Hot Best Seller

Dangerous Ideas: A Brief History of Censorship in the West, from the Ancients to Fake News

Availability: Ready to download

A fascinating examination of how restricting speech has continuously shaped our culture, and how censorship is used as a tool to prop up authorities and maintain class and gender disparities Through compelling narrative, historian Eric Berkowitz reveals how drastically censorship has shaped our modern society. More than just a history of censorship, Dangerous Ideas illumina A fascinating examination of how restricting speech has continuously shaped our culture, and how censorship is used as a tool to prop up authorities and maintain class and gender disparities Through compelling narrative, historian Eric Berkowitz reveals how drastically censorship has shaped our modern society. More than just a history of censorship, Dangerous Ideas illuminates the power of restricting speech; how it has defined states, ideas, and culture; and (despite how each of us would like to believe otherwise) how it is something we all participate in. This engaging cultural history of censorship and thought suppression throughout the ages takes readers from the first Chinese emperor's wholesale elimination of books, to Henry VIII's decree of death for anyone who "imagined" his demise, and on to the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the volatile politics surrounding censorship of social media. Highlighting the base impulses driving many famous acts of suppression, Berkowitz demonstrates the fragility of power and how every individual can act as both the suppressor and the suppressed.


Compare

A fascinating examination of how restricting speech has continuously shaped our culture, and how censorship is used as a tool to prop up authorities and maintain class and gender disparities Through compelling narrative, historian Eric Berkowitz reveals how drastically censorship has shaped our modern society. More than just a history of censorship, Dangerous Ideas illumina A fascinating examination of how restricting speech has continuously shaped our culture, and how censorship is used as a tool to prop up authorities and maintain class and gender disparities Through compelling narrative, historian Eric Berkowitz reveals how drastically censorship has shaped our modern society. More than just a history of censorship, Dangerous Ideas illuminates the power of restricting speech; how it has defined states, ideas, and culture; and (despite how each of us would like to believe otherwise) how it is something we all participate in. This engaging cultural history of censorship and thought suppression throughout the ages takes readers from the first Chinese emperor's wholesale elimination of books, to Henry VIII's decree of death for anyone who "imagined" his demise, and on to the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the volatile politics surrounding censorship of social media. Highlighting the base impulses driving many famous acts of suppression, Berkowitz demonstrates the fragility of power and how every individual can act as both the suppressor and the suppressed.

30 review for Dangerous Ideas: A Brief History of Censorship in the West, from the Ancients to Fake News

  1. 4 out of 5

    Steve Dustcircle

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, chronologically documenting centuries of both fiction and science, and both speech and historical papers, being censored by those afraid of disagreement, dissent, and distastefulness. Usually it was religious, superstitious people, but sometimes it was businesses and political leaders. But usually religion, patriarchy, and bigotry were the deep roots of silencing art, music, literature, or experimentation meant to express oneself or to further society's progress. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, chronologically documenting centuries of both fiction and science, and both speech and historical papers, being censored by those afraid of disagreement, dissent, and distastefulness. Usually it was religious, superstitious people, but sometimes it was businesses and political leaders. But usually religion, patriarchy, and bigotry were the deep roots of silencing art, music, literature, or experimentation meant to express oneself or to further society's progress. A book of shameful events, really, but an entertaining read nonetheless.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Baker

