Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

It has been over 20 years since I read a fiction book. Fahrenheit 451: A Novel was a great book to start off with. It is a book I probably should have read while in high school. Fahrenheit 451 is 65 years old and its message is still relevant in 2016.

When Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 the United States had just finished World War II and was just entering the Korean War. Patriotism was high and there was a dislike for Communism. During this time, the McCarthy Era had just begun and television was a prominent means for shaping what the public thought. Public dissension and criticism was controlled and censored. In the article Fahrenheit 451: Reading the 1950s, Sam Jordison talks about a story involving Bradbury that provided the inspiration of Fahrenheit 451.

As I read the story, I could not help but think how it related to our times. As I write this, our nation is seeing a lot of blind patriotism and public dissension. Athletes who are protesting unfair treatment of citizens are criticized for protesting in an unpatriotic manner. In Fahrenheit 451, a fireman (someone who actually burns books rather than puts out fires) starts to question the blind practice of censorship and burning books. He meets others who question what he does and why he does it. As I watch the discussions that are swirling around me, I wonder if we are missing the message of the protestors as we blindly protect the status quo.

I have to admit, I initially struggled with the language that Bradbury used but quickly got sucked into the story. One of the aspects of the story that resonated with me was how everyone was addicted to their TV stories and conversation was dumbed down. As I look at TV today, I find less and less intelligent shows to watch. Everyone just wants to be entertained rather than learn. I find this rather sad. Micheal Rosenblum wrote about this in his article Donald Trump is Going to be Elected. The entire idea has me feeling uneasy.

The entire story was 158 pages long; however, the 60th Anniversary Edition of Fahrenheit 451: A Novel also had an introduction and a collection of history, context, and criticism. I found it interesting to read how the story evolved as well as the historical context in which it was written.

If you are interested in a thought provoking story to read that is reflective of our times, I would definitely recommend Fahrenheit 451: A Novel.


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