Masters of the Word: How Media Shaped History

By William J. Bernstein

William J. Bernstein’s A greatest trade: How alternate formed the World, an Economist and Financial Times most sensible ebook of the 12 months, positioned him firmly one of the most sensible flight of historians like Jared Diamond and invoice Bryson, in a position to distilling significant traits and reams of knowledge into insightful, globe-spanning well known narrative.

Bernstein explains how new conversation applied sciences and particularly our entry to them, impacted human society. Writing used to be born hundreds of thousands of years in the past in Mesopotamia. Spreading to Sumer, after which Egypt, this progressive instrument allowed rulers to increase their keep watch over everywhere, giving upward push to the world’s first empires. while Phoenician investors took their alphabet to Greece, literacy’s first increase ended in the beginning of drama and democracy. In Rome, it helped spell the downfall of the Republic. Later, medieval scriptoria and vernacular bibles gave upward thrust to spiritual dissent, and with the mix of more affordable paper and Gutenberg’s printing press, the fuse of Reformation used to be lit.

The business Revolution introduced the telegraph and the steam pushed printing press, permitting info to maneuver quicker than ever earlier than and to arrive a fair greater viewers. yet besides radio and tv, those new applied sciences have been extra simply exploited through the robust, as visible in Germany, the Soviet Union, even Rwanda, the place radio incited genocide. With the increase of carbon duplicates (Russian samizdat), photocopying (the Pentagon Papers), the web, social media and cellphones (the fresh Arab Spring) extra humans have entry to communications, making the area extra attached than ever prior to.

In Masters of the Word, Bernstein masterfully courses the reader throughout the substantial background of communications, illustrating each one step with colourful tales and anecdotes. this can be a pleasing, enlightening e-book, person who will swap how you examine know-how, background, and tool.

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Nonetheless, like Dionysius and Cyprian ahead of him, Peter paid the political bills of flight; below Diocletian and Galerius, the Romans had jailed and murdered a great number of the clergy, together with 4 of Peter’s bishops. His lame scriptural safety, “When they persecute you from this city, flee to the following” (Matthew 10:23), didn't provoke these left in the back of to stand the wrath of Rome. One bishop, Melitius, used to be fairly distressed by means of his boss’s loss of braveness and devotion; in Peter’s absence, he ordained numerous bishops to interchange the imprisoned ones, who, of their flip, previous to their executions, wrote letters less than duress condemning Melitius’s activities. while Melitius ordained extra bishops, Peter excommunicated him. in spite of everything, the Romans eventually stuck, tortured, and accomplished Peter and so provided the Church with the needful top-level martyrdom. sixty five In Egypt, the literacy-borne organizational abilities of the Christian Church proved equivalent to these of the Roman Empire, which the Church successfully conquered a couple of brief years later with the conversion of Constantine to Christianity. once more, the scroll proved extra nimble and powerful than the sword. The Egyptian tale issues as the blend of its dry, preservative weather; its considerable papyrus; the literacy talents of the Coptic Christians; and the library in Alexandria, with its scholarly and literate background, targeted a shiny ancient gentle at the Roman-Christian fight of the early universal period. sixty six no longer all non secular dissidents fared in addition to the Egyptian Christians. The Gnostics—in Greek, actually “those within the know”—disappeared totally. for hundreds of years, Western students wondered over the Church’s fulminations in contrast vague heretical team. The claims in regards to the Gnostics’ blasphemy and licentious habit have been so outlandish as to imprecise the sect’s real trust method. Archaeologists have exposed a number of unique Gnostic files, yet their low caliber and scant volume didn't shed a lot gentle at the group’s ideals. that modified in 1945 with the invention of the Nag Hammadi Library. The notice “library” suits this assortment even below the time period utilized to the gathering at Alexandria. the gathering used to be present in a jar, exposed by way of a hard work team leader named Mohammed Ali whereas digging for nitrate deposits. Mohammed Ali pried open the box, which were conscientiously sealed, and located inside of a few leather-bound books. pondering that his underlings may want a lower of the motion, he ripped the books up and disbursed them, yet his fees stated no thank you, so he took the items domestic to his spouse, who burned a few of them as kindling. therefore, Ali grew to become excited about a blood feud. between different actions, he and his brother minimize out the center of 1 in their enemies after which ate the still-beating organ. regrettably, the sufferer grew to become out to be the son of the neighborhood sheriff. Ali discovered that his condominium was once approximately to be searched and that the books may be worthy whatever, so he had the neighborhood Coptic priest conceal them.

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