December 21, 2007
Books on Fire: The Destruction of Libraries Throughout History
By Lucien X. Polastron
Publisher: Inner Traditions (August 2007)
Pages: 371 Price: $24.95
Review by Lee Prosser - firstname.lastname@example.org
Inexpensively priced, this hardcover book is a bargain anytime for those who wonder where and when much of the occult, paranormal, secret, and supernatural knowledge disappears, and why! Lucien X. Polastron is a brilliant researcher, and he leaves no stone unturned in this insightful search into lost knowledge. This book was originally published in France during 2004 and won the 2004 Societe des Gens de Lettres Prize. The author lives and works in Paris, France. This is the first publication of the book in English.
More than book burning, more than mutilation, this story traces what happens to knowledge that is considered unsuitable by the authorities, whoever the authorities in power happen to be. Why, because educated people are harder to control! The author's fine preface sets the pace for the book, and what is to come.
The book contains eleven chapters. These fascinating, well-researched and well-documented chapters cover many periods of time, capturing the destruction that happened. Among the topics detailed are the discoveries and findings in the cradle of libraries, the papyrus region, Islam of the first days, people of the book, Asia before the Twentieth Century, the Christian West, the new bibliocasts, peace damages, an embarrassment of modernity, flameproof knowledge, and a thoughtful epilogue titled "Return to Alexandria." There are three appendices, which cover a selective chronology, the hidden library, among other information. The notes and bibliography are topnotch, and the index is concise and helpful.
The information on the destruction of the Library at Alexandria makes for intriguing reading. Other areas are covered, discussed, and analyzed. This is a book of facts and truth for the reader. The reader comes to know why some books were destroyed simply because they did not fit in to a given perspective at the time. The reader comes away with a feeling of sadness at what once was and has been destroyed.
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