroll and the Kebra Negast, Shah is led to Ethiopia, whose emperors trace descent from the son born to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and where gold has been mined for millennia. In Harar he feeds wild hyenas that are said to guard Solomon’s treasure. He visits an illegal gold mine where hundreds of men, women and children toil in a biblical hell and explores the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, where the ‘Gold of Sheba’ is kept. Shah’s desire is to reach the cursed mountain of Tullu Wallel where, decades before, an English adventurer claimed to have discovered Solomon’s treasure. “In Search of King Solomon’s Mines” is an astonishing journey into the heart of one of history’s greatest unsolved mysteries.

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The Chains of Heaven: An Ethiopian Romance by Philip Marsden

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Philip Marsden returns to the remote, fiercely beautiful landscape that has exercised a powerful mythic appeal over him since his first encounter with it over twenty years ago.
‘Ethiopia bred in me the conviction that if there is a wider purpose to our life, it is to understand the world, to seek out its diversity, to celebrate its heroes and its wonders – in short, to witness it.’
When Philip Marsden first went to Ethiopia in 1982, it changed the direction of his life. What he saw of its stunning antiquity, its raw Christianity, its extremes of brutality and grace prompted his curiosity, and made him a writer.
But Ethiopia at that time was torn apart by civil war. The north, the ancient heartland of the country, was closed off. Twenty years later, Marsden returned. The result is this book – the account of a journey deferred.
Walking hundreds of miles through a landscape of cavernous gorges, tabletop mountains and semi-desert, Marsden encounters monks and hermits, rebels and farmers. And he creates an unforgettable picture of one of the most remote regions left on earth. As in his award-winning book ‘The Spirit-Wrestlers’, Marsden reminds us of the brilliant heights that travel writing can attain, whilst celebrating the ageless rewards of the open road and the people for whom the mythic and the everyday are inextricably joined.

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The Shadow Of The Sun: My African Life by Ryszard Kapuscinski

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Polish writer and foreign correspondent Ryszard Kapuscinski may be in the twilight of a golden career spanning more than 40 years but The Shadow of the Sun, an alternative record of his experiences of Africa and its stupefying white heat, is perhaps his finest hour. This for a writer who, to echo the sentiments of Michael Ignatieff, has turned reportage into literature. Drawn to the Developing World through an impoverished wartime upbringing, Kapuscinski arrived in Ghana in 1957 and was on hand to witness the tumultuous years in which colonial Africa was dismantled, resulting in born-again countries ripe for ransacking by despots. From the glare of Accra airport which greets him on first arrival, to the Tanzanian night of the final pages, he crosses savannah, desert and city by foot, road and train, searching out the two most important, yet inconstant commodities on the continent: shade and water. Threatened by an Egyptian cobra, cursed with cerebral malaria and tuberculosis, plagued by black cockroaches the size of small turtles, Kapuscinski intermingles the immediate and the reflective in 29 satisfyingly fragmented vignettes, encompassing historical narratives and personal experience across a host of countries, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria, Sudan and Liberia.

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