An Unquiet History

Matthew Battles (Author, Berkman Center for Internet and Society)


“Engrossingly saturated with fascinating lore, colorful anecdotes and deft portraits.”—Hilarie M. Sheets, New York Times

Through the ages, libraries have not only accumulated and preserved but also shaped, inspired, and obliterated knowledge. Now they are in crisis. Former rare books librarian and Harvard MetaLAB visionary Matthew Battles takes us from Boston to Baghdad, from classical scriptoria to medieval monasteries and on to the Information Age, to explore how libraries are built and how they are destroyed: from the scroll burnings in ancient China to the burning of libraries in Europe and Bosnia to the latest revolutionary upheavals of the digital age. A new epilogue elucidates the preservation of knowledge amid the creative destruction of twenty-first century technology.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • July 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35145-3
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 272 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Matthew Battles knows his way around the stacks as well as anyone. . . . This book is a delight.” — Nicholas Basbanes

“Huge in scope . . . engaging.” — BookPage

“A must for every home or institutional collection.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Elegantly written....A great read, flowing over many time periods and geographic regions.” — Library Journal

“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

Also by Matthew Battles All

  1. Book CoverPalimpsest: A History of the Written Word


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