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Publisher's Summary

From a New York Times best-selling historian comes the story of how the alphabet ordered our world.

A Place for Everything is the first-ever history of alphabetization, from the Library of Alexandria to Wikipedia. The story of alphabetical order has been shaped by some of history's most compelling characters, such as industrious and enthusiastic early adopter Samuel Pepys and dedicated alphabet champion Denis Diderot. But though even George Washington was a proponent, many others stuck to older forms of classification - Yale listed its students by their family's social status until 1886. And yet, while the order of the alphabet now rules - libraries, phone books, reference books, even the order of entry for the teams at the Olympic Games - it has remained curiously invisible.

With abundant inquisitiveness and wry humor, historian Judith Flanders traces the triumph of alphabetical order and offers a compendium of Western knowledge, from A to Z.

©2020 Judith Flanders (P)2020 Basic Books

Critic Reviews

A Times (UK) Best Book of 2020

"Surprising and copiously researched." (Times Literary Supplement)

"Quirky and compelling.... [Flanders] is a meticulous historian with a taste for the offbeat; the story of alphabetical order suits her well." (Dan Jones, Sunday Times, UK)

"For readers who love language or armchair historians interested in the evolution of linguistics, this is catnip. For the mildly curious, it's accessible, narratively adventurous, and surprisingly insightful about how the alphabet marks us all in some way.... A rich cultural and linguistic history." (Kirkus)

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