Friday, July 09, 2004

The humble, indispensable index

Philip Hensher in The Independent discusses the enjoyment to be had from indexes. It has to be said that few of the history books I read have the opportunities to be as gloriously bitchy as the biographies he mentions, but it is true that the index, besides being a useful tool for extracting information you need from a book when you don't have time or inclination to read the whole thing, is often a quick way to get a feel of a writer's priorities (and blind spots). A good index should tell you a lot about both a book and its writer. And an academic book without an index is surely a contradiction in terms.

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