The Gutenberg Revolution
In 1450, all Europe's books were handcopied and amounted to only a few thousand. By 1500 they were printed, and numbered in their millions. The invention of one man - Johann Gutenberg - had caused a revolution.
Born in 1400 in Mainz, Germany, Gutenberg struggled against a background of plague and religious upheaval to bring his remarkable invention to light. His story is full of paradox: his ambition was to reunite all Christendom, but his invention shattered it; he aimed to make a fortune, but was cruelly denied the fruits of his life's work. Yet history remembers him as a visionary; his discovery marks the beginning of the modern world.
I loved this subject because of its significance and because it gave me a chance to re-establish links with Germany, particularly the Rhineland. It also made me wonder why printing with moveable type did not take off in China. Answer: China had the wrong sort of paper, no olive presses to adapt, and a complex writing system.
Vivid… engaging, detailed and highly readable…. A window on an extraordinary display of consummate skill and creative genius
Extremely erudite and enormously enthusiastic
The best book about the origin of books you could read. It is clear, engaging, fast-paced and authoritative