Anne McElvoy discusses the libraries of Timbuktu. They may have been saved from the rebels fleeing the city earlier this week, but they still have a lot to teach us about literacy and book culture in Africa before the arrival of European missionaries. Dr Shamil Jeppie runs a major research project on the books Timbuktu of Timbuktu and beyond. He joins Anne along with Dr Marion Wallace, Head of African Collections at the British Library, and the novelist Aminatta Forna.
Susannah Clapp will be in the studio with a first night review of a revival of Harold Pinter's Old Times, first seen in 1971. The play, with its themes of memory and desire, is a three hander in which a married couple are visited by the wife's old friend. (In this production the roles of the two friends are played by Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Williams who will be alternating the roles on different nights.)
In his new book "The Engineers of Victory", the acclaimed British historian Paul Kennedy delves into the story of the problem solvers of the Second War, those behind-the-scenes heroes who helped win the war. He tells Anne why their contribution has often been forgotten and why the cryptographers may have been given too much credit at the expense of the engineers.
And, The Shard is the tallest building in Europe, giving unprecedented views across the whole of London. Built using Qatari money, it's also been criticised as imposing Middle Eastern architectural values on an historic district of the capital. As the building opens its doors to the public this weekend, the blogger and architect Karl Sharro gives us his reflections from the top.