The erosion of the American protection of books

Dictators hate a lot of things, typically, but most reliable among those things are books. Bizarrely, what limits them most in the age of computers is what makes them hardest to control.

There is an intimacy to reading, a place created in which we can imagine the experiences of others and experiment with new ideas, all within the safety and privacy of our imaginations. Research has proved that reading a printed book, rather than on a screen, generates more engagement, especially among young people. Books make us empathetic, skeptical, even seditious. It’s only logical then that totalitarian regimes have made their destruction such a visible priority. George Orwell knew this well: the great crime that tempts Winston in “1984” is the reading of a banned book.

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