30 Infamous Book Burning Incidents

Book burning has a long and dark history. It has been used by governments, religious institutions, and individuals to suppress dissent, control information, and destroy knowledge.

One of the earliest recorded instances of book burning occurred in China in 213 BC. The Qin emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered the burning of all books that did not conform to his own political ideology. This act of censorship was intended to consolidate his power and to create a new Chinese culture that was based on his own beliefs.

Book burning has also been used by religious institutions to suppress dissenting views. In the 16th century, the Catholic Church burned thousands of books that were deemed to be heretical. This included the works of Martin Luther, who had challenged the authority of the Church.

In the 20th century, book burning was used by the Nazi regime to suppress Jewish culture and to promote its own ideology of racial purity. In 1933, Nazi students burned books by Jewish authors, as well as books by authors who were considered to be “decadent” or “un-German.”

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of book banning and book burning in the United States. This trend is often driven by conservative groups who are opposed to certain books on moral or political grounds. The book burnings in modern America are a reminder that the First Amendment is not absolute and that there are still those who would use censorship to silence their opponents.

Book burning is a symbol of censorship and intolerance. It is a way of silencing dissenting voices and of destroying knowledge. It is a reminder of the importance of freedom of speech and of the power of books to educate and enlighten people.

Here are just thirty of the thousands of efforts to control thought and ideas by book burning over the past millennium.


Repeated destruction of Alexandria libraries, 3rd Century BC To 391 AD

The Library of Alexandria was one of the greatest libraries of the ancient world. It was founded in the 3rd century BC by Ptolemy I Soter, the founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty. The library was located in Alexandria, Egypt, and it was home to a vast collection of scrolls and books.

The library was destroyed multiple times by fire. The first time was in 48 BC, when Julius Caesar set fire to the city of Alexandria during his civil war with Pompey. The second time was in 270 AD, when the city was sacked by the Palmyrenes. The third time was in 391 AD, when the library was destroyed by Christian zealots.

The destruction of the Library of Alexandria was a major loss to the world of knowledge. It is estimated that the library contained over 400,000 scrolls, which represented a vast amount of knowledge about the ancient world. The loss of this knowledge was a setback for scholarship and science, and it took centuries for the world to recover from it.

The destruction of the Library of Alexandria is a reminder of the fragility of knowledge. It is also a reminder of the importance of protecting libraries and other cultural institutions.


Augustus And The Burning of Prophetic Verse, 13 BC

In 13 BC, the Roman Emperor Augustus assumed the office of chief priest (pontifex maximus). As part of his duties, he was responsible for overseeing the Sibylline Books, a collection of prophetic verse that was consulted by the Roman government in times of crisis.

Augustus was concerned about the proliferation of fraudulent prophetic verse, which he believed was being used to deceive the public. He therefore ordered the burning of over 2,000 copies of Greek and Latin prophetic verse that were not considered to be authentic.

The burning of prophetic verse was a controversial act, and some scholars have argued that it was a form of censorship. However, Augustus’s supporters argued that it was necessary to protect the public from false prophecy.


Rabbi Haninah ben Teradion burned with a Torah scroll, 2nd Century AD

Rabbi Haninah ben Teradion was a Jewish sage who lived in the 2nd century CE. He was one of the Ten Martyrs, a group of rabbis who were executed by the Roman emperor Hadrian for refusing to abandon their faith.

Haninah was a renowned Torah scholar, and he was known for his commitment to teaching the Torah. When Hadrian issued an edict forbidding the study of Torah, Haninah continued to teach openly. He was eventually arrested and brought before the Roman authorities.

The Roman authorities demanded that Haninah renounce his faith, but he refused. He was then wrapped in a Torah scroll and burned alive. As he burned, he is said to have cried out, “The letters of the Torah are ascending to their source in heaven.”

The story of Rabbi Haninah ben Teradion is a reminder of the importance of religious freedom and the willingness to sacrifice for one’s beliefs. It is also a testament to the power of the Torah, which even in the face of death, could not be extinguished.


Manichaean And Christian Scriptures, 303 AD

In 303 CE, the Roman Emperor Diocletian issued an edict that ordered the destruction of Manichaean and Christian scriptures. The edict was part of a wider campaign of persecution against these two religious groups.

Manichaeism was a dualistic religion that originated in Persia in the 3rd century AD. It taught that the world was divided into two opposing forces: light and darkness. Christians, on the other hand, believed in a single God who created the world.

