Publications

Masters of the Word

Masters of the Word

Type
Link
Cost
Paid
Published
2013
Updated
2014
Full Name
Masters of the Word: How Media Shaped History from the Alphabet to the Internet

Masters of the Word chronicles the history of media, starting with the origin of writing thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia. The revolutionary tool gave rise to the world’s ancient empires. The Industrial Revolution allowed information to move faster and farther than ever before, though it concentrated power in the hands of those who ran radio and TV stations, large newspapers, and then, totalitarian governments. With the 21st-century boom of the mobile Internet, control of media has again spread, and the world is both more connected and freer than ever before. An utterly captivating, enlightening book, Masters of the Word will change the way you look at technology, human history, and power.

“Bernstein enables us to see what remains the same, even as much has changed: Henry VIII had William Tyndale burned at the stake for making the Bible available in English; today, dictators and their henchmen beat up and murder protesters by the hundreds, likewise (simply put) to maintain control of information.”

Library Journal, “Editors’ Picks”


“In Masters of the Word, a master storyteller, synthesizer, and historian shows us how the power of the word has toppled tyrants. I love reading what Bernstein writes.”

Ed Tower, Professor of Economics, Duke University


Masters of the Word takes you on a fascinating trip, from the invention of writing to the creation of the world-wide Web. Bernstein masterfully describes not just the inventions and the inventors that created modern media, but the forces underlying their impact. Riveting and thoroughly researched, it brims with interesting ideas and astonishing connections.”

Phil Lapsley, author of Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell


“Fascinating … an engaging mix of theory, fact and enlightenment from across the millennia that wears its rich scholarship lightly.”

Peter Preston, The Guardian (UK)


“[Bernstein’s] narrative is succinct and extremely well sourced. . . . [He] reminds us of a number of technologies whose changed roles are less widely chronicled in conventional histories of the media.”

Irish Times


“This sweeping, although selective, historical narrative by award-winning financial historian Bernstein elucidates in highly readable fashion the role of ‘media’—in which he includes advances from ancient alphabets to movable type to twenty-first-century technology—in shaping civilization and determining democratic versus despotic tendencies. Bernstein’s thesis that ‘power accrues to the literate’ should not be taken simplistically; his larger arguments are learned and elegantly made. … His occasional invocation of modern phenomena in a nonmodern context … lend charm and clarity to what might have otherwise been dauntingly erudite. Instead, Bernstein offers an accessible, quite enjoyable, and highly informative read that will hold surprises even for those familiar with some of the history he covers.”

Mark Levine, Booklist


"Fascinating."

Irish Examiner