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on November 5, 2015
In a future society, books are forbidden and "firemen" responsible for burning the remaining titles. That's the job of one Guy Montag, but he begins to question his role as he gets in contact with a teenager who reads secretly. And he becomes himself a criminal reader of smuggled books.

The most surprising thing about Fahrenheit 451 is that it's premise could, in the hands of a lesser writer, easily turn a condescending little lesson about the importance of reading books. But like any work of art that would be missed if it was burned, Fahrenheit 451 doesn't want to give you answers. The book wants you to ask questions.

The main point for me is not that books are burned. That is only the most dramatic side of something bigger: that society allows them to be burned, and that no one is interested in reading in the first place. The only sources of distraction for the denizens of Fahrenheit 451 are sports or soap operas in televisions the size of entire walls. The speed of television does not allow you to stop and think, just swallow that entertainment loaf. From this insipid entertainment are born people who literally talk to the walls and a society unable to question.

Montag's wife, Mildred is one example. She can't talk about anything other than the soaps or what threatens her financial security. She is a cattle-person, described as having an invisible cataract behind her pupils, afraid of anything different, incapable of thinking or feeling without directions from the TV or authorities. Montag discovers how they can't connect to one another because in the end they don't know their own history. And without that knowledge you can't even know who you are, or what you want.

Today is 2015, and the society described in Fahrenheit 451 seems even more palpable than when the book was written in 1953. The internet shortens our attention span towards shorter and simpler texts and videos. More than ever we more intelligent - we have access to an ocean of information literally at our finger tips - but we are not wise. We don't know what to do with our information.

And we have no memory. The social media timelines dictate the discussion of the day, what funny video is trending, what news we should be disgusted with, what meme will be the big joke for a day or two before it is once again forgotten. Fahrenheit 451 even reminds us of the "mass society judgments" that lead to self-censorship.

I believe reading is fundamentally important for wisdom, more than any other art form. Reading is solitary work. It demands silence, and to let your ideas absorb the author's, contest them, accept or adapt. Fahrenheit 451 says that you can't make others think, but I believe it comes with a good recipe for wisdom: "Number one, like I said, is quality of information. Number two: time to digest. And number three: the right to conduct your actions based on what we learn from the two previous items."
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on September 22, 2017
My Rating: Put it on your list
 
Level: Quick and easy read, fairly short.
 
Summary
Away in the dark near future, there is a still a profession called 'fireman', but they don't save houses from burning (houses are fireproof now), but now they start fires. Not for houses, but for books. The book follows the story of one of these firemen as he starts to question why they are doing what they do, and instead starts saving and hiding books. After he is found out, he becomes the victim of the system he used to be a part of. 

My Thoughts
This is a classic of dystopian fiction. The scary thing is, though some elements are over the top, much is too accurate. Bradburry rightly predicts (originally published in 1951) that books won't be banned by the government or people in the majority for challenging the status quo, but instead, books will be questioned or banned for offending some group or another. We see this happening today, especially with elements of history that people do not like. He also predicted the heavy use of what are basically headphones. I went for a walk this morning and noticed every one of the dozen or so people I saw had headphones in. 

As a big book-reader and someone who isn't paranoid about the government, I see Bradburry's vision as much more accurate than something like 1984. He was even wrong that the government would actively burn books by the will/request of the people. We don't have to worry about that now, people just stopped reading them. Hell, people buy digital books, so you can't even burn them anyway. But it doesn't matter, in the most recent Pew study (2014) 23% of people hadn't read a book in the past year. That's up from 8% in 1978, the first year they asked. The median number of books read a year by American adults is 4. We don't need to burn book, and the government doesn't need to ban them. We are doing this to ourselves. We have 100 of channel showing pointless shit on TV and endless ways to stalk people we don't even like on facebook and twitter, who needs books?

