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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 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 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 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. 

More reviews - MondayMorningTheolgian.com
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on October 14, 2017
ISBN 9781975713935
I purchased this edition of Fahrenheit 451 (white cover with red text, book pages & heart on fire) to preview in the hopes I could save my students some money this year. It was a huge mistake. This edition is a disaster -- full of the most ridiculous errors. One humorous travesty occurs on the first page where the title of Part I (The Hearth and the Salamander) is missing and in its place, the title reads "It was a pleasure to burn it," which Fahrenheit fans will instantly recognize as the novel's famous first line -- almost. The first sentence then reads, "Was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed?" Apparently, not knowing what to do with the subjectless second sentence after misplacing "it" at the end of the first, these editors (if you can find it in yourself to call them that) decided the solution was to turn the statement into a question. DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY.
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VINE VOICEon June 9, 2018
I first read this book years ago when I was in High School; however, with by my son and my wife having read it over the last year or two, and it being a much-discussed point of literature in the house recently, I figured that it was time to give it a re-read. I am glad that I did! While I remember enjoying it when I was a teenager, I found it even more interesting now as an adult in the fully-adapted and fully-connected world of today. I find that, while the mechanisms of 451 are thankfully not something that we are dealing with today, the affects of the modern world have delivered some of the same results that Bradbury articulated so many years ago. What especially convinced me that the warnings of 451 are still valid today is the degree to which entertainment and amusement has replaced for so many the desire to find fact and truth. This is something that even I find myself balancing and struggling with at times. We have far more indulgences in today’s media driven and ever in-your-face environment; far beyond the “White Clown”. Bradbury’s message of the importance of the written word, and all of its lessons for humanity, or even more relevant for me in the early-21st century than they were 30 years ago. A truly wonderful masterpiece…and highly recommended!
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on November 1, 2016
"There must be something in books, something we can't imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don't stay for nothing."

My first encounter with Ray Bradbury's classic novel Fahrenheit 451 came during my junior year of high school. It was our assigned summer reading and couldn't have been less interested in it. To be clear, I spent my summer devouring tons of other books, but there's something about a "required" read that did little to motivate me. I skimmed through the novel a few days before classes resumed and survived our minimal discussions mostly unscathed.

Flash forward to today. I've made it a point to try to consume more classic literature to both appreciate the great works of our culture and to counterbalance my otherwise populist tastes. After finally reading Fahrenheit 451, I realize that this is a novel that speaks directly to me as a life long reader. The future that Bradbury imagined 63 years ago painted a dim future for the written word. In the book, firemen are tasked with burning books as a way to advance a societal utopia. One fireman, Guy Montag, begins to see through the smoke of this dark undertaking and decides to disobey his orders.

I don't think that the 17 year old me was ready to fully appreciate this work. The story takes a bit of time to materialize and I think I lacked both the patience and understanding to see it through. Now I understand that Bradbury is crafting a deliberate vision of the world as he feared it could become. At the same time, he is careful to allow the story and characters to lead the reader to conclusions about the effects of technology on arts and culture without falling into the trap of becoming overtly preachy. It is a tight rope to walk, and Bradbury does it elegantly. Unlike many other dystopian novels in the same vein, Fahrenheit 451 ultimately presents a quietly optimistic picture of the world built by those who still value the power of life.

"Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories."
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on June 9, 2018
An awareness of a film remake of Fahrenheit 451 got me digging into this story once again; it was written 65 years ago when I was in the 6th grade and books said it all! Bradbury said that this was the only science fiction book he had ever done and that it was based on reality, what he described as ‘the art of the possible’. I couldn’t remember from the first time I read it how he had dealt with the ideas of book burning and discontent so I went back and reread his original so that I might get to the heart of digital books today.

This 1953 novel emerged from his concerns over the threats of the McCarthy era and the historical role that book burnings have played in suppressing dissenting ideas. It describes the dehumanizing of a society where books are outlawed because of the disagreement that they spread. The job of censoring these works and destroying such knowledge was that of the firemen who would burn them. It is considered one of his best works. At the time, he described it as a commentary on how mass media may reduce interest in the reading of literature. The 60th Anniversary Edition of ‘Fahrenheit 451’ was an exciting find for me because in it the original story is supplemented with an assortment of commentary from other admirers and from Bradbury himself.

Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them, at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us. — Ray Bradbury,

Guy Montag is the main character, who has been a fireman for ten years. The story’s focus is on his questioning of his inner thoughts and the dialogue that he is having, or doesn’t have, with his boss Captain Beatty, his wife Mildred, his intriguing and now missing neighbor, Clarisse McClellan, his new-found friend Faber, a retired English professor, and ‘five old men’ that surfaced. Two other items bring their unique coloring to the story, the Salamander fire trucks, complete with fire throwers, and the Mechanical Hounds.

I was delighted with Neil Geiman’s Introduction; his words reaffirm the timelessness that the story brought to me. I was born between Bradbury (1920) and Geiman (1960) and I went back to reread the book, already questioning how a story that was written in the past about the future could truly hold up for today’s generation in a world that’s already been dramatically shaped by time and technology in ways that they weren’t even aware of. In he 1950’s, Bradbury already saw computers possibilities in simple terms and saw that nothing but good would be coming from them. He believed that, in a sense, computers were simply books, were all over the place and that computers would be as well.

A familiarity exists in the conversations and the silences of the story that is easily recognized as the firemen discuss their work, their lives and the complexities of their relationships; those surroundings seem timeless. The images of Mildred’s ‘family’ in the parlor are quite similar to the multiscreen environments that typically surround us today. Look around you; computers and smartphones count! The relationships that we still have with books goes without saying; they’ve been with us for centuries. The idea that all books could become criminal has always been an absurdity to the masses but the historical role that book burning has played as a means deleting or controlling differences and dissidents is real. ‘Fahrenheit 451’ is a novel first, a fiction, a story about a dedicated fireman, Montag, who believes that all books cause conflicting ideas and must be destroyed. He is part of a zealous effort to purge their existence from society. After meeting Clarisse, he begins to question how his beliefs have been shaped and his curiosity inspires his quest for meaning in words. By story’s end he has become the revolution and a hero for the future of books… just like Bradbury!!

I was struck by Bradbury’s comments in Coda (1979) of how he waged a lifelong battle with well-intentioned readers or the actions of cubby-hole editors, fearful of contaminating the young, blatantly changing his words or suggesting that he do. In one instance, he discovered that, bit-by-bit, some seventy-five separate section had been censured from Fahrenheit, causing the entire book to be reset. His point should be obvious; there is more than one way to burn a book and the world is full of people running about with lit matches!

This book contains an unprecedented collection of timely wisdom from noted experts from the world of words just in time to bolster my efforts to promote storytelling in today's younger generation, not the least of these are from Bradbury’s own perspectives.

Bob Magnant created the Fingertips Series on iTunes to promote the reading, writing and reviewing of books in the digital age. He has written multiple Apple iBooks and is the author of 'Domestic Satellite: An FCC Giant Step' and 'The Last Transition...', a fact-based novel about Iran. He writes about politics, globalization, the Internet and US policy and lives near the beach in Jupiter, FL.
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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 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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