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Extended Audio Sample Gutenberg’s Apprentice: A Novel, by Alix Christie Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Alix Christie Narrator: Robert Petkof Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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An enthralling literary debut that evokes one of the most momentous events in history, the birth of printing in medieval Germany—a story of invention, intrigue, and betrayal, rich in atmosphere and historical detail, told through the lives of the three men who made it possible

Youthful, ambitious Peter Schoeffer is on the verge of professional success as a scribe in Paris when his foster father, wealthy merchant and bookseller Johann Fust, summons him home to corrupt, feud-plagued Mainz to meet “a most amazing man.”

Johann Gutenberg, a driven and caustic inventor, has devised a revolutionary—and to some, blasphemous—method of bookmaking: a machine he calls a printing press. Fust is financing Gutenberg’s workshop and he orders Peter, his adopted son, to become Gutenberg’s apprentice. Resentful at having to abandon a prestigious career as a scribe, Peter begins his education in the “darkest art.”

As his skill grows, so, too, does his admiration for Gutenberg and his dedication to their daring venture: copies of the Holy Bible. But mechanical difficulties and the crushing power of the Catholic Church threaten their work. As outside forces align against them, Peter finds himself torn between two father figures: the generous Fust, who saved him from poverty after his mother died; and the brilliant, mercurial Gutenberg, who inspires Peter to achieve his own mastery.

Caught between the genius and the merchant, the old ways and the new, Peter and the men he admires must work together to prevail against overwhelming obstacles—a battle that will change history … and irrevocably transform them.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “I loved this novel! Alix Christie’s debut is intensely observed, so much that I felt in the dark rooms of history with the people laboring over the metal and words to bring us print, but also laboring over their own lives and love and survival.”

    Susan Straight, National Book Award finalist

  • “By juxtaposing the lexicon of traditional printing with references to modern concepts like intellectual property theft, Christie spotlights intriguing parallels between fifteenth-century Europe and the digital media of the twenty-first-century world.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “In this deeply researched historical novel dramatizing the biggest invention since the wheel, Alix Christie explores the intricacies surrounding the breakthrough of movable type and the first print run of Gutenberg Bibles in medieval Germany…Christie deftly imbues its telling with the drama and intensity it demands.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “This ambitious but beautifully executed historical novel captures the life and times of half a millennium ago, and with the above parallels, draws us closer to today’s publishing revolution.”

    New York Journal of Books

  • “Enthralling…With the help of contemporary experts on early printing and fifteenth century German history, Christie has written a compelling first novel. This is an exceptional work full of trickery, betrayal, and historical significance.”


  • “History buffs will savor the moment the inventor, the scribe, and the merchant make a decision that leads them out of the Middle Ages into the Renaissance. Journalist Christie’s fiction debut descriptions of technical processes and medieval society are enthralling…She demonstrates a printer’s precision and a dogged researcher’s diligence in her painstakingly meticulous account of quattrocento innovation, technology, politics, art, and commerce.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A gorgeously written debut…An inspiring tale of ambition, camaraderie, betrayal, and cultural transformation based on actual events and people, this wonderful novel fully inhabits its age.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Christie masterfully depicts the time and energy required to print the first Bibles, a yearslong process of trial and error, tinkering with ink and type, lines and paper…A bravura debut.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
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About the Author

Alix Christie is an author, journalist, and letterpress printer. She learned the craft of letterpress printing as an apprentice to two master California printers and owns and operates a 1910 Chandler & Price letterpress. She holds a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley. A dual citizen of the United States and Canada, she lives in London with her husband and two children.