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Book Burning in Nazi Germany

In Mark's Post on September 28, 2010 at 3:01 am

The recent controversy over burning the Koran in Florida on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States made headlines worldwide. Over 65 years ago, the world watched as the German people under Nazi rule burned thousands of books in massive bonfires fueled by copies of books from authors they deemed undesirable. Of course, this was not the first time that books were the fuel for fires around the world. Books were burned in 221 B.C. by the Chinese, and Martin Luther burned books of canon law along with a papal bull against him in the 16th century. In 1817, German students celebrated Martin Luther burning books by burning more books that they felt were unacceptable and contrary to the national spirit and character. (Ritchie 1988)

A country ruled by a totalitarian regime needs to have its citizens staunchly supporting it, without dissidence for it to succeed. The Nazi party used the economic crisis facing the country after World War I, and propaganda aimed at fanning the flames of nationalism to rise to power legally. To maintain its extreme worldviews, the Nazi party sought to eliminate any person, or thought that would conflict with its mission. By motivating the college age population to burn thousands of books, the German Student Association was able to align itself to the Nazi ideal. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, spoke on the May 10, 1933 beginning of the book burning, as much of the books burned were written by Jewish authors. One has to remember that the Nazi party had courted the youth closely, and that many of the then current college students were involved with the Nazi party in various forms prior to enrolling in college.

After the Reichstag fire, which burned an important government building in Berlin, similar to the current U.S. Capitol building in importance, the Nazi party unleashed a fierce assault on every group they found to be undesirable. With the vast majority of the nation supporting them, and rallying together after a national building had been torched, they found it easy to criticize Communists, homosexuals, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, trade unionists, and many intellectuals. Further, many leading liberal authors came under fire and as persecution worsened, many left the country permanently. Even Einstein left under persecution from the rising Nazi party. The Nazis sought to infiltrate all professional bodies that worked with writers, to force any communists, or Jewish writers to leave. The Congress of the Free Word, a conference for authors and intellectuals was broken up by police on February 18, 1933, and the police stood by as the Nazis assaulted any in the crowd they wanted to. As the Nazis replaced professors, curators, teachers, librarians and other educational personal with people who believed the way they did, and reflected their ideals in their appearance, all schools, from elementary to university, stopped the free flow of ideas and information, and became centers of propaganda for the Nazis.

Leading up to the burning of books, dozens of college towns throughout the country of Germany were to have torch lit parades, with students, professors, and Nazi officials attending, participating, and speaking to the thousands gathered to witness the spectacle. Many thousands gathered to hear Goebbels speak on the occasion, and others heard everything on the radio broadcasts. It was dubbed, “Action against the Un-German Spirit” and it was a resounding success in the eyes of the Nazis. American authors like Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, and Helen Keller were burned, and H.G. Wells, a British author had his books torched. Of course, many Jewish authors were burned, and Karl Marx, who was born in Germany, but the mind behind the communist ideal, had his books burned as well.

Less than 15 years later, in 1946 the German people and remnants of the Nazi party would it felt like to be censored as the millions of books distributed by the Nazi party were burned. Schoolbooks for children of all ages, documents, propaganda, fictional novels, films, poetry, and anything else that could be deemed as contributing to militarism or Nazism were to be destroyed. The Allies goal of Denazification, or rooting out all Nazism in Germany, made possessing any literature or media of the Third Reich against the law. While many defended the measure, some felt that any censorship was wrong, and that by banning the different Nazi media, it would become more popular, and portray the fallen totalitarian government as a martyr. (Germany: Read No Evil 1946)


Bunker, Lisa, and Bonnie Travers. When Books Burn: Introduction. February 19, 2002. http://www.library.arizona.edu/images/burnedbooks/intro.htm (accessed September 28, 2010).

Institute for Advanced Study. In Brief. 2005. http://www.ias.edu/people/einstein/in-brief (accessed September 28, 2010).

LeMaster, Lynne. Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings. May 4, 2008. http://www.prescottenews.com/community/yavapai-county/fighting-the-fires-of-hate-america-and-the-nazi-book-burnings (accessed September 28, 2010).

Ritchie, J. M. “The Nazi Book-Burning.” The Modern Language Review, July 1988: 627-643.

Time. “Germany: Read No Evil.” May 27, 1946.

United States Holocaust Museum. Bibliographies. April 1, 2010. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005852 (accessed September 28, 2010).

