Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack

by Richard Ovenden

Books are essential to human civilization, filled as they are with ideas and knowledge, history and culture.

Yet books have often come under attack. They still do.

In Burning the Books, the Director of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, Richard Ovenden presents an astonishing and powerful discussion.

Opening with the notorious bonfires of ‘un-German’ and Jewish literature in 1933 that offered such a clear signal of Nazi intentions, he takes us on a 3000-year journey through the destruction of knowledge and the fight against all the odds to preserve it, exploring everything from what really happened to the Great Library of Alexandria to the Windrush papers, from Donald Trump’s deleting embarrassing tweets to John Murray’s burning of Byron’s memoirs in the name of censorship.

With an unlikely cast of adventurers, self-taught archaeologists, poets, freedom-fighters and, of course, librarians and the heroic lengths they will go to in rescuing knowledge and ensuring civilisation survives, this extraordinary – vital – book realises the power of writing and reading even in our 21st-century digital age.

Hardback, John Murray Press, £20.oo

To order a copy, please email books@hatchards.co.uk or telephone 020 7439 9921 – we look forward to hearing from you!

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