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In this meandering book, British journalist and author Tanner (The Last of the Celts) traces the creation and dissolution of the fabled library of 15th-century Hungarian King Matthias Corvinius. Born Matthias Hunyadi in Cluj, Transylvania, in 1443, the boy who would become the Raven King followed his father's footsteps into the military, eventually becoming the leader of a Hungarian empire that briefly served as Europe's bulwark against the Ottoman invasion. The library is the framing device for a biography of Matthias, a summary of Hungarian history from the Renaissance to the present day, and an account of great Renaissance libraries. As part of his effort to bring Italian humanism to far-off Hungary, Matthias sent learned emissaries to Florence to order special volumes of the rediscovered Classics, all written, illustrated, and bound by hand. Tanner surveys the surviving Corvinian manuscripts (marked with the Raven symbol) and the paths they followed from the Ottoman sack of Budapest in 1526 to the great libraries of Europe and the United States where they reside today. Black-and-white illustrations and a map (neither seen) should help with the presentation. This book belongs in public libraries and will be of great interest to students of eastern European history.