—. Book Burning. April 1, 2010. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005852 (accessed September 28, 2010).


Censorship of Books in the Soviet Union from 1920-1940

In Tim's Post on September 21, 2010 at 11:13 pm


            Lenin and Stalin both had ideas of how books should be used in the Soviet Union and these ideas are contrary to how we perceive the use of books today.  The main use of books in the Soviet Union was to imbed “cultural products into the collective memory” of the people.[1] Libraries were used as tools for Soviet party propaganda to promote “the spirit of the ideas of socialism and communism.”[2] In the time of Lenin and Stalin the libraries in the Soviet Union were repeatedly purged of all books deemed “harmful” to society.[3]  These purges dramatically changed what books could be found at libraries and which ones were censored. This article will explain the history of the library purges and the ideas behind book censorship in the Soviet Union.

            In 1923, a man named E. Proskuriakova outlined the characteristics of books that were considered “harmful” to the Soviet Union.  On this list was: Failure to promote the worker’s class consciousness and willingness to work hard, religious propaganda, pro-tsarist ideas, opposition to revolutionary class struggle, and promoting national hatred.[4]  It was this same year that Krupskaia (Lenin’s wife) started a book purge which banned “Plato, Descartes, Kant, the Gospels, the Koran, the Talmud, Carlyle, Tolstoy and William James.”[5] When ask for reasons why, Kruspskia replied, “The masses do not read Kant.”[6]  These authors were all censored for containing “harmful” material that questioned the Soviet message that the party was trying to impose onto the people. This purge was followed by another in 1927, where sixty percent of all books were eliminated in most Soviet libraries. Yet again, in 1929 libraries were forced to censor their collections further by party demand.[7]

            In the 1930’s book censorship in the Soviet Union did not stop; between 1930 and 1932, libraries lost sixty percent more of their stock that was already purged at least three times.[8] During just one year in Moscow over 779,579 books were lost and most books were never reprinted.[9]  The over accumulation of censored books stored away also became a storage problem in the libraries.[10] An investigation committee was made on March 27, 1934 to oversee library affairs in the U.S.S.R. and they wanted library workers to use books “for the purpose of communism and for party political education work.”[11]  Books were treated as sources of propaganda and not sources enlightenment. In 1936, an All-Union Library Conference took place from December 16-27 and looked at problems in library science and bibliography.[12] The number one issue discussed at this conference was “the role of catalogs in helping libraries fulfill their propaganda functions.”[13]

            It can be seen that in the years between 1920-1940 that book censorship was based on protecting the party image of the Soviet Union and utilizing books, as well as libraries as tools of propaganda.  The libraries in the Soviet Union lost almost all of their book collections due to the various purges over the years.  In the end, the libraries were void of any substantial books because the harsh censorship that was imposed by Lenin and Stalin. In an interesting example, Soviet Writer A. Pokrovskii was labeled a criminal for stating that no books were good or bad and praising “American public libraries for offering a universal, free service and being accessible to all the people.”[14] It makes one realize how terrible book censorship was in the Soviet Union and it shows how highly praised the American library system was at the time.


Choldin, Marianna T. “Access to Foreign Publications in Soviet LIbraries.” Libraries & Culture Vol. 26, no. 1 (1991): 135-150.

Plamper, Jan. “Abolishing Ambiguity: Soviet Censorship Practices in the 1930s.” Russian Review Vol. 60, no. 4 (2001): 526-544.

Robert Rogers, A. “Censorship and Libraries in the Soviet Union.” Journal of Library History, Philosophy, and Comparative Librarianship Vol. 8, no. 1 (1973): 22-29.

[1] Plamper 552

[2] Choldin, 137

[3] Rogers, 24

[4] Rogers, 24

[5] Rogers, 24

[6] Rogers, 24

[7] Rogers, 24

[8] Rogers, 25

[9] Rogers 25

[10] Rogers, 26

[11] Rogers, 26

[12] Rogers, 26

[13] Rogers,26

[14] Choldin, 138

The Censorship of Writing and Literature Under Napoleon I

In Tim's Post on September 21, 2010 at 10:36 pm


            After the turbulent years of the French Revolution, Napoleon had risen to power with the intention of bringing in a moderate authoritarian regime. He sought to control what content was to be published and read by the people.  Napoleon devised a “system competent to curb the unbridled individualism that the Revolution had evoked.”[1]  He had a political agenda that he wanted to promote and anything written that went against his views was censored.

