This is the story of how paper, a simple Chinese invention, has wrapped itself around our world, with historys most momentous ideas etched upon its surface. The emergence of paper in the imperial court of Han China brought about a revolution in the transmission of knowledge and of ideas. For over two millennia, it has allowed ideas, religions, philosophies and propaganda to spread around the world with ever greater ease. Paper was the first writing surface sufficiently cheap, portable and printable for books, pamphlets, prints and journals to be mass-produced and to travel widely. It enabled an ongoing dialogue between communities of scholars who could now engage with each others ideas across continents and years. The Paper Trail traces the westward voyage of this ground-breaking invention; beginning with the Buddhist translators responsible for the spread of paper across China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. It describes the theologians, scientists and artists who used paper to create the intellectual world of the Abbasid Caliphate, and journeys with the missionaries and merchants who carried it along the Silk Road.
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The Paper Trail tells the story of how a simple Chinese product has for two millennia allowed knowledge, ideas and religions to spread at an unprecedented rate around the world. Alexander Monro traces this groundbreaking invention's voyage, beginning with the Buddhist translators responsible for its spread across China and Japan, and follows it westward along the Silk Road, where it eventually became the surface of the Quran. Once paper reached Europe, it became indispensable to the scholars who manufactured the Renaissance and Reformation from their desks. As Monro uncovers, paper created a world in which free thinking could flourish, and brought disciplines from science to music into a new age.