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Books: challenged, banned, and burned

Researching and tracing trends and events

“And yet on the other hand unless warinesse be us'd, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image, but hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason it selfe, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye.”

   ~ Milton, John (1644). Areopagitica, A Speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc'd Printing to the Parliament of England

Readings for context and history

History articles about book banning / censorship / burning


Bonfire of the vanities

A burning of objects condemned by religious authorities as occasions of sin. Supporters of the Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola collected and burned thousands of objects such as cosmetics, art, and books in the public square of Florence, Italy, on the occasion of Shrove Tuesday.
For details and context see: Zealot (2008). In M. Wilson, If the paintings could talk. The National Gallery. Credo Reference.


Book Burnings 
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

book burning 1933

A member of the SA throws confiscated books into the bonfire during the public burning of "un-German" books on the Opernplatz in Berlin. —United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park


Kanawha County Textbook Controversy
This violent 1974 clash over textbooks in West Virginia prepped the nation for a New Right movement: Shooting at buses, striking miners, and the KKK Timeline

Two women in Ku Klux Klan robes and a cross which was burned at a rally in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1975. The Klan had pledged to unite anti-textbook forces in Kanawha County. (AP Photo)

Learn more about the Kanawha County Textbook Controversy at West Virginia Books Challenges


2022 Book Burning

Photos: Tyler Salinas
They're Burning Books in Tennessee