            An early example of censorship was made in a decree on Jan 17, 1800 which suppressed fifty political newspapers out of sixty-three in Paris.[2]  This was just the beginning of the era in which the creativity and freedom of the written arts in France would be stifled by Napoleon.  In September of 1803, Napoleon passed a decree that ordered every book that was currently for sale to be submitted to a Commission of Revision and in July of 1804 the decree allowed him to have surveillance over all books.[3] Napoleon gained full control in overseeing what books were appropriate for the people and what books he wanted to alter or ban entirely.

            The targets for Napoleon’s censorship can be grouped into a few categories of unacceptable material which are: Talk of the Old Regime (Bourbon dynasty) and Revolution, material that may challenge his authority or the churches’, the glorification of other cultures (especially England), and the subjects of Romance.[4]  Napoleon claimed that the censorship was based on stopping, “the manifestation of ideas which trouble the peace of the state, its interests and good order.”[5]  The poet Delille was on the verge of being imprisoned for his sympathetic views on the victims of the Terror during the Revolution, in his poem titled “La Pitié.”[6] Napoleon issued a ban on the Roman historian Tacitus, “due to a nervous fear that the analysis of the motives of tyrants would lead to dangerous comparison.”[7] As England was the natural enemy of France at this time, anything sympathetic to English culture was frowned upon.  In regards to Shakespeare, Napoleon was quoted as saying, “I have read him…There is nothing which compares to Corneille, or to Racine. There is no way of reading one of his plays, they make one sorry for him.”[8] During the time when Romantic literature was becoming popular the Napoleonic government dismissed it as immoral, which made life for the important writers Chateaubriand and Madame de Staël difficult.[9]

            During the reign of Napoleon writers struggled for freedom, while literature was banned and censored based on somewhat trivial claims.  Madame de Staël was forced into exile by Napoleon in 1803, 1806, and 1810 for her written works.  She commented on the situation by saying that France became, “a garrison where military discipline and boredom rule.”[10] This is what had become of Paris during this period of censorship.  The right to free speech and press was overlooked, while Napoleons political, as well as moral views stood in the way.


Coffin, Victor. “Censorship and Literature Under Napoleon I.” The American Historical Review Vol. 22, no. 2 (1917): 288-308

Holland Rose, J.. “The Censorship under Napoleon I.” Journal of Comparative Legislation and International Law, New Series Vol 18, no. 1 (1918): 58-65.

Horne, Alistair. The Age of Napoleon. New York, NY: The Modern Library, 2006.


[1] Coffin, 288

[2] Rose, 60

[3] Rose, 62

[4] This is not to say that these were the only categories but a large bulk of the censored material fits into these groupings.

[5] Rose, 62

[6] Rose, 62

[7] Rose, 63

[8] Horne, 127

[9] Coffin, 303

[10] Horne, 136

Censorship During WW2

In Mark's Post on September 21, 2010 at 12:58 am

For a war to be supported in any country, its citizens have to be involved and motivated. In most countries that enjoy a high standard of living, mass death and destruction of its civilians and soldiers is a rare occurrence, as is regular military skirmishes. A country’s enthusiasm for war can be quickly dampened by depressing photos of their dead soldiers, and articles detailing failed missions. In the current 24/7 news cycle, and with the state of technology today, censoring during war is quite difficult. However, during past wars, the government was able to control what the public saw depicting a military conflict.

As the tensions in the world escalated during the late 1930’s, the United States passed legislation that helped further classify military information and details, such as base locations or photographs deemed important. Executive Order 8381 was issued by President Roosevelt in 1940, to further control the dissemination of important material related to the rising probability of war. The Office of Censorship was created shortly after the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base, and censored media during World War II as a matter of safety for the war effort. During World War II in the United States, many journalists and others covering the war were willing to censor their reporting due to the patriotic atmosphere in the country.