Maybe his most accurate portrayal was related to this. One of the characters in the book, whom the police watch due to being 'peculiar', lives in the only house that doesn't glow blue at night. The family has their lights on and can be seen through the window sitting around talking, everyone else has their lights off and is watching TV, so that only a low, flickering blue color can be seen from the street. Where he is wrong is that no one thinks it odd now, but most people likely never think about it. I know I never did, but now if I walk around at night, I notice all the windows from the back of the houses and some of the bedrooms are dark and flickering blue. It becomes kind of eerie if you look or think about it too much. 
 
 Anyway, over all, the book is a bit over-dramatic at times, well not being dramatic enough in others, due to un-imagined technological change. The concepts are great and the portrayal of why life could be like in this dystopian future is frighteningly accurate at times. I as I said above, it is a classic in the genre, and a book to put on your reading list. 

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on December 16, 2016
Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

Rating: **** (4 stars)
Book length: 227 pages
Genre: Science Fiction

Is there still any value in books? We can access information just by speaking into a phone. We can turn on a television set and know that is happening anywhere in the world.

Is there still any value in education? Why learn when you can utilize technology to do anything you need it to do? Is there any value for going to school to study art, English, or any other humanities?

In Bradbury's world books were no longer seen to be of value. They were corrupting the minds. Schools were no longer interesting. There were more important things to pursue.

At nights boys drove their cars around hitting people on purpose, and firefighters found hidden books and burnt them. Both are possible outcomes when education is longer valued and individuals are expected to conform to a set mind and be lulled into complacency by drugs and worthless entertainment.

Except not everyone can stop thinking for themselves. Once you get a thought you cannot un-think it. Once you learn to think for yourself you can no longer go back to the masses.

That is the brilliant plot for Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

Ray Bradbury is an amazing writer. The way he puts together words is poetic. The ideas and concepts behind those words are thought provoking. Yet, the actual execution tends to fall short.

I absolutely hated the ending in this book. It ends with a belief that what is right will eventually even out. It believes society will work like the law of averages. You can only be ignorant for so long before intelligence will again start being valued. Since it will happen eventually we should just wander around doing absolutely nothing waiting for generations to pass so that eventually their will be change. For good measure we should also blow up the entire city leaving only the main character alive. Although, until that point I actually thought the war was all an elaborate lie.

I love Bradbury. I love his ideas and concepts. I love the way he puts words together. I can sit and listen to someone read one of his stories and be entranced. Yet, there is always something that doesn't make any sense. If Bradbury doesn't think that people would fight back, then I question his understanding of human nature.

Still you should read anything and everything by Bradbury. Any book that evokes this much passion must be read!

As published on The Book Recluse Review
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on March 5, 2017
With this review I want to express my opinion on the quality of the hardcover and print itself - not the content of the story. I'll leave the other reviews to state the author's intent of this book. Simon and Schuster has produced a book with quality binding and easy to read print on average quality paper. I hope this comment will help those who question the craftsmanship of the book itself knowing quite well from the other reviews the fascinating story told by Ray Bradbury.
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on February 8, 2018
"-- for how many people did you know who refracted your own light to you? People were more often – he searched for a simile, found one in his work – torches, blazing away until they whiffed out." Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

This edition is twice the pages because every note ever made regarding Fahrenheit 451 is added to the afterward. There are some great bits to be found here, but the best part of the edition is Neal Gaiman's introduction. It helped me understand the treatment and roles of the women in this book, which I may have been far less sympathetic to had I not read and reread Gaiman's words.

Sci-fi first turned me off as a kid in the 1970s. I think this was because most of it contained idiotic women and heroic, if also idiotic, men who always "won." I was never a man in 1953, so I'll give the treatment of Mildred a pass (she also is named Mildred, which I think is a message I needed to take a clue from.)

Apparently through the years, generous readings weren't always happening, and Bradbury reacts strongly to the censorship of his story about censorship -- which should shock nobody. A more thoughtful reaction from me shows that Bradbury may have purposefully written the two most important females the way they are as a retort to an increasingly puritanical America in the 1950s. This is not an original thought, but it took me a while to find the nuances and temper my own reactions.

