Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack (Hardback)
  • Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack (Hardback)
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Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack (Hardback)

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£20.00
Hardback 320 Pages
Published: 03/09/2020
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Waterstones Says

From the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria to the Windrush papers, Burning the Books charts the extraordinary history of hostility towards knowledge, and of those who have fought to preserve it. 

Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2021

Opening with the notorious bonfires of 'un-German' and Jewish literature in 1933 that offered such a clear signal of Nazi intentions, Burning the Books takes us on a 3000-year journey through the destruction of knowledge and the fight against all the odds to preserve it.

Richard Ovenden, director of the world-famous Bodleian Library, explains how attacks on libraries and archives have been a feature of history since ancient times but have increased in frequency and intensity during the modern era. Libraries are far more than stores of literature, through preserving the legal documents such as Magna Carta and records of citizenship, they also support the rule of law and the rights of citizens. Today, the knowledge they hold on behalf of society is under attack as never before. In this fascinating book, he explores everything from what really happened to the Great Library of Alexandria to the Windrush papers, from Donald Trump's deleting embarrassing tweets to John Murray's burning of Byron's memoirs in the name of censorship.

At once a powerful history of civilisation and a manifesto for the vital importance of physical libraries in our increasingly digital age, Burning the Books is also a very human story animated by an unlikely cast of adventurers, self-taught archaeologists, poets, freedom-fighters -- and, of course, librarians and the heroic lengths they will go to preserve and rescue knowledge, ensuring that civilisation survives. From the rediscovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the desert, hidden from the Romans and lost for almost 2000 years to the medieval manuscript that inspired William Morris, the knowledge of the past still has so many valuable lessons to teach us and we ignore it at our peril.

Publisher: John Murray Press
ISBN: 9781529378757
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 505 g
Dimensions: 236 x 162 x 28 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'A magnificent book - timely, vital and full of the most incredible tales, a manifesto for our humanity and its archives' - Philippe Sands

'A galvanising manifesto for the importance of physical libraries in our increasingly digital age' - The Bookseller

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“A Fascinating Warning From History”

I think this book is a must for not only booklovers but anyone that cares about culture.
I was aware of the Nazi book burning and the destruction of the Library of Alexandria in antiquity. However, this book... More

Hardback edition
3 similar books recommended
Helpful? Upvote 22

“Strange Cover that belies the interesting contents of this book!”

As an avid library user, I realised that I had taken the existence of books and libraries for granted. This book covers a vast expanse of history from the clay tablets at Nimrod to the digital landscape of the... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 16

“More left-wing political tract than 'save our collective knowledge'”

Having read and enjoyed both “Index, A History of the”, by Dennis Duncan, and “A place for everything : the curious history of alphabetical order”, by Judith Flanders, I was looking forwards to this defence and... More

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 10

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