- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (May 23, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393353702
- ISBN-13: 978-0393353709
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 89 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Paper: Paging Through History 1st Edition
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“Kurlansky’s telling of this history...is swift, crisp, and deft.”
- Reid Mitenbuler, The Atlantic
“[An] historical journey well worth the ride. [Kurlansky] has a deep instinct for telling detail, which he combines with a disarmingly fun narrative style.”
- Los Angeles Times
“An historical journey well worth the ride. [Kurlansky] has a deep instinct for telling detail, which he combines with a disarmingly fun narrative style. Kurlansky makes a compelling case that paper has always been a revolutionary force – a foundation for expression of every sort ― and that it is certainly not dead yet.”
- Elizabeth Taylor, The National Book Review
“Kurlanksy tells [the history of paper] vividly in this compact and well-illustrated book….He has a sharp eye for curious details….[and] offers a versatile introduction to this long and complicated history.”
- Anthony Grafton, New York Times Book Review
“A beautiful thing to hold and feel, and it presents a fine argument for the retention of paper as an aesthetically lusty object.”
- Simon Garfield, The Observer
“One learns an awful lot from [Paper], all packaged in Kurlansky’s whipsmart prose.”
- John Sutherland, The Times (London)
“Littered with amazing facts.”
- Lily Rothman, Time magazine
About the Author
Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times best-selling author of twenty-nine books and a former foreign correspondent for The International Herald Tribune, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. He lives in New York City.
Top customer reviews
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He claims that "linguists regard Greek...to be...the grandparent of all modern European languages." (page 64 of 897 ebook version) My degree from UC Berkeley in linguistics disagrees with him. Modern European languages come from a number of different language families, most NOT descended from Greek.
He claims that silk contains cellulose. (page 91 of 897 ebook version). This is a gross misstatement. Cellulose is a polysaccharide: silk is a protein. These are distinctly different polymers. The idea that you can make something paper-like out of either does not make them the same thing.
At that point, I had to stop reading.
Other reviewers found many discrepancies with what they say are established facts. I wouldn't know about those things, nor would I be able to judge.
I didn't enjoy the book; so much of it is just open-ended chattering about what he thinks about 'paper'. MK tells an interesting story of how paper came to be invented, developed and used in different ages across the world. Well and good; those stories are told in detail and quite worth reading.
But his chatter is just that. Paper is and should be an engrossing subject, like 'Salt', or 'Cod'. Unfortunately, 'Paper' is not nearly as interesting.
Kurlansky’s statement that he used molten lead for his typeface oversimplifies the case. He used a metal alloy consisting mostly of lead and tin, with a small amount of antimony for hardening. Antimony has the rare property of expanding as it cools, giving the casting sharp edges needed to create the crisp print that distinguished his work.
On page 10, Kurlansky says a papyrus reed stem used by the Egyptians to make papyrus paper “peels like an onion” – it doesn’t. The core of lightweight white pulp found inside the stem has to be sliced with a sharp knife or razor into thin slices.
Further, he states there are “about twenty layers” inside the stem, again completely wrong.
He needs to publish some sort of correction page to go with this book, otherwise it misinforms.