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The Day They Came to Arrest the Book

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  430 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Who would have believed that The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn could cause the worst crisis in the history of George Mason High School? Certainly not Barney Roth, editor of the school paper. But when a small but vocal group of students and parents decide that the book is racist, sexist, and immoral — and should be removed from reading lists and the school library — Barney ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published July 1st 1983 by Laurel Leaf (first published 1982)
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Average rating 3.37  · 
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 ·  430 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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C.G. Drews
This is a distressing book -- and I mean that in a good way.

Not only does it put forth many views on "rights" and "freedom", it does it in an easy to understand, clear way. You can't miss the views this novel displays. And that's a good thing. At the beginning, I wondered how a story could be woven out of a school wanting to ban a book. By the end, I was engrossed and desperately wanting to know who would win.

The way the book displays views -- without being biased and clearly stating both side
Jan 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008-books
I work in a middle school library, and this book was recommended by the School Librarian Association. It was pretty interesting, mostly in that Hentoff never completely closed the issue of who wins or loses in a censorship fight. I'd definitely steer my students toward it. ...more
The thing i loved most about this book is that all along my reading, i couldn't really decide which part should i take?

Among the fierce fight between the two parties, only the school librarian remained the person who was listening to the sound of reason. She was the only one who realized that it wasn't about who would win and who would not. But it was about to LISTEN to what the other REALLY want to tell you through all his shouting and yelling to prove his point.
I strongly recommend this book
This had been on my wishlist at for quite a long time, and with appropriate timing, I received this as a RABCK from a BC member just prior to Banned Books Week.

As far as I know, this book has never been hit with a censorship fight, and it would be rather ironic if it did. Not impossible, though. Look at Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury. One of the classics about the banning of books has been on the lists of many who've tried to get it banned from schools and libraries.

This novel is
May 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-goal-50
What a fascinating fictional book about censorship in schools!

The book is written for a young adult audience, but I think anyone could benefit from reading it. It is about a father who tries to get Huckleberry Finn removed from a school because of racial words used in the book. When some teachers and the librarian refuse the principles request to appease this parent, more groups get involved saying that the book is also sexist, or immoral. As the battle grows, the students are pitted against eac
Morgan Deiseroth
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book. I say that a lot about books, but this time I truely mean it. It talks about a school that is in debate as to weather or not to ban "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" from both a history classes required reading list as well as the library. They debate censorship and the limits of the first amendment. This is a wonderful book for anyone and everyone who actually has their own opinion. As well as for those who need to learn to have their OWN opinion. This book teaches ...more
Jun 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lib-lew, 2008, ya
This was way better than expected, which might be why I gave it a four rather than a three. The story followed several different characters as it tells about the story of a community trying to ban Huck Finn. I think this would be very interesting for some of my student who have a hard time seeing both sides of the issue or who have interest about censorship and banning in general.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First sentence: "He's going to be right inside the door," Luke said to Barney as they neared the entrance to George Mason High School. "He's going to be standing there with that big phony smile and that chocolate voice."

Premise/plot: When a history teacher assigns The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to her class to read, the book is challenged by angry parents. Will the book "be arrested" and removed from the reading list AND the school library? Or will the book remain available to students freel
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Day They Came to Arrest the Book was originally written in 1980 and it is every bit as relevant today. It is a book for young adults , but holds up incredibly well as an adult read. Nat Hentoff has done a marvelous job of presenting both sides of an argument on book banning in schools. His arguments are exactly the same arguments used today. I could not put it down and you will not either. Well worth the time. ...more
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very great, yet hard to understand.
Oct 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Haleigh by: Mrs. Ott
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Censorship is dangerous because once you take one book from the shelves it could lead to another and another, and where does it end? Even the bible has passages that someone might look at in isolation and call into question as offensive and inappropriate. The pupose of education is to expose students to ideas of all kinds and to teach them how to discern the good from the bad, the valuable from the rubish. Books are filled with ideas of all kinds and by limiting those ideas which we allow our ch ...more
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
When I first came across this book the title instantly had me hooked. "Why would any book be arrested?" I thought, but I soon learned that "arresting" a book meant that the book was to be censored. I think this book does a good job showing how censorship is very controversial no matter how small people think it should be. In this particular story the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was put on trial because Gordon McLean was furious when he saw the word choice in Huck Finn by saying, "wha ...more
Jun 07, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer W
Jan 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya
I've never before thought 'this writing is horrible' and 'this writing is great' while reading the same book. The dialogue between characters is stilted and cheesy. This book was definitely written in the early 80s, it had that cadence. However, the parts where various characters are offering reasons and debates for and against Huck Finn were intelligent and thoughtful. I felt that the teachers and students could well be one and that same, there was no difference between them, highlighted by the ...more
Oct 04, 2011 rated it liked it
The Day They Came to Arrest the Book is a wonderful example of censorship. This book begins with one of the main characters Nora Baines's assigning her social studies class to read the novel Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. After an offended black student complains to his father that he is bothered by the continuous use of the word 'nigger', his father takes it upon himself to challenge and attempt to ban Mark Twain's famous piece of literature "Huckleberry Finn." Several students from George Mas ...more
The Styling Librarian
The Day They Came to Arrest the Book by Nat Hentoff – 1982 – Realistic Fiction – 5th Grade and up – This book is fascinating to read. It is a well written exploring the torturesome experience of a book being challenged at a school to see if it should be removed from both a classroom and library. What is the book in question? Huckleberry Finn. What I appreciated was reading both perspectives and the dialogue that was included during the challenge proceedings. What I was concerned about was whethe ...more

Who would have believed that The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn could cause the worst crisis in the history of George Mason High School? Certainly not Barney Roth, editor of the school paper. But when a small but vocal group of students and parents decide that the book is racist, sexist, and immoral--and should be removed from reading lists and the school library--Barney takes matters into his own hands.

