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9091 Route 22
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174 Country Cookbooks

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History Reviews

Title: The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
Author: Stephen Greenblatt
Category: History
Rating: ****
Today’s Date: 11/26/2011
Review:

If you love books, you’ll love this one: The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt (W.W.Norton & Co., 2011).

Part history, part thrilling detective story, it tells the tale of an itinerant book hunter who, in 1411, discovered in a German monastery the last surviving manuscript of On the Nature of Things by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius, who theorized that the universe was composed of invisible particles called atoms, and that the universe and all things in it were formed and passed away in continual cycles of destruction and rebirth.

Widely copied and read throughout Europe – well before the invention of movable type – the book became the intellectual spark that fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists, thinkers, scientists and politicians down the ages, including Michelangelo and Galileo, Shakespeare and Freud, Jefferson and Montaigne, Darwin and Einstein.

Don’t be put off by the fact that Greenblatt is a celebrated scholar. His book is engagingly written and a real page turner. I especially enjoyed one of its recurring themes: how books were written, collected and copied, shared and stored in ancient and medieval times.

Most depressing to book lovers: the vast majority of the great works of Greek and Roman literature were destroyed with the fall of the empire – except for the one book that came to shape the nature of things as we know them today. What a great read!

Submitted by: Howard Van Lenten