Both these novels [the review includes David Karp's mostly forgotten work One] are political-psychological fantasies about the future. Both are quite frightening in their implications. Both are declarations of faith in the ability of a few men to resist the pressure of an unimaginable powerful state and keep alive a tradition of human worth and individual dignity. Both are brilliantly effective protests against the degraded ideal of mindless happiness and slavish social conformity that their authors consider the most sinister threat to modern men. Both novels contain some amusing science-fiction gadgetry. Both are tense, dramatic, thoughtful and disturbing.
Orville Prescott - New York Times (10/23/53)
Fahrenheit 451 is set in a grim alternate-future setting ruled by a tyrannical government in which firemen as we understand them no longer exist: Here, firemen don't douse fires, they ignite them. And they do this specifically in homes that house the most evil of evils: books.
Books are illegal in Bradbury's world, but books are not what his fictional—yet extremely plausible—government fears: They fear the knowledge one pulls from books. Through the government's incessant preaching, the inhabitants of this place have come to loathe books and fear those who keep and attempt to read them. They see such people as eccentric, dangerous, and threatening to the tranquility of their state.
But one day a fireman named Montag meets a young girl who demonstrates to him the beauty of books, of knowledge, of conceiving and sharing ideas; she wakes him up, changing his life forever. When Montag's previously held ideology comes crashing down around him, he is forced to reconsider the meaning of his existence and the part he plays. After Montag discovers that "all isn't well with the world," he sets out to make things right.
A brilliant and frightening novel, Fahrenheit 451 is the classic narrative about censorship; utterly chilling in its implications, Ray Bradbury's masterwork captivates thousands of new readers each year.
Andrew LeCount - Barnes and Noble
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