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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

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  37 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 2004)
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3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  175 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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Feb 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Issa Deerbany
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
موضوع جديد بالنسبة لي ومعلومات ايضا كثيرة لم اكن اعرفها.
يسلط المؤلف على المكتبات التي تم حرقها او اختفت كتبها من الوجود في كل عصر من العصور.
بدءا من المكتبات في العصور القديمة وخاصة مكتبة الاسكندرية وما تعرضت له خلال الزمن .
وتتعجب من عدد المكتبات في تلك العصور مع ما في مخيلتنا انها حضارات عسكرية واهتمت بالعمران اكثر من الاداب والعلم والمعرفة.
حتى اعداد الكتب الذي يذكرها المؤلف تدعوا الى الدهشه.
وكيف تم هدم او احراق هذه المكتبات.
والصراع الايدولوجي كان له اكبر الاثر في حرق المكتبات. فالوثنية اليوناني
David Gallagher
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
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.
فاطمة الحمام
الكتاب رائع ويعتبر كمرجع لحرائق الكتب منذ بداية الكتب ليومنا هذا
فقد ذكر فيه أغلب جرائم حرق المكتبات وإغراقها وسرقتها..
Sarah Shahid
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017, history
يعتبر الكتاب أحد الكتب الموسوعية المميزة حيث يتناول تاريخ تدمير المكتبات بشكل لم يسبق لباحث أن غاص بتفاصيله كما فعل بولاسترون هنا.
قد يبدو الكتاب مملاً ببعض الشيء لضخامته وجفاف موضوعه قليلاً، حيث يتناول العديد من المكتبات التي لم نسمع بها قبل ذلك والعديد من التفاصيل التاريخية التي نسمع بها لأول مرة. لكن ما يميز الكتاب في الحقيقة هو شموله بالإضافة إلى تصنيفه تاريخ تدمير المكتبات إلى حقب زمنية مع صفات معينة تميز كل حقبة وطريقة تدمير المكتبات فيها بذلك الوقت.
يعوز الكتاب برأيي فهرس بأسماء المكتبات لي
سماء يَحيى
من إتلاف الكتب في العصور القديمة إلى بداية الفيلم الأسود لحرق المكتبات أو منع الكتب، والنزعة الاستبدادية المطلقة والمنظمة التي تهدف إلى وأد الحرية الفكرية.
فاليهود والمسيحيون ثم المسلمون الذين جاؤوا بعدهم كانوا جميعاً أصحاب كتاب واحد. وهذا ما أدى بالأتباع إلى احتقار كل الكتب الأخرى، بل وحتى إلى حرقها وتدميرها بحجة أنه لا لزوم لها.
بالإضافة إلى الانقسامات والصراعات المذهبية التي حصلت داخل الدين الواحد والتي تسببت في تدمير المكتبات.
هذا غير الحروب المدمرة وتوابع الاحتلال..

بالإضافة لعوامل الطبيعة من
Joshua Deaver
Apr 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Al waleed Kerdie
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
إضاءة رائعة على تاريخ حرق وتدمير المكتبات, ويبقى ما قام به الفرنسيين أثناء الثورة الفرنسية وما بعدها وما قام به النازيين لا يقارن لا بالزمان ولا بالمكان لأي حدث أتلف به كتب عبر التاريخ, بربرية بلا حد وجهل وتخلف سجلهما التاريخ لتذكيرنا بما حدث في الماض القريب قبل البعيد.
Nor el yasmine
I love books about books, but not this one... I don't know if it was just a bad translation, or just poor organization, or a combination of both, but I didn't enjoy reading it !
Feb 02, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 stelle e 1/2
Tema interessante e, purtroppo, sempre di attualità (l'autore arriva al 2003, ma solo perché il libro è stato pubblicato nel 2006). Non mi ha "entusiasmato" perché la parte sui roghi nella zona "Asia prima del XX secolo" e su tutto quello che non è il mondo europeo moderno è una sorta carrellata con luoghi e date, senza molto contesto o dettagli. Le altri parti invece hanno tutto un altro respiro.
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Asmaa El-musri
Nov 07, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, unfinished
كتاب سردي بطريقة غاية في الملل فضلاً عن أنه يتجنى على التاريخ بشكل قاتل
وكل المعلومات اللي أوردها عن الفتوحات والخلفاء في أول ١٠٠ صفحة غلط كلياً
This is a depressing but necessary accounting of events that have occurred throughout recorded history, in a wide range of nations. A six-page appendix lists a "selective chronology" of these events. If you need more details, read the entire book. But that appendix alone made me nauseous and disgusted with the human race....

