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Louisa May Alcott once wrote that she had taken her pen for a bridegroom. Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern, friends and business partners for 50 years, have taken up their pens and passion for literature in much the same way. Described as the "Holmes and Watson" of the rare book business, Rostenberg and Stern - in addition to many other extraordinary discoveries in their lifetime of literary sleuthing - unlocked the secret of Louisa May Alcott's hidden life when they discovered her pseudonym, A. M. Barnard, and her anonymously published "blood-and-thunder" stories. "Old Books, Rare Friends" chronicles the lives of two young New York women whose passion for learning formed the bond of what would become a lifelong friendship. Madeleine and Leona give us glimpses of their middle-class upbringing, the widening of their intellectual horizons at Barnard and Columbia, the exciting start of their rare book business. They describe their finds on annual European book-hunting jaunts, using what they call Finger-Spitzengefuhl - the art of evaluating antiquarian books by handling, experience, and instinct. We are treated to some of their greatest discoveries in postwar Europe, amid the mildewed basements of London's bookstores after the Blitz, in the tiny treasure rooms at the rear of the librairies of Paris; and in places as remote as Tokyo. With their irresistible humor and characteristic savvy, Leona and Madeleine share with us their double lives as writers and independent scholars as they unlock the secrets and hidden stories found in the pages of rare books.