Book Burning and Censorship - Summary

History reveals tales of those who wish to kill the results of free thought. Although the First Amendment protects the entire process of thought and creation and expression of ideas, there are always those who do not agree with freedom of speech. Any time a writer puts forth an idea that is new or controversial, efforts to destroy the product of that free thought is likely to follow. 

Throughout history, books face destruction as a means to quiet the voices of free thinkers and rebels. Countless written treasures are destroyed because someone does not agree with the knowledge those writings reveal.

In ancient times, books take extensive time and effort to produce by hand. Often these masterpieces are the creations of freethinking monks and scholars who dominate the intellectual world. The books feature beautiful script and illustrations.

Since so much work goes into producing a single volume, most people cannot afford to own books, and many have never seen one. This creates a convenient way to control the masses ... by keeping them illiterate. If people are unable to read or write, they are much more likely to obey the laws of their time and not rebel. 

Often the Church plays a part in censoring books. The Bible goes from being translated into many languages to only one legal translation: the Latin Bible of the Catholic Church. Because the common people can’t read Latin, they cannot disagree with the Church’s interpretations. This empowers the Church to manipulate the word of God in order to serve the best interest of the Church rather than the people. Scholars who dare speak out against the Church are tried and condemned to death, along with destruction of their writings. 

A new invention called Gutenberg’s printing press changes the history of the written word. It allows books to be mass-produced, ending the requirement for each book to be handwritten. Now books can reach many people and spread new ideas. This changes the world, as knowledge is now available to more people. Literacy rates increase, as do improvements in communication. Even so, censors continue to destroy manuscripts which go against their way of thinking.

Learn about book burning and censorship as you learn about how the First Amendment protects freedom of speech. See images of the most famous books ever written, which often took years to complete.

Discover why books are banned, and how writers are punished. See how the invention of the printing press has changed the world. Learn how books have continued to be banned, even in our lifetime.

Explore censorship in America. Take a virtual field trip to view beautiful books and manuscripts which have outlasted many efforts to destroy them.


0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
1 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Aug 01, 2000

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Book Burning and Censorship" AwesomeStories.com. Aug 01, 2000. Oct 21, 2017.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips