Review – The Paper Trail

Posted September 16, 2018 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of The Paper Trail by Alexander MonroThe Paper Trail, Alexander Munro

Possibly I shouldn’t have been surprised by how much of the history of papermaking and paper usage is focused on China and the surrounding countries, but I was still somehow surprised — and I definitely hadn’t known about the key role Buddhist sutras players in popularising paper there. I did enjoy that the book didn’t just focus in narrowly on paper-making, but discussed its usage, the people who used it, and explained the contexts. It’s one of those books that might seem to be a microhistory, but in the end tells you a lot about various different things.

Of course, in later chapters it discusses the Reformation and the rise of literacy in the population, and the invention of the novel. But a lot of it isn’t about the West, which is… actually, probably a good thing for a complacent Westerner like me to run into. Paper was already established, understood and used fully well before we started printing Bibles and novels on it. It’s obvious, when you say it like that.

I found Munro’s style pretty compelling and definitely clear, and I enjoyed the fact that he didn’t hurry to the more familiar parts of paper’s history.

Rating: 4/5 

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2 responses to “Review – The Paper Trail

  1. The Captain

    I love books and documentaries about topics like this. I loved learning about salt and aluminium. I have a book about butter standing by. Wil have to add this book to me list.
    x The Captain

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