Nope, Ray Bradbury and 1953 can be exactly who they were, and I'll be me. So long as we're all respectful of each other, then no harm/no foul.

With every thought about this classic, it gets better and better. Can I give more than 5 stars?
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on November 6, 2016
I wish I could give this novel more than 5 stars. This is a monumental work that is as relevant today as it was when Bradbury first wrote it over 60 years ago. This edition of the book contains a large amount of supplementary material in the form of pictures, drawings,copies of original manuscript pages, introductions, reviews and criticisms that only add to the value of this novel to the serious reader. The explanations of how this novel evolved, first from a story called "The Pedestrian" into a second and longer story called "The Fireman" and finally into the work we now know as Farenheit 451 is an education in and of itself into the process of a writer and his development of a story. This alone is worth far more than the price of the book.

Bradbury is a master of the metaphor and that shines through loud and clear in Farenheit 451. The story develops rather quickly, and there are repeating themes that help the characters themselves and the overall story develop and move forward. Like all great writers though, Bradbury presents his story in such a way that even if these themes. motiffs and metaphors escape an average reader the story still stands on its own and keeps the attention.

Like Orwell, Bradbury writes of a dystopian future where the powers that be have eroded the personal rights of the people to almost non-existence. But where Orwell drew on the past atrocities of Stalin to try and warn us to take action to prevent this from happening, Bradbury looks to a future where it is already too late to prevent it - it has happened already. Bradbury gives us the answer to how to move beyond it. Orwell warns us of the possibility of a coming sickness; Bradbury gives us the medicine to cure it.

Although written over 60 years ago, this novel is still very relevant n our modern world of the early 21st century. Not only was Bradbury prophetic in his vision of many of the devices and technologies now present, but also his political and sociological views of a world where an increasingly powerful militarized police state encroaches on the rights of the private citizen on an all-too regular basis.

For Bradbury books are life. In the story books are a metaphor for life and for even the most basic of human rights. And Bradbury makes it clear that there is more than one way to "burn" a "book".

Buy this book. Read it. Then read it again. And again and again. It will speak to each successive generation until we either do something to prevent it from coming true or until we find ourselves immersed in the midst of such a world.
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on November 8, 2015
Despite being first published in 1953, this book is holding up quite well 62 years later and is still has relevance to society today. Bradbury tells of a society where books are banned and 'firemen' are employed to burn down houses where hidden books are found. The populace has become insular, unfeeling and numbed by the constant TV screens in their homes showing never ending bland entertainment and by the earpieces that whisper soothing sounds or music into their ears (sound a little familiar?). No one engages any more with the rest of society, except to watch the screens together. The men work at undemanding jobs and no one is aware of the constant wars being waged in far away countries.

Guy Montag is a fireman who begins to wake up when he starts stealing books from houses that he is sent to burn down. He starts to wonder why they are banned from reading these books. Bradbury goes on to tell us what happens to Guy as colour and feelings return to his life and he wonders about the world men have built for themselves. A simple but powerful story told by a skilled writer and one that still resonates today.
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on June 10, 2015
For me, Fahrenheit 451 more than deserves its place among the top five on my 'Absolute Best Books Ever' list. How anyone who has actually carefully digested it could possibly give it less than five out of five stars is quite beyond me. But to each his own, I do suppose. And really good books don't always have to satisfy absolutely everyone, to have the lasting effect that this particular one has most certainly had.

What more to say? Well, for starters, judging by Fahrenheit 451 alone, Ray Bradbury was nothing short of a literary genius, and it's a truly invaluable thing that he gifted future generations with a yarn so exquisitely told. Full of thought provoking contradictions, like the bizarre dystopian future it depicts, the author's narrative alternates between being complicated and deceptively simplistic in its approach, yet is somehow still equal parts subtle and heavy handed in just the right measure when necessary.

