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Extended Audio Sample Library: An Unquiet History, by Matthew Battles Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (599 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Matthew Battles Narrator: Grover Gardner Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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On the survival and destruction of knowledge, from Alexandria to the Internet. Through the ages, libraries have not only accumulated and preserved but also shaped, inspired, and obliterated knowledge. Matthew Battles, a rare books librarian and a gifted narrator, takes us on a spirited foray from Boston to Baghdad, from classical scriptoria to medieval monasteries, from the Vatican to the British Library, from socialist reading rooms and rural home libraries to the information age.

He explores how libraries are built and how they are destroyed, from the decay of the great Alexandrian library to scroll burnings in ancient China to the destruction of Aztec books by the Spanish—and in our own time, the burning of libraries in Europe and Bosnia.

Encyclopedic in its breadth and novelistic in its telling, this volume will occupy a treasured place on the bookshelf next to Baker’s Double Fold, Basbanes’ A Gentle Madness, Manguel’s A History of Reading, and Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Battles’ sprightly narrative performs a valuable service by blowing the dust off our stodgy, conventional conception of the library to reveal the living heart of cultures that beats beneath its stone facade.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “Splendidly articulate, informative, and provoking…A book to be savored and gone back to.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “Battles…offers a distinguished portrait of the library, its endurance and destruction throughout history, and traces how the library’s meaning was questioned or altered according to the climate of the time. In accessible prose, Battles recounts the building and burning that have marked the library’s long history…Dynamic characters lend this history a novelistic tone.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Battles, a rare book librarian at Harvard, takes the reader on a world tour of the library from ancient times to the present digital age…Battles writes in an engaging way, and his book will be appreciated by librarians and book lovers.”


  • “One might expect a book that…[is] huge in scope and academically dry…Library is neither…[An] engaging book.”


Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Ramona | 2/11/2014

    " Interesting but dry at the same time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Becca | 2/10/2014

    " Reading for the 000 portion of the Dewey Decimal Reading Challenge. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Janine | 2/3/2014

    " I really liked it. I read most of it at work, and I got quite a few comments. One of the librarians I work with thought the title was hilarious. It was interesting to read about the origins of the library and how it works though. It makes me miss the card catalog that much more. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Amy | 1/31/2014

    " This book gave some interesting history of the library. I especially liked the parts chronicling the different formats information was stored in before the codex (book) was invented. However, the author moved from topic to topic in a very haphazard and unorganized way (kind of ironic considering this person is a librarian - I guess we're not all organized...) "

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