The Day They Came to Arrest The Book by Nat Hentoff was published in July, 1982.
Who would have believed that The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn could cause the worst crisis in the history of George Mason High School? Certainly not Barney Roth, editor of the school paper. But when a small but vocal group of students and parents decide that the book is racist, sexist, and immoral–and should be removed from reading lists and the school library–Barney takes matters into his own hands.
When the Huck Finn issue comes up for a hearing, Barney decides to print his story about previous censorship efforts at school. He’s sure that investigative reporting and publicity can help the cause. But is he too late to turn the tide of censorship?
This is a distressing book — and I mean that in a good way.
Not only does it put forth many views on “rights” and “freedom”, it does it in an easy to understand, clear way. At the beginning, I wondered how a story could be woven out of a school wanting to ban a book. By the end, I was engrossed and desperately wanting to know who would win.
The way the book displays views — without being biased and clearly stating both sides — is easy to read and grasp. The dialogue is engaging and never dry. The book switches from many points of view — the principal, the librarian, the history teacher, two school boys (one of whom runs the school newspaper), parents, and the chairman of the school board. Yet, the story line isn’t lost and the reader is never confused as to whose eyes they’re seeing through. And we read every possible side to the story. The book is excellently written.
The thoughts presented here are amazing. Should classic books be outlawed and banned because of their context? Or should they be learnt from? Either way, there are few books written that don’t offend anybody.
As Nora Baines, the history teacher, says:
“We’re not talking about trash… We’re talking about preventing our students from reading Huckleberry Finn! And why? Because it offends some people. Show me a book that offends no one, and I will show you a book that no one, in the whole history of the world, has ever willingly read.”
This is a good book for people who like to think.
Reviewed by Cait in 2011.