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A surprising history of the index

Historian Dennis Duncan guides us through singular stories from the history of the book index

Historian Dennis Duncan guides us through singular stories from the history of the book index

The index, the bit at the back of a book you mostly only turn to for reference, has a bit of a dowdy reputation – and it’s an unfair one. Dennis Duncan discusses the index’s surprising history: one that has saved heretics from the stake, kept politicians from office and proved a battleground for snarky academic rivalries.

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Dennis Duncan is the author of Index, A Brief History of the (Allen Lane, 2021)