Livres en feu is Lucien X. Polastron’s magisterial history of the destruction of books and libraries over the millennia. Thoroughly impressive in scope, Polastron’s work takes the reader on a journey from ancient Mesopotamia to modern day times, when just recently Iraq’s national library was pillaged during the U.S. invasion. As this spellbinding narrative shows, the urge to write, read and collect books has always gone hand in hand with the impulse to destroy them. Polastron examines the effects of that impulse throughout history, providing fascinating and saddening accounts of magnificent libraries and their demises along the way. Spain, France, China, America, Russia, Cambodia, Cuba, Iraq, Egypt, Angola, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, India, Sri Lanka: no place on earth is free from this troubling epidemic. He covers books lost during the Inquisition, Nazi Germany, the French Revolution and Communist China to name a few, and grippingly recounts the fabled downfall of the library in Alexandria. He not only describes the destructions, but also delves into their causes and into the nature of the priceless works that were lost. In the end, Polastron looks ahead to the future of libraries, seeing digital collections as yet another menace in the long, storied and troubled history of our books’ guardians.