A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World

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HarperCollins, Nov 25, 2003 - Antiques & Collectibles - 444 pages

In A Splendor of Letters, Nicholas A. Basbanes continues the lively, richly anecdotal exploration of book people, places, and culture he began in 1995 with A Gentle Madness (a finalist that year for the National Book Critics Circle Award) and expanded in 2001 with Patience & Fortitude, a companion work that prompted the two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and biographer David McCullough to proclaim him "the leading authority of books about books."

Basbanes now offers a consideration of the many pressing issues that surround the role of books in contemporary society, such as the willful destruction of books and libraries in Sarajevo, Tibet, and Cambodia, and the spirited efforts to restore them. The matter of "discards" at various libraries takes on an entirely new dimension as well, with fully researched stories about the kind of attitudes that may lead to the loss of “last copies” of important works.

In vivid detail, Basbanes examines the many materials that have been used over the centuries to record information -- among them clay tablets, papyrus scrolls, slabs of stone, palm leaves, animal skins, and hammered sheets of gold and copper. Also discussed are the various debates that continue to rage about preservation, which may mean saving and storing books on paper indefinitely, or as electronic data, which are by nature ephemeral.

In this beautifully packaged edition, Nicholas Basbanes brings to a close his wonderful trilogy on the remarkable world of books and bibliophiles.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Sandydog1 - LibraryThing

Preservation of libraries. Neglect of libraries. Destruction of libraries as a component of genocide. Read every of Babanes' books about books. They are fascinating. Read full review

A splendor of letters: the permanence of books in an impermanent world

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Book lovers will relish this third and final volume of Basbanes's "bibliophilia" trilogy, preceded by A Gentle Madness (1995) and Patience & Fortitude (2001), which explored the world of books from ... Read full review

About the author (2003)

Nicholas A. Basbanes has worked as an award-winning investigative reporter, a literary editor, and a nationally syndicated columnist. The author of five books, he also writes a regular column for Fine Books & Collections magazine and lectures widely on book-related issues. He and his wife, Constance, live in Massachusetts.

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