From the author of "A Splendid Exchange" comes a remarkable history of media - from the alphabet to the internet - that examines how it has shaped human society over millennia. In "Masters of the Word", Bernstein chronicles the development of the technology of human communication, or media, starting with the birth of writing thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia. In Sumer, and then Egypt, this revolutionary tool allowed rulers to extend their control far and wide, giving rise to the world's first empires. When Phoenician traders took their alphabet to Greece, literacy's first boom led to the birth of drama and democracy. In Rome, it helped spell the downfall of Empire. As Bernstein illustrates, new communication technologies - from the clay tablet to the radio - have all had a profound effect on human society. But it's not just the technologies themselves that have changed the world, it's access to them. Medieval scriptoria and vernacular bibles.