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The Day They Came to Arrest the Book (Laurel-Leaf Books) Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1983


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Series: Laurel-Leaf Books
  • Mass Market Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf; Sixth Printing edition (July 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440918146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440918141
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 4.3 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #718,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Who would have believed that The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn could cause the worst crisis in the history of George Mason High School? Certainly not Barney Roth, editor of the school paper. But when a small but vocal group of students and parents decide that the book is racist, sexist, and immoral--and should be removed from reading lists and the school library--Barney takes matters into his own hands.

When the Huck Finn issue comes up for a hearing, Barney decides to print his story about previous censorship efforts at school. He's sure that investigative reporting and publicity can help the cause. But is he too late to turn the tide of censorship?

From the Inside Flap

Who would have believed that The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn could cause the worst crisis in the history of George Mason High School? Certainly not Barney Roth, editor of the school paper. But when a small but vocal group of students and parents decide that the book is racist, sexist, and immoral--and should be removed from reading lists and the school library--Barney takes matters into his own hands.

When the Huck Finn issue comes up for a hearing, Barney decides to print his story about previous censorship efforts at school. He's sure that investigative reporting and publicity can help the cause. But is he too late to turn the tide of censorship?


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Customer Reviews

A truly powerfully written book.
SpazGirl
The book tackles the issue of censorship very well -- this is Hentoff, after all -- and all of the characters are presented sympathetically.
Mrs. Donihue
I first read this book when I was in junior high.
Lori A. Ingham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ananda Gupta on January 11, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read this book when I was perhaps 13 years old, and looking back, it was my first step to a real appreciation of America's civil libertarian tradition. It took me to Hentoff's fascinating and excellent "Free Speech For Me - But Not For Thee," and then Jonathan Rauch's "Kindly Inquisitors," both nonfiction books defending an uncompromising view of the First Amendment. (Which, of course, is the only view that makes any sense.)
The story is a fun one, and outlines the issues in a fair (if not balanced) sort of way. One of the book's biggest storytelling strengths is the variety of "censor personalities" -- there is the fire-eating parent who speaks loudly and not only wants his own son not to have to read "Huckleberry Finn," but no one else's kids either. There is the compromising, silky smooth principal whose primary objective is to appease and evade, censoring where it will please anyone. And there is the student censor, who feels strongly about her education -- strongly enough to place control of its content in someone else's hands.
Persuasive without being overly polemical or preachy, and written for young adults, this book makes a fine addition to any kid's shelf.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 21, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
An English teacher assigns "Huckleberry Finn" to her class. A black parent picks up the book his son brought home and lights on a certain word. From this, a battle over censorship begins. The students divide into two factions, as do the faculty and the community. Impromptu arguments in the hallways are supplemented by debates. Hentoff relates everything in such a way as to put forward many answers, while making his own strong belief in the right to free speech clear. The opposition is, however, portrayed very fairly--Kate is a prominent and sympathetic character. The fight is not between the good and the bad, but between two groups whose motives are both good; they disagree as to how things should be done and how much power people should have over other people. A very thought-provoking book that the reader will think about at random times for years afterwards. Although in fiction form, this book is more like a modern, YA version of a dialogue of Plato's. It isn't, perhaps, what one expects--although the author's name should have been a tip-off. Kids who like to think will love this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Donihue on December 2, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Oh, how disappointed I am that my search on Hentoff revealed that "Free Speech for Me But Not for Thee" is out of print! Thank God "The Day They Came to Arrest the Book" is still readily available.
I purchased the two books together, years ago, at a bookstore in Angwin, Calif., and read them consecutively. Taken together, the books provided my first real understanding of the First Amendment and the way it is presently interpreted -- and challenged -- in our present-day society.
I was not surprised that another reviewer uses "The Day They Came to Arrest the Book" as an introduction to censorship in an eighth-grade class. Written as a novel for young readers, Hentoff's book presents very adult concepts -- censorship and perceptions of racism and sexism -- in a very easy-to-understand way, but without insulting the intelligence of his young readers.
The story may be fictional -- students and parents upset at what they believe to be racist and sexist content in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" challenge its place in the curriculum at George Mason High School -- but the incidents described within have happened more often than could reasonably be expected in a society that includes the First Amendment within its most sacred governing document.
The book tackles the issue of censorship very well -- this is Hentoff, after all -- and all of the characters are presented sympathetically. The people who want to censor "Huckleberry Finn" may be wrong to do so, but they are motivated by good intentions, however misdirected.
Who wouldn't want a society that is free of racial or sexual prejudice? But the loss of freedom of speech and thought would be too high of a price to pay.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 11, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I was in my mid-teens, I read 'The Day They Came To Arrest The Book'. This book is probably responsible for pushing me forward in political activism. The characters are engaging and the plot is well developed. The one reader who did not like this book might want to consider that it isn't a book meant to be read to a child by a parent. This is a book that should be discovered by a child on their own at their own pace. A excellent book for teenagers that doesn't deal with the prom or snagging a boyfriend.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Censorship has long been a hot-button issue, especially in the last 25 years or so as special interest groups have sustained a fierce battle against some of the greatest pieces of literature ever written. Teachers, administrators, librarians, parents, school boards, and students all over the country have become embroiled over arguments that many of us find patently absurd. It wouldn't be so bad if it were just a matter of individuals declaring a book offensive and refusing to read it themselves; the problem comes with the fact that these people band together in an attempt to legislate morality for all the rest of us, especially the nation's students. When a classic such as Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn comes under attack, it's downright impossible not to take sides, and the debate all too often devolves into righteous indignation and, before you know it, personal attacks and the most uncivil of arguments.

The great significance of The Day They Came to Arrest the Book is the fact that author Nat Hentoff manages to present all sides of the censorship argument in a passionate yet objective manner, addressing the main arguments and analogies in revealing, respectful ways. It can surely help those in its target audience, teenagers and young adults, examine the evidence and determine their own beliefs on this sensitive issue. All too often, the most vociferous young voices on the side of censorship are really just jumping on the bandwagon of their peers or using the issue as a means for getting out of English assignments or class altogether. This novel demonstrates the real significance of the whole issue, as it really gets down to the root of our constitutional rights and liberties as Americans.
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