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American HIstory / Books about Books


Purity in Print
Book Censorship in America from the Gilded Age to the Computer Age

Paul S. Boyer

Print Culture History in Modern America
James P. Danky, Wayne A. Wiegand, and Christine Pawley, Series Editors

"The best literary, social, and ethical history of the U.S."

The first edition of Purity in Print documented book censorship in America from the 1870s to the 1930s, embedding it within the larger social and cultural history of the time. In this second edition, Boyer adds two new chapters carrying his history forward to the beginning of the twenty-first century.

"Paul Boyer is one of America's most distinguished cultural historians. . . . Taking the censors of an earlier day seriously and getting beyond the caricature of Anthony Comstock, Purity in Print  remains one of the most important books on censorship in the United States."—Carl Kaestle, Brown University, co-editor of The History of the Book in America, Volume IV

"Boyer . . . writes with insight and sophisticated wit . . . [about] the emergence of courageous and controversial publishers after World War I, the effect of Nazi book burnings, and the failure or reticence of librarians . . . to be in the anti-censorship vanguard. . . . The best literary, social, and ethical history of [book censorship in] the U.S."—Choice

Paul Boyer (1935–2012) was the Merle Curti Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. A historian who was respected internationally, he was editor of the UW Press series, Studies in American Thought and Culture, and of an earlier series, History of American Thought and Culture. He was author and editor of many books on American culture, apocalyptic movements, and the reaction of Americans to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. His books include Salem Possessed (with Stephen Nissenbaum), By the Bomb's Early Light, When Time Shall Be No More, and Fallout. He was editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to United States History, and was an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Society of American Historians, and the American Antiquarian Society.

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Of Related Interest:
Cover image is dark brown with images of books about religion.Religion and the Culture of Print in Modern America
Edited by Charles L. Cohen and Paul S. Boyer

"A fascinating foray into the modern religious worlds made by the word."
—Peter J. Thuesen, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

April 2002
LC: 2002001066 KF
520 pp
.   6 x 9   46 b/w photos

Book icon Paper $21.95 s
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"Clear, informative, and very readable. . . . An excellent and much-needed book."
Publishers Weekly

"Thoroughly documented and richly illustrated. . . . Boyer has traced the confusions, the ironies, and the sometimes humorous and sometimes tragic effects of American efforts to cope with the question of what is permissible and what is taboo in the public morality and in the printed word."
—George K. Smart, American Quarterly

"Boyer has carefully read the sources, interviewed surviving participants in the censorship battles, and has produced an eminently readable and judicious account."
—Stow Persons, American Historical Review

"Highly readable."
Baltimore Sun

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Updated 10/9/2014

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