He is said to buried alive 460 Confucian scholars to control the writing of history in his time. In 212 B.C., he burned all the books in his kingdom, retaining only a single copy of each for the Royal Library. With all previous historical records destroyed, he thought history could be said to begin with him.
According to legend the caliph Omar burned all 200,000 volumes in the library at Alexandria in Egypt. In doing so, he said: “If these writings of the Greeks agree with the Book of God they are useless and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed.”
For hundreds of years, the Roman Catholic Church listed books that were prohibited to its members; but in this year, Pope Paul IV established the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. For more than 400 years this was the definitive list of books that Roman Catholics were told not to read. It was one of the most powerful censorship tools in the world.
Shakespeare’s King Lear was banned from the stage until 1820 — in deference to the insanity of the reigning monarch, King George III.
A year after the publication of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, the library of Concord, Massachusetts, decided to exclude the book from its collection. The committee making the decision said the book was “rough, coarse and inelegant, dealing with a series of experiences not elevating, the whole book being more suited to the slums than to intelligent, respectable people.” By 1907, it was said that Twain’s novel had been thrown out of some library somewhere every year, mostly because its hero was said to present a bad example for impressionable young readers.
Nazi burned thousands of books written by Jews, communists, and others. Included were the works of Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Helen Keller, Stalin, and Leon Trotsky.
Mickey Mouse comics were banned in East Berlin because Mickey was said to be an “anti-Red rebel.”