A Universal History of the Destruction of Books

A Universal History of the Destruction of Books

From Ancient Sumer to Modern Iraq

Book - 2008
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A product of ten years of research and support from leading American and European universities, A Universal History of the Destruction of Books traces a tragic story: the smashed tablets of ancient Sumer, the widespread looting of libraries in post-war Iraq, the leveling of the Library of Alexandria, book burnings by Crusaders and Nazis, and censorship against authors past and present. With diligence and grace, Báez mounts a compelling investigation into the motives behind the destruction of books, reading man's violence against writing as a perverse anti-creation. His findings ultimately attest to the lasting power of books as the great human repository of knowledge and memory, fragile yet vital bulwarks against the intransigence and barbarity of every age.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York, NY : Atlas, c2008
ISBN: 9781934633014
Characteristics: xii, 354 : ill., maps ; 19 cm
Additional Contributors: Mac Adam, Alfred J. 1941-


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Sep 10, 2018

This book and author does a marvelous job of covering events of the destruction of knowledge and human history and memory (from people or nature). Báez does not only cover the facts; he provides insight into human nature as well. Insight into the motivations and hearts of those who destroy (or attempt to destroy) timeless vessels of history and art, and those who save and protect it. The numbers of books and libraries destroyed from certain time periods documented in this book are astounding. Some of the things I learned in this book surprised me. For those who appreciate the significance of books and other documents (containing history, art, memory, enlightening material) this book may make you tear up like I did. This book has influenced my perspective of humanity and civilization. I highly recommend this book.

Jul 06, 2018

An interesting, well-written overview of an unusual subject. The book covers the destruction of books from ancient times, from the burning of libraries during military conquests, to the practice of destroying "heretical" or "heathen" literature, to selective book-burning by various dictatorships, more or less in chronological order. Also includes a short chapter on book-burning in fiction.

Oct 25, 2017

Interesting history of the maddening and depressing tendency of humans to destroy the cultures of other humans, and a warning against our own times when we’re sliding into the same barbarity. Unfortunately the translation (from Spanish) is nearly unreadable; there are so many unfinished sentences, mixed pronouns, and literally-translated idioms (meaningless in a different language) that I gave up about half-way through.

May 09, 2017

This work made me wonder what fascinating history is lost forever...

WVMLStaffPicks Aug 30, 2014

Books, libraries and culture are intertwined in a manner which creates a fascinating narrative. The scope might not be universal, but the breadth of the societies covered in the book is wide. While the topic of bibliocasts can be depressing, it is also important for understanding human culture. Whether you are a fan of general history or just a bibliophile, this book is an excellent read!


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