RaveThe Wall Street Journal... eminently readable ... Despite its title, Burning the Books is concerned as much with the building and maintaining of libraries as with their annihilation. It is essential reading for anyone concerned with libraries and what Mr. Ovenden outlines as their role in \'the support of democracy, the rule of law and open society.\' He takes care to emphasize the remarkable resiliency with which libraries can be revived after their looting and destruction in times of war or revolution, often with added safeguards and renewed sense of purpose.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... presents a fascinating, and until now little-known, story. Writing in an engaging style, Ms. Peiss synthesizes an array of historical details, intriguing personalities and byzantine bureaucratic divisions into a coherent narrative. She explains how heroic librarians not only aided the war effort—delivering intelligence about fascist technology, propaganda and infrastructure—but also altered the practice of librarianship, ushering in an era of mass foreign acquisitions and widespread microfilm use, as well as giving urgent focus to the rapid extraction of vital information rather than the simple storage of data. The history of librarianship isn’t as quiet as some of us might believe.
PositiveThe Washington PostThroughout it all, the reader encounters passages of breathtaking beauty ... though Jamie always finds herself relentlessly tugged away from primordial beauty toward anxieties of the modern world and a looming sense of catastrophe, the immediacy of her surroundings giving way to a geologic sense of time.
MixedThe Contemporary Poetry ReviewIn Seidel’s poetry, privilege and wealth do not effectively insulate the speaker from third-world genocide, terrorism, and starvation; quite the opposite—those horrors are amplified ... On the positive side of the ledger, he takes risks utterly unthinkable, even as merely mutinous provocation, in an academic workshop. The effect is gratifying but somehow out of proportion ... At other times, he suffers clear defeats, and his internal rhymes begin to sound clotted and finally cloying.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...superb ... Mr. Wilson-Lee’s smartly written book takes in almost the whole of the Renaissance ... Mr. Wilson-Lee reminds us that a library is not merely an accumulation of books but the enlightened and often maddeningly complex systems that make the knowledge they preserve useful. The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books affords an intriguing glimpse into the Renaissance mind and its rage for order, as well as a beguiling preview of the modern library and, very possibly, what lies beyond.
RaveThe Washington PostIn all, this is a mesmerizing study of books by despots great and small, from the familiar to the largely unknown ... Kalder’s survey of the bizarre library of dictator literature might easily leave a reader shaken, even dejected. The badness of these books, and their effects, is almost impossible to fathom ... Luckily, Kalder maintains a skeptical sense of humor throughout.