Thursday, June 30, 2016

Paper by Mark Kurlansky

  • THE BOOK
    • Paper: Paging Through History by Mark Kurlansky
    • Published May 10, 2016
    • Other works by author include Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, Salt: A World History, 1968: The Year That Rocked the World, Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man and several more, almost all in the "micro-history" genre.

  • THE PREMISE
    • It's the history of paper in conjunction with the history of writing and printing.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • I enjoy the micro-history genre and have read two other books by this author (Cod and Salt), both of which I enjoyed. I mean, who wouldn't enjoy an entire book about COD!
    • I learned a lot about paper-making. Allow me to share some new-found knowledge:
      • Most paper made in Europe was made with cloth (rags) which would explain the various "rag-picker" characters in old books. Wood paper didn't happen until the mid-19th Century as there just weren't enough rags to meet demand for the TONS of paper manufactured.
    • The Mayan civilization had writing and thousands of books, known as codexes (codices). All but 3 or 4, preserved accidentally, were destroyed by the Spanish as heretical. Stupid asses.
    • I would love to see a modern paper-making machine in action. They are huge, as in football field size, and I seriously doubt there are any that allow tours. I can only imagine the demand for paper-making factory tours is relatively nil. 
      • But this is what You Tube is for: several videos available to see the factory paper-making process. Craving satisfied!
    • This book is for those who enjoy micro-histories or wish to read a basic history of paper, writing and printing.

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