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ON THE BURNING OF BOOKS
Bibliophile price: £8.50
'Fanatic incendiarism, judicial bonfires and even household stoves have thinned the treasures as well as the rubbish of past ages.' - William Blades, 1880. The lack of freedom of expression that rankled with Milton was Charles I's censorship of books and pamphlets which led to authors being pilloried or having their ears cut off or their noses split. In the 20th century, writer Borges said 'Of all men's instruments the most outstanding is, without any doubt, the book. The others are extensions of his body.' In this revealingly illustrated book, the political sage Kenneth Baker records the many times throughout history when books have been burnt for political, religious, wartime, personal, accidental, or royal burning, and some lucky escapes. Ranging politically from Ancient China to the Nazis, from Animal Farm to Chairman Mao; religiously, the Spanish destruction of the Aztec civilisation to Bloody Mary, from Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses to bibles in Islamist strongholds today; personally, from Samuel Pepys burning an erotic novel to Lord Byron's memoirs, Dickens's letters, Hardy's poems, Burton's translations and Phillip Larkin's diaries. As a result of the invention of the printing press in the 16th century, very rarely can the content of books be expunged from the written record in history - no 'delete' button. This glamorous publication has Ted Hughes's poem 'Hear It Again' written in July 1997 and illustrated features on T. E. Lawrence, a C. S. Lewis hoax book jacket, colourful portraits, caricatures, archive photographs, reproductions of manuscripts, the Gordon Riots and Lord Mansfield's Library 1780, 'A metropolis in flames and a nation in ruins' as William Cowper said, Voltaire's Dictionary, Jewish books, Savonarola's execution 1498, a printing shop in the Netherlands. Many of these exquisite woodcuts and drawings illuminate this bibliophile's history. 266 large pages, colour.

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