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Sympathy for censorship

Robert Darnton’s history of censorship is vividly written, but sometimes he is just too sympathetic to his subjects

Erich Honecker leads East Germany’s 40th anniversary celebrations in 1989: “Censorship was accepted by everyone,” writes Darnton. © Bundesarchiv Bild

Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature, by Robert Darnton (WW Norton, £25)

An arresting feature of this book is the apparent distance between author and subject. Robert Darnton, a leading historian of the west and director of one of the world’s finest libraries, is among the last people one…

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