Banned Books – U.S.

Censorship in America

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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

by Mark Twain

The word “nigger,” which appears many times in the novel, was the cause for the removal of this classic from an eighth-grade reading list. In the 1950s, the NAACP objected to the book’s perceived racist tone. In 1984, the book was removed from a public high school reading list in Waukegan, Illinois, because a black alderman found the book’s language offensive.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Original Unabridged Version

American Heritage Dictionary (1969)

In 1978, an Eldon, Missouri library banned the dictionary because it contained 39 “objectionable” words. And, in 1987, the Anchorage School Board banned the dictionary for similar reasons, i.e., having slang definitions for words such as “bed,” “knocker,” and “balls.”

Andersonville (1955)

by MacKinlay Kantor

Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1956, this story of a Confederate prison camp during the Civil War, was viciously attacked throughout the U.S. It was banned in Amarillo, TX.

Annie on My Mind

The Olathe, Kansas school system ordered all copies of this book removed from high school library shelves. It is a story of two women who meet and fall in love and struggle with declaring their homosexuality to family and friends.

As I Lay Dying (1932)

by William Faulkner

In 1986, Graves County, Kentucky, the school board banned this book about a poor white family in the midst of crisis, from its high school English reading list because of 7 passages which made reference to God or abortion and used curse words such as “bastard,” “goddam,” and “son of a bitch.” None of the board members had actually read the book.

Atkol Video Catalog

WIRED magazine (Feb. 1996) reported that AOL censored Atkol Video’s catalog from its virtual shopping mall for carrying gay titles. AOL gave no censoring criteria when it “cut some titles and retained others.”

Banned From Public Radio: Humor, Commentary and Smart Remarks Your Government DOESN’T Want You To Hear (1991)

by Michael Graham

The title of this first book is literally true: he was banned from the South Carolina Educational Radio Network courtesy of those geniuses in our General Assembly for commentary which poked fun at their 1991 Ethics Act. Graham also has the distinction of being the only person officially fired from his job as communications director for SC Secretary of State Jim Miles by an act of those same courageous geniuses.

The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You To Read (1995)

by Tim C. Leedom, Editor

The book traces astrological and mythical origins of modern day western religions. A Barnes & Noble bookstore in San Diego refused to stock this book because of its content.

Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago (1971)

by Mike Royko

A Ridgefield, CT school board in 1972 banned this book from the high school reading list, claiming it “dowgrades police departments.”

Catch 22

by Joseph Heller

This book was banned and/or challenged more than once. It was banned in Srongsville, Ohio in 1972 and that decision was overturned in 1976. It was also challenged in Dallas, Texas (1974) and again in Snoqualmie, Washington (1979).

Catcher in the Rye (1951)

by J. D. Salinger

This is a perennial favorite of censors and has been banned in the U.S. and Australia. In 1960, a Tulsa, OK teacher was fired for putting the book on the 11th grade reading list. The teacher was reinstated, but the book was permanently removed from teaching programs. A Minnesota high school administration was attacked for allowing the book in the school library.
The Catcher in the Rye

The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (1974)

by Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks

The CIA obtained a court injunction against this book’s publication stating the author, a former CIA employee, violated his contract which states that he cannot write about the CIA without the agency’s approval. First amendment activists opposed this ruling, “raising the question of whether a citizen can sign away his First Amendment rights.” After prolonged litigation, the CIA succeeded in having 168 passages deleted.

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
Beauty’s Punishment
Beauty’s Release

by Anne Rice (under the pseudonym, A.N. Roquelaure, written in the early 1980s)

April 28, 1996, the Columbus, Ohio Dispatch reported that following a complaint from a patron in the Columbus Metropolitan Library removed the trilogy of Rice’s Sleeping Beauty books and their audio tapes after determining the books were pornographic. These same books were also removed from the Lake Lanier Regional Library system in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in 1992.

Daddy’s Roommate

by Michael Willhoite

A favorite of censors, this children’s book about gay parenting was the subject of a challenge in the public library. In an all-too-familiar request, a parent complained about references to homosexuality in material for children. The library board voted to uphold basic library principles by retaining the book on its appropriate shelf in the children’s section.

Deadly Deceits (My 25 Years in the CIA) (1983)

by Ralph McGheehee

The CIA delayed the publication of this book for three years, objecting to 397 passages, even though much of what the author wrote about was already public knowledge.


by Giovanni Boccacio (1313-1375)

In Cincinnati, an “expurgated” version of Boccacio’s Decamerone is confiscated in 1922. In 1926, there is an import ban of the book by the Treasury Department. In 1927, U.S. Customs removes parts of text from the “Ashendene edition” and ships the mutilated copy back to me British publisher in London. In 1932, import ban lifted in Minnesota. In 1934, the New England Watch and Ward Society still bans the book. In 1954, it is still on the black lis tof the “National Organization of Decent Literature.”

Dictionary of American Slang

by T.Y. Crowell, publisher

Max Rafferty, California superintendent of public instruction in 1963, and his supporters found over 150 “dirty” passages in the book.

