compiled by Dee Finney


Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian soft science fiction novel authored by Ray Bradbury and first published in 1953.

The novel presents a future American society in which the masses are hedonistic, and critical thought through reading is outlawed. The central character, Guy Montag, is employed as a "fireman" (which, in this future, means "book burner"). The number "451" refers to the temperature (in Fahrenheit) at which a book or paper autoignites. Written in the early years of the Cold War, the novel is a critique of what Bradbury saw as an increasingly dysfunctional American society.

The concept began with Bradbury's short story "Bright Phoenix," written in 1947 but first published in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1963.[1] The original short story was reworked into the novella, The Fireman, and published in the February 1951 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction. The novel was also serialized in the March, April, and May 1954 issues of Playboy magazine.[2] Bradbury wrote the entire novel on pay typewriter in the basement of UCLA's Powell library. His original intention in writing Fahrenheit 451 was to show his great love for books and libraries. He has often referred to Montag as an allusion to himself.

Over the years, the novel has been subject to various interpretations, primarily focusing on the historical role of book burning in suppressing dissenting ideas. Bradbury has stated that the novel is not about censorship; he states that Fahrenheit 451 is a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature, which leads to a perception of knowledge as being composed of "factoids", partial information devoid of context, e.g. Napoleon's birth date alone, without an indication of who he was.[3][4]

A movie version of the novel was released in 1966, and it is anticipated that a second version will begin filming in 2008. At least two BBC Radio 4 dramatizations have also been aired, both of which follow the book very closely.

Fahrenheit 451 takes place in an unspecified future time in a hedonistic anti-intellectual America that has completely abandoned self-control, filled with lawlessness in the streets, from teenagers crashing cars into people to firemen at Montag's station who set their mechanical hound to hunt various animals for the simple and grotesque pleasure of watching them die. Anyone caught reading books is, at the minimum, confined to a mental hospital while the books are burned. Illegal books mainly include famous works of literature, such as Walt Whitman and William Faulkner, as well as The Bible, and all historical texts.

One night returning from his job, fireman Guy Montag meets his new neighbor Clarisse McClellan, whose free-thinking ideals and liberating spirit force him to question his life, his ideals, and his own perceived happiness. Later in the book Clarisse is killed in a car accident.

After meeting Clarisse, he returns home to find his wife Mildred (who sleeps in a separate bed) asleep, with an empty bottle of sleeping pills next to her bed. He calls for medical help, and two technicians respond, who proceed to suck out Mildred's blood with a machine and insert new blood into her. The technicians' utter disregard for Mildred forces Montag to question the state of society.

In the following days, while ransacking the book-filled house of an old woman before the inevitable burning, Montag accidentally reads a line in one of her books: "Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine." This prompts him to steal one of the books. The woman refuses to leave her house and her books, choosing instead to light a match she had concealed from the firemen's view, prematurely igniting the kerosene and martyring herself. This disturbs Montag, and he wonders why someone would die for mere books.

Jarred by the woman's suicide, Montag calls in sick, and receives a visit from his fire chief Captain Beatty, who explains to him the political and social causes which underlie the work they perform. Captain Beatty claims that society, in its search for happiness, and an attempt to minimize cultural offenses through political correctness, brought about the suppression of literature as an act of self-censorship and that the government merely took advantage of the situation. Beatty adds that all firemen eventually steal a book out of curiosity, but all would be well if the book is turned in within 24 hours. Montag argues with his wife, Mildred, over the book, showing his growing disgust for her and for his society.

It is revealed that Montag has, over the course of a year, hidden dozens of books in the ventilation shafts of his own house, and he tries to memorize them to preserve their contents, but becomes frustrated that the words seem to simply fall away from his memory. He then remembers a man he had met at one time: Faber, a former English professor. Montag seeks Faber's help, and Faber begins teaching Montag about the vagaries and ambiguities but overall importance of literature in its attempt to explain human existence. He also gives Montag a green bullet-shaped ear-piece so that Faber can offer guidance throughout his daily activities.

During a card game at the fire house, Beatty tells Montag he had a dream about him, and relates the literary argument he says they had in his dream. Beatty quotes many books and shows an amazing knowledge of literature to prove to Montag the confusing messages in books. Then follows another call to arms; Beatty theatrically leads the crew to Montag's own home. He reveals that he knew all along of Montag's books, and orders Montag to destroy the house. Montag sees Mildred, who had betrayed his secret, moving away from the house and sets to work burning their home, but Montag is not content destroying the books. He burns the televisions, beds and other emblems of his past life. When Beatty finds Faber's earpiece, he threatens to track Faber down. Montag turns the flamethrower on Beatty, killing him, and then knocks out two other firemen and is soon a fugitive for these crimes. When the fire house's mechanical hound goes after him, he turns the flamethrower on it, destroying it.

He flees to Faber's house, with another fire house's mechanical hound and television network helicopters in hot pursuit. The newscasters hope to document his escape as a spectacle, and distract the people from the oncoming threat of war, a threat that has been foreshadowed throughout the book. Faber tells Montag of vagabond book-lovers in the countryside. Montag escapes, to a local river, floats downstream and meets a group of older men who, to Montag's astonishment, have memorized entire books, preserving them orally until books are allowed again. They burn the books they read to prevent discovery, retaining the verbatim content (and possibly valid interpretations) in their minds. The group leader, Granger, discusses the legendary phoenix and its endless cycle of long life, death in flames, and rebirth, adding the phoenix must have some relation of mankind, constantly going back to its cycle of making mistakes, and not learning from the past. He comments that man can learn, as opposed to the doomed phoenix.

Meanwhile, the television network helicopters surround another man in frustration, and the hound is ordered to attack him. The television audience thinks that Montag has died, but he is actually safe.

