A survey that covers more than 2,000 years in little more than 400 pages, as Paper does, is bound to be fact-crammed and feel a little encyclopedic, no matter how gracefully it's written. It's a lot to absorb, but it's worth the effort.
The history of paper is a history of cultural transmission, and Kurlansky tells it vividly in this compact, well-illustrated book ... Kurlansky briskly surveys everything from Chinese oracle bones, cuneiform tablets and Egyptian papyrus to Mexican amate — the bark-based writing material, not a true paper, on which the Aztecs wrote their glyphs, though they may also have made real paper from agave. He has a sharp eye for curious details ... [Paper is] most useful as a broad survey. Kurlansky’s historical judgments are often trite and not seldom wrong.
...a rambling stroll through the technological development and refinement of paper and its use by and impact on people. It's the book of a former journalist, breezy and discursive, and will attract a lot of readers ... Kurlansky's book is rooted in a Western-centric world view that nowadays seems quite antiquated ... To give Kurlansky his due, Paper is filled with interesting tidbits as readers of his earlier popular histories would expect.