Don’t Call Me Brother

by Austin Miles

In 1992, former Christian fundamentalist minister, Austin Miles, was sued; charges were that his book, Don’t Call Me Brother, was “…a vitriolic attack upon organized Christianity.” The $4 million lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court also screamed “libel” and “slander.” After a lengthy and costly process, the court ruled that the book was not defamatory.

1-The Drowning of Stephan Jones

by Bette Greene

2-The Education of Harriet Hatfield

by May Sarton


by E. M. Forster

All three of these books, which treat homosexuality in various ways, were removed from a regional high school. The novels’ purchase was financed by a grant that teacher Penny Culliton received and was approved by the school superintendent and principal. However, shortly after a local newspaper reported that Culliton was involved with a lesbian and gay support group for young people, the books were found unsuitable and were banned. Maurice and The Education of Harriet Hatfield were seized from the students while they were reading the novels in class. Personal attacks on the teacher and demands for her dismissal have been so vehement that her job is now in jeopardy.

Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

This book is about censorship and those who ban books for fear of creating too much individualism and independent thought. In late 1998, this book was removed from the required reading list of the West Marion High School in Foxworth, Mississippi. A parent complained of the use of the words “God damn” in the book. Subsequently, the superintendent instructed the the teacher to remove the book from the required reading list.
Fahrenheit 451


by Meredith Tax

A young children’s book that creatively describes different family structures, was finally removed by the Fairfax County school board. Meredith Tax’s beloved book had been under attack for a long time, during which many individuals and organizations rose to its defense. What’s more, Families was praised by the board’s own review committees.

Flowers in the Attic

by V.C. Andrews

The county’s board of education decided to remove all school curriculum materials and library books containing any and all “profanity” and “pornography,” both concepts ill-defined. The tremendous public outcry made the board backtrack and resolve to review its selection policy. However, after this conciliatory decision, and while the review process still inches along, most of the books in Andrews’s popular series Flowers in the Attic were removed from the high-school library for “pornographic” content.
Flowers in the Attic (Dollanganger)


by Judy Blume

Forever censored, this wildly popular teen novel was attacked once again for its frank treatment of adolescent sexuality and was removed from an eighth-grade optional reading list. In Rib Lake, Wisconsin, a school district principal had the book removed from the library after confiscating a copy from a student in the lunchroom, finding “graphic descriptions of sex acts.”

Freedom and Order

by Henry Steele Commager

The U.S. Information Agency had this book banned from its overseas libraries because of its condemnation of American policies in Vietnam.

From Here to Eternity

by James Jones

This book was censored in 1951in Holyoke, Springfield, Massachusetts and in 1953 in Jersey City, New Jersey; blacklisted by National Organization of Decent Literature in 1954.

The Glass Teat (1970)

by Harlan Ellison

The Glass Teat is a collection of essays which appeared as columns in the Los Angeles Free Press and Rolling Stone during the 1960s. They were critical essay on the subject of television broadcasting; and essays critical of the president and vice-president. The publisher, Ace Pub. Corp. consequently recalled his book and had it removed from bookstores. Years later it was later re-released.

Grapes of Wrath (1939)

by John Steinbeck

Several months after the book’s publication, a St. Louis, MO library ordered 3 copies to be burned for the vulgar words used by its characters. It was also banned in Kansas City and in Oklahoma.
The Grapes of Wrath


by Allen Ginsberg

Officials of the Cold War era saw only willful destruction of American values in a poet’s grief over suffocating 1950s convention.

The Joy of Sex (1972), More Joy of Sex (1975)

by Alex Comfort

Lexington police in 1978 confiscated these sex instruction books in accordance with a new county ordinance prohibiting the display of sexually-oriented publications in places frequented by minors.

The Last Mission (1979)

by Harry Mazer

Against the recommendation of school librarians, teachers, and administrators, the board of the Carroll Middle School removed this novel from the library for its scattered “bad words.” The novel, which was named 1979’s New York Times Best Book of the Year, is based on the author’s experiences in the Air Force during World War II. Mazer said, “It’s like a slap in the face of veterans. The book speaks about the sacrifices of the soldiers who fought in that war.” Local residents and parents petitioned and protested as well. In a final decision, the board voted 6-1 to return the book.

The Last of the Wine

by Mary Renault

Fifth-century B.C. Athens is the setting of the historical novel that was challenged in a high school for references to homosexuality. Not only did the complainants and their supporters revile the book, which enlivened an honors history class, but they also attempted to humiliate the teacher by calling him a “sexual predator” and accusing him of trying to “recruit” children to homosexuality. The school board supported the teacher and the novel.

Literature in Society

In an improbable complaint about this textbook, two eminent African-American authors were the main targets of censorship. An excerpt from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man was deemed offensive for its use of the word “nigger,” and the sexual slang in Nikki Giovanni’s poetry was found unacceptable. School officials also found intolerable a reference to homosexuality elsewhere in the book and seized the ever-so-dangerous texts (that include Wordsworth and other immoralists) while 12th-grade students were reading them.