The war begins. Montag watches helplessly as jet bombers fly overhead and attack the city with nuclear weapons. His wife, Mildred, likely dies, though Faber is assumed to have left the city. It is implied that more cities across the country have been incinerated as well, a bitter irony that the world that sought to burn thought, is burned itself. At the moment of the explosion, the stress and emotion of seeing the city burned causes a key phrase from the Bible to emerge from the depths of Montag's memory.

The novel is concluded with a shocking but slightly optimistic tone. It is suggested that the society Montag knew has almost completely collapsed and a new society must be built from the ashes. Whether this new society will meet the same fate is unknown, but it is implied that the book people will begin to build mirror factories (a literary allusion)(mirrors are a metaphor for books) to show people who they are, what they have become, and how they can change with time and knowledge.


  • Guy Montag is the protagonist and fireman (see above) whose metamorphosis is illustrated throughout the book and who presents the dystopia through the eyes of a loyal worker to it, a man in conflict about it, and one resolved to be free of it. Bradbury notes in his afterword that he noticed, after the book was published, that Montag is the name of a paper company. Ironically, in the years after the book was published a company called Montag (pronounced the same way as the character's name) began manufacturing ovens, although no link to the book is known.
  • Faber is a former English professor who represents those who know what is being done is wrong but are too fearful to act. Bradbury notes in his afterword that Faber is part of the name of a German manufacturer of pencils, Faber-Castell.
  • Mildred Montag is Montag's wife, who tries to hide her own emptiness and fear of questioning her surroundings or herself with meaningless chatter and a constant barrage of television. She constantly tries to reach the glorified state of happiness, but is inwardly miserable. Mildred even makes an attempt at suicide early on in the book by overdosing herself with sleeping pills. She is used symbolically as the opposite of Clarisse McClellan. She is known as Linda Montag in the 1966 film.
  • Clarisse McClellan displays every trait Mildred does not. She is outgoing, naturally cheerful, unorthodox and intuitive. She serves as the wake-up call for Montag by posing the question “why?” to him. She is unpopular among peers and disliked by teachers for (as Captain Beatty puts it) asking why instead of how and focusing on nature rather than technology. Montag always regards her as odd until she goes missing; the book gives no definitive explanation. It is said that Captain Beatty and Mildred know that Clarisse has been killed by a car. Her behavior is similar to that of Leonard Mead from Bradbury's short story The Pedestrian. Her uncle, who presumably taught her to think as she does, may be an allusion to that short story, as he was once arrested for being a pedestrian.
  • Captain Beatty is Montag's boss and the fire chief. Once an avid reader, he came to hate books due to life's tragedies. He is disgusted with the idea of books and detests the fact that they all contradict and refute each other. In a scene written years later by Bradbury for the Fahrenheit 451 play, he invites Montag to his house where he shows him walls of books which he leaves to molder on their shelves. He tries to entice Montag back into the book-burning business but is burned to death by Montag when he underestimates Montag's resolve. Montag later realizes that Beatty might have wanted to die, provoking Montag to kill him. He is the symbolic opposite of Granger.
  • Granger is the leader of a group of wandering intellectual exiles who memorize books so they will be saved. Where Beatty destroys, he preserves; where Beatty uses fire for the purpose of burning, he uses it for the purpose of warming. His acceptance of Montag is considered the final step in Montag's metamorphosis: from embracing Beatty's ultimate value, happiness and complacency, to embracing his value of love of knowledge.
  • Mechanical Hound The mechanical hound exists in the original book but not in the 1966 film. It is an emotionless, 8-legged killing machine that can be programmed to seek out and destroy free thinkers, hunting them down by scent. It can remember as many as 10,000 scents of others it is tracking down. The hound is blind to anything but the destruction for which it is programmed. It has a proboscis in a sheath on its snout, which injects lethal amounts of morphine or procaine. Although Montag was able to survive such an injection, he suffered horrible pain for a short time. The first hound encountered in the novel is destroyed when Montag sets it on fire with a flamethrower. The second was programmed to find and kill a scapegoat for the amusement of the viewers of the televised chase for Montag, which in truth was unfruitful. Bradbury notes in his afterword that the hound is "my robot clone of A. Conan Doyle's great Baskerville beast," referring to the famous Sherlock Holmes mystery The Hound of the Baskervilles.
  • Mildred's friends (Mrs. Bowles and Mrs. Phelps) Mildred's friends represent the average citizens in the numbed society portrayed in the novel. They are examples of the people in the society who are unhappy but do not think they are. When they are introduced to literature (Dover Beach), which symbolizes the pain and joy that has been censored from them, Mrs. Phelps is overwhelmed by the rush of emotion that she has not felt before..


The novel reflects several major concerns of the time of its writing, leading many to interpret it differently than intended by Bradbury (see "Censorship and the effects of mass media" below). Among the themes attributed to the novel were what Bradbury has called "the thought-destroying force" of censorship, the book-burnings in Nazi Germany in 1933 and the horrible consequences of the explosion of a nuclear weapon. "I meant all kinds of tyrannies anywhere in the world at any time, right, left, or middle", Bradbury has said.[5]

Other motifs attributed to the novel are:

One particularly ironic circumstance is that, unbeknownst to Bradbury, his publisher released a censored edition in 1967, omitting the words "damn" and "hell," for distribution to schools. Later editions with all words restored include a coda from the author describing this event and further thoughts on censorship and "well-meaning" revisionism.

Censorship and the effects of mass media

The novel is frequently interpreted as being critical of state-sponsored censorship, but Bradbury has disputed this interpretation. He said in a 2007 interview that the book explored the effects of television and mass media on the reading of literature.

