"Most of us give little thought to the back of the book-it's just where you go to look things up. But as Dennis Duncan reveals in this delightful and witty history, hiding in plain sight is an unlikely realm of ambition and obsession, sparring and politicking, pleasure and play. In the pages of the index, we might find Butchers, to be avoided, or Cows that sh-te Fire, or even catch Calvin in his chamber with a Nonne. Here, for the first time, is the secret world of the index: an unsung but extraordinary everyday tool, with an illustrious but little-known past. Charting its curious path from the monasteries and universities of thirteenth-century Europe to Silicon Valley in the twenty-first, Duncan uncovers how it has saved heretics from the stake, kept politicians from high office, and made us all into the readers we are today. We follow it through German print shops and Enlightenment coffee houses, novelists' living rooms and university laboratories, encountering emperors and popes, philosophers and prime ministers, poets, librarians and-of course-indexers along the way. Revealing its vast role in our evolving literary and intellectual culture, Duncan shows that, for all our anxieties about the Age of Search, we are all index-rakers at heart-and we have been for eight hundred years"--
Super book about the Index and how it came to be. Dennis Duncan is a good writer. The text is erudite and fun to read. I recommend this book
If that's your impression, you'd be wrong about this book. Duncan takes the history of the index and not only covers the basics - such as early concordances, adding Bible chapter and verses, page numbers - but also makes the personalities of some of the people who argued about (and through!) indexes come alive. This is witty, humorous, and accessible. I grant you it may still be for a very select audience of book lovers, but if you're at all on the fence about it, I urge you to try it and see if you don't come away with an appreciation into what went into creating this particular way we organize information. If you have any doubt on where I came down on it, I'll just say... I even read the index.