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Books on Fire: The Destruction of Libraries throughout History
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Books on Fire: The Destruction of Libraries throughout History

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  95 ratings  ·  23 reviews
A historical survey of the destruction of knowledge from ancient Babylon and China to modern times

• Includes the three separate destructions of the Library of Alexandria as well as many equally significant collections around the world

• Examines the causes of violence directed at repositories of knowledge

• Looks at the dangers posed by digitalization of books to the free
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 13th 2007 by Inner Traditions (first published January 1st 2004)
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David Gallagher
Jan 20, 2012 David Gallagher rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in the topic of book-burning from way, WAY back all the way to today
I had to present this book for class - and it was a book I picked from the school library on a whim.

It turns out it was very interesting - it's an excellent text on libricide; both chronologically and geographically. Lucien Polastron knows how to write, even though this book confused me and frustrated me more than once with the overdose of details and the dense way it's written.

However, it's very informative, and aside from book burnings, it includes many other historical facts - beheadings an
Joshua Deaver
For any true Historian that happens to also be a bibliophile, this book was written for you. From the 'idea' of what a library was back in B.C.e to what it is considered today this book allows us to witness some of the most ferocious acts against knowledge. A quote from the preface that blew me away, "The book is the double of the man,and burning it is the equivalent of killing him." Page X.

It does become true primary source material at times, but if you like the proof of a struggle dive in with
Fantastic overview of great libraries of history, and chronicles of their destruction, including some political analysis of what makes people want build, burn,and steal libraries. This is fun, fast paced, and filled with more information per page than many books manage to convey in their entirety.
good book on the history and destruction of libraries (even now, author says google books is a form of destruction, i tend to agree). author says libraries are destroyed, closed, underfunded, because educated people cannot be controlled. i tend to agree.
Apr 17, 2011 Amanda rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Amanda by: Kathe
Shelves: languages
I found this book a little depressing. It seems that no sooner did someone get a nice collection of books together someone else came along and burned/stole/sold it. It got to the point, whenever someone would start a collection of books that, I'd think NO, don't do it, b/c I knew by the end of the paragraph someone else would come along and it'd be destroyed. Like in those horror movies, when the character says I'll be right back. The author would mention books that you'd think that'd be interes ...more
So Hakim
A book written with an axe to grind. Opinion and facts meshed together in a way you can almost feel the author's wrath from the pages.

The author tends to assume things with hostile measure, up to being straight-up unfair. He attacks religious institutions for banning and burning books. Yet he barely acknowledges when religious forces helped preserving books. Monasteries in Ireland and Germany sheltering manuscript during Middle Ages; Nestorians preserving and translating Greco-Roman science; eve
A rough and sad read, presenting the senseless destruction of books and libraries from ancient times to today. At its root, there are always the same conflicts: quests to eradicate nations and cultures, war between superstition and rationalism, attempts at altering history, fear of knowledge. Add floods, fires, insects, negligence - you cannot even imagine how much of humanity's shared legacy was destroyed.
Margaret Sankey
The historical constant, excusing the burning of libraries because "and educated people cannot be ruled" was chilling until I realized that it is probably because the educated people were in a committee meeting.
Laurie Bennett
Riveting topic, meandering style (it has to be more than a bad translation).

In his effort to paint the big picture, Polastron often skates over detail, calling into question the quality of his scholarship.

He also takes some unwarranted cheap shots, such as a reference to a magazine article written "with an insight that is rare for a simple reporter."

In another reference, he cites journalist Elisabeth Neffer (sic), killed in Iraq in 2003. The correct spelling is Elizabeth Neuffer. (The double mis
Not for casual reading, this is very in depth and very detailed.
Jebkurai bibliotēkai reiz pienāk gals. Tā tas ir bijis jau daudzus gadu tūkstošus. Bibliotēkas tiek nodibinātas, tajās tiek savākti tūkstošiem grāmatu un manuskriptu. Bet viņām visām ir viens liktenis, lai kad un kur tās nebūtu. Viņas visas beigās nodeg. Tā var būt ļaunprātīga, nejauša vai politiski motivēta. Neviena pasaules uzskatu maiņa nenotiek bez grāmatu dedzināšanas, tādi nu mēs, cilvēki, esam, iznīcinot grāmatas mēs domājam, ka iznīcinām zināšanas vai arī savus ienaidniekus. Sadedzinot g ...more
Katherine Lee
Nov 19, 2015 Katherine Lee marked it as to-read
I added this book because I think it would be interesting to read. I am a history nerd and I like these kinds of books. I feel like this book would contain information about possible information that was lost during all of the destruction of the libraries.
I learn a lot of this book <3
I have to give this book only one star because Dr. Polastron includes at least one event that is complete fiction. Louis the Pious did NOT burn the imperial library when he inherited the throne from his father Charlemagne. Polastron fails to provide a citation for this fiction, as he does for a great many of the alleged incidents that he includes in the book. I don't know where he "learned" about this supposed happening, but it is a falsity.
I love books about books, but not this one... I don't know if it was just a bad translation from the original French, or just poor organization (footnotes, endnotes, and undefined foreign terms ), or a combination of both, but I didn't enjoy reading it (although it did gt better as I got into it, so I don't feel it was a waste of time reading it).
You will need to either 1)have a good grasp of history or 2) be willing to learn the history to fully enjoy this book. I'm quitting this book for now because it references so many other books I'd be more comfortable waiting until I can read them as well, at least the bits this author references.
Rambling and superficial. There were sentences here and there that didn't make a lot of sense, but I'm guessing that's just bad translation and/or editing and not the original author's fault..
Feb 20, 2008 Kelly marked it as stalled
Uhmmmm....I may have to put this away for a while. I think something is lost in the translation. I can't seem to make it past the first chapter. Maybe I will try skipping ahead. :(
Oct 17, 2007 J.P. marked it as to-read
Wow, this sounds great. Going to get to this one ASAP.

Lord, how could anyone ever destroy a library? Countless worlds are destroyed with it.
Interesting enough read, but something about the author's style made me want to punch him in the face... then burn down his library.
Mar 09, 2015 Sara marked it as to-read
Shelves: abandoned
A great one for when I'm trying to fall asleep at night, but I don't know if I would say I'm actively "reading" it.
Jan 05, 2008 Tracey marked it as to-read
Shelves: recommended-tcpl
NOT AT LIB 1/08 - Kelly put on to-read list
Oct 18, 2007 Colleen marked it as to-read
Shelves: library-geek
As a future librarian, I have to read this!
Emily marked it as to-read
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- Born in 1944 from Gascony families.
- Classical studies and first articles published (about medieval architecture, and after spending days in research libraries).
- Deputy chief editor at Maisons d’hier et d’aujourd’hui monthly magazine in 1966.
- Early in the seventies, works for modern art and architecture press.
- First trip to China in 1976, learns Chinese and starts reporting about Chinese cult
More about Lucien X. Polastron...

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