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The Gutenberg Revolution: How Printing Changed The Course of History

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  215 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
In 1450, all Europe's books were handcopied and amounted to only a few thousand. By 1500 they were printed, and numbered in their millions. The invention of one man - Johann Gutenberg - had caused a revolution. Printing by movable type was a discovery waiting to happen.

Born in 1400 in Mainz, Germany, Gutenberg struggled against a background of plague and religious upheaval
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 30th 2009 by Bantam (first published January 1st 2002)
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Richard Derus
Jan 05, 2012 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: A world forever changed...In 1450, all of western Europe's books were hand-copied and amounted to no more than are in a modern public library. By 1500, printed books numbered in the millions. Johann Gutenberg's invention of movable type ignited the explosion of art, literature, and scientific research that accelerated the Renaissance and led directly to the Modern Age. In Gutenberg, you'll meet the genius who fostered this revolution, discover the surprising
Dec 20, 2013 Nikki rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
The Gutenberg Revolution is a really easy read, with a pretty chatty style that doesn't undermine the material, but does make it easy to digest. I read it on the train -- like some other people I see reviewing it, actually -- and it was interesting enough to hold my attention from start (in Cardiff Central) to finish (somewhere between London and Lille).

It begins by exploring the man who invented moveable type, Johann Gutenberg, and the context he was born into and grew up in. It isn't all abou
Nov 22, 2011 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gutenberg like Shakespeare left little biographical evidence of what he did daily when he was alive. Most of his life is reconstructed from public records and court documents. He was forgotten for several generations after he died and his partners got the credit for inventing printing. This book expertly takes what little evidence we have and connects it to the greater events of the day making the book a fascinating record of those turbulent years.
Apr 07, 2011 Flora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Man offers up a briskly written, informative book on how the printing press changed the world. I began highlighting, only to find I was highlighting almost everything.
Dec 31, 2010 Andrew rated it really liked it
Fitting that a book about the invention of printing with movable type is a page-turner. Man provides an engaging history of Gutenberg and his press, and along the way we learn much about Europe in the fifteenth century. Man positions the invention of the printing press within the remarkable continuum of humanity moving from grunt to email, which involves the invention of writing, the invention of the alphabet, the invention of the printing press, and the invention of the Internet. Each of these ...more
Aaron Kent
Dec 03, 2014 Aaron Kent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
As far as a history primer goes, this book is a gem. Man isn't a stodgy historian, he's an author that likes to tell a good story (still factually based). His use of colloquialisms and modern analogies to help the reader understand some finances and figures of the time period are invaluable in imparting a sense of connection between reader and subject. We feel Gutenberg's pain and elation at different points in his life. Man is also extremely funny at points, whether it's venturing a guess as to ...more
Jun 15, 2008 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was terrific, I thought. A very unusual writing style, almost conversational -- as if the author was speaking directly to you instead of laying out a scholarly work. For me, with history, it must be a living thing -- not some dried out old textbook that makes me fall asleep. These characters were vital and insteresting and the processes were exciting, almost brand new and being invented while you read.

Aside from that, I found the story of Johann Gutenberg quite interesting. There is not a w
Halldór Thorgeirsson
Sep 08, 2012 Halldór Thorgeirsson rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This book is a good introduction to what is know about Gutenberg and the beginning of printing. There are actually a lot of gaps in our understanding of some of the specifics and the author does not hide this and avoids the temptation to take sides in the numerous disputes over financial matters.

He makes an effort to give the reader insights into the broader cultural context of the times both in terms of economics, politics and religion. He then uses event around Luther and the beginning of the
This was a good read. The author took too many detours, however, making it really hard to focus on the Gutenberg narrative at times. But it was still packed with a lot of information about the history of printing and its surrounding context through the life of Johann Gutenberg.

Gutenberg sought to "unify a divided Christendom" through printing missals and the Bible. But, "having produced one of the greatest Christian publications (the Bible), he ushered in a revolution—the Reformation—that blew C
Oct 26, 2014 Kathryn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book did what I wanted it to - sorta. I wanted to learn more about Gutenberg and the creation of the printing press. While I do know more, I'm overall dissapointed by the world in general. How can we not have more information on this man!