Diocletian’s edict was motivated by a number of factors. First, he was concerned about the growing popularity of Manichaeism and Christianity. Second, he believed that these religions were a threat to the Roman Empire. Third, he was influenced by the writings of Porphyry, a Neoplatonic philosopher who had argued that Manichaeism was a heretical religion.

The edict was carried out with great vigour. Manichaean and Christian scriptures were burned, temples were destroyed, and people were killed. The persecution continued for several years, and it is estimated that thousands of people were killed.

The edict had a significant impact on both Manichaeism and Christianity. Manichaeism was largely wiped out in the Roman Empire, and it never fully recovered. Christianity, on the other hand, survived the persecution and eventually became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire.

The edict of Diocletian is a reminder of the dangers of religious persecution. It also shows the power of religious scriptures to inspire and motivate people. The destruction of Manichaean and Christian scriptures was a tragic event, but it did not ultimately succeed in suppressing these two religions.


Library of Antioch, 364 AD

The Library of Antioch was one of the great libraries of the ancient world. It was founded in the 3rd century BCE by the Seleucid king Antiochus I Soter, and it grew to become one of the largest and most important libraries in the Mediterranean. The library contained a vast collection of books, scrolls, and other documents, and it was a major center of learning and scholarship.

In 364 CE, the Library of Antioch was destroyed by the Roman emperor Jovian. Jovian was a Christian, and he was reportedly opposed to the library’s pagan contents. He ordered the library to be burned, and the flames destroyed a vast collection of knowledge.

The destruction of the Library of Antioch was a major loss to the world of learning. The library contained a wealth of information on a wide range of subjects, and its loss was a setback for the advancement of knowledge. The burning of the library is also seen by some as a symbol of the decline of the Roman Empire.

The exact circumstances of the burning of the Library of Antioch are not entirely clear. Some historians believe that Jovian may have been motivated by religious intolerance, while others believe that he may have been trying to prevent the library from falling into the hands of the Persians. Whatever the reason, the destruction of the Library of Antioch was a major loss to the world of learning.


Competing Prayer Books At Toledo, 1085

In 1085, after the Christian reconquest of Toledo, the victorious Spanish forces burned a large number of Mozarabic prayer books. The Mozarabic rite was a form of Christianity that had been practiced in Spain since the early days of the Church. It was characterized by its use of the Arabic language and its adherence to certain practices that were considered unorthodox by the Catholic Church.

The burning of the prayer books was a symbolic act of triumph for the Catholic Church. It was also a way of asserting the Church’s authority over the Mozarabic Christians. The destruction of these books was a loss for Mozarabic culture, as they contained valuable information about the history and traditions of the Mozarabic people.


Buddhist Writings In The Maldives By Royal Dynasty Converted To Islam, 1153

In 1153 the Maldives converted to Islam as the state religion from Buddhism, which they had followed for over a thousand years. Immediately following the conversion, the Buddhist monks were beheaded, the statues of Buddha were destroyed, and all the Buddhist texts were burnt.

The burning of Buddhist writings was a deliberate attempt to erase the Maldives’ Buddhist heritage. The royal dynasty that converted to Islam wanted to create a new Islamic identity for the Maldives, and they saw the Buddhist texts as a threat to that identity.

The burning of Buddhist writings was a major loss for the Maldives’ cultural heritage. The Buddhist texts contained a wealth of knowledge about the Maldives’ history, culture, and religion. The destruction of these texts made it more difficult for future generations to learn about the Maldives’ Buddhist past.

The burning of Buddhist writings is a reminder of the dangers of religious intolerance. When one group seeks to impose its religious beliefs on another group, it can lead to violence and the destruction of cultural heritage.

The Maldives is now a majority-Muslim country, but there is still a small minority of Buddhists living there.


Destruction Of Cathar Texts in Languedoc, France, By The Catholic Church, 1209

The Cathars were a Christian sect that flourished in the Languedoc region of France during the 12th and 13th centuries. They were considered heretics by the Catholic Church, and the Church launched a series of crusades against them. As part of these crusades, the Church burned vast quantities of Cathar texts.

The destruction of Cathar texts was a deliberate attempt to erase the Cathar’s religious beliefs and practices. The Church feared that the Cathars’ teachings were a threat to its own authority. By burning the texts, the Church hoped to prevent the Cathars from spreading their beliefs and to make it more difficult for them to defend themselves against the Church’s attacks.

