An alphabet is a system for organising and recording thought. From the earliest neanderthal grunts right through to today's digital information overload, humans have needed some way of making sense of the world around them. The very earliest letters, which demonstrate this ('a' was the first sound of the Semitic word for 'ox', 'b' for 'house'), are still with us, virtually unchanged across the millennia. And while the western world today is divided by languages, it remains largely united by alphabet. Where these letters came from and how they have evolved over the years is more than just an academic exercise. John Man's ALPHA BETA tells a thrilling story of adventure, passion and intrigue.