Page-turningly readable... Exceedingly well informed... The chronological narrative, beginning with prehistoric charcoal scribbling on cave walls and ending with e-paper, is laden with research carried admirably lightly... A terrific read -- John Sutherland Literary Review Monro's expertise as a European historian and scholar of Chinese gives this book a uniquely broad perspective, which would mean less if he were not also a picturesque writer with an eye for a good story and an ear for a readable style -- Iain Finlayson The Times Detailed, scholarly, yet beautifully written, Monro's history is a sweeping account of the astonishing impact of paper on human culture -- Tristram Hunt Fascinating... Insights abound... Alexander Monro is a perceptive and insightful guide Quadrapheme Paper may be derided as a waste of trees, and as dead as the dodo in our digitized world. But, as Alexander Monro reminds us in this erudite history, it has been the base layer of world culture... From Islamic scientific tracts to Copernicus's 1543 De Revolutionibus, paper, as Monro eloquently shows, has filled the supremely important role of placing "truth in the reader's hands" Nature Monro...has left no archival material unexamined, no relevant histories unread, no avenue unexplored, no lead allowed to go cold, in short, no stone unturned... his brilliantly articulated chapter on the Prophet, the Revelations and the Koran is worth a re-read. Equally fine and, by the way quite prescient, is his writing on the proscribing and licensing of all written material in the pre-revolutionary France of the 1680's and, as was expected, the world's first taste of organized book piracy...The Paper Trail is a book that had to be written, and must be read. Telegraph India Elegantly presented Economist [Monro] highlights the role of the thing that is so easily overlooked because of its very ubiquity... This intricate history also emphasises the role of writing...while also holding out hope for the future of the book in the digital age Sydney Morning Herald Formidably learned...Monro is a Sinophile...who follows the trail westwards, emphasising paper's place in the circulation of the Qur'an and in the "great crescendo of learning" under the Abbasids...before print finally allowed paper to achieve its destiny -- Jason Scott-Warren Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
Alex Monro studied Chinese at the University of Cambridge and in Beijing before working for The Times in London and for Reuters in Shanghai. He has contributed chapters to The Dragon Throne (a history of China's dynasties) and The Seventy Great Journeys in History, and edited two travel poetry anthologies, including China: City and Exile. In 2011, he won the Royal Society of Literature's Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction for The Paper Trail, his first book. He lives with his wife in the Cotswolds, and writes on contemporary China.