I didn’t really expect to enjoy this as much as I did, because this isn’t really my area of history and it started out kind of dry. Somehow, though, I did get sucked in by the author’s enthusiasm for the subject and the slightly gossipy tales about some of the ways these texts survived and how they influenced societies — and how societies influenced their transmission, of course.
It’s quite a narrow book in the sense that it focuses on seven specific cities where manuscripts survived. It does peek around at the world and how outside events affected things, of course, but it narrows the scope of what could be a huge topic by focusing in on those cities.
In the end, it was a little slow/dry in places, but I found myself picking it up whenever I had a spare minute. It’s a good potted history of the survival of some of the pre-Christian texts that were so influential, and it’s definitely worth it, in my view. It’s not my subject, so I can’t speak to the quality of the research, but where it did intersect my other interests, it matched up. There are plenty of references, too, so that’s reassuring.