The Story of Writing

Borrow from me

Writing is arguably humanity's greatest invention, for without it there would be no history and no civilization as we know it. In a succinct and absorbing text, Andrew Robinson demystifies writing, explaining the interconnection between sound, symbol, and script, and discussing the major writing systems, from cuneiform and Egyptian and Maya hieroglyphs to alphabets and the scripts of China and Japan. He explores "proto-writing," including Ice Age symbols, tallies, and Native American pictograms, and surveys the astonishing multiplicity of alphabets--not only Greek, Roman, Hebrew, Arabic, and Indian scripts, but also the Cherokee "alphabet" and the writing of runes. Full coverage is given to the story of decipherment, and how the words of past ages have been brought back to life through the efforts of Champollion, Ventris, and others. In a provocative chapter devoted to still-undeciphered scripts, Robinson challenges the reader: Can the code of the Indus script, Cretan Linear A, the Phaistos Disc, or Easter Island ever be broken? A special feature of the book is the step-by-step illustrated analysis of the way each script works. By the end, even the beginner will have gained a basic understanding of the world's major scripts. With its dynamic layout and authoritative text, this is both a book to read for pleasure and an invaluable reference on the world's major writing systems. "The Story of Writing" is a winner of the 1996 Scientific American Young Readers Book Award.