The Lost Gutenburg ~ by Margaret Leslie Davis

I’d seen this at Audible for a long time and it was on my Wish List and suddenly one day it was on sale!   Oh, oh, oh! And as soon as I finished Blood and Treasure I opened it up.  I got the Kindle version too because there are tempting illustrations and notes.   Sad to say it didn’t live up to the promise/hype.  😦

The Lost Gutenburg 
Margaret Leslie Davis 

2019 / 294 pages
Read by Coleen Marlo 6h 25m
Rating: 6.5 / history
(Both read and listened) 

There are places this book is interesting but there are other places it is totally boring. It details the course of one Gutenberg Bible, originally printed in the 1450s,  and one of the remaining 48 (some incomplete) of the original 180 printed on paper.  But there is a lot of time and space spent on tangents to make a single book. It might have made a good magazine article.  

The structure pretty much goes through the owners of this particular Bible (#45) and their biographies  chronologically, but it starts with a chapter for Estelle Doheny who obtained the Gutenberg in 1950.  When she died it went to the LA Archdiocese who eventually sold it to Keio University in Japan.  

Davis writes well and Coleen Marlo reads it nicely, but I was aggravated by the routine use of the present tense which is done probably because the book is frequently boring. But this is not a present tense book – it’s history.   “Dyson follows suit” would be better if it were written as “Dyson followed suit.”  (p. 76)  It’s okay to do that sometimes, but in this case it’s a bit over-the-top. 

This good review in the New York Times did nicely with the tenses.  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/24/books/review/margaret-leslie-davis-lost-gutenberg.html

 Here’s some info about Estelle Doheny who bought the Bible and set up a big foundation: 
https://www.dohenyfoundation.org/about/mrs-dohenys-story/

The Doheny Bible – (Now called the Keio Bible).  – it’s incomplete but currently held in https://web.archive.org/web/20090620233903/http://www.humi.keio.ac.jp/treasures/incunabula/B42/keio/vol_1/contents.html

And the methods the experts use these days, like using non-invasive cyclotrons to determine authenticity, are truly amazing.

Finally, a review:
https://www.npr.org/2019/03/20/705069743/the-lost-gutenberg-traces-one-bibles-500-year-journey 

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