On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History

On Paper The Everything of Its Two Thousand Year History A Best Book of the Year Mother Jones Bloomberg News National Post Kirkus Reviews A consideration of all things paper its invention that revolutionized human civilization its thousand fold uses and

  • Title: On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History
  • Author: Nicholas A. Basbanes
  • ISBN: 9780385350440
  • Page: 412
  • Format: ebook
  • A Best Book of the Year Mother Jones, Bloomberg News, National Post, Kirkus Reviews A consideration of all things paper its invention that revolutionized human civilization its thousand fold uses and misuses , proliferation, and sweeping influence on society its makers, shapers, collectors, and pulpers written by the admired cultural historian and author of the trilogyA Best Book of the Year Mother Jones, Bloomberg News, National Post, Kirkus Reviews A consideration of all things paper its invention that revolutionized human civilization its thousand fold uses and misuses , proliferation, and sweeping influence on society its makers, shapers, collectors, and pulpers written by the admired cultural historian and author of the trilogy on all things book related A Gentle Madness Patience and Fortitude How could any intelligent, literate person not just love this book Simon Winchester and A Splendor of Letters Elegant, wry, and humane Andr Bernard, New York Observer Nicholas Basbanes writes about paper, from its invention in China two thousand years ago to its ideal means, recording the thoughts of Islamic scholars and mathematicians that made the Middle East a center of intellectual energy from Europe, by way of Spain in the twelfth century and Italy in the thirteenth at the time of the Renaissance, to North America and the rest of the inhabited world Basbanes writes about the ways in which paper has been used to record history, make laws, conduct business, and establish identities He makes clear that without paper, modern hygienic practice would be unimaginable that as currency, people will do almost anything to possess it that the Industrial Revolution would never have happened without paper on which to draw designs and blueprints We see paper s crucial role in the unfolding of historical events, political scandals, and sensational trials how the American Revolution which took shape with the Battle of Lexington and Concord, began with the Stamp Act of 1765 the Dreyfus Affair and the forged memorandum known as the bordereau America s entry into World War I with the Zimmerman Telegram the Alger Hiss spy case and Whittaker Chambers s testimony involving the notorious Pumpkin Papers Daniel Ellsberg s release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 and the scandal of Watergate Basbanes writes of his travels to get to the source of the story to China, along the Burma Road, and to Japan, whose handmade paper, washi, is as much an expression of the human spirit as it is of craftsmanship to Landover, Maryland, home of the National Security Agency and its one hundred million ultra secret documents, pulped by cryptologists and sent to be recycled as pizza boxes and egg cartons to the Crane Paper mill of Dalton, Massachusetts, a seventh generation family owned enterprise, the exclusive supplier of paper for American currency since 1879 and to the Kimberly Clark mill in New Milford, Connecticut, manufacturer daily of one million boxes of Kleenex tissue and as many rolls of Scott kitchen towels.Entertaining, illuminating, irresistible, a book that masterfully guides us through paper s inseparability from human culture .From the Hardcover edition.

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    1 thought on “On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History”

    1. It's taken me a while to become a Nicholas Basbanes fan, but I think it's finally happened. He's written many books about books, a subject I like to read and think about. But so often, I'll start one of his books and I react to it as I do to Ken Burns' documentaries. They are lovely and worthwhile, but verylaxing. I often find myself drifting off while watching.And so it was with Basbanes until the most recent two books of his I've read. This book on paper was a surprise -- I mean, the important [...]

    2. Arcane yet currentAt a time when the death knell of the physical book is touted everywhere Basbanes steps forward and writes a laudatory (physical) book about paper. He traces the beginnings of paper to China and how it migrates to Japan and throughout the East finally landing in Europe. Along the way each culture makes paper their own designed for their own uses, incorporating their own innovations. Paper has been used in many forms of communication, in worship by writing prayers on bits of it [...]

    3. Received as a winner in a drawing. Started on 11-9-13. Finished on 11-17-13. When I signed up to try to win this book, I thought it might be interesting. Well, it was exceptionally interesting. Everything you wanted to know about paper from its Chinese beginnings to types of handmade paper; to the notebooks of Da Vinci, Beethoven, and Edison; to wallpaper, toilet paper, passports, money, postage stamps, cigarette paper (who knew that Zig-Zag was a French company?); to origami and its art and en [...]

    4. Generally a history of paper and its development but even more a book about the idea of it and how we use it. Basbanes convincingly shows its flexibility and indispensability.

