New York: Henry Holt, (1996),
Reprint. octavo, cloth in dust jacket. 584pp. Henry Holt, Item #28745
"The passion to possess books has never been more widespread or popular than it is today; indeed, obsessive book collecting remains the only hobby to have a disease named after it. A Gentle Madness is an adventure among the afflicted. Richly anecdotal and fully documented, it combines the perspective of historical research with the immediacy of investigative journalism. Above all, it is a celebration of books and the people who have revered, gathered, and preserved them over the centuries. Basbanes, a dedicated bibliophile himself, begins his extraordinary book 2, 500 years ago in Alexandria, when a commitment was made to gather all the world's knowledge beneath one roof. In a series of lively chapters, the continuum then passes through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to the 20 th Century, with special emphasis on book lore and book culture in Great Britain and North America. In the second half of A Gentle Madness, Basbanes offers a gallery of revealing profiles of living collectors and presents exclusive examinations of the great contemporary stories - the rare book thefts of Stephen Blumberg; 'institutional bibliomania' at the University of Texas; the mystery man who used $17 million of another person's money to gain recognition as the greatest book collector alive..." Extensively illustrated. A very fine, clean copy, in a very fine dust jacket which is not price clipped.