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The Golden Thread: A History of Writing Hardcover – February 11, 2014
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*Starred Review* Clayton has lived the very history he chronicles. His poor penmanship as a schoolboy inspired wise adults to introduce him to calligraphy, thus turning a problem into a passion. After becoming a renowned calligrapher and, for a spell, a monk, Clayton, now a professor, served as a consultant in the 1980s for a pioneering high-tech lab seeking ways to bring writing into the digital realm. Clayton builds on his far-reaching experiences in this avidly researched and enthusiastically told history of writing in the West, in which he pairs exacting analysis of the materials, technology, and skills involved in the ever-evolving craft of writing, from papyrus scrolls to scrolling down a computer screen, and fresh perspectives on the social contexts, from ancient Rome to the New World, within which literacy took hold and shaped every human endeavor. Along the way, Clayton, who will delight fans of Simon Garfield and Nicholas Basbanes, profiles calligraphers and typographers, assesses the impacts of various forms of correspondence and publishing, and discusses in eye-opening detail the expressiveness of diverse styles of handwriting. Though computers are all–encompassing, we should not underestimate the value of handwriting, Clayton reminds us. We do need it, and the very act itself, an arcing from mind to body, has profound resonance. --Donna Seaman
"Clayton reawakens readers to the versatility and nuances of something so ubiquitous as to be almost invisible It’s a book no bibliophile should miss."Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
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