    Given my interest in intellectual history, I was expecting to love this, but it was a huge disappointment.  I don't know how you can take a subject so inherently sexy (controversial ideas, government suppression, heroic resistance, intellectual history) and make it so boring...  Bleh.   The organization is poor and there's little overarching narrative to tie things together.  It is a chapters and chapters long string of "and then" "and then" "and then".  It reads like a catalog of events in the h Given my interest in intellectual history, I was expecting to love this, but it was a huge disappointment.  I don't know how you can take a subject so inherently sexy (controversial ideas, government suppression, heroic resistance, intellectual history) and make it so boring...  Bleh.   The organization is poor and there's little overarching narrative to tie things together.  It is a chapters and chapters long string of "and then" "and then" "and then".  It reads like a catalog of events in the history of censorship (and even so, there are some events I knew of from other sources that I'm surprised weren't included), without any judicious choice in what is included and why.  There were long, meandering accounts of, e.g., the rise of iconography, which never tied into the supposed subject of the book.  It admittedly gets a bit more coherent in dealing with the 18th and early 19th centuries, but then gets very scattershot again. Also, the author harped almost non-stop on how "futile" the efforts at suppression were and how suppression simply causes more interest.  I'm sure someone else (more articulate and careful than I) will come along and thoroughly review the problems in such a single-minded approach, but here are a few that struck me: (1) Selection bias: we of course only know of the efforts that were, ultimately, futile.  Anything successfully suppressed is, well, suppressed.  (2) An enormous amount of texts and knowledge - that we actually do know about - WERE permanently lost.  (3) Citizens WERE successfully subdued for centuries upon centuries.   He really, really soft pedals any damage done here and mostly just makes fun of the government officials who failed, ultimately, in the (very) long run, to stop the rise of more enlightened thought.  I think he's missing a bit of the point and certainly protests a bit too much in his quest to convince the reader that censorship is not the answer. And look, I can't stand Trump myself, but given the overall scope of this book, he simply did not deserve the pages and pages and pages dedicated to his idiocy.   This was not rigorous and scholarly and responsible in its claims, nor was it interesting and approachable as a popular book should be.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Dangerous Ideas: A Brief History of Censorship in the West, from the Ancients to Fake News, by Eric Berkowitz, is an interesting book discussing the ideas of free speech and censorship within the Western world. Many in the West would look at Chinese or other authoritarian states, and discuss measures related to the suppression of journalism, control of information and ideas through censorship of books and culture, and so forth; these same people may not realize or understand how much free speech Dangerous Ideas: A Brief History of Censorship in the West, from the Ancients to Fake News, by Eric Berkowitz, is an interesting book discussing the ideas of free speech and censorship within the Western world. Many in the West would look at Chinese or other authoritarian states, and discuss measures related to the suppression of journalism, control of information and ideas through censorship of books and culture, and so forth; these same people may not realize or understand how much free speech and censorship suppression exists within Western cultures. Berkowitz looks at the history of censorship through the eras, focusing on religious censorship, the burning of "pagan/heretical" texts (and sometimes, tragically, authors and printers). Another area of focus is libel/defamation suits, often used in Western history to target opponents of elite politicians and business people. Moving to the US, Berkowitz looks at the suppression of ideas surrounding race and racism in the United States, with some horrifying and oft suppressed ideas and facts coming to the fore. During WWII in the Western world, information was heavily suppressed by wartime governments for propaganda purposes, and this continued on into the era of cold war hysteria that gripped America and the West, targeting actors, directors, authors, and publishers, as well as academic scholars, with defamation suits, criminal charges, and other draconian forms of debasement. The buck does not stop in history, even though this style of cold war censorship only ended recently. The West (and the rest of the world, although not the context of this book) is moving through a moment of enormous change in how information is consumed, and how censorship works. Berkowitz discusses concepts such as fake news, internet technology firms, and the commoditization of information, safe spaces vs. harmful racism, and so forth. One of the things I am always leary about when reading American-based free speech discussions is the new discourse on safe spaces. Many countries in the West suffer from numerous issues with how they process and conceive of subjects like national culture, ethnicity, nationalism, and so forth. Berkowitz notes some interesting moments in history; in Europe, where anti-Jewish speech is often punished through the court systems, but a young Muslim teenager was jailed for saying that British soldiers should "Die and go to hell" is an interesting case point where utilizing protective speech measures can often serve political purposes. In the US, a similar issue exists, although from the opposite perspective. The US Supreme Court in 1992 sided with hate groups that, for example, would place burning crosses near people's homes (sometimes in public spaces). Clearly, the use of burning crosses can be used to target people, scare them, and force them out of the confines of society, precisely the aim of such white supremacist groups, and clearly, in some respects, court-sanctioned. The discussion around this is complex and nuanced. In my opinion (I am Canadian, and these are the laws we have), hate speech, or speech used to degrade or spread terror through a particular group of people, is definitely not right, and should not be condoned even in the name of "free speech". In these cases, the speech is not free - although one person, usually of a majoritarian bend, is able to express themselves, it bars and degrades the ability of those not part of the group to speak, and is often used to suppress not only their ideas but their literal selves; a much more heinous act, in my opinion. However, Berkowitz notes in the West that attempts to suppress free speech, no matter how and why, are often less than successful. Clearly, much of the "problem" lies within the body populace - ignorance, lack of education, and competition over scarce resources probably have more of a role to play in the advent of our modern racist moments than actual racism. If nations (Canada and the United States among them) did a better job of reducing tensions, avoiding making ethnicity and race political tools for electoral purposes, and spread resources more fairly by using progressive taxation systems and beefing up education and healthcare access to the underprivileged (and so on), we would see far less racially motivated attacks. Ignorance comes from a lack of understanding, and the sheltered lives that the middle class strives for in many of our societies insulate us from learning and understanding. I personally feel that the argument over free speech, targeting safe spaces, or having provocative individuals standing in crowds and screaming at people, is a waste of time and energy, focusing on a highly nuanced subject that is complex but ultimately is not the source of the tensions it generates. People are angry at the lack of opportunities, at unfair treatment by authorities, and at discriminatory practices within our working and cultural spheres. These things are a much wider issue and encompass not only free speech but numerous other rights and responsibilities. Berkowitz offers such discussions within this book, and the discourse at hand is interesting and worth a look for those who are avid readers of the discussions revolving around media, culture, and free speech in the Western political sphere. An interesting book, and worth a read!

