Books on Fire: The Destruction of Libraries throughout History

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

by Lucien X. Polastron

Call Number: Z721 .P5613 2007

A weighty but intriguing undertaking, Polastron presents the history of burning and pillaging written materials over the last several thousand years. It is a recurring theme of intolerance and fear, fear of what free thought will bring, particularly to those in power. Whatever the basis of power, whether money or greed or religion, those holding the power fear those who question it. Tablets are smashed, scrolls destroyed, books burned. Writers of the materials often faired little better than their products. What is perhaps most sobering is that the destruction continues. A selective chronology lists library burnings, from the Library of Thebes in 1358 B.C.E., to the destruction of almost all Iraqi libraries as a result of the 2003 American “libervasion.” One can only hope that freedom of thought will continue to steadfastly survive the flames of any regime, and, indeed, current day Cuba shows us that, while its libraries may be severely limited in content, dozens of clandestine bookstores are happy to provide literature which allows the human spirit to think, question, and thrive. (Description by Childrens Literature)

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