The destruction of Cathar texts was a major loss to history. The Cathars had a rich and complex religious tradition, and their texts contained valuable insights into their beliefs and practices. The burning of these texts made it more difficult for scholars to understand the Cathars and their history.


Lollard Books And Writings, 1401

In 1401, the English Parliament passed the De heretico comburendo (“On the Burning of Heretics”), which was intended to stamp out “heresy” and in particular the Lollard movement, followers of John Wycliffe. The law stated that “… divers false and perverse people of a certain new sect … make and write books, [and] do wickedly instruct and inform people”. The law’s purpose was to “utterly destroy” all “preachings, doctrines, and opinions of this wicked sect”.

Therefore, all persons in possession of “such books or writings of such wicked doctrine and opinions” were ordered to deliver all such books and writings to the diocesan authorities within forty days of the law being enacted, so as to let them be burned and destroyed. Those failing to give up their heretical books would face the prospect of being arrested and having their bodies as well as their books burned.

The burning of Lollard books and writings was a significant event in the history of censorship and religious persecution. It marked a turning point in the English government’s attitude towards religious dissent, and it set a precedent for the persecution of other religious groups in the years to come.

The burning of Lollard books and writings was also a significant loss to the history of English literature. Many of the Lollards’ writings were destroyed, including some of Wycliffe’s own works. This has made it more difficult for scholars to study the Lollard movement and its impact on English history.


Wycliffe’s Books At Prague, 1409

In 1409, the Archbishop of Prague ordered the burning of all copies of John Wycliffe’s writings in the city. Wycliffe was an English theologian who had challenged many of the teachings of the Catholic Church, and his writings were considered heretical. The burning of his books was an attempt to suppress his ideas and prevent them from spreading.

The burning took place in the courtyard of the Archbishop’s palace, and it was a public event. A large crowd gathered to watch as the books were consigned to the flames. The books were stacked in a pile and set on fire, and the crowd cheered as the flames consumed them.

The burning of Wycliffe’s books was a significant event in the history of the Protestant Reformation. It showed that the Catholic Church was willing to use force to suppress dissenting voices, and it helped to inspire other reformers, such as Jan Hus, who would later be burned at the stake for their beliefs.


Lutheran And Other Protestant Writings, 1520

In the early years of the Protestant Reformation, there was a widespread campaign to burn Lutheran and other Protestant writings. This was part of a larger effort to suppress the spread of Protestantism, which was seen as a threat to the Catholic Church.

The first major book burning took place in 1520, when the Pope ordered the burning of all of Martin Luther’s writings. This was followed by a series of other book burnings in cities across Europe. In some cases, the books were burned in public squares, while in other cases they were burned in bonfires in front of churches.

The book burnings were not only a symbolic act, but they also had a practical impact. They made it difficult for people to obtain Protestant writings, and they helped to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation among those who supported the Reformation.

The book burnings were ultimately unsuccessful in suppressing the spread of Protestantism. However, they did serve as a reminder of the power of the Catholic Church, and they helped to shape the course of the Reformation.


Arabic books in Spain owners ordered to destroy their own books by King Philip II

In 1501, King Philip II of Spain ordered the owners of Arabic books to destroy their own books. This was part of a larger campaign to suppress Islamic culture in Spain, which had been conquered by Christian forces in the 15th century.

The burning of Arabic books was a major blow to Islamic scholarship in Spain. Many of the books that were destroyed were irreplaceable, and they contained a wealth of knowledge about Islamic law, history, and science. The destruction of these books also had a symbolic impact, as it represented an attempt to erase Islamic culture from Spain.

The burning of Arabic books was not the only act of cultural suppression that took place in Spain during this period. The Spanish Inquisition also targeted Islamic scholars and forced them to convert to Christianity. Many Muslims who refused to convert were expelled from Spain.

The burning of Arabic books was a dark chapter in Spanish history. It was an act of intolerance and cultural vandalism that had a lasting impact on Islamic scholarship.

The burning of Arabic books in Spain is a reminder of the dangers of religious intolerance and the importance of protecting cultural heritage.


Servetus’ Writings (Burned With Their Author In Geneva), 1553

Michael Servetus was a Spanish physician and theologian who was burned at the stake in Geneva in 1553 for his unorthodox views on the Trinity. His writings were also burned, both in Geneva and in Vienne, where he had been arrested and tried earlier.

