Library: An Unquiet History

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W. W. Norton & Company, Jun 17, 2004 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 245 pages
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"Splendidly articulate, informative and provoking....A book to be savored and gone back to."—Baltimore Sun

On the survival and destruction of knowledge, from Alexandria to the Internet. Through the ages, libraries have not only accumulated and preserved but also shaped, inspired, and obliterated knowledge. Matthew Battles, a rare books librarian and a gifted narrator, takes us on a spirited foray from Boston to Baghdad, from classical scriptoria to medieval monasteries, from the Vatican to the British Library, from socialist reading rooms and rural home libraries to the Information Age.

He explores how libraries are built and how they are destroyed, from the decay of the great Alexandrian library to scroll burnings in ancient China to the destruction of Aztec books by the Spanish—and in our own time, the burning of libraries in Europe and Bosnia.

Encyclopedic in its breadth and novelistic in its telling, this volume will occupy a treasured place on the bookshelf next to Baker's Double Fold, Basbanes's A Gentle Madness, Manguel's A History of Reading, and Winchester's The Professor and the Madman.
 

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Library: An Unquiet History

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Battles, rare books librarian at Houghton Library, Harvard University, has written a somewhat unusual history of libraries, one that focuses not only on the building of libraries but on the burning of ... Read full review

Library: an unquiet history

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Battles, a rare books librarian at Harvard University's Houghton Library, has contributed essays and reviews to the Boston Book Review, London Review of Books, and Harper's Magazine. His elegantly ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

READING THE LIBRARY
3
BURNING ALEXANDRIA
22
THE HOUSE OF WISDOM
56
THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS
82
BOOKS FOR ALL
117
KNOWLEDGE ON FIRE
156
LOST IN THE STACKS
192
NOTES ON SOURCES
215
INDEX
229
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Matthew Battles is the author of Palimpsest and Library: An Unquiet History and a program fellow at the Berkman Center of Harvard University, where he is associate director of metaLAB, a research group exploring the bounds of networked culture.

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