The Office of Censorship sought to work with journalists and others in the media, whether they were local media, attached to the thousands of newspapers, and radio programs, or war correspondents, who were actually on the battlefield. Realizing the need to strike a balance between the freedoms of the press, a fundamental part of American society, and protecting the many soldiers and civilians involved with the war, the Office of Censorship helped reporters release correct information, which did not negatively affect the war effort by helping the Axis powers. (Hanyok 2008)

In actuality, censorship was voluntary during this period. Byron Price, the man who ran the censorship office, had worked in the newspaper industry for many years, and realized the need to make journalists part of the war effort. He was convinced that instead of forcing reporters to comply, or jailing them, as in World War I, persuading the journalists would be more effective, and less controversial, and his strategy worked. In the end, no print journalist broke the voluntary censor code after being made aware of it. This is testament to the cooperation that Byron Price sought with the media during this period, and the effectiveness of the propaganda used to make all Americans feel as if they were directly responsible for the outcome of the war. Even though many journalists could rightfully claim that the code of censorship could violate free speech and free press, they realized that the millions of Americans fighting overseas were fighting against regimes, which wholly controlled the press and only disseminated propaganda that was contrary to the American way of life. (Sweeney 2001)


Hanyok, Robert J. “Secrets of Victory: The Office of Censorship and The American Press and Radio in World War II: Intelligence in Recent Public Literature.” http://www.cia.gov. June 27, 2008. https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol46no3/article10.html (accessed September 20, 2010).

Sweeney, Michael S. Secrets of Victory: the Office of Censorship and the American Press and Radio in World War II. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

You’ve Got to Fight for Your Right to Read

In Whitney's Post on September 20, 2010 at 11:25 pm

“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”

–          Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.

As long as there have been books, there have been those who oppose them. Fortunately, along with this opposition comes an equally strong, if not stronger, defense. This defense for intellectual freedom is not only strong, but proud. Librarians and readers alike celebrate intellectual freedom every year in the form of Banned Books Week. As this year’s Banned Books Week approaches (September 25 – October 2), I’ve decided to delve into the history of the event and its importance.

Due to a large increase in the number of books challenged in 1982, Banned Books Week was launched by librarian and former director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, Judith Krug.  Banned Books Week is a celebration of Intellectual Freedom, the First Amendment, and our rights as Americans to read what we want, no matter how controversial. All viewpoints are supported by BBW, even those that aren’t popular or “normal.” No matter how unorthodox an opinion is, we have a right to access, and form our own opinion, about it. Banned Books Week is not only a celebration of books, but of the human right to knowledge and information.

According to the ALA, the top three reasons cited by the Office of Intellectual Freedom for challenging books are: the material is considered “sexually explicit,” the material contained “offensive language,” or the material was thought to be “unsuited to any age group.” Books commonly challenged for these reasons include The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. A more thorough list of recently challenged or banned books is available here. When a book is challenged, who comes to its rescue? Luckily, we have librarians, teachers, parents, and booksellers to fight for our right to read. These same librarians, teachers, parents, and booksellers use BBW to teach the “importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature.”

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; the American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of American Publishers; and the National Association of College Stores.  It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Amnesty International also uses Banned Books Week to draw “attention to the plight of individuals who are persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read.” They focus on writers and journalists who have been killed or imprisoned for their work, including Rwandan journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage, who was killed in June and Iranian journalist Hengameh Shahidi, who is currently serving a six year prison sentence.


“About Banned & Challenged Books.” Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/aboutbannedbooks/index.cfm. September 20, 2010.

“Banned Books Week 2010.” Retrieved from http://www.amnestyusa.org/events/banned-books-week/page.do?id=1721019. September 20, 2010.

“Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read.” Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/index.cfm. September 20, 2010.

“Info: Banned Books Week.” Retrieved from http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/info.html. September 20, 2010.

Samuels, Dorothy. “Judith Krug.” Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/15/opinion/15wed4.html?_r=1. September 20, 2010.

Jean Leonard Rugambage, who was killed in June and Iranian journalist Hengameh Shahidi who is currently serving a six year sentence in prison.

Art as Sexual Harrassement: the Maja Incident

In Nicole's Post, Uncategorized on September 20, 2010 at 10:37 pm

The well-known “Maja incident” took place at a branch of Pennsylvania State University in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania in 1991 (Anderson, Garoian, 1994, p. 33). While many art censorship debates have focused on public reactions against religious desecrations, this is an example of a debate in which the focus was not centered explicitly on the visual images of the art in question, but the subjective opinions one can place on art when one does not adequately understand the context.

