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In Search of King Solomon's Mines

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  493 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
King Solomon, the Bible's wisest king, also possessed extraordinary wealth. He built a temple at Jerusalem that was said to be more fabulous than any other landmark in the ancient world, heavily adorned with gold from Ophir. The precise location of this legendary land has been one of history's great unsolved mysteries. Long before Rider Haggard's classic adventure novel Ki ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Arcade Publishing (first published 2002)
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In Ali Baba's Tourist Emporium in the old city of Jerusalem, Tahir Shah allows himself to be sold a map to King Solomon's mines. It is an obvious piece of tourist merchandise, but it starts the wheels turning for an adventure in Ethiopia, and (obviously) a search for those mines. Partly inspired by the H. Rider Haggard classic tale (albei
Ula M
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The more I saw of Ethiopia's rural areas, the more confused I became about the country's image. In the West everyone thinks of Ethiopia as a place of starvation and famine, but although there are isolated pockets of desert, most of the country is lush."

This is one of my mother's favourite books, so when she asked me to read it I knew I would enjoy it. Also happens to be my first ever non-fiction! I think I expected this to be harder to read than it was, but I found it light and fun while still
Mar 14, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This book reads quite well and there are some interesting bits about Ethiopia scattered throughout. It was a fairly entertaining read, enough so that I did not put it down even though I was sorely tempted to because of how arrogant and sad the author seemed to me.

I was expecting that someone who really wanted to discover such a historical site(s) would do plenty of scholarly research beforehand and that the whole thing would read a bit more legitimate than it did. He admits to not doing much res
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ethopia
While Tahir Shah stumbles on a map that claims to show King Solomon's mines, he does not totally stumble upon this trip. He says that his father had sought out these mines. While this thread is not developed, Shah must have an unusual passion to have made such an arduous journey.

This is a travelogue that one does not need to care about mining or gold to enjoy. Shah leads an mini-expedition through rural Ethiopia to find the sites shown on the map. While the journey is rough, Shah seems to have a
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults and children over 7
Recommended to Ita by: Tahir Shah
‘In Search Of King Solomon’s Mines’ was first published over a decade ago, but it is still a treasure whose value becomes more apparent with the passing of years.

Ten years ago I was captivated by the journey through Ethiopia, by the ancient churches hewn out of solid rock in Lalibela, the hair-raising ascent to the monastery in Debra Damo, the desert trek with people from the greatly feared Danikil tribe and their sullen camels, the final leg under atrocious conditions after the dilapidated jeep
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing

This review is from: In Search of King Solomon's Mines: A Modern Adventurer's Quest for Gold and History in the Land of the Queen of Sheba (Paperback)
Thoroughly recommended. An immensely appealing book. In search of treasure and 'treasure'. Footprints in out of the way places take us across Ethiopia. This author has an inimitable beam to his torch light that fans into daylight.
Read it and see mining's and cuttings of unfamiliar life. With Solomon to help and aid off he goes.
In the middle of re-
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Tahir Shah shares with the Sufi classical master, Saadi, the extraordinary ability to write two different books simultaneously and present them under one cover. The first book is the account of his travels in Ethiopia. The second reveals itself when you realise that language is being used metaphorically. The simple, majestic prose in which 'In Search of King Solomon's Mines' is written is also a joy to read.
Aubrey Davis
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A cockeyed, hilarious, shocking romp through unfamiliar territory. Bursting with fascinating facts, people and strange but true tales. Challenged my assumptions about Ethiopia and Africa... Ostensibly a quest for gold, it is oddly generous...if you're lucky you may discover something far more valuable.
Nathan Albright
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge-2018
Who knew that the search for the legendary gold mines of Ophir of King Solomon could be a family quest that included the author as well as his father and grandfather?  As someone who is by no means unacquainted with crazy traveling quests inspired by my family [1], there was a lot in this book I could understand.  The author was certainly a far more unscrupulous traveler than I was and clearly he had mixed motives that were fascinating to watch.  Who, for example, brings a fancy gold detector on ...more
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travelogues
In Search of King Solomon's Mines is an account* of the author's journey into Ethiopia to investigate the legendary source of gold. Although it seems on the surface to be a search for the gold itself (and does include several trips to real and rumoured gold mines) it's really a book that traces the attempts of past explorers to find the gold.