The burning of Servetus’ writings was a significant loss to the world of scholarship. Servetus was a brilliant thinker, and his writings contained a wealth of insights into theology, medicine, and science. The destruction of his writings made it more difficult for later generations to understand his ideas and to appreciate his contributions.

The burning of Servetus’ writings was also a sign of the intolerance of the time. Servetus’ views were unorthodox, but they were not necessarily harmful. However, the authorities in Geneva and Vienne were determined to suppress any dissent, and they saw the burning of Servetus’ writings as a way to silence his voice.


Books Burned By Civil, Military And Ecclesiastical Authorities In Cromwell’s England, from 1640 to 1660

During the English Civil War and the Interregnum, a period of time when Oliver Cromwell ruled England, there was a significant amount of book burning. Books were burned by civil, military, and ecclesiastical authorities for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Their content was considered seditious or blasphemous.
  • They were published without a license.
  • They were written by authors who were considered to be enemies of the state.

Some of the most famous books that were burned during this period include:

  • “Eikon Basilike,” a biography of King Charles I that was published shortly after his execution.
  • “The Leviathan,” a political philosophy book by Thomas Hobbes.
  • “The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates,” a political treatise by John Milton.

The book burnings of this period were a significant loss to English culture. Many important works of literature and philosophy were destroyed, and the free exchange of ideas was stifled. The book burnings also served as a warning to those who would challenge the authority of the state.


Book Criticising Puritanism In Boston, 1637

In 1637, the book “The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience” by Roger Williams was burned in Boston. Williams was a Puritan minister who had been banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his criticisms of Puritan orthodoxy. His book argued that religious freedom was a fundamental right, and that the state should not have the power to compel people to believe or practice a particular religion.

The burning of Williams’ book was a symbolic act of censorship by the Puritan authorities. It was an attempt to silence dissent and to enforce conformity to Puritan beliefs. The book’s destruction was also a warning to other dissenters that they would be punished for challenging the authority of the Puritan government.

The burning of Williams’ book was a dark chapter in the history of religious freedom in America. However, it also helped to galvanize support for the cause of religious liberty. Williams’ ideas eventually found a receptive audience, and they helped to lay the foundation for the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of religion.


Hobbes Books At Oxford University, 1683

In 1683, a group of Oxford University students burned several books by Thomas Hobbes, a philosopher and political theorist. The books were burned in the quadrangle of the Bodleian Library, the university’s main library.

The burning of the books was part of a wider campaign against Hobbes’s ideas, which were seen as heretical by some. Hobbes’s most famous work, Leviathan, was a defence of absolute monarchy, and it was seen by many as a threat to the authority of the Church of England.

The burning of the books was a symbolic act, and it was intended to intimidate those who held similar views to Hobbes. However, it also backfired, as it served to make Hobbes’s ideas


William Blake Manuscripts By Frederick Tatham, 1827

In 1827, the English artist and poet William Blake died. His friend and biographer, Frederick Tatham, was tasked with sorting through Blake’s belongings. Tatham was a devout Christian, and he disapproved of Blake’s unconventional religious views. He also believed that Blake’s manuscripts were not of great artistic or historical value.

As a result, Tatham burned a large number of Blake’s manuscripts. These included drafts of poems, illuminated books, and notebooks. The exact number of manuscripts that were destroyed is unknown, but it is estimated that they could have filled several bookshelves.

Tatham’s actions have been criticized by many scholars. They argue that he destroyed a valuable cultural heritage. The manuscripts that were burned included some of Blake’s most important works, such as “The Book of Urizen” and “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.”

The burning of Blake’s manuscripts is a reminder of the importance of preserving cultural heritage. It is also a cautionary tale about the dangers of censorship. When works of art are destroyed, they are lost forever.

In addition to the manuscripts that were burned, Tatham also sold a number of Blake’s works to collectors. These works eventually found their way into museums and libraries around the world. However, the loss of the manuscripts is a significant loss to Blake scholarship.


“Lewd” Books By Anthony Comstock And The NYSSV, 1873

Anthony Comstock was a 19th-century American moral crusader who founded the NYSSV in 1873. The NYSSV was dedicated to the suppression of “immoral” materials, including books, pamphlets, and articles that Comstock deemed to be “obscene, lewd, or lascivious.”