  4. 5 out of 5

    John Davis

    Dangerous Ideas, by Eric Berkowitz;Beacon Press: Boston; $29.95 hardback Censorship is perhaps the one issue we deal with every day. Every reader is to some extent influenced by some form of it. Every writer knows his limits and pushes the frontiers of what's acceptable at his own risk. Eric Berkowitz, respected author, renowned journalist, and careful lawyer presents a truly wonderful gift, a study of censorship which is not polemical. It is rather a straightforward, honest, and surprisingly co Dangerous Ideas, by Eric Berkowitz;Beacon Press: Boston; $29.95 hardback Censorship is perhaps the one issue we deal with every day. Every reader is to some extent influenced by some form of it. Every writer knows his limits and pushes the frontiers of what's acceptable at his own risk. Eric Berkowitz, respected author, renowned journalist, and careful lawyer presents a truly wonderful gift, a study of censorship which is not polemical. It is rather a straightforward, honest, and surprisingly consistent argument which illustrates the point that censorship doesn't work. Why this is true will be argued clearly and cogently, illustrated with remarkable, not to say shocking revelations. He has much to work with. Berkowitz offers a survey of primarily Western attitudes toward censorship. We discover how the ancients saw words as issuing from the gods. Thus they were not only influential but illustrative of virtue, or when used improperly, vice. Yet as he contends, and by extraordinary examples makes abundantly clear, in this 'brief history of censorship in the West, from the ancients to fake news', censorship reinforced authority. We follow this thread of the degree of the use of censorship as a sign of stability, or the lack of a sense of security, in governments or institutions of power. Berkowitz demonstrates that when censorship is not needed, there is virtually no challenge to the ruling authority, class, or social structure. He shows however that when there is rumbling of disaffection, antagonism or revolution, then censorship is employed. Its manifestations can be tremendous and varied. Incredible tortures for religious challengers during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, persecutions of revolutionaries after the invention of the type face by Gutenburg, or exile during the European 1930s are some examples. The revolutions in France, throughout Europe in the 1800's, and even upheavals to this day reflect how a social system or nation responds to tough questions which challenge its legitimacy. Berkowitz shows how leaders such as Jefferson, Lincoln and modern American presidents dealt with challenges to their policies. We follow with simple astonishment at how our censorship laws evolved. No one who interests himself in modern communication should miss this book. It is insightful, honest, and can be a powerful influence for those who consider censorship a wise idea.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Owen

