Questions tagged [book]

For questions about books and related artifacts, events, or places such as scrolls, bookshelves, libraries, etc. Questions can be about a specific book or about the broader history of books.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
56
votes
15answers
12k views

Are there any important biographies of nobodies?

Biographies usually cover interesting people who said and did notable things. I'm curious about lives notable just for their contexts: the stories of unremarkable people in historically remarkable ...
51
votes
8answers
11k views

Are there historical examples of audiences drawn to a work that was “so bad it's good”?

The concept of media that is enjoyable because it's incompetently executed is a big market nowadays. Movies probably have the biggest examples (Plan 9 From Outer Space, Troll 2, The Room, Samurai Cop, ...
26
votes
4answers
10k views

How were books published in Ancient Greece?

Suppose I'm a contemporary of Aristotle, living in Athens, and I want to write a book on, say, philosophy or mathematics. I suppose I would start by writing out a complete manuscript on some form of ...
22
votes
2answers
4k views

When did books first become affordable to the general population?

Gutenberg certainly had a great impact on the availability of books, but his printing press didn't help bring books into the hands of the poor. The price of books dropped from thousands of days worth ...
21
votes
1answer
1k views

What's the meaning of a knight fighting a snail in medieval book illustrations?

Someone sent me this really weird picture of a medieval illustration. It depicted a knight fighting a snail, and was basically a viral snarky commentary about how weird medieval ideas were. I tried ...
19
votes
1answer
3k views

Did Emanuel Lasker write a book declaring that Germany had to win World War I if civilization were to be saved?

Emanuel Lasker, the second chess world champion, was a very interesting person. I read here that During World War I, Lasker […] invested all of his money in German war bonds. At the end of ...
16
votes
1answer
2k views

Were bookshops 'common' in the late 19th century, and how did they differ from modern ones?

I've been reading a little bit about Victorian publishing bit I'm struggling to get a feel for how common and how similar Victorian bookstores in London would be. This is all I've read. It sounds ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

I'm reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. What should I watch out for?

I am currently reading William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. I find it an interesting take on Nazi Germany, particularly with its emphasis on the viewpoints afforded by the Foreign ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Origin of the idea of a series of books

I've been wondering lately, do we know where the idea of releasing books that were meant to be read together (such as a trilogy or longer series) came from? It's my understanding that really old ...
13
votes
2answers
482 views

Was Donald Knuth the first person to typeset a book using a computer?

I came across this article, which recommends a few books. Below is a quite from the article from the part about Digital Typography by Donald Knuth: For another, the book is, well, charming. Donald'...
13
votes
2answers
399 views

Who titled the works of Aristotle?

I had always assumed that Aristotle titled his own works. But under the Wikipedia article on Metaphysics, it gives an alternative explanation for the origin of the work's title: Subsequent to the ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Where are the ancient books now?

How did books like Gorgias or Republic survive to these days? Where were they found or how were they preserved so well for the centuries when antique philosophers were rejected as atheists? And are ...
11
votes
1answer
477 views

What's this flag flying on a fort at Kodiak, Alaska?

Naval captain Yuri Lisianskii drew a harbor scene in Alaska about 1805. It was engraved in England for an edition of his book. (High-res version) In the image, from left to right, there are flags ...
10
votes
6answers
573 views

Has a book ever caused the ousting of a dictator?

The new book, The Man Without a Face, by Masha Gessen is at least partially intended to humanize Russian leader Vladimir Putin in hopes that it will eliminate the power he appreciates by maintaining a ...
10
votes
4answers
709 views

Has any other book in history been as “prescriptive” as Mein Kampf?

Hitler's signature work, "Mein Kampf", was written while he was in prison (!), following the failure of his so-called "Beer Hall Putsch" in Munich in 1923. In the book, he laid out in excruciating ...
10
votes
1answer
987 views

What corrections did the Catholic church make to the Copernicus work “De revolutionibus”?

Catholic encyclopedia says: On 5 March, 1616, the work of Copernicus was forbidden by the Congregation of the Index "until corrected", and in 1620 these corrections were indicated. Nine sentences, ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

What was the third best-selling book in the antebellum US?

Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best-selling novel in antebellum America and the second best-selling book overall. The Bible, of course, was number one. Here's an insanely detailed rundown of UTC's sales ...
10
votes
1answer
343 views

Which college president nearly finished a book in 1914 that argued that there would be no more wars?

In 1954, Presbyterian theologian Gordon Clark published a brief essay in which he criticized the moral optimism of the pre-WWI era. He included the following intriguing tidbit: In the summer of ...
9
votes
4answers
893 views

What was different about the “right” (recto) side of papyrus sheets compared to the other side?

Usually only one side of papyrus sheets was used to write on in classic antiquity. What is the difference between the two sides of a sheet, and why would you write on "recto" only?
9
votes
2answers
127 views

Some clarifications on text annotations on Medieval and related texts

Looking at some texts and not sure what these symbols mean in these few cases. Wondering if one could just list off real quick what the purpose is of the symbols or patterns (like the spacing patterns)...
9
votes
1answer
602 views

How accurate is the book “Rifleman Dodd”?

I recently borrowed a Napoleonic war era book titled Rifleman Dodd, by C.S.Forester. It was a entertaining story set in Portugal in the years 1810-1811. I'm wondering if the book is a work of fiction ...
8
votes
1answer
311 views

Were any works completely lost during the Nazi book burnings?

When the Nazis rose to power, they began a campaign of burning books deemed incompatible with the Nazi ideology. During these book burnings, were there any works that were completely lost? By "...
8
votes
3answers
273 views

Since when and why do some academic publishers use, prefer or enforce endnotes instead of footnotes

When reading academic books of a certain size the usage of endnotes in those is killing me and my productivity. That is practically part of the definition: Footnotes are notes at the foot of the ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Was there a particular area of Victorian London in which bookshops were concentrated?

I see that there were many booksellers in Victorian London. Was there a particular area that hosted "respectable bookshops", in the manner that Petticoat Lane was a centre for Victorian clothing?
7
votes
1answer
702 views

Who invented modern bookends? (both model T and model L)

In ancient times the bookends were made from very heavy materials to sustain the weight of the books, while the modern ones use a smarter technique: while they are light, they are shaped so that they ...
7
votes
2answers
449 views

Why did classical works re-emerge during the Renaissance?

I recently read the Annals by Tacitus. Although I am definitely pleased with it, I feel like the best parts are missing. It got me thinking about the history of books in general. I read on another ...
7
votes
1answer
173 views

Where was the Barberini psalter created?

Would you know where the Barberini psalter was created? I have checked the on-line sources and cannot find the answer (maybe I have overlooked it?) It was created in the 11th century. The obvious ...
6
votes
3answers
238 views

Regional dominance of Sitka library

The Russian-American Company's directors were in St. Petersburg while its Chief Manager lived and worked in Sitka. The library there held "more than 1,200 books, valued at some 7,500 rubles. More than ...
6
votes
1answer
412 views

Who sold this book in London in the 1930s?

Several years ago, I purchased a copy of A.W. Wheen's English translation of Erich Maria Remarque's Three Comrades (published, as best as I can tell, sometime in 1937 by Hutchinson & Co. of London,...
6
votes
1answer
227 views

How long did it take to bind a book in 13th century England?

I am looking for information on the time it took for the construction and binding of books in particular, not the writing or copying of them. So, considering that the material is ready to be bound, ...
6
votes
1answer
119 views

How did the educational curriculum (books) flow from grade to grade in the 1800s?

I'd like to understand how educational curriculum (book choice/material) progression worked during the 19th century within the United States and perhaps even abroad. We frequently hear of people only ...
6
votes
1answer
88 views

1972 textbook by Charles University professor on Thirty Years War

Just yesterday I came across a textbook citation on the Thirty Years War. Here is what I (think I can) remember about the book in question: the author was professor at Charles University in Prague, ...
6
votes
1answer
740 views

Did Thomas Paine really give up book royalties?

I heard on a podcast the claim that Thomas Paine apparently gave up on his book rights so that his writings would circulate more widely. However, I tried to find sources for this claim but was unable ...
5
votes
6answers
548 views

What is the earliest known book / novel trilogy in literature?

