Books on Fire: The Tumultuous Story of the World's Great Libraries

Author(s): Jon E. Graham

Maud’s Picks | Books About Books

Here is a magisterial history of the destruction of knowledge over the millennia. Hugely impressive in scope, Polastron's book takes the reader on a journey from ancient Mesopotamia to modern times, showing how the urge to write, read and collect books has always gone hand in hand with the impulse to destroy them. This investigation also reveals a new danger facing libraries today with the digitalization of books threatening both the existence of the physical book and the very idea of reading for free.


Product Information

Lucien X. Polastron is an historian specializing in Chinese and Arab studies and has written several books on calligraphy as well as a monumental study of paper, Le Papier: 2000 ans d'histoire. He lives and works in Paris.

1. Preface; 2. In the Cradle of Libraries: When Earth had the word; 3. The Papyrus Region; Egypt: The Construction of Alexandria; The Destruction of Alexandria; Athens; Rome; Constantinople; 4. Islam of the Origins; Al-Andaluz; Eastern Medieval Islam; 5. People of the Book; 6. Asia Before the 20th Century; Paper Burns Better than Bamboo; India at the Source of Knowledge; The Sword and the Brush; 7. The Christian West; Inquisition; Catholic Spain; New World; From the Middle Ages to the Age of Revolutions: The Middle Ages and How to Get Out of them; The Renaissance's Dances of Death; Revolutions and Evaluations; 8. The New Bibliocasts; Books in Wars; Nazism and the Holocaust; An End of the Century World Tour: USSR; China; Cambodia; Sri Lanka; Kashmir; Cuba; France; Africa; Bosnia; Afghanistan; Iraq; 9. Peace Damages; The Elements; The Library in the Sea; Theft; Death; 10. An Embarassment of Modernity; 11. Flameproof Knowledge; 12. Return to Alexandria.

General Fields

  • : 9780500513842
  • : Thames & Hudson Ltd
  • : Thames & Hudson Ltd
  • : September 2007
  • : 228mm X 150mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : near fine
  • : 384
  • : illustrated in colour throughout
  • : Jon E. Graham
  • : Hardback