From clay tablets to the printing press.
From the pencil to the internet.
From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Harry Potter.
This is the true story of literature and how it shaped people, history, civilization.
"[An] enthralling account of how writing developed… [Told with] lively engagement […] Puchner’s boundless curiosity propels him not just through the world of books but around the globe… The breathtaking scope and infectious enthusiasm of this book are a tribute to the ideal of [Goethe’s “world literature”]" John Carey, Sunday Times
"The Written World takes in everything from the clay tablets in ancient cities such as Nineveh to the role played by newspapers in the American Declaration of Independence. . . Across this landscape, it builds a convincing case that writing technologies are more foundational in major historical moments than we may have otherwise thought." Thomas Hale, Financial Times
"The Written World is an informative, relentlessly entertaining account of the development of literature" Malcolm Forbes, The National
"A fascinating celebration of literature . . . perfect reading for a long, chilly night, and it will leave you thinking in new ways about the wondrous thing called literature that, perhaps, we sometimes take for granted." Robert Weibezahl, Book Page
"For those whose refuge is the word--on screen, on paper, or chiseled in ancient stone--and for those who appreciate a tale well told, The Written World is a book you will want to read from cover to cover." Brian Tanguay, Santa Barbara Independent
"This look at how writing has developed over 5,000 years is breathtaking in its scope." Included in must reads by The Times
Top-six Christmas wish list for book lovers, together with Plath and Proust . . . Book Lounge
Ten best non-fiction books of 2017: "[Puchner] shares the stories behind the stories and the change they created with verve and affection." Zocalo Public Square
"Martin Puchner has penned the fascinating story of how literature shaped world history." Independent New England Book Sellers Association
A gripping intellectual odyssey." Publishers Weekly
"A lucid entertainment." Kirkus Review
"An exhilarating feat of intellectual athleticism." Louis Menand
"Well worth a read, to find out how come we read." Margaret Atwood, via Twitter
"A unique and spellbinding book." Elaine Scarry
"Restless, witty and learned, and endowed with seemingly infinite curiosity, [Puchner] brings home to us how much we have been formed over the millennia by the tales we have invented and recorded." Stephen Greenblatt
"Informative and engaging, Puchner's work provides a substantive but accessible account of the culture of writing and the transmission of literature. Of value to both general readers and specialists." Library Journal
"Two-time Norton anthology editor [Puchner] makes a breathtaking leap from Homer to Derek Walcott, illustrating why it is impossible to imagine a world without literature." Harvard Magazine
"An invigorating global survey of literature's deep impact on the course of history." Harvey Freedenberg, Shelf Awareness
"It's literature not as mirror, then, but as potent force. What could be more important?" Library Journal, Barbara's Non-Fiction Picks.
Book Recommendation by Time's 100 most influential people of 2017
November reading list by Adventures of the Bibliophile
"In this amazing book, Puchner traces 4,000 of world history through the written word. For book and literature lovers, The Written World is a new way to examine and understand world history." Eight Cousins, Holiday Picks 2017
"[Martin Puchner] gives us the story of literature, of how great texts and technologies have shaped cultures and civilizations and altered human history." The Hindu
"[Puchner's] interests in the past and future of writing are vividly presented in his wide-ranging and breezy The Written World. [He] has enthusiastically given us the beginning and middle of literature's ongoing story." Laurie Greer, Politics and Prose
"Martin Puchner’s breathtakingly erudite and elegant The Written World . . . covers anything and everything you ever wanted to know about anything and everything" Michael Eskin, A Publisher's Reflections on the Frankfurt Book Fair 2017
"Sapiens for bookworms" Bookseller
"The Written World is so chock-a-block with fascinating history, it will keep the curious reader riveted till the final pages." Book Jones Review
Interview with Deborah Kalb