Saturday, December 19, 2015

How Martin Luther reinvented the book

Martin Luther didn't just spark the Reformation, he invented the modern book and the publishing industry. That's the intriguing story told on this, the eve of the 500th anniversary of his 95 theses, in Andrew Pettegree's new book Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe, and Started the Protestant Reformation

I reviewed the book for tomorrow's Washington Post. Here's a taste:

When Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door in the Saxon backwater town of Wittenberg, moveable type was something like the computer in the 1960s, a useful and expensive tool used by academics and elite institutions....Luther realized the untapped potential of print as a mass medium and used it to broadcast his message to lay readers across the German states, bypassing the traditional gatekeepers via this new social media. 

My most recent review for the Post was of Tom Gjelten's Nation of Nations in October.

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