Comstock and the NYSSV were responsible for the burning of thousands of books, often without any due process. They would raid bookstores and libraries, seize any materials they deemed to be “immoral,” and then burn them in public bonfires.

The burning of “lewd” books was a form of censorship that was intended to protect the public from what Comstock and the NYSSV saw as harmful and corrupting materials. However, the burning of books was also a form of cultural destruction, as it led to the loss of important historical and literary works.

The burning of “lewd” books was a controversial practice, and it was ultimately outlawed by the Supreme Court in 1957. However, the legacy of Comstock and the NYSSV continues to be felt today, as the debate over censorship continues.


Emily Dickinson’s Correspondence On Her Orders, 1892

Emily Dickinson was a private person who guarded her privacy fiercely. She burned most of her poems before her death, and she also asked her sister Lavinia to burn all of her correspondence after she died. Lavinia honoured her sister’s wishes, and the vast majority of Dickinson’s letters were destroyed.

Only a few hundred of Dickinson’s letters survived the fire. These letters provide a fascinating glimpse into the poet’s life and mind. They reveal her relationships with her family and friends, her thoughts on art and literature, and her own personal struggles.

The burning of Dickinson’s correspondence is a loss for scholars and biographers. It would have been invaluable to have access to her entire correspondence, but we can only speculate about what those letters might have contained. However, the few letters that do survive are still a valuable resource for understanding one of America’s greatest poets.

There are a few possible reasons why Dickinson asked her sister to burn her correspondence. One possibility is that she was simply a private person who did not want her personal life to be exposed to public scrutiny. Another possibility is that she was concerned about the quality of her writing. She often expressed doubts about her own abilities, and she may have felt that her letters were not worthy of being preserved.

Whatever the reason, the burning of Dickinson’s correspondence is a significant loss. It would have been fascinating to read her letters to her family and friends, and to see how she interacted with the world around her. However, the few letters that do survive are still a valuable resource for understanding one of America’s greatest poets.


André Malraux’s Manuscript By The Gestapo, 1943

André Malraux was a French writer and art historian who was active in the French Resistance during World War II. In 1943, he was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in the Fresnes prison in Paris. While he was imprisoned, Malraux wrote a manuscript about his experiences in the Resistance. However, the manuscript was confiscated by the Gestapo and burned.

The burning of Malraux’s manuscript was a major loss to French literature. The manuscript was a firsthand account of the French Resistance, and it would have been a valuable historical document. The destruction of the manuscript is also a reminder of the brutality of the Nazi regime.

Malraux was eventually released from prison and went on to become a renowned writer and politician. However, he never forgot the loss of his manuscript. In his 1967 book, Antimémoires, he wrote about the burning of the manuscript and the impact it had on him:

“I had lost something more than a book. I had lost the memory of a time when I had been able to believe that I could make a difference.”


The Books Of Knut Hamsun In Post-World War II Norway, 1945

Knut Hamsun was a Norwegian author who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920. However, his reputation was tarnished after the war when he was revealed to have been a supporter of the Nazi occupation of Norway. In the years following the war, there were several public burnings of his books.

The first major burning of Hamsun’s books took place in Oslo in 1945. A large crowd gathered in the city square to watch as the books were set on fire. The burning was seen as a way of purging Norway of its Nazi past.

There were also several smaller burnings of Hamsun’s books in other parts of Norway. In some cases, the burnings were organized by local governments, while in other cases they were spontaneous acts of vandalism.

The burning of Hamsun’s books was a controversial act. Some people argued that it was necessary to purge Norway of its Nazi past, while others argued that it was an act of censorship. The burnings also raised questions about the role of literature in society.

Ultimately, the burning of Hamsun’s books did not succeed in erasing his legacy. Hamsun’s novels are still read and studied today, and he remains one of the most important figures in Norwegian literature.

The burning of Hamsun’s books is a reminder of the power of literature to provoke strong emotions. It is also a reminder of the dangers of censorship. When books are burned, it is not just the words that are lost, but also the ideas and perspectives that they contain.


Book Burning Caused By Viet Cong In South Vietnam, 1975

In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the victorious North Vietnamese government engaged in a widespread campaign of book burning. Millions of books and documents linked to the South Vietnamese government were destroyed, including textbooks, newspapers, magazines, and religious texts. The book burning was a deliberate attempt to erase the history and culture of South Vietnam, and to impose the communist ideology of the North on the entire country.

