Synopses & Reviews
A consideration of all things paper--the invention that revolutionized human civilization; its thousand-fold uses (and misuses); its sweeping influence on society; its makers, shapers, collectors, and pulpers--by the admired cultural historian, and author of the trilogy on all things book related: A Gentle Madness ("A jewel."--David McCullough); Patience and Fortitude ("How could any intelligent, literate person not just love this book"--Simon Winchester); A Splendor of Letters ("Elegant, wry, and humane . . . No other writer has traced the history of the book so thoroughly or engagingly."-- André Bernard, New York Observer).
From its invention in China eighteen hundred years ago to recording the thoughts of Islamic scholars and mathematicians; from Europe, North America, and the rest of the inhabited world, Basbanes writes about the ways in which paper has been used to record history, make laws, conduct business . . . He makes clear that without paper, modern hygienic practice would be unimaginable; that as currency, people will do almost anything to possess it . . . that without it on which to draw designs and blueprints, the Industrial Revolution would never have happened.
We see paper's crucial role in the unfolding of political scandals and sensational trials (the Dreyfus Affair and the forged memorandum known as the bordereau; Daniel Ellsberg's Pentagon Papers and Watergate).
Basbanes writes of his travels to get to the source of the story--to China along the Burma Road . . . to Landover, Maryland, and the National Security Agency with its one hundred million secret documents pulped by cryptologists and recycled as pizza boxes . . . to the Crane Company paper mill of Dalton, MA, the exclusive supplier of paper for American currency since 1879; and much more . . .
A masterly guide through paper's inseparability from human culture.
About the Author
Nicholas A. Basbanes is an award-winning investigative journalist and was literary editor of the Worcester Sunday Telegram. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and Smithsonian, and he is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. Basbanes lives in North Grafton, Massachusetts, with his wife.