The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Trans (Complete in One Volume)
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'This is a good and important book ... the author's clear and forceful style makes it a pleasure to read ... Eisenstein is particularly illuminating and discriminating on the part played by the great sixteenth-century scholar-printers, such as the Estiennes, Oporinus, Plantin, in the emergence of ideals of religious tolerance and intellectual brotherhood ... She does give us a remarkably complete and highly critical survey of modern historical writing on humanism, the Reformation and science up to the eighteenth century.' The New York Review of Books
'Her two volumes represent an extensive survey of the recent literature on the three intellectual and social movements of the period 1400-1700: the Italian Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and the Scientific Revolution. Ms. Eisenstein examines the major hypotheses as to their causes and progress, and reassesses them in terms of the impact of printing and its products.' The New Republic
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this amazing book not only showed me the impact of print culture human learning, it, perhaps more importantly, showed me what human learning was like BEFORE the ability to standardize texts through printing.
be warned: it's dull as dirt.
Excellent history and philosophy reading when you look at it from the right angle. It ranks up there with Drahos - Philosophy of IP, Kuhn's, Sorensen's thought experiments, Thoreau's selected journals, Dewey's how we think and Einstein's ideas and opinions.
I will caution, however, that this is a very academic book. She spends a fair amount of time refuting people who disagreed with her. It is also designed for historians. I'm no dummy, but some stuff went over my head. (If you know the following phrases and people, you'll be fine: Plutarch, incunabula, Tridentine, Rabelais, Marlowe, the _Digest_, Cujas.)
I gave it five stars because it was definitely worth slogging through, but I wish I had gotten the abridged version instead.
The book addresses a fascinating subject, but the writing is maddeningly repetitive. It is almost without the shaping and telling detail that makes history meaningful.
Productive reflection on what is important and why is almost absent.
If I had counted how many times the author asserts that no one has ever treated the topic adequately before, you would not believe the number.
In summary, I'm prepared to believe there is useful information hidden in there somewhere; I'm just not prepared to waste any more time trying to find it.
(I have given it two stars (rather than one) because a historian might find the references useful.)