Forbidden Reading

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  • Danger in a book lies in the eye of the censor. This program hosted by Alberto Manguel takes a broad look at forbidden reading through examples of people willing to risk grave civil and criminal penalties in order to be heard: Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin, who writes in hiding due to an Islamic sentence of death; Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas, whose video posts of police brutality have drawn intense governmental scrutiny; Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, whose controversial depiction of the prophet Mohammad caused an international furor; and the Grove Press's Barney Rosset, who fought to publish the works of Henry Miller and D. H. Lawrence in defiance of the Comstock Law. Flaubert's Madame Bovary, called scandalous in its time, is also discussed, as is Nazi book burning.


  • Films on Demand is distributed by Films Media Group for Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Cambridge Educational, Meridian Education, and Shopware.
  • Encoded with permission for digital streaming by Films Media Group on November 20, 2010.
  • System requirements: FOD playback platform.
  • Mode of access: Internet.
  • Closed-captioned.


  • Danger of a Book Lies in the Censor (0:48) -- Debate over Media Freedom (2:35) -- Distinction Between Manners and Censorship (3:07) -- Freedom in Publishing (2:55) -- Sexual Freedom for Readers (2:39) -- Society for the Suppression of Vice (2:15) -- Defying American Prejudice in Literature (6:40) -- How Far Does Freedom of Expression Go? (1:16) -- Weapon Against False History (5:23) -- Simone De Beauvoir Prize-Winner (5:59) -- Obstacle to Democracy (2:55) -- Creating Freedom in Journalism (5:06) -- Freedom of Press: Cairo, Egypt (3:36) -- Internet Under Threat (4:18) -- Censorship Threatens Democracy (1:00) -- Forbidden Reading: Credits (0:47)
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