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Seduction of the Innocent Hardcover – June 1, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Senior psychicatrist for Department of Hospitals for NYC from 1932 to 1952, directed the mental hygience clinics at Bellevue Hospital and Queens Hospital Center and was in charge of the Court of General Sessions Psychiatric Clinic.

Dr. Reibman teaches litereature and media studies at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. A specialist on law and literature, he has published on legal writings of the Scottish Enlighenment and on Samuel Johnson and his circle. He is the biographer of Fredric Wertham and is co-editor of the forthcoming Fredric Wertham Reader.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Main Road Books; Revised edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159683000X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596830004
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.3 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is great to read but not for the reasons Mr. Wertham would like. In the 1950's, Wertham undertook a crusade to rid the world of comic books (yes, you read correctly) and chronicled his effort in this book. Wertham decided that comics (ALL comics) were destroyers of youth. To him, no comic book was benign. Superhero comics like Wonder Woman and Superman promoted white supremacy and homosexuality, Crime and Horror comics made kids into sadistic outlaws, etc. As a result of his book and efforts, comics were effectively neutered through the comics code. Granted some of the points Wertham made about the effects of graphic horror had on youngsters had merit, but most were far off the mark. This book is a must-read for anyone who loves comics and their history. It's also a great reference to find the most interesting comics of the 1950's.
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Format: Hardcover
First of all, this book itself is a rather painful, pseudo-scientific read. Its impact on the comic industry has been well-covered, suffice to say it is responsible for the stagnation of the media for almost a half-century.
That said, Dr. Wertham has some interesting theories. He believes, for instance, not only that children can be corrupted by comics, but that this is the main reason for the existence thereof. He points to the similarities between the 'pornographic pottery' reputed to bring about the fall of ancient Rome as 'psychohistorical proof' (love that alliteration) that such things are bad.
Naturally, Batman and Robin was a thinly-veiled psychosexual tale of sodomy and child molestation, since they lived alone together, two isolated males. Similar comments about, oh, Jesus and his Apostles, or Holmes & Watson may be left with the receptionist. Similar sexual imagoes in Salvador Dali's art may be dismissed as 'that Dadaist thing'.
Dr. Wertham has a good deal to say on the effect of graphical violence on children, some of it borne out by later studies (although these studies were focused on cartoons, not still images, we can assume the same principles apply). However, the classic argument remains: you don't need to ban violence (or sex, or religious imagery, or which and what have you), just choose not to see it. Besides, there's far more raciness to be found in a Shakespeare play than your average EC comic of the time.
The problem herein is the classic 'post hoc, ergo propter hoc' fallacy: More kids are juvenile delinquents, and more kids are reading comics, therefore reading comics causes juvenile delinquency.
That said, I would love to be Dr. Wertham.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the fabled book that single handedly watered down the comic book medium for going on half a century.
Wertham's ultra-puritanism and poor logic make it clear this was a man with an agenda. Granted, the arguments he made are still applied to the TV, movies, and music of today, but never, I would think, with such enthusiasm as Wertham displayed.
Most of the examples seem absurd today, even tame, but Seduction of the Innocent is a must read for anyone who wants to be well versed in the censorship tactics of those who want to control everything you see and hear. To make you just like them.
In an interesting twist, Wertham came to admire later publications of comics as fantastically created works of art. They were, of course, done by the same kids he was certained would be ruined forever by readig comics.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unlike the movie industry, which reacted to the complaints against so called objectionable films by allowing the Breen code to be formed, the comic book industry ignored a rising tide of public criticism about the sex and violence kids could read, until the industry almost perished. Comics also included ads for weapons and such items as "breast enlargers, which made comics an even more of a target. That said, Wertham blasts virtually every comic book. Superman is a Nazi concept, although we should be grateful that the S on his shirt is not an S.S. In addition to the irony that the creators of Superman were two Jewish kids who invented the hero as fascism was emerging in the 1930s as a hero of the weak and defenseless, Wertham tacitly approves comic book burning, although the Nazis routinely burned "objectionable reading matter." Wertham's theory of a gay relationship between Batman and Robin, might have been the inspiration for the Lenny Bruce routine, "Thank You, Masked Man," where the Lone Ranger wanted Tonto for a sex partner. (When the good doctor appeared on a talk show during the height of the Batman TV show, he still denounced comics but remained silent on the Batman-Robin liaison.)A 70s newspaper article revisited Wertham's book, and he claimed that comic books no longer showed people getting dismembered, but comics weren't good because they thwarted good reading. Ultimately, Wertham's cure was worse than the disease he fought.
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Format: Hardcover
this book is amazing, but not in the way wertham intended. it is amazing to see the utter absurdity by which he makes these claims. all of the reviews touting the scientific basis of the data are ridiculous, considering that Wertham was working backwards in the most unscientific way possible. it also interesting to note however the reviews blasting Wertham as "super puritanical" are also incorrect. wertham started out as a fairly accomplished scientist with something valid to say. he was very much involved in liberal causes, and opened a clinic in the middle of harlem giving inexpensive treatment to African-Americans in a time when such a thing was unheard of. he was the ultimate example of the slippery-slope well meaning guy taking the totally wrong tack. he was using censorship and all the tools of the current political right as a way of "protecting" those he felt were victims of violent media (the poor, less advantaged, under educated, minorities, etc). it's a fairly common condescending viewpoint taken by early liberals in this country. regardless, he was completely wrong. (read the book _Comic Book Nation_ for the details). and unlike most books hated by one group or another, i've actually read it!

also, anyone who worked for marvel and DC in the 50s and 60s has no right to blast this work. it's basically what made the "mainstream" comic industry of the past 40 years possible. truly innovative writers and publishers suffered (though EC did have Mad magazine, so how much they "suffered" may be suspect), allowing two dimensional kiddie fare to take the mainstage. comics "not just being for kids" would not really come back in to the public eye until the 70s (undergrounders like R. Crumb et al notwithstanding).
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