Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Without a doubt, Bradbury had an incredible imagination. He gave his 1950s audience flat panel TVs, IPODs and ATM machines. He also turned the traditional role of the fireman upside down and used the symbolism of fire to both bring forth life and destroy it. It is one thing to be a good storyteller or a talented writer, which certainly, Bradbury is, but in my opinion, it elevates the craft to do that while making relevant social commentary. Bradbury had a lot to say, and he did it in the context of a compelling and entertaining story.
Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 during the McCarthy error; so government censorship was a serious and real concern. What is interesting to me is that Bradbury makes the point that the people and the state share the blame for censorship, with the people bearing most of the culpability. Every group that has a viewpoint wants the counter-viewpoint censored. Bradbury warns us of the perils of political correctness before political correctness even had a name.
Bradbury also warns that as society intoxicates itself with pleasures and titillation of mass media people will increasingly move away from, not only intellectual pursuits, but they will lose their ability to bond with one another. Bradbury didn’t even own a TV until the 1950s, but he had the foresight to understand the (now well documented) mental health issues that can come from heavy ICT use.
I was, generally, pleased with the storytelling. Bradbury was, at times, a little long winded but he painted vivid pictures. The foreshadowing was nicely done, and even though I knew the plot, I was surprised a few times. Really, you can’t ask for much more out of a book. It is a cool coincidence that I just happened to read this classic during banned book week.
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