- 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: 81 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Paper: Paging Through History 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“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
“Curious, vital, prolific, and witty…. Kurlansky’s work makes brilliant use of paper as a key to civilization.”
“Illuminating....Kurlansky is a graceful writer and an industrious researcher. ”
- Library Journal
About the Author
Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times best-selling author of twenty-eight 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.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
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.
What I love about "Paper" are those many angles I alluded to earlier. Through this book, we experience facets not only of how paper is made and its many sources but the usage of paper and how it is changing in the modern world. Will we ever not have paper around? As Kurlansky quotes, "diapers and paper bags are recession-proof", so I guess we have an answer to that. This is a terrific read and a great addition to our knowledge of paper and I highly recommend it. One final thought...I wonder how many people read this book on their kindle? Not this reader...paper for me!
Though superficially this is a book about the history of paper, it’s more a history of written language and technology. Mr. Kurlansky spoke more in-depth about language and the development of various systems of writing then he did on the methods of paper making.
Throughout the book Mr. Kurlansky kept wandering off to talk about related subjects, such as the invention of the printing press. He would eventually wander back to disclose how the subject matter was related to paper. This writing style gave the book a slap-dash feeling to it. It’s almost like he had made a list of all the things he wanted to research and then somehow worked out a way of including those things in the book. Although the history is presented in more or less chronological order, there were instants that were baffling. For example, when he was discussing the beginning of the Reconquista of Spain in the thirteenth century, he pops in Isabella of Castile of the fifteenth century as an example of Christian fanatics that were expelling Muslims and Jews from the Iberian peninsula. Granted she may have fit the bill, but it would have been far more fitting to have given an example of a Christian leader that actually lived during the time period he was currently discussing.
Another thing that I found disconcerting was his apparent confusion over geography. For instance, in his discussion about Muslim paper mills he cites at location 1028 of the e-book that “A third Muslim mill was built in Tihamah, the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula along the Red Sea. . . .” The last time (which was quite recently) I looked at a map of the Arabian Peninsula the Red Sea was on the Arabian Peninsula’s west coast. Even if you were to allow that Tihamah is on the east coast of the Red Sea, the way Mr. Kurlansky worded the above sentence leads one to believe he seriously believed that the region of Tihamah was on the Peninsula’s southeast coast. Was he really that confused or was he holding his map upside down?
The more I read, the more I was getting a “Gee, I never heard that before, I wonder what others have to say about that” feeling about what he was writing. When it got to the point where I was spending more time fact checking then I was actually reading I decided enough was enough.