From Publishers Weekly
Lurking behind the academic prose of this historical survey is a compelling, provocative analysis of "libricide," the systematic destruction or robbery of books and other cultural artifacts as part of an ideological campaign against a group or nation. Focusing on five case studies-Germany, Bosnia, Kuwait, China and Tibet-Knuth, a professor of library and information science at the University of Hawaii, argues that libricide often coincides with, or even precedes, genocide. The earliest modern example of such a pattern occurred in Germany, where the Nazi regime "purified" national libraries of Jewish content and selectively "looted, destroyed, and pulped" libraries of German-occupied countries as part of their program to create a homogenized, Aryan state. Similarly, during Hussein's six-month occupation of Kuwait in 1989-90, Iraqis destroyed 43% of the book stocks in school libraries even as they subjected the resident population to "the horrors of torture, rape, and summary execution." The Serbs, Knuth documents, destroyed a good part of the cultural heritage of Bosnian Moslems, Croats, and Slovenes; the Chinese conducted not only the appalling Cultural Revolution, but also the near obliteration of traditional Tibetan culture. The opening three chapters of this book, which offer a theoretical framework for the libricide-genocide connection, and the conclusion, which sets Knuth's argument in context of other genocide studies, are written in a much drier, more academic style than the five case histories. However, Knuth's argument is powerfully drawn and deserves a wider audience than the scholarly and library professional readership for which it seems rather clearly intended.
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"Lurking behind the academic prose of this historical survey is a compelling, provocative analysis of Libricide, the systematic destruction or robbery of books and other cultural artifacts as part of an ideological campaign against a group or nation….Knuth's argument is powerfully drawn."
"Knuth really brings her point home. Her provocative study is recommended for professional reading collections, library schools, and educated general readers interested in intellectual freedom."
"Argues that government-authorized book-burning often precedes or accompanies genocide, since the obliteration of a people cannot be accomplished without destroying its printed history."
"Knuth's study should be on every librarian's reading list."
"The subject matter and details presented in the case studies are both compelling on their own and skillfully presented in a narrative that is engaging and readable….Libricide is obviously an important phenomenon."
College & Research Libraries
"Knuth expertly straddles the disciplines of political history, political philosophy, sociology and of course, library and information science, to deliver a piece of work that would be of interest to students and scholars rooted in any of these aforementioned disciplines….[a] truly indispensable resource. Not only is Libricide indispenable, it is seminal."
"After summarily disposing in her first few pages of the longer history of desultory library destruction, she goes into detailed accounts of recent purposeful library depredations (those of the last three-score years or so) involving ideology-driven, regime-sponsored, systematic destruction of book collections intended to bring about the suppression of an entire populace, culture, and/or political will. Hers is a sobering story indeed….Although this is not a pleasant book to read, Knuth is a careful scholar and an engaging writer. Of the three recent books on this same general theme read by this reviewer, hers is easily the most thorough and compelling. It is comprehensively researched, fully documented, and well annotated."
Libraries & Culture