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Concerning the article on "Book Burning'
by Victor Lasky, appearing below on this
page, the HON. KARL E. MUNDT, U. S.
Senator of South Dakota, has this to say:
"litis article provides challenging
reading for anybody seriously interested
in preserving the First Amendmenl eunl
complete freedom of press and information.
"Obviously, if certain books an- banned by the personal prejudice of biased
librarians or if they are condemned by
a chorus of book reviewers with precon-
ceived opinions about what Americans
should read, lhe odious practice of book
burning has been carried to Ihe nth degree by eliminating books from reading
rooms even before critics can pounce
upon tin-in. anil carry them to a greedy
"Mr. Lasky raises some soul-searching
questions lo be answered objectively by
those opposed to censorship whether il
be by governmenl edict or bv individual
"Is il true thai pro-ConiniiinisI books
usually receive favorable book reviews
while anti-Communist books are given
llie brush-off or a black eye?
"I> it true theit hooks favorable lo For-
mosa or to the free Chinese are con-
demned and discouraged whereas books
favorable to Communist China and criti-
cal of Chiang Kai-shek are applauded
and recommended for library purchase?
"Is il true lhal books which are supercritical of congressional investigating
committees and the FBI are encouraged
and their perusal advocated whereas
caustic criticism and condemnatory comments are directed at books which defend congressional investigation commit-
le-i-s and support the FBI?
"Is il I rue that the Library Journal
published by Virginia Kirkus has become a "tip sheet' for unsuspecting
librarians through which ideological
predilections toward the left are espoused and by which books supporting our
private enterprise concepts and the constitutional practices of lhe Republic are
"Is it true lhal book reviewers for the
New York Times, the New York Herald
Tribune, and the Saturday Review have
become a claque of critics chorusing
sharp criticism of such ancient and hon
orable American virtues as patriotism,
loyalty, private ownership, and the rights
of states and individuals as against the
central government? Is Boston's chief
librarian. John M. Carroll, correct in his
warnings about the Library Journal and
its tendency to present to librarian- ee
biased and a prejudiced picture?
"Busy senators find little time to read
book reviews and less time to review-
books. Therefore. I raise these questions
for others to answer. However. Mr. Las-
kv's reputation is great enough to al
leasl justify an efforl to find honesl
answers to the questions growing out of
his stimulating article. Surely, America
wants no more of book banning than il
does of book burning.
"Individual librarians, library boards,
book selection committees, and the publishers of America's great newspapers
and book review sections would do wrell
to re-examine their procedures to make
certain there are straightforward and
correct answers to the questions raised
by Mr. Lasky. Book readers, generally,
and those who are inclined to rely on
book reviewers to determine their reading diets would do well to give personal
study lo what they see in book review-
compared with what they read in books
in order to make sure that those who
publish, review, and recommend books
contribute to the enlightenment of tin
public rather than engage in propaganda
thinly concealed behind ei facade of
BOOK BURNING-How the Librarians do it
by VICTOR LASKY, author and former editor of American Legion Reporter
Diverse, indeed, are lln- ways of the
In Milton. Mass.. for example, the
town librarian refused lo buy Eugene
W. Castle's book llillions. Blunders anil
Baloney. Sin- explained thai it weis "a
-|i'n;iilii- eillaek with inaccuracies eunl
written with assumption."
Castle's assumption, based on several
years <>f personal observations abroad.
was thai United Stales foreign aiel eunl
overseas propaganda do us more harm
Admittedly, thai is a controversial assumption.
lint mi is Elmer Davis' Hut We Were
Horn Free, which can be found in lhe
Milton Miliary. Apparently, the librarian
Sccepts its basic assumption—that
American freedoms an- rapidly disappearing under the whiplash of Mc-
But there are those in Milton, whose
taxes support lhe library, who would
llii- article reprinted from June 11. 1955
'—en- nf Human Events. '
pACTS FORUM NEWS, September, 1955
disagree. Vet. no one questions the li-
brarian's right to purchase the F.lmer
Or. for lhat matler, the recent penny
dreadful by lhe brothers Alsop, denouncing Admiral Strauss as the villain in
tin- Oppenheimer case, which was eriti-
e i/e'el even by tbe physicist himself for
The librarian's charge of inaccuracies
hardly holds water since only recently
llu- Milton library obtained a copy of
Justice William O. Douglas' highly inaccurate Almanac oj Democracy. In it.
Douglas said 58,000 court-approved
wiretaps had taken placi' in New York:
the correct figure weis under ,S00.
Yet, despite- her aversion to inaccuracies, lhe Milton librarian has not
i unsigned tlie Douglas book to the furnace.
lu itself. Milton's ban on the Castle
linok is not too important. Whether or
not the book is good or bail, accurate
nr inaccurate, is of no importance, either.
The real issue is whether librarians
should be permitted to purchase books
-nil K on the basis of their personal
opinions. Are ihey entitled to ban books
not conforming with their ideological
If the) are. then the American Library Association was absolutely right
when, in 1943, it endorsed a statement
proclaiming that "the freedom to read
i> iii danger."
The proclamation denounced attempts
lo list books and authors as "objection
able" or "controversial"' and efforts "In
remove hooks from sale, tei censor textbooks. . . ."
Noble sentiments, indeed. But the)
overlook lln- fail that, quite often, librarians themselves "burn" books. As
al Milton, the) jusl don't buy books
the) don't like.
Sometimes the librarians can'l help
themselves. For example, in Teaneck, N.
J., the chief librarian had decided
against purchasing the Castle book since