Lolita (1955)

by Vladimir Nabokov

Although it was published in Paris, it was soon (1956) to be banned there for being obscene. An Argentinian court banned the book in 1959 and again in 1962 ruling that the book “reflected moral disintegration and reviled humanity.” In 1960, the New Zealand Supreme Court also banned the book. It was later freely published in France, England, and the U.S.

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Toronto School Board banned this classic from all its schools, claiming it was racist for use of the word “niggers.” Even Golding’s Nobel Prize in literature did not protect this author’s book.
Lord of the Flies (50th Anniversary Edition)


by Aristophanes

U.S. import ban on Lysistrata was lifted in 1930.This Greek tragedy was written somewhere around 400 B.C.

Nothing New on the Western Front

by Erich Maria Remarque

Banned in Chicago and Boston, in Austria, and Czechoslovakia in 1929; in Germany in 1930; and in Italy in 1933. There was a public burning in Germany in 1933.

Pentagon Papers (1971)

Commissioned by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, this 3,000 page history of U.S. involvement in Indochina, was banned from publication by court order. The NY Times was printing portions of it when the order came down. Later that year, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the decision and Bantam proceeded to publish a paperback edition.

Portnoy’s Complaint (1969)

by Philip Roth

Several libraries and librarians throughout the U.S. were harassed and threatened for carrying this book on their shelves.

Search for Truth in History

by David Irving

This video tape has already been banned in three countries.

Satanic Verses

by Salman Rushdie

The Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran put a price on the head of this author for writing this book which allegedly is critical of the Islam religion. Rushdie, as a result, went into hiding for an indefinite period of time, fearing for his life.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

by William Steig

In 1977, the Illinois Police Association urged librarians to remove the book, which portrays its characters as animals, and presents the police as pigs. The American Library Association reported similar complaints in 11 other states.

The Valachi Papers (1968)

by Peter Maas

Asked by the Justice Dept. to edit the papers of Mafia leader Joseph Valachi, Maas was later sued by the Justice Dept. for trying to publish the memoirs. The reason they said was that the book would hamper law enforcement. The suit was settled and Putname published the book in 1968.

Things Your Father Never Taught You

by Robert Masullo

Production of this lighthearted look at male grooming was delayed by a born-again Christian art director who objected to a description of Japanese furniture arranging as “occultist.”

Waco: The Davidian Massacre

by Carol Moore

This controversial book challenges the government’s version of events at Waco. A public library refused to carry the book stating the reason was that the book was privately published.

Who Built America?

Apple Computer has distributed Who Built America?, an acclaimed history series created for CD-ROM, as part of a free software package for schools buying its computers. When it received protests about material relating to the history of birth control, abortion, and homosexuality, Apple asked Voyager to delete the offending material. Voyager refused, and Apple suspended distribution. Following many protest letters, Apple reversed its decision and resumed distribution.

Worlds In Collison

by Immanuel Velikovsky

In the 1950s, the scientific community tried to ban this controversial version of the origins of our solar system because it didn’t comport with the “official” version of events. The publisher, MacMillan, was forced to give up publication of the book even though it was on the New York Bestsellers list at the time. If your are interested in this Velikovsky’s Worlds In Collision and The Saturn Myth, see David Talbot’s video documentary, Remembering the End of the World.

Women on Top

by Nancy Friday

Would-be censors got their way in their demands to remove this book from the Chestatee Public Library in Gainesville ( Hall County ), Georgia. Before a final vote was taken by the library board on the fate of Women on Top, the book was borrowed and “accidentally” destroyed. The board voted not to replace it.

“List of Banned Books (A-I).” Banned and Controversial Books. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. <;.

“List of Banned Books (J-Z).” Banned and Controversial Books. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. <;.

Other Resources

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Banned in the U.S.A.: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries Revised and Expanded Edition

You Can’t Read This!: Why Books Get Banned (Pop Culture Revolutions)

BANNED! An Anthology of Banned Books (14 books)

Activist, Unplugged from the Matrix. Action for Freedom!

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6 comments on “Banned Books – U.S.
  1. Aimee Schommer says:

    If we ban books that relate to rasism of any sort then we are failing to show that rasism never exisited. It needs to be shown as a tool that rasism is flat out wrong.

  2. Marlicia says:

    I agree with Aimee, 100%. We shan’t censor words out of books such as the term “nigger”. It’s not needed. We need to keep our history so we won’t make the same mistakes in life.

  3. D. Gibson says:

    Quite a list. I wonder how many more will be added in the near future…Insanity

  4. William Kiefer says:

    My apologies for the lateness of my response.
    In the December 13th, 1963 Detroit Free Press, there was a small article on page 13-D regarding the banning of Mackinlay Kantor’s “Andersonville.”
    Muskegon county County Prosecutor Harry J. Knudson “suggested that a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel be removed from reading assignment lists at Whitehall High School.”
    Irate parents had deluged Knudson’s office with complaints about the book being required reading for high school juniors.
    Knudson said the book was “not exactly reading material for 11th graders.”
    “School authorities are complying with his request, the prosecutor said.”
    The article did not indicate whether or not Mr. Knudsen had read the book.
    Bill Kiefer

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