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Seduction of the Innocent Hardcover – September, 1996

4.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Hardcover, September, 1996
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--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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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. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Main Road Books Inc. (September 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0848816579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0848816575
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,582,368 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 Verified Purchase
I've read ABOUT this book since I was 14, almost 60 now... it was always portrayed as the obsessed work of a close minded blue nose censor who HATED comic books and did his best to gut and derail an artistic industry that produced wonderful work before he stuck his big nose in...As usual, some truth, and a huge amount of exaggeration on both sides of the issue. It is true that he DID hate comic books with a vengence and blamed them for the juvenile delinquents he treated in his pysch clinics and private practice... and it's true that he read all kinds of evil, racism,and homosexual influence into the most innocent (to the vast majority of us readers) superheros we all loved..THAT"s all true.. To me, Superman personified the power of GOOD...after all he stood for truth, justice and the American way! Right next to God himself in my child's mind---he fought evil, was incapable of evil---that's the perspective of an all american boy of the 1950's--- Understanding Wertham's perspective makes his viewpoint easier to understand--he was a German jew who escaped from the nazis. The concept of "UBERMENSCH"--german for SUPERMAN was written by Hitler's favorite philosopher--- Friedrich Nietzche(sic). Superman came from a SUPER RACE, he wore a UNIFORM emblazoned with the BOLD symbol of an "S". Wertham writes it might as well be an "SS"--you can see my point... BUT, he had a great big point that all us rabid comic fans refused to admit for a generation--- there really WERE TERRIBLY BAD comic books being published during the late 40's and early 50's! A fact I did not glean from this book, but from reading reprints of NON EC horror and especially CRIME DOES NOT PAY... THIS STUFF REALLY WAS A HORRIBLE INFLUENCE ON KIDS!Read more ›
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