cover image Gutenberg


Leonard Everett Fisher. MacMillan Publishing Company, $14.95 (28pp) ISBN 978-0-02-735238-2

Fisher ( Galileo ; The Wailing Wall ) adds to his impressive oeuvre with another informative, clearly presented work. He commands attention from the first line--``Johann Gutenberg is something of a mystery''--and continues to lure the reader with his judicious chronicling of Gutenberg's life and of his invention of movable type. The text dramatically telescopes Gutenberg's achievements. Born in southwestern Germany in the last decade of the 14th century, Gutenberg labored as a goldsmith and gemstone cutter while secretly working to achieve his true goal: to be the first to print words mechanically. Fisher shows how he overcame recurring financial setbacks, problems with a greedy partner and skepticism about the value of his first printed books to accomplish his aim, and to print his now-celebrated two-volume, 642-page Bible in 1454. Though somewhat austere for those on the younger end of the targeted audience, the stark, black-and-white illustrations convey the somber tone of the period as well as Gutenberg's unflagging determination to succeed. Ages 7-11. (May)