Bradbury still has a lot to say, especially about how people do not understand his most famous literary work, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. ... Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.[6]

Yet in the paperback edition released in 1979, Bradbury wrote a new coda for the book containing multiple comments on censorship and its relation to the novel. The coda is also present in the 1987 mass market paperback, which is still in print.

There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist / Unitarian, Irish / Italian / Octogenarian / Zen Buddhist, Zionist / Seventh-day Adventist, Women's Lib / Republican, Mattachine / FourSquareGospel feel it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse….Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451, described how the books were burned first by the minorities, each ripping a page or a paragraph from this book, then that, until the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the library closed forever. ... Only six weeks ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel. Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with the censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony. Judy-Lynn del Rey, one of the new Ballantine editors, is having the entire book reset and republished this summer with all the damns and hells back in place.

In the late '50s, Bradbury observed that the novel touches on the alienation of people by media:

In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap-opera cries, sleep-walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction.[7]


1966 film

Fahrenheit 451 was a film written and directed by François Truffaut and starring Oskar Werner and Julie Christie. The film was released in 1966.

Future film

In July 1994, a new film adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 began development with the studio Warner Bros. and actor Mel Gibson, who planned to star in the lead role. Scripts were written by Bradbury, Tony Puryear, and Terry Hayes.[8] With the project estimated to be expensive and Gibson believing himself too old to portray the film's protagonist Guy Montag,[9] the actor decided in 1997 to instead direct the film. By 1999, he had planned to begin filming with actor Brad Pitt in the lead role, but Gibson was forced to postpone due to Pitt's unavailability.[8] Actor Tom Cruise was also approached for the lead role, but a deal was never made.[9] According to Gibson, there was difficulty in finding a script that would be appropriate for the film, and that with the advent of computers, the concept of book-burning in a futuristic period may no longer work.[8]

In February 2001, the project was revived as director Frank Darabont entered negotiations with Warner Bros. to rewrite Terry Hayes's script and direct the film.[9] Gibson was confirmed to be involved only as a producer, and Darabont planned to complete the script by the end of 2002.[10] In July 2004, Darabont said that he had completed the script and hoped to begin filming Fahrenheit 451 after completing a script for Mission: Impossible III.[11] Darabont did not begin Fahrenheit 451 immediately, instead going on to direct The Mist. The director said in November 2006 that he would do long-term preparation work for Fahrenheit 451 while filming The Mist and hoped that he would begin filming after The Mist was completed.[12]

In August 2007, Darabont expressed his intent to film Fahrenheit 451 in the summer of 2008, and that he would place the story's setting in an "intentionally nebulous" future, approximately 50 years from the contemporary period. Darabont planned to keep certain elements from the book, such as the mechanical hound, in the film. The director did not comment on rumors of Tom Hanks as Guy Montag. The director said that the protagonist had been cast and would be announced soon.[13] The following November, the director confirmed Hanks's involvement with the film and described the actor to be "the perfect embodiment of the regular guy".[14] In March 2008, Hanks withdrew from the film, citing prior commitments as the reason. Darabont is now looking for a new lead, explaining the difficulty, "It needs to be somebody like [Hanks] who has the ability to trigger a greenlight but is also the right guy for the part. It's a narrow target. It's a short list of people."[15]

 Theatrical adaptation

The Obie Award winning off-Broadway theatre The American Place Theatre is presenting a one man show adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 as a part of their 2008-2009 Literature to Life season [16].

Allusions and references in other works

50th Anniversary Edition cover
50th Anniversary Edition cover

The title of Bradbury's book has become a well-known byword amongst those who oppose censorship, in much the way George Orwell's 1984 or Aldous Huxley's Brave New World have (although not to the same extent). As such, it has been alluded to many times, including in the ACLU's 1997 white paper Fahrenheit 451.2: Is Cyberspace Burning?[17] and Michael Moore's 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. Bradbury objected to the latter's allusion to his work, claiming that Moore "stole my title and changed the numbers without ever asking me for permission."[18]

Artist Micah Wright used the theme "Hand all books to your local fireman for safe disposal" overlaid on a 1940s fireman propaganda poster.

Hungarian poet György Faludy includes the lines in the opening stanza of his 1983 poem "Learn by Heart This Poem of Mine": "Learn by heart this poem of mine, / Books only last a little time, / And this one will be borrowed, scarred, [...] / Or slowly brown and self-combust, / When climbing Fahrenheit has got / To 451, for that's how hot / it will be when your town burns down. / Learn by heart this poem of mine."[19]

The rat things, cybernetic guard dogs in Neal Stephenson's cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, are closely related to Bradbury's mechanical hounds.

The theme and plot of the movie Equilibrium, starring Christian Bale and Sean Bean, draws heavily from Fahrenheit 451, as well as from 1984 and Brave New World.

Ray Bradbury also alludes to himself in his book Let's All Kill Constance as the main character, a writer, thinks about writing a book about a "hero who smells of kerosene" and muses about the possibility of books being used to start fires in the future.

The character of Sonmi~451 in David Mitchell's dystopia Cloud Atlas is likely to be a reference to Fahrenheit 451. The main theme evolving around her is the importance of literature as a cornerstone of human culture and society.

A 1986 computer text adventure revisits the story of Fahrenheit 451. The real-time strategy game StarCraft includes a flamethrower-wielding character named Gui Montag, after the protagonist of the book.

In R.O.D the TV's episode 16, all the books from jimbo-cho are gathered and burned in an event entitled operation Fahrenheit 451

In the sixth episode of the 2008 Japanese anime, Toshokan Sensō (図書館戦争? lit. "Library War"), a book referred to as "The Book of Prophecy" simply titled K505 was targeted for termination. This title alludes to Fahrenheit 451, as K505 can be read as 505 units of the Kelvin measurement of temperature that approximates 451 degrees Fahrenheit. Characters in the series' fictional, near-future setting also reference the book as being written "60 years ago" and how "a French director adapted it into a film."