    I did enjoy reading this book but would place it more in the category of an entertainment rather than a critical examination of the history of the suppression and censorship of ideas. The author clearly depicts the historical pendulum as it swings between the constraints imposed by those in power and the burgeoning freedoms of dissidents to be heard. We move more recently to the appropriation of the right of freedom of speech by those whose intention appears to be to limit the freedoms of minori I did enjoy reading this book but would place it more in the category of an entertainment rather than a critical examination of the history of the suppression and censorship of ideas. The author clearly depicts the historical pendulum as it swings between the constraints imposed by those in power and the burgeoning freedoms of dissidents to be heard. We move more recently to the appropriation of the right of freedom of speech by those whose intention appears to be to limit the freedoms of minorities and subsets within society. I applaud the author for his effort to encapsulate the full history of censorship in the west but wonder whether it might have been better to select one exemplary period and focus upon that to illustrate his point? His point? Censorship fails.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alan Zafran

    Wow! I thought that I understood the challenges relating to censorship, and the pros and the cons of silencing dissenting voices if/as deemed warranted. Boy was I wrong! Eric Berkowitz has crafted a terrific and engaging historical analysis of stifling opinion and just how misguided this becomes. Kudos to Eric for highlighting the importance of this issue and challenging all of us to think more carefully and intensively about the implications of censorship for all of us.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    I listened to this on audible and really enjoyed it. I love history and this Eric Berkowitz gave me an entirely new understanding of censorship; taking the reader back to the history of it. This would be an excellent class study. I want to listen to this again because I learned so much about the power of censorship.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rajiv Chopra

    This is an exceptional book, covering the history of censorship from ancient times to our modern ones. While his focus is on the West, it is easy enough to draw lessons to our own countries. Suffice it to say that what is happening is scary. What makes it scary, is that we are willing sheep, allowing our minds to be manipulated. A brilliant book. Essential for our times.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike Cross

    I loved the author's previous two books, but this one never came to a point. I was hoping the author would take a stand around censorship and make a case for or against, but that never happened. You go a good overview history and some modern context, but nothing else. This is an excellent author and I anticipated more. I loved the author's previous two books, but this one never came to a point. I was hoping the author would take a stand around censorship and make a case for or against, but that never happened. You go a good overview history and some modern context, but nothing else. This is an excellent author and I anticipated more.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Debrah Roemisch

    A well researched and written history of censorship. I really think everyone should read this book! I don't totally agree with the author's conclusions but he did a great job with this important book. A well researched and written history of censorship. I really think everyone should read this book! I don't totally agree with the author's conclusions but he did a great job with this important book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Worth a read, especially if you care about censorship and the role that has played throughout history. I didn’t find the modern time analysis as coherent as the first 2/3rds of the book, but I still found the presentation thought provoking.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Well researched and argued, written with wit and insight, Berkowitz's tour through the history of censorship is as necessary as it is timely. Required reading for every citizen concerned for the future of free expression in our nation and world. Well researched and argued, written with wit and insight, Berkowitz's tour through the history of censorship is as necessary as it is timely. Required reading for every citizen concerned for the future of free expression in our nation and world.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura Mazer

    A beautiful writer. I've long wanted to read such an insightful and clarifying examination of censorship in all its insidious forms. To anyone who thinks censorship isn't steering our lives every day, I encourage you to read this book. A beautiful writer. I've long wanted to read such an insightful and clarifying examination of censorship in all its insidious forms. To anyone who thinks censorship isn't steering our lives every day, I encourage you to read this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shana Yates

    4.5 stars

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  16. 4 out of 5

    JK

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Wilcox

  18. 5 out of 5

    o i

  19. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Folk

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rick

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jodie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lira

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ron

  24. 4 out of 5

    Hicham

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aniolka Doremus

  26. 5 out of 5

    Allessa

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen O'Neal

  28. 5 out of 5

    Krishna

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christine Hensley

  30. 4 out of 5

    Panorama

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...