1935 November 26

NYC Burns “Tons” of Books

 

New York City on this day burned “tons” of allegedly obscene books and magazines, with an estimated retail value of $150,000. The material had been seized and burned at the instigation of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (see October 3, 1915), the anti-obscenity organization founded by Anthony Comstock, author of the infamous Comstock Act (enacted on March 3, 1873). The burned material included 476 books, 11,450 magazines, and about 100,000 pamphlets. Not all of the burned books were confiscated because of sex-related themes. Fifteen copies of the book The Man in the Monkey Suit were seized and burned because it presented policemen in “an unfavorable light.”

The burning of the books took place despite the publicity surrounding the burning of “offensive” books by the new Nazi regime in Germany over the previous year and a half. And incredibly, U.S. authorities burned books after World War II. See, for example, the burning of comic books by a Catholic Church on December 10, 1948, the burning of books in Newark, New Jersey, on March 7, 1953, and the burning of Kurt Vonnegut’s famous novel Slaughterhouse Five in North Dakota on November 10, 1973.

Learn more: Haig A Bosmajian, Burning Books (2006)

Learn more about Nazi book burning: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005852

Learn about book burning in history: http://mentalfloss.com/article/50038/11-book-burning-stories-will-break-your-heart

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