Dozens of other references to the novel occur in television, music, and video games.


"The Fireman" (Galaxy Science Fiction, Vol. 1 No. 5, February 1951)

First edition (1953)[2] – This edition was actually published in three formats, and included two short stories: "The Playground" and "And the Rock Cried Out"

  • Paperback (Ballantine No. 41) – The true first edition, preceding the hardcovers by six weeks.
  • Standard hardcover – Limited to about 4,500 copies.
  • Asbestos hardcover – Just over 200 copies were signed and numbered, before being bound in "Johns-Manville Quinterra", a fire resistant asbestos material.

Later editions:[2]

  • Serialized version (Playboy, March, April, & May 1954)
  • First British hardcover edition (Rupert Hart-Davis, 1954) – Title novel only.
  • Science Fiction Book Club (London, 1955) – Title novel only.
  • First British paperback edition (Corgi No. T389, 1957) – Title novel only.
  • Student edition (Bal-Hi, 1967) – Includes a two page "Note to Teachers and Parents" by Richard Tyre. Reprinted ten times through 1973.
  • Hardcover edition (Simon & Schuster, 1967) – Full contents of the first edition (novel and two short stories) with a new introduction by Bradbury.
  • Special Book Club edition (1976)
  • Hardcover edition (Del Rey Gold Seal, 1981) – Issued without a dust jacket, and includes "Investing Dimes", an afterword by Bradbury.
  • Hardcover edition (Limited Editions Club, 1982) – Issued in a slipcase without a dust jacket, and includes an original lithograph and threefold-out color plates by Joseph Mugnaini. 2000 copies were signed by Bradbury & Mugnaini.
  • Large print cloth edition (G K Hall & Co., 1988, ISBN 0745171060)
  • Hardcover edition (Buccaneer Books, 1995, ISBN 089968484X) – Issued without a dust jacket, and includes the "Investing Dimes" afterword, and a "Coda" by Bradbury.
  • 40th anniversary cloth edition (Simon & Schuster, 1996) – Limited to 7500 copies, with 500 signed and numbered by Bradbury.
  • Trade paper edition (Del Rey, 1996, ISBN 0345410017)
  • Mass-market paperback edition (Del Rey, ISBN 0345342968)
In Canada
  • First Edition - February 1963
  • Seventh Printing - October 1972



  1. ^ "About the Book: Fahrenheit 451". The Big Read. National Endowment for the Arts.
  2. ^ a b c "Fahrenheit 451: Publishing Information". (October 18, 2006).
  3. ^ Bradbury, Ray About Freedom,, Date unknown
  4. ^ Boyle Johnston, Amy E. "Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted", LA Weekly, May 30, 2007.
  5. ^ Bradbury, Ray (2004). Conversations with Ray Bradbury. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 19. ISBN 978-1-57806-641-4. 
  6. ^ (2007), “Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted”, retrieved 2007-06-03
  7. ^ Quoted by Kingsley Amis in New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction (1960).
  8. ^ a b c Timothy M. Gray (2001-01-10). "Confessions from the crypt", Variety. Retrieved on 2007-07-27. 
  9. ^ a b c Michael Fleming (2001-02-01). "Darabont stokes flames for '451'", Variety. Retrieved on 2007-07-27. 
  10. ^ "Darabont Warms Up Fahrenheit", Sci Fi Wire (2002-04-29). Retrieved on 2007-07-27. 
  11. ^ Brian Linder (2004-07-29). "Darabont Talks 451", IGN. Retrieved on 2007-07-27. 
  12. ^ Devin Faraci (2006-11-07). "PLAY THE MIST FOR ME... DOUBLETIME", Retrieved on 2007-07-27. 
  13. ^ Shawn Adler (2007-08-08). "'Fahrenheit 451' Director Insists Book Is 'More Relevant Today,' Hopes To Shoot Adaptation In 2008", MTV. Retrieved on 2007-08-09. 
  14. ^ Shawn Adler (2007-11-09). "Tom Hanks Wants To Star In 'Fahrenheit 451,' Director Says", MTV. Retrieved on 2008-04-03. 
  15. ^ Josh Horowitz (2008-03-28). "BREAKING: Tom Hanks Drops Out Of 'Fahrenheit 451'", MTV. Retrieved on 2008-04-03. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Ann Beeson. Chris Hansen. Others, see "Credits" section on page. "Fahrenheit 451.2: Is Cyberspace Burning? ",, 2002-03-17. retrieved 2007-09-18
  18. ^ (2004), “Author seeks apology from Michael Moore”, retrieved 2006-10-03
  19. ^ Gyorgy (George) Faludy. John Robert Colombo, ed. Learn by Heart This Poem of Mine: Sixty Poems and One Speech, Hounslow Press, 1983, ISBN 978-0-88882-060-0. Online version hosted by


  • Tuck, Donald H. (1974). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent, 62. ISBN 0-911682-20-1. 
  • Bustard, Ned (2004), Fahrenheit 451 Comprehension Guide, Veritas Press.
  • Bradbury, Ray Fahrenheit 451, New York: Ballantine Books, 1953

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:


This is the list of the books that SARAH PALIN tried to have banned when she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska

. As many of you will notice it is a hit parade for book burners!