Having recently finished (again) The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I wondered what is the earliest known book / novel trilogy in literature? (Yes, I know J.R.R. Tolkien wrote LOTR not as a trilogy but as ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

How reliable is a Maya codex facsimile?

I've found an online copy of William Gates' reproduction of the Dresden codex written in 1932. Some websites say that his reproduction is rather too stylistic to be a reliable facsimile of the codex. ...
5
votes
1answer
267 views

Are there any books solely about the Umayyad Invasion of Gaul?

I am very fascinated by the Umayyad Invasion of Gaul (the Arabic wiki-page on this subject is very interesting, though it starts with a lengthy description of the condition of Franks) and I am looking ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

Was *Green Eggs and Ham* really banned in China from 1965–1991?

The Wikipedia article on Green Eggs and Ham states that the children's book was banned in China in 1965 for its "portrayal of early Marxism", and that the ban was lifted in 1991. The citations for ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

How historically accurate is 'India: A History' by John Keay?

I have been looking for a book about Indian history. Recently I came across this answer, which suggested reading India: A History by John Keay. I wanted to know whether it is historical and accurate. ...
5
votes
1answer
120 views

What were John Milton's daily reading habits?

In a college course on John Milton, I believe I remember the professor saying that Milton had an extremely rigorous daily reading schedule, something like one hour of Greek and two hours of Hebrew ...
4
votes
6answers
448 views

How, if at all, is published pseudohistory publicly addressed by scholars and academia?

To start of I would like to make it clear that I am not a historian or academian of any kind. I'm only interested in history as a hobby. I was just browsing to buy an audiobook in area of Ancient ...
4
votes
1answer
501 views

How were documents written in Plato's time?

I'm writing an essay at the moment and I rather thoughtlessly wrote down that they used books. But it seems to me that this might not be the case and that books might be a relatively new invention. ...
4
votes
1answer
393 views

Is there a link between the Easter rabbits and the Yaknehaz rabbits?

It came to my attention this Passover that old German Haggadahs (books used at the Passover ceremonial meal) often featured an illustration of a rabbit hunt, or of just a rabbit, to serve as a ...
4
votes
1answer
164 views

Should you be pedantic about the clerical errors you see in a History reference book? [closed]

I'm currently studying History in a distance learning school where the primary mode of instruction is through online delivery of academic materials called modules. My concern is that most of these ...
3
votes
2answers
5k views

Tocqueville and the phrase “The great experiment”

The line "The great experiment" has become famous for being used by Tocqueville for describing the birth of modern democracy in America. It is supposed to be in the last paragraph of the first chapter ...
3
votes
2answers
257 views

British Diplomat's Guide to the Balkan Races

Reportedly (from a source I cannot recall) the British had a very "interesting" guide about the Balkans. It had a sort of cheat sheet to the peoples around that area, with the stereotypical ...
3
votes
1answer
123 views

Recommended electronic versions of old public domain US history textbooks?

I realize it's common practice for historians use primary sources, but what I want is some old US history schoolbooks pre-copyright, say 1700-1900. Something high-school level or higher (i.e. not for ...
3
votes
1answer
120 views

Are there any images of old italic or runic inscriptions online?

Wondering if there are any museums or universities or anything that have any examples of either: Old Italic script Runic script I don't think there are any books in these scripts, but it seems there ...
3
votes
1answer
89 views

Have any opinions by Fanny Allen of her father's book on theology survived?

Fanny Allen was a daughter of Colonel Ethan Allen of the Continental Army, noted for taking Fort Ticonderoga from the British by surprising them while they slept. (Or General Ethan Allen if you like; ...
2
votes
2answers
212 views

Earliest use of Renaissance Era innovations in Islamic countries & culture?

Though the title may be vaguely broad, I have two specific things in mind I wanted to ask about. While I was recently considering the cultural and technological advancements of Europeans in the ...
2
votes
2answers
312 views

How many words were written before Gutenberg [closed]

Suppose there was a library containing all books ever written before Gutenberg. I exclude books that have been lost, but include books that have survived only in copy. How many total words were in ...