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Marx and Engels's revolutionary summons to the working classes, The Communist Manifesto is one of the most important political theories ever formulated. They produced an incisive account of their idea of Communism, in which they envisage a society without classes, private property or a state, arguing that the exploitation of industrial workers will eventually lead to a revolution in which Capitalism is overthrown. This vision provided the theoretical basis of political systems in Russia, China, Cuba and Eastern Europe, affecting the lives of millions. It has been banned, censored, burned and declared dead. It was banned in Germany in 1878, The Nationalists in China attempted to stop its circulation in 1929, the Nazis burned it in 1930 and Senator McCarthy encouraged a ban in the USA in 1950-53.
Call Number: CHAN
A record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love. Chang describes the lives and experiences of her family members: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution. Chang was a Red Guard briefly at the age of fourteen, then worked as a peasant, a “barefoot doctor,” a steelworker, and an electrician. Wild Swans has never been allowed in mainland China. A Chinese translation is published in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but the ban there still holds.
The book describes the German soldiers' extreme physical and mental stress during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front. Banned in Germany in 1930, other European countries also banned it and in the US publishers deleted words, phrases and entire episodes.
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Call Number: STOW
Stowe's abolitionist novel fueled the human rights debate in 1852. Denouncing slavery in dramatic terms, the novel quickly draws the reader into the world of slaves and their masters. Stowe's characters are powerfully and humanly realized in Uncle Tom, a majestic and heroic slave whose faith and dignity are never corrupted; Eliza and her husband, George, who elude slave catchers and flee a country that condones slavery; Simon Legree, a brutal plantation owner; Little Eva, who suffers emotionally and physically from the suffering of slaves; and fun-loving Topsy, Eva's slave playmate. Banned on publication in the Southern states as anti-slavery propaganda and for its negative depiction of slave-owners, it was then banned in Illinois in 1984 for the use of the word ‘nigger’ and in Russia in 1852, and in Italy and all papal states in 1855 for ‘spreading the Protestant poison’.
Diary of Anne Frank
Call Number: 940.5318093 FRA
In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the "Secret Annexe" of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne recorded her experiences during this period. It is banned in Lebanon for ‘portraying Jews, Israel or Zionism’ favourably. In 1983 members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for the rejection of The Diary of Anne Frank because it was ‘a real downer’. It was also challenged for offensive sexual references.
Follow our collection of banned books titles and posters.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Call Number: TWAI
In this book, Mark Twain re-created a long-ago world of freshly whitewashed fences and Sunday school picnics into which sordid characters and violent incidents sometimes intruded. Readers explore this memorable setting with a slyly humorous born storyteller as their guide. Banned from the children’s section of the Brooklyn Public Library in 1876 because of the ‘questionable character’ of Tom Sawyer, the book has been challenged more recently for its ‘racial language’. It was not allowed entry into the USSR in 1930 but in 1937 was banned by the Brazilian government in a crackdown on works considered Communist and subversive.
Da Vinci Code
Call Number: BROW
This book tells of an ingenious code supposedly hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci, a race through cathedrals and churches, a murder and a puzzle to solve the clues. Rather than being banned by the Church, however, its sale has been prohibited in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, and various Indian states, on the grounds that the book is offensive to Christianity.
Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers are driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, agricultural industry changes and bank foreclosures. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they are trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other "Okies", they seek jobs, land, dignity, and a future. Banned in numerous locations in the US for indecency, vulgar words and portrayal of life in a bestial way.
London's story of a dog who lives the life of a pampered house pet until he gets a job pulling a sled was banned in Yugoslavia and Italy because of the author's socialist views. The book was also burned by the Nazis in 1933.
The Arabian nights, tales of 1001 nights
Call Number: ARAB
These are the tales that saved the life of Shahrazad, whose husband, the king, executed each of his wives after a single night of marriage. Beginning an enchanting story each evening, Shahrazad always withheld the ending: A thousand and one nights later, her life was spared forever. These stories have been frequently banned in Arab countries, most recently Egypt in 1989 who declared they posed a threat to the nation’s moral fabric. The Arabian Nights was having problems in the USA back in the 1920s. It could not be handled by the US mail because of the Comstock Law of 1873, which prohibited the distribution of publications considered obscene.
Heller's novel of a World War II bomber who is frustrated by the world around him was banned in the town of Strongsville, Ohio in 1972 because of language in the novel that was viewed by some as indecent. The ban was later taken off in 1976.
Slaughterhouse 5 is an anti-war science fiction novel written 20 years after Vonnegut’s experience at Dresden in the 1940s. It can boast dozens of cases when students, parents, teachers, administrators, librarians and members of the clergy have called for its removal or destruction for one or many of the following reasons: obscenity, vulgar language, violence, inappropriateness, ‘bathroom language’, ungodliness, immoral subject matter, cruelty, language that is ‘too modern’ and an ‘unpatriotic’ portrayal of war.