Book Review – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I had not read this book before as I am not a lover of the Science Fiction genre.

I found it difficult to follow at first and it was not until after page 72 – 77 when Beatty tried to explain to Montag why books had been banned that things started to fall into place.

The idea that everyone should be made equal, no individual concepts, no questions asked, everyone must be happy all the time has obviously failed.

What a sad case Mildred has become. Pale, listless and scared all the time. Her only friends and confidants are her ladies and family who talk to her from the walls.

When Ray Bradbury wrote this book in 1953 he could only guess the effects technology would have on the population. How scaringly true many of his predictions have become.  Already people are spending more and more time on their I Pads, phones, computers and TV. They believe the rubbish published by the media and decent conversations are becoming rarer and rarer.

Thank goodness some people still managed to see the value of books and hopefully, after the “war” that annihilated the city they would be able to return from the wilderness and rebuild a decent environment . There is hope in the final page, that Montag and the others would go forward and heal the nations and hopefully learn from the mistakes of generations past.

I gave this book a 6

Julie Peake

Written in 1953, how did I not read it then?  I had avidly enjoyed War of the Worlds, Erehwon, Brave New World, 1984 and Gulliver’s Travels. It is better late than never.

How insightful and still so relevant 60+ years on. It was written at the time of the aftermath of nuclear bombs being used in anger. The consequent threat from Russia and the dawn of the cold war caused fear around the world.

The conditions were ripe for the rise of nationalistic overreaction leading to McCarthyism and the attack on anything  that was labelled as ‘un-American’. To counter the fear, there was an effort to persuade the people that ‘all was well’. Pre-war the radio and press were the main sources of influence on opinion. Now TV became the agent of presenting the propaganda to the populous. This was much more effective and lead to a decline in reading books. As it provided entertainment [and subtlety indoctrination] it was seldom questioned with regard to its veracity.

The premise that everyone wanted happiness enabled the government and corporations to make sure that the TV content presented satisfying content that avoided the need for anyone to think – or to question anything. With the rise of TV viewing there was a [consequential] decline in book reading. The authorities in the book went further to an outright ban on books and drastic repercussions for anyone having a book. All totalitarian regimes have the imperative to suppress opposition and stifle anyone actually thinking or questioning the authority of the regime.

Bradbury gave us hope in the shape of a minority who still were able to see clearly and actually use their minds to actually THINK.

It is interesting that this edition included a foreword & afterword by Bradbury. On looking at the internet I found that the publisher had introduced some censorship in editions for use in American schools. How ironic! Bradbury corrected this once he became aware of it.

In summary, the messages are clear and still relevant now. The writing was mainly straightforward, but wandered off in to reverie in some passages. Like all worthwhile books it makes us think.

I happily give it a 7.

John Peake