Library

Library : An Unquiet History

By (author) Matthew Battles

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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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  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 137.16 x 208.28 x 15.24mm | 272.15g
  • 18 Jun 2004
  • WW Norton & Co
  • New York
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0393325644
  • 9780393325645
  • 258,059

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Author Information

Matthew Battles is a fellow at the Berkman Center of Harvard University, where he is associate director of metaLAB, a research group exploring the bounds of networked culture. The author of Palimpsest and Library, he lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

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Review quote

"One might expect a book that...[is] huge in scope and academically dry...Library is neither...[An] engaging book." "A must for every home or institutional collection." "Elegantly written...A great read, flowing over many time periods and geographic regions." "Battles' sprightly narrative performs a valuable service by blowing the dust off our stodgy, conventional conception of the library to reveal the living heart of cultures that beats beneath its stone facade." "Battles turns an all-seeing telescope on the most spectacular galaxy in our intellectual heavens-that magnificent constellation of books we call a library-and brings into focus the brightest stars and blackest holes in its dynamic history." -- Richard Lederer, author of A Man of My Words

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