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15 Books Officially Banned by the American Government

 While a significant amount of reading content is now absorbed through the internet, any lover of the written word has likely buried their nose in a book at least once in their life. Over 300,000 different books are published in the United States every year and over 2 million books across the planet. Most of these books are absolutely wonderful creative works of genius. There is a wide variety of genres for books, both fictional and non-fictional, from self-help books to kid’s books with inspirational messages. However, there’s one type of book you will likely never get to see in your life. These are the books that have made it to the official banned list and have been prohibited by law from being published, due to their content. Here are 15 books that made it to this banned book list. 


1. The Decameron by 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio 

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, The Decameron by 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio 

(By Giovanni Boccaccio, Wikipedia)     

Banned for inappropriate content under the US Federal Anti-Obscenity Act (Comstock Law) of 1873.

 

2. The Canterbury Tales, a collection of 24 stories from the 14th Century written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer 

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, The Canterbury Tales, a collection of 24 stories from the 14th Century written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer

(By Geoffrey Chaucer, Wikipedia)  

Banned for inappropriate content under the US Federal Anti-Obscenity Act (Comstock Law) of 1873.

 

3. The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption (1650) by William Pynchon

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption (1650), by William Pynchon

(By William Pynchon, Wikipedia)  

Banned for heresy, this was the first book banned in Boston and set aflame at the New World's first book burning. 

 

4. Moll Flanders or The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (1722) by Daniel Defoe 

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, Moll Flanders or The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (1722), by Daniel Defoe

(Wikipedia)  

Written by the author of Robinson Crusoe (1719), this book was banned for inappropriate content under the US Federal Anti-Obscenity Act (Comstock Law) of 1873.

 

5. Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1749) by John Cleland

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1749), by John Cleland

(By John Cleland, Wikipedia)  

Banned twice, in the 19th and the 20th century for obscene content.

 

6. Candide (1759) by Voltaire 

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, Candidae (1759), by Voltaire

(By James Gwin, Wikipedia)  

Written under a pen name, this book was banned for obscenity across the US and confiscated by US customs in the 20th century. 

 

7. Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe 

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), by Harriet Beecher Stowe

(By Hammatt Billings, Wikipedia)  

Banned in the Confederate States of the US during the Civil War for promoting anti-slavery ideals.

 

8. Elmer Gantry (1927) by Sinclair Lewis

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, Elmer Gantry (1927), by Sinclair Lewis

(By Harcourt, Wikipedia)  

Banned in certain eastern states of the US for religious fanaticism and obscene content.

 

9. Tropic of Cancer (1934) by Henry Miller

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, Tropic of Cancer (1934), by Henry Miller

(Wikipedia)  

Temporarily banned in the US for obscenity until the ban was lifted in 1959. 

 

10. The Grapes of Wrath (1939) by John Steinbeck

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), by John Steinbeck

(By New York: Viking, Wikipedia)  

Banned in the same year it was published, but the ban was lifted shortly thereafter and is considered a Great American Novel today. It also earned John Steinbeck a Nobel Prize for Literature.

 

11. Forever Amber (1944) by Kathleen Winsor 

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, Forever Amber (1944), by Kathleen Winsor

(Wikipedia)  

Banned for obscenity and lewd content in 14 states in the United States.

 

12. Memoirs of Hecate County (1946) by Edmund Wilson

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, Memoirs of Hecate County (1946), by Edmund Wilson 

(Wikipedia)  

Banned shortly after being published, the ban on this book was lifted in 1959 after revisions were made.

 

13. Howl, also known as "Howl for Carl Solomon"(1955) by Allen Ginsberg

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, Howl, also known as "Howl for Carl Solomon"(1955), by Allen Ginsberg

(By Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Wikipedia)  

Banned and seized by US Customs in 1957, lifted after trial, in which obscenity charges were dismissed.

 

14. Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970) Paulo Freire 

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), Paulo Freire

(Wikipedia)  

First published in Spanish, this book was banned in Arizona and other foreign countries for political reasons. 

 

15. The Pentagon Papers: United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense (1971), by Robert McNamara and the United States Department of Defense 

Books banned in the United States by the American Government or Courts, The Pentagon Papers: United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense (1971), by Robert McNamara and the United States Department of Defense 

(Wikipedia)  

Banned by President Nixon to suspend claimed publication of classified information. The ban was lifted by the US Supreme Court in 1971.

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