AN EMBARRASSMENT OF TYRANNIES by W.L. Webb

AN EMBARRASSMENT OF TYRANNIES

Twenty-Five years of Index on Censorship
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A powerfully hard-hitting collection of short essays. Contributor and longtime associate Webb and current production editor Bell offer an edited volume culled from the pages of the British periodical Index on Censorship. Founded to challenge political censorship, the original goal of Index was to provide “the noise of publicity outside every detention centre and concentration camp.” Strangling words by denying them an audience effectively kills an author, and Index is a writer’s response to political tyranny, an effort to keep authors from disappearing “into total obscurity and loneliness” so that they “and the names of their works, would remain among the names of the living.” Twenty-five years ago the repressive regimes of the Soviets and their allies were the obvious targets, but throughout its tenure Index has resisted identification with a particular ideology. Equal opportunity gadflies, its contributors have exposed a wide range of threats to freedom throughout the world and have criticized censorship whether a function of political, religious, or social concerns. Familiar names include Solzhenitsyn, Havel, and Rushdie, but the most powerful efforts are not necessarily from the most famous writers: consider the letter from George Mangakis in his Greek prison cell, Ivan Kraus’s satire addressed to Ceausescu, the response of Nigerian Wole Soyinka to Khomeini’s indictment of Rushdie, or Dror Green’s story from inside the Israeli-occupied territories. Essays by Arthur Miller, Judy Blume, and Noam Chomsky cast spotlights on American forms of censorship, and even England is held up for scrutiny by Michael Tippett, John Mortimer, and others. Throughout this volume a unique characteristic of the best political writing is on display: the message is disturbing but simultaneously uplifting, for the simple fact that someone could write about these experiences, however horrible, or make these arguments, however appallingly necessary, indicates there is hope for the achievement of human freedom and dignity in the world.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1998
ISBN: 0-8076-1441-6
Page count: 347pp
Publisher: Braziller
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1998