The History of Book Burning

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The act of book burning is not a new idea, in fact it has been preformed over 2000 years ago. From the time that books made appearances around the world, there would always be someone to burn them. Most of the time books were burned out of fear. Some feared that certain books would make others smarter than themselves. Others burned books that held certain truths in them that they did not wish for others to be aware of. And many held new ideas that were controversial to the time. Leaders feared that their followers would see logic in these ideas and would cause rebellion or conflicting thoughts than that of their leader, and thus diminishing his design of perfect rule. As in words of Winston Churchill "You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken - unspeakable! - fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse - a little tiny mouse! - of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic." There are other reasons that books were burned as well.

An early incident of book burning occurred in China in 213 BCE. All Confucian books were to be burned except for one copy of each which was kept in the Chinese State Library. Destroying literature and persecuting Confucians was an extension of the original plans to strengthen the Qin dynasty composed by Shi Huang (246-210 BCE). They were carried out further by Prime Minister Li Si (208 BCE). He wanted to impose his ideals of government on other Chinese states that he had conquered. Books were one of the biggest threats and were most likely burnt out of fear. The common people were eager to learn. "To destroy their literature was to burn a bridge from common knowledge to deeper thought and introspection. By establishing intellectual conformity, Shi

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