The book burning was carried out by the Viet Cong, the communist guerrillas who fought against the South Vietnamese government during the war. The Viet Cong believed that the books and documents they were burning were harmful to the communist cause. They saw them as promoting Western values and ideas, and as a threat to the communist revolution.

The book burning was a form of censorship and cultural genocide. It was an attempt to silence dissenting voices and to impose a single ideology on the entire country. The book burning was a dark chapter in Vietnamese history, and it is a reminder of the dangers of censorship and the importance of freedom of expression.

In addition to the book burning, the North Vietnamese government also engaged in other forms of cultural repression. They closed schools, banned religious practices, and destroyed temples and churches. The goal of these policies was to create a communist society in which all aspects of life were controlled by the state.

The book burning and other forms of cultural repression in Vietnam had a profound impact on the country. They destroyed a rich and diverse culture, and they left a legacy of fear and distrust.


The Beatles, 1966

In August 1966, John Lennon made a remark to a reporter that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” This remark sparked a firestorm of controversy, and in some parts of the United States, people began burning Beatles records, memorabilia, and books.

The first major burning took place in Meridian, Mississippi, on August 13, 1966. A local radio station organized the event, and over 1,000 people showed up to burn their Beatles records. Similar burnings took place in other cities in the South, including Birmingham, Alabama, and Jackson, Mississippi.

The burnings were largely organized by conservative Christian groups who were offended by Lennon’s remark. They saw the Beatles as a threat to traditional values, and they believed that burning their records and other articles related to their music was a way to protest their influence.

The burnings were met with mixed reactions. Some people saw them as a harmless way to express their disapproval of Lennon’s remark, while others saw them as a form of censorship. The burnings also drew attention to the growing cultural divide between the United States and the rest of the world.

The burnings eventually died down, but they left a lasting legacy. They showed how powerful music could be, and they highlighted the deep divisions that existed in American society at the time.

In addition to the burnings, there were also reports of Beatles records being banned from stores and radio stations. Some schools even banned the Beatles from being played at school dances.

The burnings of Beatles records and memorabilia were a significant event in the history of the Beatles. They showed the power of music to incite controversy, and they highlighted the deep divisions that existed in American society at the time.


Harry Potter And Other Books In Poland

In April 2019, a group of Catholic priests in Poland burned books that they said promoted sorcery, including one of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. The book burning took place in the city of Koszalin, and was photographed and posted on the Facebook page of the SMS From Heaven Foundation, a Catholic evangelical group.

The priests who burned the books said that they were doing so in order to “protect the faithful from evil influences.” They claimed that the Harry Potter books promote witchcraft and occultism, and that they could lead children astray.

The book burning sparked a debate in Poland about the role of religion in society. Some people supported the priests’ actions, while others condemned them as a form of censorship. The incident also drew comparisons to Nazi Germany, where books were burned by the state in an attempt to suppress dissenting voices.

The book burning in Poland is just one example of the ongoing debate about the role of religion in society. In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile incidents in which religious groups have attempted to censor or ban books that they deem to be offensive. These incidents raise important questions about the limits of freedom of expression and the role of religion in a secular society.


Theology Library Purge In North Carolina

In the early 2000s, the Divinity School at Duke University in North Carolina underwent a purge of its theology library. Hundreds of books were removed from the shelves, including works by scholars such as Rudolf Bultmann, John Hick, and Paul Tillich, and burnt. The purge was carried out by a committee of faculty members who argued that the books were no longer relevant to the school’s theological curriculum.

The purge sparked a controversy, with some scholars accusing the Divinity School of censorship. The school defended its actions, arguing that the books were removed because they were no longer considered to be “classics” of theology. However, the purge also raised questions about the role of libraries in preserving knowledge and promoting academic freedom.

The controversy over the theology library purge in North Carolina highlights the complex relationship between religion and academic freedom. On the one hand, universities have a responsibility to provide students with access to a wide range of viewpoints, including those that challenge traditional religious beliefs. On the other hand, universities also have a responsibility to ensure that their libraries are stocked with books that are relevant to the academic programs they offer.

The theology library purge in North Carolina is a reminder that these two responsibilities can sometimes conflict. In this case, the Divinity School’s faculty decided that the books they removed were no longer relevant to the school’s theological curriculum. However, other scholars disagreed, arguing that the books should have been preserved for their historical and intellectual value.