"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle
"Annie on My Mind" by Nancy Garden
"As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner
"Blubber" by Judy Blume
"Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley
"Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson
"Canterbury Tales" by Chaucer
"Carrie" by Stephen King
"Catch-22" by Joseph Heller
"Christine" by Stephen King
"Confessions" by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
"Cujo" by Stephen King
"Curses, Hexes, and Spells" by Daniel Cohen
"Daddy's Roommate" by Michael Willhoite
"Day No Pigs Would Die" by Robert Peck
"Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller
"Decameron" by Boccaccio
"East of Eden" by John Steinbeck
"Fallen Angels" by Walter Myers
"Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure)" by John Cleland
"Flowers For Algernon" by Daniel Keyes
"Forever" by Judy Blume
"Grendel" by John Champlin Gardner
"Halloween" ABC by Eve Merriam
"HARRY POTTER and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling
"HARRY POTTER and the Chamber of Secrets" by J.K. Rowling
"HARRY POTTER and the Prizoner of Azkaban" by J.K. Rowling
"HARRY POTTER and the Goblet of Fire" by J.K. Rowling
"Have to Go" by Robert Munsch
"Heather Has Two Mommies" by Leslea Newman
"How to Eat Fried Worms" by Thomas Rockwell
"Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou
"Impressions" edited by Jack Booth
"In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak
"It's OK if You Don't Love Me" by Norma Klein
"James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dahl
"Lady Chatterley's Lover" by D.H. Lawrence
"Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman
"Little Red Riding Hood" by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
"Lord of the Flies" by William Golding
"Love is One of the Choices" by Norma Klein
"Lysistrata" by Aristophanes
"More Scary Stories in the Dark" by Alvin Schwartz
"My Brother Sam Is Dead" by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher
"My House" by Nikki Giovanni
"My Friend Flicka" by Mary O'Hara
"Night Chills" by Dean Koontz
"Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck
"On My Honor" by Marion Dane Bauer
"One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
"One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
"One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"Ordinary People" by Judith Guest
"Our Bodies, Ourselves" by Boston Women's Health Collective
"Prince of Tides" by Pat Conroy
"Revolting Rhymes" by Roald Dahl
"Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones" by Alvin Schwartz
"Scary Stories in the Dark" by Alvin Schwartz
"Separate Peace" by John Knowles
"Silas Marner" by George Eliot
"Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
"Tarzan of the Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain
"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain
"The Bastard" by John Jakes
"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
"The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier
"The Color Purple" by Alice Walker
"The Devil's Alternative" by Frederick Forsyth
"The Figure in the Shadows" by John Bellairs
"The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck
"The Great Gilly Hopkins" by Katherine Paterson
"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood
"The Headless Cupid" by Zilpha Snyder
"The Learning Tree" by Gordon Parks
"The Living Bible" by William C. Bower
"The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare
"The New Teenage Body Book" by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
"The Pigman" by Paul Zindel
"The Seduction of Peter S." by Lawrence Sanders
"The Shining" by Stephen King
"The Witches" by Roald Dahl
"The Witches of Worm" by Zilpha Snyder
"Then Again, Maybe I Won't" by Judy Blume
"To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
"Twelfth Night" by William Shakespeare
"WEBSTER's 9th New Collegiate Dictionary" by the Merriam-Webster
Editorial Staff
"Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween
Symbols" by Edna Barth

Here is a Boston Herald story about the Palin censorship request.

Palin asked Wasilla librarian about censoring books
By Rindi White / Anchorage Daily News  |   Thursday, September 4, 2008  |  |  2008

Pres. Campaign WASILLA -- Back in 1996, when she first became mayor, Sarah Palin asked the city librarian if she would be all right with censoring library books should she be asked to do so.

According to news coverage at the time, the librarian said she would definitely not be all right with it. A few months later, the librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, got a letter from Palin telling her she was going to be fired. The censorship issue was not mentioned as a reason for the firing. The letter just said the new mayor felt Emmons didn’t fully support her and had to go.

Emmons had been city librarian for seven years and was well liked. After a wave of public support for her, Palin relented and let Emmons keep her job.

It all happened 12 years ago and the controversy long ago disappeared into musty files. Until this week. Under intense national scrutiny, the issue has returned to dog her. It has been mentioned in news stories in Time Magazine and The New York Times [NYT] and is spreading like a virus through the blogosphere.

The stories are all suggestive, but facts are hard to come by. Did Palin actually ban books at the Wasilla Public Library?

In December 1996, Emmons told her hometown newspaper, the Frontiersman, that Palin three times asked her -- starting before she was sworn in -- about possibly removing objectionable books from the library if the need arose.
Emmons told the Frontiersman she flatly refused to consider any kind of censorship. Emmons, now Mary Ellen Baker, is on vacation from her current job in Fairbanks and did not return e-mail or telephone messages left for her Wednesday.

When the matter came up for the second time in October 1996, during a City Council meeting, Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla housewife who often attends council meetings, was there.

Like many Alaskans, Kilkenny calls the governor by her first name.

"Sarah said to Mary Ellen, ’What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?" Kilkenny said.

"I was shocked. Mary Ellen sat up straight and said something along the line of, ’The books in the Wasilla Library collection were selected on the basis of national selection criteria for libraries of this size, and I would absolutely resist all efforts to ban books.’"

Palin didn’t mention specific books at that meeting, Kilkenny said.

Palin herself, questioned at the time, called her inquiries rhetorical and simply part of a policy discussion with a department head "about understanding and following administration agendas," according to the Frontiersman article.

Were any books censored banned? June Pinell-Stephens, chairwoman of the Alaska Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee since 1984, checked her files Wednesday and came up empty-handed.
Pinell-Stephens also had no record of any phone conversations with Emmons about the issue back then. Emmons was president of the Alaska Library Association at the time. Books may not have been pulled from library shelves, but there were other repercussions for Emmons.

Four days before the exchange at the City Council, Emmons got a letter from Palin asking for her resignation. Similar letters went to police chief Irl Stambaugh, public works director Jack Felton and finance director Duane Dvorak. John Cooper, a fifth director, resigned after Palin eliminated his job overseeing the city museum.

Palin told the Daily News back then the letters were just a test of loyalty as she took on the mayor’s job, which she’d won from three-term mayor John Stein in a hard-fought election. Stein had hired many of the department heads. Both Emmons and Stambaugh had publicly supported him against Palin.

Emmons survived the loyalty test and a second one a few months later. She resigned in August 1999, two months before Palin was voted in for a second mayoral term.

Palin might have become a household name in the last week, but Kilkenny, who is not a Palin fan, is on her own small path to Internet fame. She sent out an e-mail earlier this week to friends and family answering, from her perspective, the question Outsiders are asking any Alaskan they know: "Who is this Sarah Palin?"

Kilkenny’s e-mail got bounced through cyberspace and ended up on news blogs. Now the small-town mom and housewife is scheduling interviews with national news media and got her name on the front page of The New York Times, even if it was misspelled.

Find Daily News reporter Rindi White online at or call 352-6709.

To see more of the Anchorage Daily News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to
Copyright © 2008, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska
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Amis, Kingsley
Angelou, Maya
Auel, Jean
Baldwin, James
Balzac, Honore de
Bamford, James
Bannerman, Helen
Benchley, Peter
Bennett, D.M.
Bett, Doris
Beveridge, J
Blume, Judy
Boccacio, Giovanni
Bonner, Raymond
Bradbury, Ray
Bryant, John
Burgess, Anthony
Burroughs, Edgar Rice
Cabell, James Branch
Carrol, Lewis
Calhoun, Mary
Chandler, David
Chomsky, Naom
Coleman, Benjamin
Cormier, Robert
Davis, Deborah
Debray, Regis
Defoe, Daniel
De Sade, Marquis
Dos Passos, John
Dreiser, Theodore
Duesberg, Peter
Ellison, Harlan
Ernst, Morris L. 
Farrell, James T.
Faulkner, William
Favel, J.
Feuchtwanger, Lion 
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
Flaubert, Gustav
For, Dario
Foucault, Michel
Frank, Anne
Franklin, Benjamin
Friedan, Betty
Fuentes, Carlos
Gautier, Theophile
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang
Golding, William
Green, Graham
Guest, Judith
Hawthorne, Nathaniel
Heller, Joseph
Helper, Hinton
Hemingway, Ernest
Holmes, Peter
Huxley, Aldous
Jackson, Gordon
Jones, James
Joyce, James
Kauffann, Stanley
Keyes, Daniel
Khair-Eddine, Mohammed
King, Stephen
Klein, Norma
Kundera, Milan
L'Engle, Madaleine
Lawrence, D.H.
Leary, Timothy
Lewis, Sinclair
Livingston, Myra Cohn
Louys, Pierre
Luise, Reuban L.
Lurie, Reuben
MacElroy, Wendy
Machiavelli, Niccolo 
March, J.M.
Marchetti, Victor
Marks, John D.
Marks, Percy
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia
Mather, Increase
Maugham, Somerset
McGeehee, Ralph
Mencken, H.L.
Miles, Austin
Miller, Arthur
Miller, Henry
Milosz, Czeslaw
Moore, Carol
Moravia, Alberto
Morse, Ann Christensen 
Murdock, Iris
Nin, Anais
O'Neill, Eugene
Orwell, George
Paine, Thomas
Parsons, Jonathan
Plath, Sylvia
Pound, Ezra
Pynchon, William
Rabelais, Francois
Reich, Wilhelm
Remarque, Erich Maria
Rice, Anne
Rouseau, Jean-Jacques
Rushdie, Salman
Salinger, J.D.
Sanger, Margaret
Sartre, Jean-Paul
Sewall, Joseph
Shakespeare, William
Shaw, George Bernard
Sinclair, Upton
Snepp, Frank W., III
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr
Stein, Gertrude
Steinbeck, John
Stern, Howard
Stopes, Marie
Swift, Jonathan
Thompson, Linda
Tolkien, J.R.R.
Tolstoy, Lev
Twain, Mark
Velikovsky, Immanuel
Vidal, Gore
Von Mises, Ludwig
Vonnegut, Kurt
Walker, Alice
Whitman, Walt




Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

by Mark Twain

The word "nigger," which appears many times in the novel, was the cause for the removal of this classic from an eighth-grade reading list. In the 1950s, the NAACP objected to the book's perceived racist tone. In 1984, the book was removed from a public high school reading list in Waukegan, Illinois, because a black alderman found the book's language offensive.

American Heritage Dictionary (1969)

In 1978, an Eldon, Missouri library banned the dictionary because it contained 39 "objectionable" words. And, in 1987, the Anchorage School Board banned the dictionary for similar reasons, i.e., having slang definitions for words such as "bed," "knocker," and "balls."

Andersonville (1955)

by MacKinlay Kantor

Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1956, this story of a Confederate prison camp during the Civil War, was viciously attacked throughout the U.S. It was banned in Amarillo, TX.

Annie on My Mind

The Olathe, Kansas school system ordered all copies of this book removed from high school library shelves. It is a story of two women who meet and fall in love and struggle with declaring their homosexuality to family and friends.

As I Lay Dying (1932)

by William Faulkner

In 1986, Graves County, Kentucky, the school board banned this book about a poor white family in the midst of crisis, from its high school English reading list because of 7 passages which made reference to God or abortion and used curse words such as "bastard," "goddam," and "son of a bitch." None of the board members had actually read the book.

Atkol Video Catalog

WIRED magazine (Feb. 1996) reported that AOL censored Atkol Video's catalog from its virtual shopping mall for carrying gay titles. AOL gave no censoring criteria when it "cut some titles and retained others."