    5. “… a guiding premise of this book has been to demonstrate that paper is a substance of utility, almost always defined by the task at hand.”Written with a travelogue like quality, Nicholas A. Basbanes, “a self-professed Bibliophiliac” as indicated on the cover, takes us on a journey of paper’s “two thousand years” of development and history. The result, Basbanes' Paper: The Everything of Its Two Year History. is a fascinating, informational, educational, and inspirational look at [...]

    6. You have to love an author whose favorite scene from the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer" involves a chess prodigy and a piece of paper!Nicholas Basbanes' book about the history, uses and importance of paper includes plenty of bits of trivia like this, as well as indepth looks at the invention of paper, its uses down through the ages and its future going forward. It took me awhile to figure out that the book's focus is split between the making of paper and the usage of paper. Because the auth [...]

    7. From money to toilet paper to packaging to books, paper is ubiquitous. If you think about it, Nicholas Basbanes could have written several volumes on the 2000 year history of paper. Instead, he chose a variety of topics ranging from traditional paper making techniques, to an overview of the paper industry (now and then), origami, books and libraries, to spy stuff and the blizzard of paper that followed the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center.An essential product that most of us think litt [...]

    8. A beautiful book both in how it is written and how it feels in your hands. Appropriately for a book "On Paper" the paper this book is printed on is smooth and soft in your hand. Even the paper itself emphasizes just how much we that for granted what we assume about how book paper is supposed to feel.While there are admittedly slow and fact heavy portions, this book is so much more than expected. While it covers the basics - where paper was invented, how it is made, and its invaluable role in soc [...]

    9. I really like paper. A lot. And I'm finding these interviews on paper a bit dull. Where's the chemistry and the physics?! The understanding. I know that's not his intention, so I don't fault him. I just really think that should have been covered a bit more thoroughly with a touch less on the people-y-ness. And I'd have welcomed it later in the book it's just a lot of this was far less interesting without the afforded scientific content.I'm being picky I know but notice how much time I'm spending [...]

    10. This is a really dense book, almost too full of information at times. But it was immensely enjoyable - who would've thought that toilet paper and cigarette papers could be so interesting? The final sections that deal with the debris from the World Trade Center attack on 9/11 were very moving and made me appreciate the power of ephemeral paper.

    11. Loved this book! My favorite parts were tucked in the middle - the discussion of Mincemeat Man and the paper necessary to authenticate his existence was fascinating and the part about Argo was well-written and amazing! Great book if you're looking for well-written non-fiction!

    12. This is a loving treatment of all things paper, but frankly, it was too much detail for me despite my high tolerance for books exploring random topics in depth. I had to give up.

    13. It's possible that this does not cover "everything in its 2,000-year history," but I sure can't think of anything else. Basbanes explores hand papermaking in the land of its birth to its rebirth in the craft movement in the U.S. He also covers paper money, forgery, espionage, cigarettes, modern hygiene practices, and origami.This is well-written and engaging enough that it will appeal to many who are not quite paper fanatics.I had the opportunity to take a class from Tim Barrett and to work with [...]

    14. I adored most of this book. It was both funny and informative. It's crammed with fun factoids, and Basbanes is very good at creating context by means of a series of fascinating vignettes that build up to a whole.It was a little slow to begin, so if you find yourself midway through the first chapter thinking that if you have to read one more description of a handmade paper workshop in rural Asia, just skip to the second chapter. I put it down in the last chapter, though, because I wasn't ready to [...]

    15. Nicholas Basbanes' On Paper is both an incredibly well-researched book (going way beyond the usual associations we have with paper and paper making), but also a difficult book because of the density of the material. As you can see, it's been on my night table for several months, but that's how you should read it (unless you're totally into the history of paper usage), bit-by-bit, one chapter at a time, so you can both enjoy and digest the fascinating material presented.

    16. It's a fascinating and unique topic but admittedly some chapters are very dry especially those on some US companies. I felt more emphasis on early history would have been better.

    17. Cool details and anecdotes, some great endnotes, but overall the book didn't hang together all that well for me, the chapters becoming more and more episodic. I enjoyed it, but wouldn't recommend it.

    18. On Paper by Nicholas Basbanes (Knopf, 2013, 449 pages, $35.00) accomplishes a feat you might not expect, turning the prosaic topic of the paper we use each day, and take for granted, into a topic of interest and importance. Beginning with paper's emergence in China before the Common Era began, the early chapters trace its development and the expansion of its use from China to Japan and then, into the Arab world around the time of Mohammed before following the path of Islam to Spain and thence in [...]

