I somehow escaped high school without reading Fahrenheit 451 (and a lot of others, for some reason). Anyways, here's a good summary of this book:
What I Expected:
What I Encountered:
Having heard all the paeans to this book from all corners of the world, I expected it to be a wise, cogent argument for the importance of books and reading, or at least the dangers of censorship. What I got was a grumpy Ray Bradbury complaining that television was too loud and confusing for him, and he wishes we all wouldn't drive so fast.
The book is less about government censorship than I expected, although there's that element in there. Instead, the censorship is primarily from the people (Bradbury blames minority groups for being too PC and censoring books they don't like), with government support. More than that, though, the idea presented is that the censorship hardly needs official sanction because, in Bradbury's world, technology has supplanted books as a source of information. People don't care about books anymore, except folks that hate them, so we might as well ban them all....
You do have to hand it to Bradbury that he did a good job of predicting 21st century suburban isolation, ear buds, flat screens, and all that, but I think he completely misses the reason we allow technology in our lives-- to enhance our knowledge, curiosity, and understanding. I'm not saying he didn't make valid points about how technology isolates us, or how censorship often comes from both the left and the right, but I think he's off base in his conclusions.
What got me, though, the real clincher of the whole thing, was reading the Afterword, Author's Note, and interview appended to the end of my edition. This guy's a real piece of work.
About two paragraphs into the Afterword, Bradbury's authorial voice (in my head-- I HEAR books when I read them) transformed into the voice of Chevalier from Gentlemen Broncos (more on that later).
...an excerpt from "A conversation with Ray Bradbury"
DR (interviewer) : In the introduction to the recently published Bradbury: an Illustrated Life, a wonderful book which I have spent hours immersed in--
RB: Isn't that an incredible book?
... isn't it, though? Isn't my biography the most important piece of literature in the 21st century? You adore me, I certainly adore me... Aren't I wonderful, important, insightful?
So... my impression of Ray Bradbury? this:
...and if you liked that, rent Gentlemen Broncos.