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The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  249 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
What difference did printing make? Although the importance of the advent of printing for the Western world has long been recognized, it was Elizabeth Eisenstein in her monumental, two-volume work, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, who provided the first full-scale treatment of the subject. This illustrated and abridged edition provides a stimulating survey of the c ...more
Paperback, Abridged, 384 pages
Published September 12th 2005 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1983)
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Counterpunch, 2nd edition by Fred SmeijersA View of Early Typography by Harry Graham CarterThe Printed Book of the Renaissance by E. P. GoldschmidtJust My Type by Simon GarfieldDe beer is los! by Paul Dijstelberge
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Aug 29, 2009 Peter rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this, and I see why it became a must-read for the digerati.

The book is fueled by the frustration that, on the one hand, historians say that printing led to immense changes in Europea's culture, and on the other hand, ignore the specifics of printing's impact in more detailed histories of the Reformation, later Renaissance, and scientific revolution.

What makes it so thought provoking is that she has a real sensibility to network effects (avant la lettre), understanding how books
Mar 26, 2008 Delbert rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people that want to bore other people at parties
Eisenstein's primary thrust is that the invention of the printing press was a major, causal factor in the Reformation, the (later) Renaissance, and what would become the Western scientific tradition. The emphasis on causality has, ahem, caused her to come under fire from numerous angles, primarily because it seems to deemphasize the social/political/economic/cultural context of the period. I agree with this point, although concede that the invention certainly altered the landscape. Beyond her ma ...more
Kevin O'Brien
Harry Truman once said "The only thing new in this world is the history you don't know." He was guided throughout his political career by the lessons of history, a subject in which he was very well read. And studying history shows us how much our current issues can be better understood by their antecedents. As Mark Twain said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes." Why does any of this matter? Well, right now we are going through a revolution in media known as the Internet. Th ...more
Saggio imperdibile per chi vuole capire perché il Rinascimento ha preso piede e ancora ne parliamo, mentre le rinascite dei secoli precedenti sono finite nel cestino della carta straccia della Storia. E per chi ama i libri. È strano dirlo per un saggio storico, ma chi ama i libri non dovrebbe perdersi questo. C'è praticamente scritta la ragion d'essere dei libri (e dei lettori); non dal punto di vista sentimentale, che quello altri libri e non questo lo spiegano, ma dal punto di vista pratico.

Feb 12, 2014 Kjirstin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, history
This book is a fascinating look at the changes that took place in Europe because of the invention of the printing press. Eisenstein explores how printing -- assuring accurate copies that could be spread to anyone who desired one -- changed the entire society from medieval into the earliest version of our own modern age.

Instead of vanishingly scarce and locked away in monasteries and libraries (where a great fire, like at the library in Alexandria, could wipe out a measurable portion of world kn
I derived particular enjoyment from the afterword, in which Eisenstein went after everyone who reviewed her book and told her it was wrong. Ah, academic bitchslaps. v. enjoyable.

Anyway: argues that printing led to the formation of new ideas not because it encouragement the printing and therefore dissemination of those new ideas (it didn't, necessarily) but because it encouraged the wide diffusion of many older, competing ideas that fuelled curiosity and the desire to make sense of it all. Respon
Sep 30, 2013 sillopillo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
La rivoluzione e' rimandata.
Tutto il libro puo' essere compreso nelle venti pagine dell'epilogo. Nonostante una serie di buoni spunti che compaiono qua e la' nel corso della trattazione non c'e' un vero filo conduttore. L'autrice lamenta spesso una mancanza di opere e studi che trattino un'analisi sistematica sull' impatto che l'avvento della stampa ha avuto nel periodo a partire dalla fine del 1400 ma poi non riesce a sviluppare lei stessa con sistematicita' l'argomento e continua a citare font
Mar 01, 2012 Diane rated it liked it
I enjoy reading about the history of printing, but this book is dense and dry and is more focused on being scholarly than on being readable. It does contain dozens of illustrations of early printing, which helped lighten the weight of the prose. Another drawback is that the author used the afterword to carry on with an academic spat, which some people find lively but I thought it was obnoxious and silly.

A better book about the history of printing is "Out of the Flames" by Lawrence and Nancy Gold
Mar 10, 2013 Mariah rated it it was ok
While Eisenstein's argument has some holes including a lack of primary sources, an absolutist stance, and a denial of the continued importance of manuscripts alongside print, my biggest problem with this book is her writing style. She is a rambling author who intersperses every chapter with block quotes from other scholars without giving the quotes any context. She is so concerned with comparing her argument to other scholars' in the field that she looses the attention of the reader.
Charles Taylor
Jun 04, 2016 Charles Taylor rated it really liked it
More interesting than I expected, this book emphasizes the role that printing had on the success of the Protestant and Anglican separations from papal authority, and also the enabling role it took in the scientific revolution.
Jessica Gordon
Jun 11, 2016 Jessica Gordon rated it really liked it
Excellent book that explains the way the printing press changed literacy, religion, and the world as a whole forever. Specifically, the author describes the effects on the reformation and the scientific revolution. This book goes into a LOT of detail.
Brook Finlayson
Aug 20, 2007 Brook Finlayson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One volume edition of Eisenstein's prior two volume study of the impact of the printing press on fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe. An academic rather than popular treatment, which is fine by me.
Dec 03, 2010 Jean rated it it was ok i never finished it. shame on me since it was assigned class reading. but i'm sure if you're a major history buff this is pretty fascinating. however, my history is very lacking and most of the references went over my head. i'm not going to finish it if i don't have to. sorry.
Emily (StacksandCats)
Eisenstein is, first and foremost, a horrible writer. The information was interesting but she tries so hard to remain separate from book history that it is hard to take this book seriously.

Unfortunately I was not impressed.
Feb 06, 2011 April rated it it was ok
I never would have finished (or started) this book if it weren't for a class. It would have been much better if it were half as long and half as redundant. Interesting ideas buried in the blah-blah of academic writing.
May 10, 2012 Wysterria rated it it was ok
Read for my History of Books and Printing class. Definitely had some interesting information in it, but a lot of it was really dry and boring.
Oct 02, 2014 Mac rated it really liked it
Fascinating treatment of not just the history of printing, but how printing changes the way we think and the cultures we create.
KayJae rated it liked it
Aug 12, 2010
Alain Vande putte
Alain Vande putte rated it really liked it
Apr 30, 2013
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Mar 02, 2008
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Jan 12, 2010
Diane rated it it was amazing
Dec 12, 2009
Jun 30, 2015 Penny rated it it was amazing
A little dense at times but by far the best text on printing history I've read to date.
Candace Barnhill
Candace Barnhill rated it really liked it
Oct 17, 2008
Abigail Hilton
Sep 12, 2008 Abigail Hilton rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I thought it was fascinating and well-written.
Ray Stafford
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May 13, 2012
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Elizabeth Lewisohn Eisenstein was an American historian of the French Revolution and early 19th century France. She was best known for her work on the history of early printing, writing on the transition in media between the era of 'manuscript culture' and that of 'print culture', as well as the role of the printing press in effecting broad cultural change in Western civilization.
More about Elizabeth L. Eisenstein...

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