The debate over the theology library purge in North Carolina is likely to continue. It is a debate that raises important questions about the role of libraries in preserving knowledge and promoting academic freedom.


Colorado City Book Burning Incident, 2011

In April 2011, a large number of books were burned in the polygamous community of Colorado City, Arizona. The books were reportedly donated to be used for a new library, but they were instead set on fire by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS Church).

The books that were burned included a variety of titles, including children’s books, textbooks, and religious texts. Some of the books were reportedly burned because they contained content that was considered to be “anti-FLDS” or “anti-Mormon.” Others were burned simply because they were not considered to be “wholesome” reading material.

The book-burning incident caused widespread outrage, and it was condemned by many people, including religious leaders, politicians, and members of the public. The FLDS Church has never officially apologized for the incident, but they have said that they regret that it happened.


Anti-Climate Change Book At San Jose State University, 2013

In 2013, a book titled The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism was burned in a fire pit at San Jose State University. The book was sent to the department of meteorology and climate science by the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank. The book challenges the consensus view that human activity is the primary cause of climate change.

The burning of the book was met with criticism from some students and faculty, who saw it as an act of censorship. The university administration condemned the act, saying that it “does not reflect the values of San Jose State University.”

The incident highlights the growing polarization of the climate change debate. Some people believe that climate change is a serious threat that requires urgent action, while others believe that the threat is exaggerated or even nonexistent. This polarization has made it difficult to have a constructive dialogue about climate change.

The burning of the book at San Jose State University is a reminder that the climate change debate is not just about science. It is also about politics, ideology, and culture. It is a debate that is likely to continue for many years to come.


Akram Aylisli’s Novels In Azerbaijan, 2013

In February 2013, the works of Azerbaijani writer Akram Aylisli were publicly burned in several cities across the country. This was in response to the publication of his novella Stone Dreams, which depicts the pogroms carried out by Azerbaijanis against Armenians in Sumgait and Baku in 1988. The novella also presents Armenians in a sympathetic light, which was seen as a betrayal by many Azerbaijanis.

The burning of Aylisli’s books was a clear act of censorship and intimidation. It was also a sign of the growing intolerance in Azerbaijan towards dissenting voices. Aylisli was subsequently stripped of his title of “People’s Writer” and his presidential pension, and his wife and son were fired from their jobs. He was also subjected to death threats.

The burning of Aylisli’s books was a dark day for freedom of expression in Azerbaijan. It showed that the government was willing to silence those who dared to challenge its narrative. However, Aylisli’s story is also a story of hope. Despite the persecution he faced, he refused to be silenced. He continued to write, and his work has been translated into many languages. He is now a symbol of the struggle for freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.


Southwestern Ontario Schools Book Burning, 2019

In 2019, the Conseil scolaire catholique Providence (CSCP), an English-French school board in southwestern Ontario, Canada, burned a number of books as part of an educational program on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The books, which were said to contain “obsolete and inappropriate content,” included Tintin in America, Asterix and the Indians, and three Lucky Luke comic books. The ashes from the burned books were used as fertilizer for a tree.

The book burning was met with widespread criticism from Indigenous leaders, educators, and human rights organizations. They argued that the burning of books was a form of censorship and that it did not promote reconciliation. The CSCP eventually apologized for the book burning and said that it would no longer be used as part of its educational program.

The book burning in Southwestern Ontario is a reminder of the importance of freedom of expression and the dangers of censorship. It is also a reminder that reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is a complex and ongoing process that requires more than symbolic gestures.


Russian-Ukrainian War, 2022 –

The Russian military destroyed Ukrainian cultural institutions in their ongoing invasion of Ukraine. In Mariupol, a city that has been heavily damaged by the war, Russian forces burned all of the books in the library of the Petro Mohyla Church. The library was a valuable resource for the local community, and its destruction is a major loss.

The library contained a wide variety of books, including historical texts, religious works, and children’s books. Some of the books were rare and irreplaceable. The destruction of the library was a clear attempt by the Russian government to erase Ukrainian culture.

The burning of the library is just one example of the cultural destruction that has taken place in Ukraine during war. Russian forces also destroyed museums, theatres, and art galleries. These attacks are not only a violation of international law, but they are also an attempt to erase Ukrainian identity.


And this concludes our list of some of the world’s most famous/infamous book-burning incidents and phases. What’s your take on these sad events?

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