Simon & Schuster
Paperback - 176 pages
It was 1953, at the heart of the McCarthy Era disgrace, when Ray Bradbury published Fahrenheit 451 set in a future totalitarian, anti-intellectual society where books were banned and burned by "firemen." The 451, of course, refers to the kindling temperature of paper. One of the firemen - Guy Montag - begins to question the regime and ultimately, runs away to join a group of book-hoarding dissidents. In a last-ditch effort, they commit for each to memorize a classic book in order to ensure the survival of literature. It was thought that Bradbury was reacting against the McCarthy excesses, but he later denied it. Instead he maintained that it was about the threat that the emerging electronic media (TV) would destroy interest in reading literature and lead to a degradation of knowledge to mere factoids devoid of context and meaning. Sound familiar 60 years later? He wrote the book on a coin-operated typewriter at the UCLA library!