On the Burning of Books
How Flames Fail to Destroy the Written Word
Distributed for Unicorn Press Ltd
In On the Burning of Books, Baker explores famous moments throughout history when books have been burnt for political, religious, or personal reasons. Included among his investigations are stories from ancient China to the Nazis, from George Orwell’s Animal Farm to Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, from Chairman Mao to the Spanish destruction of the Aztec civilization. Baker describes Samuel Pepys burning an erotic novel, and the personal fires of Lord Byron’s memoirs, Dickens’s letters, Hardy’s poems, and Philip Larkin’s diaries. Alongside these many examples are chapters on accidental book burning—and even lucky escapes.
A book that celebrates the authority and influence of the written word by examining many instances of society’s attempt to suppress it, On the Burning of Books will be a work to be cherished—and kept far from flame.