Banned From Public Radio: Humor, Commentary and Smart Remarks Your Government DOESN'T Want You To Hear (1991)

by Michael Graham

The title of this first book is literally true: he was banned from the South Carolina Educational Radio Network courtesy of those geniuses in our General Assembly for commentary which poked fun at their 1991 Ethics Act. Graham also has the distinction of being the only person officially fired from his job as communications director for SC Secretary of State Jim Miles by an act of those same courageous geniuses.

The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You To Read (1995)

by Tim C. Leedom, Editor

The book traces astrological and mythical origins of modern day western religions. A Barnes & Noble bookstore in San Diego refused to stock this book because of its content.

Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago (1971)

by Mike Royko

A Ridgefield, CT school board in 1972 banned this book from the high school reading list, claiming it "dowgrades police departments."

Catch 22

by Joseph Heller

This book was banned and/or challenged more than once. It was banned in Srongsville, Ohio in 1972 and that decision was overturned in 1976. It was also challenged in Dallas, Texas (1974) and again in Snoqualmie, Washington (1979).

Catcher in the Rye (1951)

by J. D. Salinger

This is a perennial favorite of censors and has been banned in the U.S. and Australia. In 1960, a Tulsa, OK teacher was fired for putting the book on the 11th grade reading list. The teacher was reinstated, but the book was permanently removed from teaching programs. A Minnesota high school administration was attacked for allowing the book in the school library.

The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (1974)

by Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks

The CIA obtained a court injunction against this book's publication stating the author, a former CIA employee, violated his contract which states that he cannot write about the CIA without the agency's approval. First amendment activists opposed this ruling, "raising the question of whether a citizen can sign away his First Amendment rights." After prolonged litigation, the CIA succeeded in having 168 passages deleted.

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty 
Beauty's Punishment
Beauty's Release

by Anne Rice (under the pseudonym, A.N. Roquelaure, written in the early 1980s)

April 28, 1996, the Columbus, Ohio Dispatch reported that following a complaint from a patron in the Columbus Metropolitan Library removed the trilogy of Rice's Sleeping Beauty books and their audio tapes after determining the books were pornographic. These same books were also removed from the Lake Lanier Regional Library system in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in 1992.

Daddy's Roommate

by Michael Willhoite

A favorite of censors, this children's book about gay parenting was the subject of a challenge in the public library. In an all-too-familiar request, a parent complained about references to homosexuality in material for children. The library board voted to uphold basic library principles by retaining the book on its appropriate shelf in the children's section.

Deadly Deceits (My 25 Years in the CIA) (1983)

by Ralph McGheehee

The CIA delayed the publication of this book for three years, objecting to 397 passages, even though much of what the author wrote about was already public knowledge.


by Giovanni Boccacio (1313-1375)

In Cincinnati, an "expurgated" version of Boccacio's Decamerone is confiscated in 1922. In 1926, there is an import ban of the book by the Treasury Department. In 1927, U.S. Customs removes parts of text from the "Ashendene edition" and ships the mutilated copy back to me British publisher in London. In 1932, import ban lifted in Minnesota. In 1934, the New England Watch and Ward Society still bans the book. In 1954, it is still on the black lis tof the "National Organization of Decent Literature."

Dictionary of American Slang

by T.Y. Crowell, publisher

Max Rafferty, California superintendent of public instruction in 1963, and his supporters found over 150 "dirty" passages in the book.

Don't Call Me Brother

by Austin Miles

In 1992, former Christian fundamentalist minister, Austin Miles, was sued; charges were that his book, Don't Call Me Brother, was "...a vitriolic attack upon organized Christianity." The $4 million lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court also screamed "libel" and "slander." After a lengthy and costly process, the court ruled that the book was not defamatory.

1-The Drowning of Stephan Jones

by Bette Greene

2-The Education of Harriet Hatfield

by May Sarton


by E. M. Forster

All three of these books, which treat homosexuality in various ways, were removed from a regional high school. The novels' purchase was financed by a grant that teacher Penny Culliton received and was approved by the school superintendent and principal. However, shortly after a local newspaper reported that Culliton was involved with a lesbian and gay support group for young people, the books were found unsuitable and were banned. Maurice and The Education of Harriet Hatfield were seized from the students while they were reading the novels in class. Personal attacks on the teacher and demands for her dismissal have been so vehement that her job is now in jeopardy.

Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

This book is about censorship and those who ban books for fear of creating too much individualism and independent thought. In late 1998, this book was removed from the required reading list of the West Marion High School in Foxworth, Mississippi. A parent complained of the use of the words "God damn" in the book. Subsequently, the superintendent instructed the the teacher to remove the book from the required reading list.


by Meredith Tax

A young children's book that creatively describes different family structures, was finally removed by the Fairfax County school board. Meredith Tax's beloved book had been under attack for a long time, during which many individuals and organizations rose to its defense. What's more, Families was praised by the board's own review committees.

Flowers in the Attic

by V.C. Andrews

The county's board of education decided to remove all school curriculum materials and library books containing any and all "profanity" and "pornography," both concepts ill-defined. The tremendous public outcry made the board backtrack and resolve to review its selection policy. However, after this conciliatory decision, and while the review process still inches along, most of the books in Andrews's popular series Flowers in the Attic were removed from the high-school library for "pornographic" content.


by Judy Blume

Forever censored, this wildly popular teen novel was attacked once again for its frank treatment of adolescent sexuality and was removed from an eighth-grade optional reading list. In Rib Lake, Wisconsin, a school district principal had the book removed from the library after confiscating a copy from a student in the lunchroom, finding "graphic descriptions of sex acts."

Freedom and Order

by Henry Steele Commager

The U.S. Information Agency had this book banned from its overseas libraries because of its condemnation of American policies in Vietnam.

From Here to Eternity

by James Jones

This book was censored in 1951in Holyoke, Springfield, Massachusetts and in 1953 in Jersey City, New Jersey; blacklisted by National Organization of Decent Literature in 1954.