    19. You might not know it, but we are currently living in the golden age of non-fiction. Seriously. I realize that this may come as news to the many excellent and underpaid authors who struggle to secure a good living from writing about our world, in long form. However, for more topics than it would occur to you to look for, there are authors who have immersed themselves in it for a year or more, and come back with a book to tell you what they found. I have read excellent books on the pigeon, the ra [...]

    20. Was OK. Narrative story-telling way to cover parts of the history of paper. Not technical at all. Lots of people telling stories. Was Russ & Susie book.

    21. The author of this history piece is a self-confessed bibliophiliac, and I would classify myself as the same. Upon receiving this tome of almost all that is or ever was paper, I was quite concerned about the length of the book. It's massive! How many interesting subjects could an author include about paper? The answer is surprisingly many. There was no surfeit of extraneous topics and never did I wish a chapter to end sooner rather than later. This is my first Basbanes book, and I certainly was n [...]

    22. Terrific research, writing, and humor.Notes:9r derives fr papyrus16envious beyond words63.ddlers looking for ragrag trade67r made w/o bleach, invented in 1774use of wasps nests led to making paper from wood pulp123ww2 toilet paper 3 sheets/day, yanks 22.51251857 first commercial tpsears & roebuck - rears & sorebutts126 american avg = 57 shts/day174hard copiesDan Rather false Bush docs180Nazi's convicted by their own signatures182Katyn Forest massacre docsWalesa. legs are trembling187Pent [...]

    23. I literally just finished reading the epilogue so I want to write this review while everything is fresh in my mind. But first, let me just say that this is a First Reads review; I received the book sometime last year and have only just finished it now!Firstly, it is easy to see that this book was a labor of love for Basbanes. The book is full of details from trips he has taken and people he has talked throughout his career and it is easy to sense his genuine enthusiasm for the subject. The book [...]

    24. Disclaimer: I love Nicholas Basbanes books. I love all of them, ever since I happened across A Gentle Madness and discovered this whole genre of books about books. I have almost all of his titles, so naturally, I wanted to read this one.I wouldn't normally expect to be crying at the end of a book about paper, but that's what happened here, when he closes with a story about that blizzard of paper that occurred after the Twin Towers fell. It's an amazing way to end a book that seeks to provide how [...]

    25. Oh man what a fun book this was! I know not the coolest person around, but neither am I the most nerdy out there, but damn did I get some odd looks while reading this book. In any case, this was great! Basbanes, the self described bibliophile, has finally broken down and gotten to the root of his mania, I mean how could you truly love books without knowing, really, about their base components? I'm really, really hoping Basbanes goes off and writes a book on the history of writing next! So what w [...]

    26. I had high hopes for this book. After all, the origins, making, uses and history of paper should be extremely interesting? Not this book. This book is disjointed and jumps around from topic to topic, most of which are only vaguely related to paper. It is a combination of travelogue, lengthy interviews, biographies, paragraphs of credentials, random facts, selective historical anecdotes, excessive (irrelevant in my opinion) historical detail about the people and places that have had something to [...]

    27. If you love paper (like I do) then you'll love reading this book! Brabanes is the author of A Gentle Madness, published in 1999 it's a fabulous history of book collecting and collectors. Basbanes’ book is part social history and part examination into the many roles and uses of paper and why it is essential to our everyday needs. His topics range from the Sepoy Mutiny in India to the public acceptance of the sanitary napkin and the workings of the National Security Agency and their use of paper [...]

    28. *I received this book as a Firstreads giveaway*I am very torn on what kind of a review to give this book. On the one hand, it was a very informative and relaxing read. On the other hand, I was very excited to finally have finished the 360 pages detailing everything paper. I think my frustrations were primarily due to the rambling (and occasionally seeming disorganized) style of the author, which at first was charming, but then started to become rather tiresome. I would have appreciated a more de [...]

    29. When I picked this book to read, my wife noticed it and asked me why I picked it. I explained that I had seen some reviews of it and thought it might be interesting, like other books I had read about ideas or materials that changed history. After I explained, she said, "Don't tell anybody you are reading it. It sounds incredibly boring."But I stuck with it. And while I think there were, in fact, some interesting sections, I agree that much of this book isn't particularly fascinating. And here I [...]

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