The most notable of these was explorers was Frank Hayter, who travelled from England to Ethiopia for the first time in 1924 on a mission to bring back 100
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Fascinated by the conundrum of where the biblical figure King Solomon had acquired his vast reserves of gold, Shah sets out to find its reputed source in Ophir, which he believes to be located in modern day Ethiopia.

Shah's 2002 journey, accompanied by two reluctant Ethiopian travelling companions, is an absorbing one which takes him into the hinterlands of Ethiopia. His travels in search of the mines showcases both reasonably well known places such as the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and lesse
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it
While I love Tahir Shah's writing and the topic was fascinating, this book (for me) was like a long old road trip. It started out with great fun, big plans, and adventure in its heart, but toward the end I was just glad it was over. And maybe that's the POINT! It did give me a completely different idea of what Ethiopia was like, a bigger picture than I've ever imagined.
It's a good book for a long haul.
Like, if you're camping and feeling slightly abused by the conditions.
This read will cheer you
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-lust-to-go
The descriptions of Africa were vivid. The story at its core was interesting. I just found that as the story continued, it got very repetitive.
Rogue Reader
Apr 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-africa
It's perfectly natural for a young expat member of the Afghan aristocratic class to become consumed with the idea of King Solomon's Mines. Especially if his father traveled the world to write of exotic adventures. In Search of King Solomon's Mines begins as Tahir Shah is caught by a crudely drawn map of Ethiopia found in Ali Baba's Tourist Emporium. Six hundred shekels, cheap at the price, Ali Baba tells him. Shah knows the map is a fake. He knows he's been sold the same map as hundreds or thous ...more
May 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
King Solomon used a great deal of gold in building the Temple, according to the Bible. It had to come from somewhere, and Tahir Shah concludes -- as many others concluded before him -- that the likely source was somewhere in present-day Ethiopia.
It's never clear why he wants to find the mines. He's not looking for gold for himself. It just seems to be something he's curious about and thinks would be a good topic for a book.
It is that.
"In Search of King Solomon's Mines" turns out to an excuse to
Dec 19, 2015 rated it liked it
I'd like to give two ratings: one for the book and story itself (4 stars), and one for the writing (2.5 stars). Not that the book is full of typos or bad editing -- it's just that the author seems to be just a guy telling things that happened, but in a rather lackluster, loose way. Odd, the guy is a travel writer. But that's just me.

What a crazy guy, though. Hey, let's go to Ethiopia and see if we can find the lost gold mines of King Solomon. I'll give the guy credit, he is crazy, but intrepid.
Karin Walters
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this book because of a new book club that I planned to attend (but couldn't make the meeting). I don't think I would have gone ahead and read this book on my own, but I'm glad I did. I was a little scared by the "non-fiction" part of this and that it might be very technical and academic because of the "King Solomon's Mines" part, but this was actually more of a travel/adventure book.

I'll admit that I know virtually nothing about Ethiopia. I was exposed a little to it when I read a fiction
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Tahir Shah is one of the best travel writers ever. Period. I want desperately want to travel with him. No, scratch that, I want to BE him. I want to get paid to go on grand adventures with the threat of death and disease in foreign countries in pursuit of impossible goals. Is this so much to ask?
Shah’s first two books take place in India and Peru respectively. In this book, Shah finally writes about a continent near and dear to my heart – Africa. While on vacation in Isreal, Shah finds an “old m
Sep 17, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
I liked the author's style. Clean, simple. I enjoyed his descriptions of the people he met along his journeys. The two women in my book club that have been to Ethiopia (a bit random, I know) tell me that this book is certainly not a complete picture of the country, but what I did learn about the country and people were interesting. And it might sound corny, but it really makes you think about people and what they have to go through. Like I live my life thinking that it's hard or something is rea ...more
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book Lust

While browsing a shop in Jerusalem, Shah comes across a hand-drawn map that the shop owner claims could guide him to the legendary gold mines of King Solomon. Dubious map in hand, Shah sets out on a quest to Ethiopia.

