A fascinating examination of how restricting speech has continuously shaped our culture, and how censorship is used as a tool to prop up authorities and maintain class and gender disparities
Product Code: 5826
ISBN: 9780807036242
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Published Date: 05/04/2021
Pages: 312
Availability:In stock
Price: $29.95

Through compelling narrative, historian Eric Berkowitz reveals how drastically censorship has shaped our modern society. More than just a history of censorship, Dangerous Ideas illuminates the power of restricting speech; how it has defined states, ideas, and culture; and (despite how each of us would like to believe otherwise) how it is something we all participate in.

This engaging cultural history of censorship and thought suppression throughout the ages takes readers from the first Chinese emperor’s wholesale elimination of books, to Henry VIII’s decree of death for anyone who “imagined” his demise, and on to the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the volatile politics surrounding censorship of social media.

Highlighting the base impulses driving many famous acts of suppression, Berkowitz demonstrates the fragility of power and how every individual can act as both the suppressor and the suppressed.

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Helping God Along: Speech Suppression in the Ancient World

The Fire Cure: Censorship from Late Antiquity to Gutenberg

The Printquakes of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

Revolution and Control in the Eighteenth Century

Class Warfare in the Nineteenth Century

Trouble in Mind: The Early Twentieth Century

Screaming at the Crowd in the Contemporary Era



“A timely contribution to an ongoing debate.” - Kirkus Reviews

“Free speech good! Censorship bad! Undeniable. Indisputable. Except that Eric Berkowitz denies and disputes with such intellectual agility as to induce cramping of the brain. Vivid, violent historical examples buttressing the case against censorship, while we citizens of the internet find ourselves drowning in crud for want of it. The point is you’ll enjoy the ride, and the argument has never been more pressing.” - Ted Koppel

“In .Dangerous Ideas, Eric Berkowitz has traced censorship in the Western world from its beginnings in antiquity through the ambitions of Donald Trump. The sweep of this book is vast and its judgments thoughtful. Above all, Berkowitz shows that censorship remains tempting for those in power, even as history demonstrates how often it proves futile. - Richard Tofel, president, ProPublica

“Eric Berkowitz has written a magnificent book that is original in its scope: looking at the history of censorship from ancient times through today’s efforts to restrict what is on social media and the Internet. Beautifully written, this book leaves the reader with the strong sense that in every society there is the impulse to censor, but censorship rarely works.” - Erwin Chemerinsky, dean, UC Berkeley School of Law, and author of The Case Against the Supreme Court

“In this lively, engaging, and thoughtful history of the complex evolution of free speech, Berkowitz brings to life the Western world’s most exciting and compelling censorship controversies. Dangerous Ideas traces the story from ancient Athens to the advent of American blasphemy and anti-obscenity laws, to the Supreme Court’s first encounters with the First Amendment to the Communist era, and, ultimately, to the world of the Internet.” - Geoffrey R. Stone, author of Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism

“Berkowitz untangles censorship’s maddening complexities to reveal core truths behind every book burning, every silencing of dissidents, and every removal of online content. Weaving together unforgettably vivid stories and accessible analysis, Dangerous Ideas takes the reader on an unruly ride - from the Vatican’s infamous list of banned books to algorithms that manipulate online speech to modern demands for safe spaces from offense. A hugely entertaining and urgently important book.” - Nadine Strossen, former president of the ACLU and author of Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship

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