It's hard to say you "like" a book giving this information, but we must never forget that we are always at risk of having our access to knowledge destroyed. Bad news is still
Todd Stockslager
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Review title: Unholy fire

Polastron (as translated by Jon E. Graham) pulls no punches:
The schism and blackades due to religion were a more frequent cause for the loss of Arab-Muslim libraries than pure stupidity, and the European conflicts for the faith would make these their specialty. (p. 72)

In this history of library destruction, the reader will be frustrated in the search for natural causes of the destruction of man's recorded knowledge and history beyond the famous exception of Pompeii's des
So Hakim
May 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
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
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, nonfic
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.
هاني حيدر
انتهيتُ من تصفح هذا الكتاب والذي يتحدث عن تاريخ المكتبات في العالم أجمع منذ عرف الناس الكتاب ، وأصل إنشاء المكتبات ، وما حلّ بكثير منها من حرق وتدمير وخسائر رهيبة للحضارة الإنسانية ..
الكتاب في رأيي جيد للباحثين والمهتمين بالتاريخ أكثر من القراء العاديين ، فهو ضخم (٤٢٩ص) بحروف صغيرة وأوراق كبيرة. ويغلب عليه الطابع الأكاديمي.
٣ من ٥
Nathan Albright
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge-2019
Among those who love books and libraries  there is an understandable undercurrent of fear about the threats faced to the preservation (much less the increase) of knowledge around the world as is represented by the library.  Whether one reads the melancholy record of the destruction of histories due to war and civil unrest and politically motivated violence, or one is fond of reading dystopian literature, there is a great deal of concern shown towards the vulnerability of libraries and the books ...more
Muhemed Masika
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A tight read
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Whoa is this guy quite wordy. I'm not sure I am smart enough to read this book. And I'm only on Chapter 2!! Maybe it gets a little less verbose, and a little more engaging. Again, I am sure it is me. I just don't think my poor underdeveloped brain is quite cut out for serious academia. It's time to admit when the gig is up. I think I am just a shallow reader. Lucien X. Polastron, I will power through, and undoubtedly learn a few things along the way, but I don't think it will be pretty.

Okay frie
Apr 24, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Laurie Bennett
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
May 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
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.
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
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).
Mar 26, 2010 rated it did not like 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.
Katherine Lee
Nov 19, 2015 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.
Sep 09, 2014 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.
Oct 17, 2007 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.
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Throughout the names of the the 1 2 Dec 09, 2015 11:05PM  
  • The Library: An Illustrated History
  • Casanova Was a Librarian: A Light-Hearted Look at the Profession
  • A Universal History of the Destruction of Books: From Ancient Sumer to Modern-Day Iraq
  • The Book in the Renaissance
  • Libraries in the Ancient World
  • Revolting Librarians Redux: Radical Librarians Speak Out
  • In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians
  • Library: An Unquiet History
  • Books: A Living History
  • Libraries
  • The Smithsonian Book of Books
  • The Friar and the Cipher: Roger Bacon and the Unsolved Mystery of the Most Unusual Manuscript in the World
  • A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books
  • The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making
  • At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries
  • The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age
  • The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future
  • Bizarre Books
- 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