The reason I've only given this book 3 stars is that I think there is way too much background information and it feels like padding to make up for the lack of available information on Gutenberg himself. I did, however, enjoy the section on important early
Jul 13, 2008 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: euro-history
Plainly states the history behind Johannes Gutenberg's printing press, and includes information about the man himself. The book also provides a lot of context about the era, e.g. Protestant Reformation, Luther, Catholicism, and the major shift in thought after the press's invention. I only give three stars because the author's writing style did not seem appropriate for the subject matter - it was entirely too conversational (and he tried to be humorous in some parts) with too much personal comme ...more
Jan 25, 2016 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
With a clear storytelling style and thorough research, Mann does an excellent job streamlining a rather complicated set of interlocking subplots to reveal what Gutenberg did (and maybe did not) do to create a working press and print a vernacular Bible. The process involved many people with many talents, a variety of funding sources, an understanding of economics, a business vision, political maneuvering, more than a bit of luck, and a thorough understanding of Catholic doctrine. It was enlighten ...more
Kathryn Bashaar
While I'm trying to sell the novel I just wrote, I hit on the idea for my next one: a fictionalized biography of Gutenberg (then I found out one was recently published so I'm planning on reading it and if I think it's better than what I could do I'll give up on the idea). So I read this book as a first pass at learning more about my subject. It was interesting, but pretty dry and academic. I've gotten spoiled by biographies that read like novels, like McCullough's of Adams, or Isaacson's of Fran ...more
Jonathan Grice
Apr 15, 2010 Jonathan Grice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book in the UK when I found myself on a long train ride without my regular read. It actually turned out pretty good. Man is that guy I would have loved to have as a history teacher, he provides the evidence but also tries to lend a little human interpretation to the events to make them interesting. The story of Gutenberg and his invention is more interesting than you would think. He wanted only to be rich and unite the church, and he ended up having others take all the credit and p ...more
Mar 07, 2011 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book several months ago, it has made a lasting impression. Very well written, much information well-presented. I thought it would be very dry and hard to read, but it was informative without being very scholarly. I read parts of it to my husband. The book compared the information explosion of today with the information explosion caused by the movable type printing press. I was amazed at how quickly the printing press made a difference in the world.
Oct 28, 2010 Tara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
If half stars were allowed, I'd be giving this 2.5 stars. The information about Gutenberg was good, and the book was interesting. However, he author's writing style was so bizarre and often distracting! Rather than writing in a solid, non-fiction style, Man wrote exactly as he probably speaks--complete with "more on that later" and the like. It was odd. An odd little book, but now I know more about Gutenberg so...mission accomplished.
Aug 06, 2011 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account of the gestation of what is arguably the most influential invention in human history what other can boast having had an effect on every aspect of human endeavor?). The political, technological, economic and religious forces--not to mention Gutenberg's own desire to rise up from the restraints of his class--that conspired to bring the light of knowledge to the world at the time and in the place it did is utterly remarkable.
Karen Floyd
A fascinating combination of biography and the history of the development of movable type and printed books. There's not much documentary evidence about Gutenberg, so the author does have to speculate, but he's very clear about what is speculation. They were craftsmen in those days; none of this cheaply mass produced in China crap.
May 15, 2010 Marsha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read the first 4 chapters of this book and really liked it. I was using a friend's checked out copy, so I had to return it before I finished. But I will definteily check it out again and read it more. It just so happens that I watch the Tudors on Showtime and a couple of seasons ago this was the hot topic in that movie.
Tim Weakley
For anyone interested in books as objects, and their history this is one of the most interesting reads you'll find. A walk through of the early history of printing and it's impact on the world stage. There were so many aspects of early printing that just hadn't occurred to me that I have lost track of the number of times I was caught by surprise. Very good read!
Karen Soanes
Nov 23, 2016 Karen Soanes rated it liked it
Fascinated by the disruptive technology of the printing press and the religious, social, and political upheaval it caused and the parallels to today's disruptive technology that puts all of human knowledge at your fingertips with similar implications of religious,social, and political upheaval.
There was too much speculation and the final part on the reformation, although ties can certainly be drawn between the reformation and the rise of the printing press, was extensive and focused more on the justifications of the reformation than on the impact of the printing press.
Apr 02, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this subject interesting, and the conversational tone of the author easy to read and understand, but I found that I could not finish this book. There seems to be so little direct evidence about Guttenberg's life that it gets difficult to tell the story.
Apr 29, 2014 Penny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting insight on Gutenberg. Some of the information was repeated, but the author does give his own views about what other witers have thoerised.
Dec 10, 2010 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1history, box1
Excellent book - if you want to understand how Gutenberg got going and how he ended as well as the impact of printing
Interesting book on the first printing press and the influence it had on western europe and the world in general.
I can't really criticize the author too much. I'm still interested. It's just a bit dry and I have this giant stack of other books issuing a siren call.
Zachary Harless
Zachary Harless rated it it was amazing
Jun 26, 2015
Pamela rated it it was ok
Nov 23, 2016
Irritatingly written.
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John Anthony Garnet Man is a British historian and travel writer. His special interests are China, Mongolia and the history of written communication. He takes particular pleasure in combining historical narrative with personal experience.

He studied German and French at Keble College, Oxford, before doing two postgraduate courses, a diploma in the History and Philosophy of Science at Oxford and Mon
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