In the capital, Addis Ababa, Shah collects two locals to help him - an educated, devout Christian with a rare love of his country's history, and a sketchy and reckless Somali driver. Together the three explore the corners of Ethiopia, withstanding humor and hardship the who
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I want to get on an airplane right now, fly to Ethiopia, and risk my life searching for a three-thousand-year-old mine shaft. That's how much I loved this book. It didn't change my life like "Three Cups of Tea" but it definitely has a lot of the same suspense, Indiana Jones-style adventure, and rollicking (third-world) humor. I was flooded with memories of all those crazy hotels, towns, and villages in Northern Ethiopia - places that make you feel like you've been dropped off on a different plan ...more
May 11, 2016 rated it liked it
The author gives a wonderful travel guide to Ethiopia as he searches the land at the various sites where gold was mined. There were basically five different areas he researched as the site for all the gold that was used in the temple build by King Solomon. He has read the scriptures to understand where he might need to begin his search and came to the conclusion Ethiopia was the most practical choice. He gave a lovely blending of legends, histories, and personal observations which made this a ve ...more
Feb 25, 2015 rated it liked it
so I have a new reading challenge. my sister and I are in the beginning stages of planning a trip to Ethiopia this fall, so I will endeavour to try to get at least a bare bones understanding of the country's long, rich history. and I begin with this one. it is kind of dated now, but it is such an engaging story I understand why it continues to be read.

The book is not overly-long, nor does it get bogged down in minutiae research - Tahir Shah gives exactly the right amount of information to put t
May 24, 2007 rated it liked it
I enjoy Tahir Shah's books, and learned so much about Ethiopia. Walking the gold trail of the ancients was interesting, but this was not my favorite work by Shah. At book club, one of the critiques was that Mr. Shah can sometimes seem a bit condescending towards the people he writes about, and I felt that in this book. Perhaps it was his yearning to follow in the footsteps of those Europeans who organized similar expeditions before him, but it came across as somewhat imperialistic to me. But you ...more
Wayland Smith
Mar 23, 2015 rated it liked it
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book. I read a review in the Washington Post that made me curious, so I thought I'd check it out. It's kind of a mixed bag.

I was thinking there'd be more about the search for a mythological place. There was some of that, sure, but a lot of it read more like a travelogue of Ethiopia. There was more about the author and his travels than the search I expected.

It's certainly not bad, I just would have preferred a slightly different focus. Decent read if
David R.
May 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
Adventurers have sought the gold mines of King Solomon for generations, and in this book, Tahir Shah documents his own quest within Ethiopia, one of the best candidates for Ophir and the realm of the queen of Sheba. The book ends up being a good deal more about the effort needed to get around some of the worst places in the country and this reader might go away with an especially negative impression of the people of this ravaged nation. And, the closing is anticlimactic and unsatisfying. There i ...more
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful adventure through Ethiopia filled with hillarious narrative, beautiful depictions of the country and culture, as well as poignant descriptions of the challenges facing Ethiopians. Some of the events are so unbelievable I wouldn't have believed them to actually taken place had it not been for the pictures. This was my first read of shah and he immediately became one of my favorite contemporary author.
Nov 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a great read, I guzzled a pot of coffee so I could finish reading it the same night that I'd started it.
I laughed repeatedly, particularly at Tahir's descriptions of Samson, yet I also felt touched and saddened by the country's poverty & people's struggles.
Tahir was a strong and likeable character who told about the poverty as it was, but didn't try to shock or make the reader feel bad about this.
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
This sounded interesting--the author goes on a quest in Ethiopia to try to locate the famous gold mines of King Solomon--but I couldn't muster enough interest to finish it. He wasn't any kind of anthropology expert, and it reads more like a travel book. The history of the area is sprinkled throughout, but not in a coherent way. It just didn't hold me.
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not my favorite, but funny in spots. Shah's writing about Ethiopia and Africa in general is too cavalier for me, with descriptions of dire poverty and deplorable social conditions tossed in the way one might mention a traffic hassle on the way to work. He can laugh at himself, which makes the story more tolerable but does not take enough of the sting out of his glib jabs for me.
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Tahir Shah is the author of fifteen books, many of which chronicle a wide range of outlandish journeys through Africa, Asia and the Americas. For him, there’s nothing so important as deciphering the hidden underbelly of the lands through which he travels. Shunning well-trodden tourist paths, he avoids celebrated landmarks, preferring instead to position himself on a busy street corner or in a dust ...more
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“A journey, I reflected, is of no merit unless it has tested you.” 35 likes
“Usually, there is nothing more pleasing that returning to a place where you have endured hardship.” 21 likes
More quotes…