The Maja controversy surrounded a reproduction of Goya’s Maja desnuda, which hung in a classroom used by Professor Nancy Stumhofer, who taught English and Women’s Studies. The image is of a nude woman lounging on a couch, staring directly at the viewer. Along with the Goya image, there were four others as well, which included an image by the Mannerist artist Bronzino, depicting a well-dressed, wealthy young man; a reproduction of Raphael’s The Madonna of the Chair; Perugino’s Crucifixion with Virgin and Saints and a landscape by van Ruisdael. Combined, Stumhofer felt the works “presented an image that was uncomfortable for women”, as it “stereotyped women as mothers and sex objects while portraying men as professionals (Centre Daily Times, 20 November 1991)” (Anderson, Garoian, 1994, p. 34).

Under university policy the paintings were able to classify as sexual harassment, as it is defined as “anything that makes people uncomfortable about sexual issues” (Foster, 1994, p. 63). Bonnie Ortiz, the director of Pennsylvania States’s Affirmative Action Office, also supported Stumhofer’s claim, which prompted the university to move all five images to a reading room in the student center. A computer-printed sign reading “Gallery” was placed on the door, “to forewarn people that there is art in the room” (Anderson, Garoian, 1994, p. 35).

In his article “Art’s Enemies: Censors to the Right of Me, Censors to the Left of Me” (1994) Steven Dublin argues that Stumhofer decontextualized the work by removing it from the centuries-old European tradition it was created in, which was a time in which women were often objectified (p. 52). Also, by not considering the fact that the image was part of a pair, with the nude Maja thought to represent profane love while the clothed Maja represents sacred love, a theme common throughout art history, Stumhofer further refuses to view the image in its intended context (p. 52). Rather than viewing the piece objectively and considering the historical context in which it was made, Stumhofer subscribed her own thoughts and beliefs onto not only the Goya image, but the entire group of images as well, creating an environment in which art is viewed as sexual harassment rather than an educational opportunity.


Anderson, Albert A., and Charles R. Garoian. “Exposed and Expelled: The “Maja” Controversy Revisited.” Journal of Aesthetic Education 28.4 (1994): 33-35. Print.

Dubin, Steven C. “Art’s Enemies: Censors to the Right of Me, Censors to the Left of Me.” Journal of Aesthetic Education 28.4 (1994): 44-54. Print.

Foster, Kenneth J. “Art, Culture, and Administration.” Journal of Aesthetic Education 28.4 (1994): 62-65. Print.

Controversial Art in the 1990’s

In Nicole's Post on September 17, 2010 at 3:47 am

The basic argument of censorship, which is to repress and prevent what is deemed as offensive or dangerous images or ideas from exposure to the masses, has been perpetuated throughout history. Plato is often cited as the first advocate of censorship, with his intent to protect people from the influences of the arts, which he believed had the power to manipulate moral beliefs and actions (Darts, 2008,p. 107). Censorship has not only affected historical artists, such as Gustave Courbet, whose Study of Women was banned for “impropriety” in 1864 at the Paris Salon (Silk, 1992, p. 24), but has also affected contemporary artists as well.

This became very obvious during the late 20th century, most notably during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, as contemporary art in the United States became a highly politicized issue, and the fight against freedom of expression in art was rigorously fought by many conservative groups, including the Christian Action Network, the Christian Crusade, and the American Family Association. Many of the debates centered on “issues of government support and funding, indecency and religious desecrations, and free speech” (Darts, 2008, p. 105), and were aimed against artists, museums, and the foundations that supported them.

One famous example from this time is the outrage over the indecency of a photograph by the artist Andres Serrano, titled Piss Christ, which depicts a crucifix submerged in the artist’s urine. The work was included in the annual “Awards in the Visual Arts” exhibition of 1989, held by the National Endowment for the Arts, which also funded the artist and his work (Darts, 2008, p. 109). The American Family Association held a press conference devoted to denouncing the NEA for funding the controversial work of Serrano and other artists, and over 100 members of Congress joined the effort, arguing that tax payers should not have to provide the revenue for such activities (Darts, 2008, p. 109).

The same basic argument was revisited in the 1999 case “Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences v. City of New York” (National Coalition Against Censorship, n.d.). In this case, Mayor Rudy Giuliani was offended by a painting by Chris Olifi, included in an exhibition at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, entitled The Holy Virgin Mary, in which the media was paint and elephant dung on canvas. However, the court ruled in the museum’s favor, stating the “the government cannot suppress works said to be ‘offensive, sacrilegious, morally improper or dangerous’, even in indirect ways” (National Coalition Against Censorship, n.d.).


