A digital publisher called Open Road Integrated Media has launched a series called the “Forbidden Bookshelf,” in order to acquaint the public with books that were vanished or policed by the government or corporate entities when they were first released.
Mark Crispin Miller, an author and a professor of media studies at New York University who came up with the idea, told Firedoglake that over the years he had found that a “lot of books I wanted to assign in my courses have been unavailable,” which “speaks to certain problems in the book publishing industry.”
More importantly, Miller added, he has always been interested in “preserving freedom of expression.” He has become aware of many examples of books that were “in one way or another disappeared.” The disappearing did not occur as a result of “outright bans,” because that just does not typically happen in the United States. It is done through other means, like by giving the book a malicious bad review in a prominent newspaper or refusing to print copies of the book anymore.
Five books, which were out of print, have already been republished in e-book form: Lords of Creation by Frederick Lewis Allen, The Search for an Abortionist by Nancy Howell Lee, Interference by Dan E. Moldea, Blowback by Christopher Simpson and The Phoenix Program.
While there is a “loose criteria” for what books will be rereleased in the series, “they have to offer truths or information that Americans need to know and they also, of course, have to be out of print.”
“We are especially interested in books that have been demonstrably undone but also books that have been conveniently forgotten,” Miller said.
Miller provided details on each of the books released so far and why he believed they had become “forbidden books.”
The Lords of Creation, according to Miller, is the only popular history by Allen that is out of print. He is well-known for Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s as well as Since Yesterday: The 1930s in America, a sequel volume. Both of those books continue to sell and are in print, however, Lords of Creation, which is “more directly pertinent to our economic crisis has simply not been revived.
It covers the period from the late 1800s to the stock market collapse of 1929 and explores how economic power came to be concentrated in the hands of the Rockefellers, Fords, Morgans and Vanderbilts, who were able to make the economy work for them as opposed to lower class Americans.
First published in 1969, The Search for an Abortionist was recommended to Miller by a writer named Katherine Silberger Stewart when he asked her what books should be featured in the “Forbidden Bookshelf” series. She said this book made a big impression on her when she read in the 1970s.