Review – Burning the Books

Posted September 6, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Burning the Books by Richard EvendenBurning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack, Richard Ovenden

Burning the Books was really readable, and a bit broader than maybe I expected — it isn’t just about book burnings, but also about the importance of archives, of the kind of information people don’t necessarily expect to be useful. It mentions all kinds of historical events, more and less well-known, which help to give a broader scope of how libraries and archives have impacted people (for good and ill, but often in the end for good — Ovenden mentions the key roles of archives in the reconciliation process for torn nations, like the availability of the Stasi’s archives in East Germany).

It went a bit broader than the similar book I read recently about libraries, but it is mostly focused on books/knowledge as collected and curated by libraries and archives. It’s not super interested in other forms of knowledge, and it doesn’t really touch on modern issues of book bannings (frequent in the US, for instance, enough to spawn Banned Books Week).

Overall, quite enjoyable (insofar as learning about attacks on knowledge is enjoyable; interesting may be the better word), and as far as I can tell, it’s well-researched.

Rating: 4/5

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