Darts, D. (2008). The Art of Culture War: (Un)Popular Culture, Freedom of Expression, and Art Education. Studies in Art Education49(2), 103-121.

Dubin, S. C. (1994). Art’s Enemies: Censors to the Right of Me, Censors to the Left of Me. Journal of Aesthetic Education,28(4), 44-54.

National Coalition Against Censorship. (n.d.). Significance: Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences v. City of New York. Retrieved September 14, 2010, from http://www.ncac.org/art-law/sum-bro.cfm

Silk, G. (1992). Uneasy Pieces: Controversial Works in the History of Art. Art Journal51(1), 22-25.

Operation Dark Heart: The Pentagon’s Dirty Little Secrets

In Whitney's Post on September 16, 2010 at 2:57 am

Before its official release, Anthony Shaffer’s war memoir, Operation Dark Heart, had already sold 10,000 copies. But rather than being read by the people of America, the books have been destroyed by the Pentagon. Shaffer was an intelligence operative in Afghanistan during the U.S. Army’s pursuit of al-Qaida and the Taliban in 2003. His book describes the operations that took place in the Army at that time, including some of his own “unorthodox” behavior.

Shaffer was assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency while he was in Afghanistan and his book gives names of other U.S. intelligence officers he worked with, as well as descriptions of operations that the government would like to keep under wraps.

Pentagon officials claim that Shaffer did not abide by publishing guidelines set by the Defense Intelligence Agency, some of which may ask that a book be approved by more than one government agency.  However, Shaffer’s lawyer, Mark Zaid, says that it wasn’t until May of this year that the DIA requested to review the book.  Upon finishing their review, 10,000 copies of Operation Dark Heart had already been printed and the DIA had found some 200 passages deemed to reveal classified information. Knowing that the books had already been printed, the DIA contacted the publisher and offered to purchase the entire first printing of the book. A revised and Pentagon-friendly update of Shaffer’s book will be released September 24th, since the author has agreed to take out portions of the book that the Pentagon believed could affect national security.

Those who attempt to purchase the book on Amazon find the following message at the top of the book’s page:

Important Message for Customers
On Friday, August 13, 2010, just as St. Martin’s Press was readying its initial shipment of Operation Dark Heart, the Department of Defense expressed concern that its publication could cause damage to U.S. national security. The publication of the initial edition was canceled. However, after consulting with the author, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, St. Martin’s Press agreed to incorporate some of the government’s changes, which includes redacting classified text, into a revised edition, which is releasing on September 24.

According to the New York Times, this may be the first time that an agency attempted to dispose of material that was already printed. Although the Pentagon has already bought the first printing of the Operation Dark Heart, they did not act before “several dozen” copies of the original book had been given to reviewers. The New York Times itself has already purchased a copy. While most readers may not see an unedited version of the book themselves, it’s only a matter of time before the information reaches the public. As Mark Zaid said, “It probably would have made a lot more sense to never do anything, and nobody would have been the wiser. Fewer people would have read the book, and most of those people would have been inside the government, or people who already knew this stuff. Now, the government has highlighted that there’s something in this book that everyone wants to see.”


Amazon.com. Operation Dark Heart. http://www.amazon.com/Operation-Dark-Heart-Frontlines-Afghanistan/dp/0312612176/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284605154&sr=8-1.

Gjelten, Tom. “Pentagon Seeks To Buy Up Copies Of Afghan War Book.” September 10, 2010. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129780876.

Shane, Scott. “Pentagon Plan: Buying Books to Keep Secrets.” September 9, 2010. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/10/us/10books.html.

Smith, Sandy. “Pentagon censorship attempt backfires.” September 11, 2010. Retrieved from http://www.huliq.com/8738/pentagon-censorship-attempt-backfires.

In Uncategorized on September 14, 2010 at 4:53 am

Hello everyone! This blog has been created and will be maintained by four Library and Information Science students at Wayne State University – Mark Barnes, Nicole Baron, Tim Borbely, and Whitney Jones. As the title suggests, our blog entries will focus on censorship in various areas of the humanities. This may include censorship of books, art, music, and other information in both the past and present. Please check out our links in the menu bar for various censorship and library-related web sites. We hope you enjoy our blog!