This pioneering volume of essays explores the destruction of great libraries since ancient times and examines the intellectual, political and cultural consequences of the loss of books. Fourteen original studies, introduced by a re-evaluative history of lost libraries, offer the first ever comparative discussion of the greatest catastrophes in book history from Mesopotamia and Alexandria to the dispersal of monastic and monarchical book collections, the Nazi destruction of Jewish libraries, and the recent pillage and burning in Tibet, Bosnia and Iraq. Leading international scholars ask what it means to lose the literary heritage and accumulated knowledge of a nation or people, why the devastation of library buildings and collections have stayed in the imagination, and why certain losses and the myths created about them are often not as simple or even as extensive as might at first seem. This collection represents a fresh appraisal of library history, offering both a highly topical and innovative cultural study in the history of books and knowledge.

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