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on 4 May 2017
I read the first four or five pages four or five times. Once I got myself into "dystopian" mode, then I was flying. Frankly, this book blew me away. Published in 1953, the future Bradbury imagined has well and truly arrived. I'm not talking about "robo dog" and book burning in a literal sense, but the mind numbing effect of social media, the empty diet of visual pap and meaningless tripe so many of us call "entertainment" So many scenes in this book stand out; slap you hard in the face for being willfully ignorant about important issues; for being politically apathetic. Let's hope that we will be spared the cataclysmic ending Bradbury envisioned. The writing is efficient rather than lyrical, but the intellectual content is astounding. Would recommend.
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When you re-read a book you once read many years before it's like meeting an old friend. I remember reading this book as a young man when I saw the Julie Christie film version on the TV. It's as good now as it was then. The paperback I have now includes an introduction by the now sadly deceased Ray Bradbury marking the 50th Anniversary of publication in 2003. 'Fahrenheit 451' is an amalgam of several short stories one of which, 'The Pedestrian' evolved from when he and a friend were stopped by the police while walking in the street one night. 'Fahrenheit 451' was written quite quickly on a rented typewriter, rented by the hour, (20 cents an hour) the author somehow knowing he was writing a classic. He struggled to find a publisher until a chance meeting with a young man who wanted to be a magazine publisher; he took the story on and it was published. The young man was Hugh Heffner, who went on to become one of America's most successful magazine publishers.
Books are banned. They cause too much unhappiness in people, giving them ideas and dreams they can never achieve in reality, so firemen drive around with flamethrowers burning them. They all have '451' on their uniforms, the temperature at which paper burns. A fearsome mechanical hound is used to sniff out books and book owners, assisting the firemen. Montag is a fireman. An old woman chooses to die with her books and he questions why they would mean so much to her. He steals some books and starts a collection. His boss, Beatty, constantly quotes passages from books, even though he tells Montag he hates them. Montag kills Beatty and goes on the run. He meets people outside the city who have read books, but to avoid arrest they don't have any copies, they have memorised them instead, every word.
This is one of the first and the best dystopian novels and is a must for anyone interested in the genre, both readers and writers alike.
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on 22 July 2017
This book very nearly did not get published because it was written in the era of McCarthyism, although it has nothing to do with communism and everything to do with censorship.

However, it is perfectly possible for people to be full of facts, especially about science. But because, "There is nothing new under the sun", if people fail to read and expose themselves to ideas, old and new, they will be unable to reason and evaluate for themselves. In which case people can easily fall prey to believing whatever they are told, or to constructing alternative realities for themselves as has been known to happen in recent times. How can people recognise when history is repeating itself and old philosophies are in vogue again, if people have never read about them?

Equally, if people are to be truly themselves, sometimes they first need to glimpse different possibilities for themselves and the world and literature gives us the imagination to do so, so much so, that some inventions might never have happened, if science fiction had not have inspired would-be inventors.
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on 2 October 2015
This book blew me away on so many levels.

Language - beautifully crafted with a unique and distinctive pattern of prose, real wizardry in the writing.
Key messages - about the value of individual thought and action, symbolically banned when a society that burns books; anti-war message (incredibly moving about the atomic bomb and its impact); hope and optimism, despite the fact that we never learn from our history.
Compassion - sensitive portraits of all the characters and what has shaped them.
Pace - the action draws you in, a real page-turner.

I'll say no more for fear of spoiling the plot, but this remarkable novel is bung-full of thoughts that any thinking, humane person will want to seize and remember, and it's an especially heartening read at any time that there is conflict and oppression in the world. That'll be all of the time, then.

The introduction and afterword to this edition make fascinating supplementary reading about how the novel was borne of short stories on similar themes and on the making of Ray Bradbury as a writer. (Early career: selling newspapers on street corners - doesn't that give us all hope?)

A book to keep, treasure and re-read at regular intervals to restore your faith in humanity.
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on 4 March 2017
I read this 50 years ago - and don't remember it being quite so horrific as it is, I suppose it was a story then.. In fact it's a good forecast of things to come in the 21st century. Relationships conducted via screens - which become more 'real' than life itself. Books burned.... and not even presented on the ever-present screens. Clever Mr Bradbury.
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on 20 April 2017
Ray Bradbury created a chilling vision of the future that can sometimes be seen coming alive in our world today. To say this is relevant and a must-read is an understatement! Read it, absorb the words and memorise it.
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Having heard only good things about this book, I thought I'd give it a try.

I can say with all honesty that it surpassed all my expectations. I'm a little late to the party here, but I loved every page all the same. A truly brilliant plot - in fact, I've never read anything quite like it.

I'm looking at getting a hard copy to keep on the shelf and while I'm at it I'll take a peek at Ray Bradbury's other work, as I thoroughly enjoyed his style of writing.

If you'd like to read something totally different, but you're still not sure about this one then don't be. Go ahead and buy it, you won't regret it.

I can't recommend it highly enough.
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on 8 April 2013
After all these years I finally get around to reading this book! My fault entirely as it's been on my 'want to read' list for a long time but somehow familiarity with the story seemed enough, but then, largely on a whim having recently read and enjoyed another Ray Bradbury book, I downloaded this to my kindle and I was so pleased to have done so.

The story itself is timeless, important and well told, although some of the references are a little dated. The tale is thought-provoking and a little disturbing in how easily the human race has become increasingly shallow, incurious and intellectually vacant when fed a diet only of mush passed off as entertainment with the assumption everyone needs only this to be 'happy'. The characters also have the added of excitement of grassing on their friends or neighbours should they dare to supplement this tedious diet. Then the fire fighters come and start the fires and experience the temperature of the book title as the illicit books they find get incinerated.

Of course there are many books that take their readers into dysfunctional worlds, but this one is now firmly embedded in my memory due to it's simplicity in the telling of the tale and the likeable main character whose makes some tough choices in deciding to live a life with which he is comfortable rather than the one expected of him.
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on 19 April 2015
I am not a science fiction fan at all, and have read one or two in total, but this book was the 'book to be read' for the Book Club of which I am a member. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it. It is very thought provoking and beautifully written. I don't think I have ever read a book with so many adjectives - many of the descriptive passages are wonderful! Even if you're not a sci fi fan, give this one a try.
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on 3 August 2017
Just read again after 30+ years. Just as challenging a story now as then and could easily be written today and be just as meaningful.
More Ray Bradbury to come in my reading list.
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