A dramatic story of how civilization was passed on and preserved.

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THE MAP OF KNOWLEDGE

A THOUSAND-YEAR HISTORY OF HOW CLASSICAL IDEAS WERE LOST AND FOUND

How ideas survived in the ancient world.

When Moller (Oxford in Quotations, 2014, etc.) was a young historian in England, she wondered “what had happened to the books on mathematics, astronomy and medicine from the ancient world. How did they survive? Who recopied and translated them?” To provide some answers, the author meticulously and enthusiastically unwinds the “dense, tangled undergrowth of manuscript history” in seven cities. Each had the political stability that allowed scholarship to flourish and scholars, the “stars of the story,” to locate, translate, and transcribe rare works of literature and science. The first stop on her map of knowledge is the “intellectual heart of the ancient world,” Alexandria, home to a magnificent library and the city where Euclid wrote his Elements around 300 B.C.E. and Ptolemy his Almagest a few centuries later. Galen visited Alexandria but wrote his major works on medicine around 160 C.E. in Pergamon. By 500, Alexandria was floundering, and the fate of these texts written on papyrus was uncertain. In the ninth century, “knowledge flowed into Baghdad from every direction.” Scholars were busy translating manuscripts from Greek into Arabic using a new product, paper, while working in Baghdad’s many public libraries. Córdoba became the “new axis around which the world of scholarship revolved,” drawing scholars from far and wide. Moller enlivens her history with stories about young scholars who dedicated their lives to preserving these valuable texts, like Gerard of Cremona, whose Latin translation of the Almagest in Toledo was the “first to be widely disseminated in Europe.” In the eleventh century, Salerno was the “most advanced centre of medieval learning in the whole of Europe.” The author’s wonderful journey of discovery ends in Venice. In the 1350s, Petrarch studied Greek there to translate classical texts. By 1500, it was a major center of book publishing. The legacies of Euclid, Ptolemy, Galen, and others were now secure.

A dramatic story of how civilization was passed on and preserved.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54176-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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