This book provides a thorough survey and analysis of the emergence and functions of written culture in Rus (covering roughly the modern East Slav lands of European Russia, Ukraine and Belarus). Part I introduces the full range of types of writing: the scripts and languages, the materials, the social and physical contexts, ranging from builders' scratches on bricks through to luxurious parchment manuscripts. Part II presents a series of thematic studies of the 'socio-cultural dynamics' of writing, in order to reveal and explain distinctive features in the Rus assimilation of the technology. The comparative approach means that the book may also serve as a case-study for those with a broader interest either in medieval uses of writing or in the social and cultural history of information technologies. Overall, the impressive scholarship and idiosyncratic wit of this volume commend it to students and specialists in Russian history and literature alike. Awarded the Alec Nove Prize, given by the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies for the best book of 2002 in Russian, Soviet or Post-Soviet studies.