They Burned the Books

They Burned the Books

They Burned the Books

They Burned the Books

Excerpt

Because men who may never have heard of Heinrich Heine are willing to die in all the four corners of the world, you are privileged to hold in your hands and read this little book by a great American poet. Because of them, because of men of all colors and faiths and traditions, Stephen Vincent Benét may raise the bright sword of his poetry and you may catch its gleam. Because of them, no Gestapo agent tears this book from your hands and hurls it in the fire. Because of them, Benét's brave words may be flung into the clear American air, and reach the ears of millions of free men and women.

On May 10, 1933, a tribe of barbarians retreated to the dark forests of the mind from which they had come, and made a bonfire of twenty-five thousand books in which men had set down their belief in themselves. These books included the great classics of the modern world, and later a ban was laid against the Word on which the conscience of Christendom rests -- the Old Testament and the New. The burning and banning of these books, as symbolic as the Crucifixion itself, was a declaration of war, a war against mankind waged by that part of mankind that wishes to be less than itself.

The Writers' War Board is a group of writers whose job it is to effect a wartime liaison between government departments and thousands of American writers who wish to help the war effort with their talents. The Writers' WarBoard . . .

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