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Libricide : The Regime‐sponsored Destruction of Books and Libraries in the Twentieth Century

Macgregor, George (2005) Libricide : The Regime‐sponsored Destruction of Books and Libraries in the Twentieth Century. [Review]

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Abstract

'Libricide'. One would be forgiven for harbouring a suspicion that the said word was entirely a figment of the author's imagination. Rather, 'libricide', according to the Oxford English Dictionary, atypically denotes 'the killing of a book'. In the same way that 'homicide' refers to the murder of a person, or that 'genocide' denotes the systematic and politically motivated programme of mass murder, 'libricide' refers to the all-encompassing, regime-sanctioned annihilation of books and libraries. Emerging in the twentieth-century as an adjunct to the socio-cultural defilement exported by authoritarian regimes via genocide and/or 'ethnocide' (the latter seeking the organised expunction of culture), libricide as a political phenomenon has never, until now, been subject to significant scholarly analysis. The enduring, popular and seductive explanation that such acts of violence or barbarism permeate from a latent 'specialised evil' is counterproductive and, as the author reveals, simply trivialises the intensely politicised nature of written records in their various permutations, as well as deriding unambiguous evidence that such violence follows a pervasive model. Libricide exists to challenge such commonly held precepts.