Wednesday, April 17, 2013

11 Book Burnings in History

The list, care of Mental Floss.

From said list...

6. The Library of Congress

In 1800, President Adams decided that the new government needed a place to hold "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress." Thus the Library of Congress was born. Only 14 years later though, the Library, along with the White House and much of Washington, D.C., was burned to the ground by the invading British. Considering there were only 3000 books in the library at the time, this burning wasn’t the most terrible loss, but it led directly to a much worse one. Famously, Thomas Jefferson, who had the largest private library in America at the time at around 6500 volumes, offered to sell his collection to the government to replace what had been lost. The books were happily accepted and everything was great until 1851 when an accidental fire destroyed more than two-thirds of Jefferson’s collection and two-thirds of the Library’s total collection. So if the British had not burned down the Library in the first place, we might have far more of the president’s personal books still today.

7. Chinese Libraries

During World War II, it was policy for the Japanese military to destroy libraries. In fact, there are few wars in which you won’t find a major library destroyed; before the internet they were some of the only places to find written examples of a city or country’s culture and heritage, and therefore made very symbolic targets. But few armies destroyed as many libraries, or as many books, as the Japanese in China. They burned eight major libraries and their collections to the ground, resulting in the loss of millions of books.

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