The Glass Teat (1970)

by Harlan Ellison

The Glass Teat is a collection of essays which appeared as columns in the Los Angeles Free Press and Rolling Stone during the 1960s. They were critical essay on the subject of television broadcasting; and essays critical of the president and vice-president. The publisher, Ace Pub. Corp. consequently recalled his book and had it removed from bookstores. Years later it was later re-released.

Grapes of Wrath (1939)

by John Steinbeck

Several months after the book's publication, a St. Louis, MO library ordered 3 copies to be burned for the vulgar words used by its characters. It was also banned in Kansas City and in Oklahoma.


by Allen Ginsberg

Officials of the Cold War era saw only willful destruction of American values in a poet's grief over suffocating 1950s convention.

The Joy of Sex (1972), More Joy of Sex (1975)

by Alex Comfort

Lexington police in 1978 confiscated these sex instruction books in accordance with a new county ordinance prohibiting the display of sexually-oriented publications in places frequented by minors.

The Last Mission (1979)

by Harry Mazer

Against the recommendation of school librarians, teachers, and administrators, the board of the Carroll Middle School removed this novel from the library for its scattered "bad words." The novel, which was named 1979's New York Times Best Book of the Year, is based on the author's experiences in the Air Force during World War II. Mazer said, "It's like a slap in the face of veterans. The book speaks about the sacrifices of the soldiers who fought in that war." Local residents and parents petitioned and protested as well. In a final decision, the board voted 6-1 to return the book.

The Last of the Wine

by Mary Renault

Fifth-century B.C. Athens is the setting of the historical novel that was challenged in a high school for references to homosexuality. Not only did the complainants and their supporters revile the book, which enlivened an honors history class, but they also attempted to humiliate the teacher by calling him a "sexual predator" and accusing him of trying to "recruit" children to homosexuality. The school board supported the teacher and the novel.

Literature in Society

In an improbable complaint about this textbook, two eminent African-American authors were the main targets of censorship. An excerpt from Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man was deemed offensive for its use of the word "nigger," and the sexual slang in Nikki Giovanni's poetry was found unacceptable. School officials also found intolerable a reference to homosexuality elsewhere in the book and seized the ever-so-dangerous texts (that include Wordsworth and other immoralists) while 12th-grade students were reading them.

Lolita (1955)

by Vladimir Nabokov

Although it was published in Paris, it was soon (1956) to be banned there for being obscene. An Argentinian court banned the book in 1959 and again in 1962 ruling that the book "reflected moral disintegration and reviled humanity." In 1960, the New Zealand Supreme Court also banned the book. It was later freely published in France, England, and the U.S.

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Toronto School Board banned this classic from all its schools, claiming it was racist for use of the word "niggers." Even Golding's Nobel Prize in literature did not protect this author's book.


by Aristophanes

U.S. import ban on Lysistrata was lifted in 1930.This Greek tragedy was written somewhere around 400 B.C.

Nothing New on the Western Front

by Erich Maria Remarque

Banned in Chicago and Boston, in Austria, and Czechoslovakia in 1929; in Germany in 1930; and in Italy in 1933. There was a public burning in Germany in 1933.

Pentagon Papers (1971)

Commissioned by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, this 3,000 page history of U.S. involvement in Indochina, was banned from publication by court order. The NY Times was printing portions of it when the order came down. Later that year, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the decision and Bantam proceeded to publish a paperback edition.

Portnoy's Complaint (1969)

by Philip Roth

Several libraries and librarians throughout the U.S. were harassed and threatened for carrying this book on their shelves.

Search for Truth in History

by David Irving

This video tape has already been banned in three countries.

Satanic Verses

by Salman Rushdie

The Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran put a price on the head of this author for writing this book which allegedly is critical of the Islam religion. Rushdie, as a result, went into hiding for an indefinite period of time, fearing for his life.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

by William Steig

In 1977, the Illinois Police Association urged librarians to remove the book, which portrays its characters as animals, and presents the police as pigs. The American Library Association reported similar complaints in 11 other states.

The Valachi Papers (1968)

by Peter Maas

Asked by the Justice Dept. to edit the papers of Mafia leader Joseph Valachi, Maas was later sued by the Justice Dept. for trying to publish the memoirs. The reason they said was that the book would hamper law enforcement. The suit was settled and Putname published the book in 1968.

Things Your Father Never Taught You

by Robert Masullo

Production of this lighthearted look at male grooming was delayed by a born-again Christian art director who objected to a description of Japanese furniture arranging as "occultist."

Waco: The Davidian Massacre

by Carol Moore

This controversial book challenges the government's version of events at Waco. A public library refused to carry the book stating the reason was that the book was privately published.

Who Built America?

Apple Computer has distributed Who Built America?, an acclaimed history series created for CD-ROM, as part of a free software package for schools buying its computers. When it received protests about material relating to the history of birth control, abortion, and homosexuality, Apple asked Voyager to delete the offending material. Voyager refused, and Apple suspended distribution. Following many protest letters, Apple reversed its decision and resumed distribution.

Worlds In Collison

by Immanuel Velikovsky

In the 1950s, the scientific community tried to ban this controversial version of the origins of our solar system because it didn't comport with the "official" version of events. The publisher, MacMillan, was forced to give up publication of the book even though it was on the New York Bestsellers list at the time. If your are interested in this Velikovsky's Worlds In Collision and The Saturn Myth, see David Talbot's video documentary, Remembering the End of the World.

Women on Top

by Nancy Friday

Would-be censors got their way in their demands to remove this book from the Chestatee Public Library in Gainesville ( Hall County ), Georgia. Before a final vote was taken by the library board on the fate of Women on Top, the book was borrowed and "accidentally" destroyed. The board voted not to replace it.