Title: The Library: A Fragile History
Authors: by Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen
Hardcover: ISBN: 978-1541600775, $35
Imprint: New York, Basic Books, 2021
“Perfect for book lovers, this is a fascinating exploration of the history of libraries and the people who built them, from the ancient world to the digital age.
“Famed across the known world, jealously guarded by private collectors, built up over centuries, destroyed in a single day, ornamented with gold leaf and frescoes, or filled with bean bags and children’s drawings—the history of the library is rich, varied, and stuffed full of incident. In The Library, historians Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen introduce us to the antiquarians and philanthropists who shaped the world’s great collections, trace the rise and fall of literary tastes, and reveal the high crimes and misdemeanors committed in pursuit of rare manuscripts. In doing so, they reveal that while collections themselves are fragile, often falling into ruin within a few decades, the idea of the library has been remarkably resilient as each generation makes—and remakes—the institution anew.
“Beautifully written and deeply researched, The Library is essential reading for booklovers, collectors, and anyone who has ever gotten blissfully lost in the stacks…”
“Enlightening… Pettegree and der Weduwen are fascinating when they discuss great private collectors and monastic libraries, but the most important aspect of their book is its exploration of the practical and theoretical role of the library in the lives of ordinary citizens.”―The New Criterion
“One of the best things about Pettegree and Weduwen’s long and engrossing survey of the library is that they show how adaptable and creative libraries have been over time. I have no doubt that future histories will continue to tell that story.”―Financial Times
“The Library proves that truth is more intriguing than fiction. This survey of the creation and destruction of libraries since the Library of Alexandria was founded two millennia ago is full of charismatic individuals and astonishing facts.”―The Times
“This sweeping history of libraries is outstanding…. A history of libraries from the ancient world to yesterday, it is fetchingly produced and scrupulously researched — a perfect gift for bibliophiles everywhere.”―Sunday Times
“Where there are books, there will be libraries, of that we can be assured. Pettegree and Weduwen’s handsome book, which is lucidly written, mercifully free of jargon and international in its ambition, ought to be in every one of them.”―The Herald
“A splendid study of the institution of the library from its origins until today.”―Commentary
“Rigorous but riveting history.”―The Spectator
“This history of the library, from the Assyrians to the digital age, is itself a wonderful collection of knowledge… This is a book full of fascination and ultimately one of optimism, too.”
―New Statesman …