When the Huck Finn issue comes up for a hearing, Barney decides to print his story about previ
Nov 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Published in 1982, this may not have been written as historical fiction. Were people still worried about the Communists back then? The parts of the book that refer to communists polluting the minds of our young people are the only parts that read like historical fiction.

Given the furor earlier this year over the publication of a sanitized version of Huckleberry Finn, I am surprised no one I know has read this book. In fact, there is only one school library in my district that owns it. Quite surp
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
This was not of the quality of many Young Adult books and it really didn't get into the lives and thoughts of the teens realistically. This book was written to give many arguments pro and con of banning and censoring books in a teen fictional account. I would give this at least 4 stars for the arguments against and even allowing the arguments for censorship, restriction, and banning books in schools. It might be a very useful tool as a resource in a class on censorship. The arguments were brilli ...more
Apr 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids
This is a book meant more to illustrate the various perspectives in a debate on censorship than entertain. And in that sense it does a good job. Unfortunately, though censorship, and in particular the censorship of Huckleberry Finn, is a timeless issue, this book manages to date itself. First there are the rather hilarious references to communism and a fear of the Russians. Then there are the potshots the book takes at feminism. It's not just that the feminist student is an extreme character, be ...more
Feb 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, high, school, censorship
There's a note of hysteria on starting out, but once the various opinions of the censoring of "Huckleberry Finn" are described, the book settles into thought-provoking prose. Obviously, this being authored by Nat Hentoff, Huck is saved from restricted-shelf oblivion. But the story nicely demonstrates that intellectual freedom is not a black/white topic; each side has compelling arguments for or against Huck. This will get readers pondering where they stand on intellectual freedom. (A little bit ...more
Sep 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-booklist
Good, but had the potential to be great. The book centers on how the students, parents, and staff of a high school feel about having "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" on trial for potential censorship, but it didn't really touch on the personal lives of these people, or how they were being affected by it. The book mainly focused on the dialogue and the events, and only hinted at the "fluff" of the book that all of us bookworms love and thrive on, and what, of course, the plot/story needs in o ...more
Jul 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Whoever would have thought that Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn would create a furor but so it has.

Huck is part of the school curriculum's required reading but a group of students and parents take umbrage and some of the words used and another group have other issues. A call goes out to have this book removed not only from the school curriculum but also from the school library.

It's not a big book but it's big enough to call into question the first amendment, the role of censorship, and the right
I would give this book 5 stars for the message and coverage of the controversy surrounding book censorship, but the characters are one-dimensional and the dialogue is artificial. The book is written as a device for teaching about censorship and not as a story with character and plot development. Also, it's a dated title written in 1982 which would likely be a turn-off for many of my students. ...more
Oct 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
This is basically a book where a small high school is fighting over whether to keep the book Huckleberry Finn or not because it says the n word. It raises some interesting points on censorship and how schools deal with it. However, while the topic is interesting, the characters and the plot do not go into much detail, and the book revolves around that one point making it not very interesting to read. However it is still on an interesting topic, so you should read it.
John R
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 11-grade-reading
After reading this book i actually thought this was a true story. Basically people in a town want to ban Huckleberry Finn ad turned the entire town into a frenzy. This book further reinforces the idea of how people want to forget history on slavery and racism, but this was a part of history in which cannot be forgotten under any circumstances. I generally this is a great book, which connects to real life.
Carol Tensen
Sep 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I had heard of this book long before I snatched up a used copy at a rummage sale. This is one of the most unevenly written books, I've ever encountered. When Hentoff is writing about First Amendment Freedoms, he is in his element. However, his narrative writing is subpar. I found the depictions of the teenagers and their dialogue missed by a mile. However, I appreciated the theme, and therefore rated it 3 stars. ...more
Feb 17, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is about how obnoxious people can be when they insist that they are absolutely right. Also, that sometimes it is useful to have a schizophrenic chairing the school board.

Okay, not really. It's a good book to get people thinking about the issue of censorship in schools and although it's obvious whose side the author is on, it does a good job of presenting all sides of the argument. I can't wait to read the thrilling sequel about the following year's school board election.
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Nathan Irving "Nat" Hentoff was a historian, novelist, music critic, and syndicated columnist. As a civil libertarian and free-speech activist, he has been described by the Cato Institute—where he has been a senior fellow since 2009—as "one of the foremost authorities on the First Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution. He was a staff writer for The New Yorker for over 25 years, and was formerly a co ...more

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“We are talking about preventing our students from reading Huckleberry Finn! And why? Because it offends some people. Show me a book that offends no one, and i will show you a book that no one, in the whole history of the world, has ever willingly read.” 1 likes
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