For example, the premise itself, that one dark day, in a potentially dark future, firemen will burn books, homes and even people, instead of preserving and protecting them, might seem absurd if Bradbury didn't handle the material with such seemingly effortless brilliance. So much so, that the reader's natural inclination towards disbelief is subordinated to such a profound degree, that before you know it, you're seeing shades of genuine fascism in the Firemen, and in all of the chief antagonist's perverted banter, that turns the concepts of equality and justice upside down and backwards, and may actually leave one wondering how much of what Captain Beatty says is really something to think ever so deeply about.

And the implications of the totalitarian future Bradbury presents really is troubling. Even scary. But that frightful roller coaster of inverted thought patterns and potential future realities is what makes Fahrenheit 451 work so astoundingly well. But is that really the precise temperature at which paper ignites and bursts into flame? How incredibly irrelevant! The real point is that few other works of imaginative fiction have done such a superb job of giving readers so very much to think about while reading so precious few pages.

Sure, the book isn't especially long, but does it really have to be? It's true. In pretty short order Bradbury introduces his suddenly shell shocked to true life protagonist, and the ill fated young muse who breathes new life in him. It all seems so mundane at first, but then the author takes us into Montag's home, all through his workplace, and then out and about, into a frighteningly macabre, yet antiseptically stale and deathly whited sepulcher of an urban futurescape, where the meaning of literacy itself is under full scale attack. And once we've seen all that, what more is there really to know, but how is it all going to end?

And since Bradbury's cautionary tale is all about burning anything incongruous or even potentially "antisocial" in society to indistinct, untraceable ash, all that is left after we've seen how bleak and twisted what has become of the American founding fathers' original quest for equality and the pursuit of happiness, is to take the plunge into the author's masterful ending, that, despite its apocalyptic overtones, actually ends up becoming a whole new beginning for mankind. And for goodness sake, people, how could anyone ask for anything more from one of the greatest achievements of one of the finest science fiction authors ever?
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on June 2, 2015
I had higher hopes for this book given its standing in modern literature. It's a quick read, and I would certainly recommend it for high school or even late middle school students looking for a "classic", because the language is not difficult, and the story line is interesting to follow. There are numerous interesting characters .. Clarisse, Mildred, Beatty, Faber, Montag .. all worthwhile, yet I felt not completely unraveled, perhaps by the author's intent. Some of the characters either appeared or disappeared too conveniently for me... a bit too contrived. For instance, who can Montag turn to? Oh yes that man he met in the park reading poetry 5 years ago, how convenient. I also didn't find the ending to be that compelling... a little bit of drivel, if you ask me. Also, while I am piling on my criticisms... it seemed to be the usual "dystopian society afraid of totalitarianism" .. so similar to many other novels - ranging from Huxley to Orwell, to even Ayn Rand, that I felt that I had been down this path before. In fact it made me NOT want to read Darkness at Noon, because I felt like it would be yet another version of the same rehash. I get it. Totalitarian governments suck. Free thought good. That being said, perhaps if I had read this novel first, it would have seemed fresh and original. Overall, a good read, but not that great. Good for a 9th grader.
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on June 3, 2016
I read this book because I am tutoring a high school student in Geometry and I want to know more about what he is learning in other subjects.

Fahrenheit 451 was written in story form. This type of story (in addition to documentaries) helps us to understand more about the past and possibly predict the future. The Bible includes many parables.

This book is clearly one of the classics written during this period (1953-1954). The book is designed to warn readers about the dangers of censorship. Joseph McCarthy was conducting his “witch-hunts” in 1954. There were legitimate concerns about the spread of Communism but McCarthy clearly went too far by spreading paranoia. In 2016 we still need to work at finding the right balance between the need for privacy and the need for security.

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell was written in 1943.

“Lord of the Flies” by William Golding was written in 1954.

“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley was written in 1931.
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