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Fahrenheit 451: A Novel Paperback – January 10, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's classic, frightening vision of the future, firemen don't put out fires--they start them in order to burn books. Bradbury's vividly painted society holds up the appearance of happiness as the highest goal--a place where trivial information is good, and knowledge and ideas are bad. Fire Captain Beatty explains it this way, "Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs.... Don't give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy."

Guy Montag is a book-burning fireman undergoing a crisis of faith. His wife spends all day with her television "family," imploring Montag to work harder so that they can afford a fourth TV wall. Their dull, empty life sharply contrasts with that of his next-door neighbor Clarisse, a young girl thrilled by the ideas in books, and more interested in what she can see in the world around her than in the mindless chatter of the tube. When Clarisse disappears mysteriously, Montag is moved to make some changes, and starts hiding books in his home. Eventually, his wife turns him in, and he must answer the call to burn his secret cache of books. After fleeing to avoid arrest, Montag winds up joining an outlaw band of scholars who keep the contents of books in their heads, waiting for the time society will once again need the wisdom of literature.

Bradbury--the author of more than 500 short stories, novels, plays, and poems, including The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man--is the winner of many awards, including the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America. Readers ages 13 to 93 will be swept up in the harrowing suspense of Fahrenheit 451, and no doubt will join the hordes of Bradbury fans worldwide. --Neil Roseman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. After years of working as a fireman--one who burns books and enjoys his work--Guy Montag meets a young girl who makes him question his profession and the values of the society in which he lives. Stephan Hoye's narration is perfectly matched to the subject matter: his tone is low and ominous, and his cadence shifts with the prose to ratchet up tension and suspense. He produces spot-on voices, and his versions of the gruff Captain Beatty, the playful Clarisse, and the fearful professor Faber are especially impressive. A Ballantine paperback. (Aug.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reissue edition (June 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451673310
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451673319
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,677 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91, inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.

Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, "Live forever!" Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

417 of 442 people found the following review helpful By Ammy Woodbury on January 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When I began teaching three years ago, I was required to teach this book. Having never read it before, I began reading it just before our winter break. As I soaked up the story of the book, I realized my students were already living it. They begged me daily, "Ms. Hill, why do we have to read this stupid book? Can't we just watch the movie?" As I got deeper and deeper into the book, I grew increasingly depressed about the future of the world.
Then I realized: Bradbury has given me a picture of what might be, if we are not careful. His book written nearly fifty years ago peers just twenty minutes into the future now. Technological developments he had no name for then are very real today. For example, his seashell radio is clearly the walkman many of us see pressed in the ears of teenagers daily. TV screens are growing larger and larger and flat screens with HDTV are on the market now. The next step is clearly the full wall television of Mildred's parlor. Robot dogs like Aibo are just a hop skip and a jump away from the dreaded hound.
But this is a future preventable. Maybe. But if popular culture is constantly valued above thoughtful consideration and education, we'll march right into a land of burning books and intellectualism on the run.
Bradbury's book made me feel defiant. They could never take my books from me. They could burn me with them if they want, but that's what it'll take before I give up my freedom to think for myself.
And as for my students, they remind me every day what an uphill battle I have been sent to fight.
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329 of 352 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is absolutely amazing. It describes a time in the future where censorship prevails and minds are caged. Nobody has original thoughts; with the abolishing of books creativity was lost as well. Guy Montag, the protagonist, is a fireman (firemen burn books in this story) who has to fight to pull himself from the grip of an overpowering government and tradition, only to see that it is all useless (why teach to people who can't understand?). The novel shows what censorship can do to a society, and why individuals must not accept the norm without questioning its integrity and implications. Overall, read this book immediately and apply what you learn from it into everyday life.
By the way, ignore all of the reviewers that gave the book a low score because they could not understand the plot and symbolism. Their comments are similar to saying Shakespeare's works are poorly written because he uses odd vocabulary and the plot is too complex. Unfortunately, these people make of the mass of society, which is why these reviews are commonplace. (The funny thing is, the novel specifically targets these kind of people...)
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432 of 476 people found the following review helpful By anybody else or on May 18, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Fahrenheit 451" is a simply great book. Yes, it's quite distressing and unpleasant to read - because what Bradbury describes is much closer to truth than we'd like it to be. And that is precisely what makes the reality of the book so alike our own - it's more pleasant not to think about such things, and therefore one can merely say the book doesn't suit one's taste and go 'get entertained' in front of the TV.
The disturbing thing about the book is that, unlike many other books that deal with the distant future, "Fahrenheit 451" (written in 1953) hasn't been proved wrong simply by time itself. Not at all. Actually, what is shocking to realize is that we've come quite close to the society Bradbury writes about. Perhaps books haven't been banned yet, but it is indeed the entertainment industry that controls people's minds, the political correctness has reached ridiculous levels, there are ads everywhere and now we even have Segways so that we don't have to walk anywhere... And, of course, we can get a thousand page long classics shortened to a hundred pages - or, better yet, simply watch the movie.
The book also has other qualities besides making one think (which is, judging by some other reviews, one of its biggest downsides). One cannot but admire the brilliant way Bradbury uses absurd and creates a completely surreal feeling by using the methods of expressionism to describe the feelings and thoughts of the main character.
Bradbury sure had things to write about - and that can be proved by even something as simple as the fact I've spent the last half an hour writing a review on the Internet rather than reading a good book or looking at the world...
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112 of 123 people found the following review helpful By David G. Phillips on May 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this book about 18 months ago, but I am writing a review now because the book came up during a mealtime conversation. We talked about how prophetic a very good science fiction writer can be. This is definitely the case in Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Guy Montag lives in a world that represses freedom of speech, creativity, and the core of human spirit. People, including his estranged wife, are drones glued to these pseudo realities in television. It describes senseless trivia shows (can anyone say "Who wants to be a millionaire?") and awfully realistic soap operas that his wife affectionatly refers to as the "family."
What is most disturbing is that as televisions and technology become more "artificially intelligent" we will face some of the brainless drivel (we already do) that the major media networks provide us.
As a fireman, Guy Montag starts fires with books as the culprit - rather than putting them out. The idea is that books can make some people feel bad and as a result we should get rid of them - in other words books can be controversial and our country does not need disputes. The enforcer is a mechanical dog (which I found a little unrealistic and distracting) that injects a lethal poison into any opponents. Despite the silliness of the mechanical dog - the underlying theme is fantastic - open your mind and save the beauty of spontaneity and creativity of the human spirit.
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