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*An Outstanding Academic Title of 2011 — Choice Magazine
A lively history of the Watch and Ward Society--New England’s notorious literary censor for over eighty years.
Banned in Boston is the first-ever history of the Watch and Ward Society--once Boston’s unofficial moral guardian. An influential watchdog organization, bankrolled by society’s upper crust, it actively suppressed vices like gambling and prostitution, and oversaw the mass censorship of books and plays. A spectacular romp through the Puritan City, here Neil Miller relates the scintillating story of how a powerful band of Brahmin moral crusaders helped make Boston the most straitlaced city in America, forever linked with the infamous catchphrase “banned in Boston.”
“This is a superb example of breathtaking research, presented in a style that will appeal to a broad audience…Rather than delivering a detailed history of the Watch and Ward, he offers up a series of vignettes that are historically accurate yet thoroughly entertaining in their telling. This is social history at its finest, and Miller should be applauded for resurrecting the history of this influential group that had a national reputation.”–Choice Reviews
“Miller relates a wealth of historical anecdotes... [they] left no shortage of entertaining censorship initiatives for Miller to recall here for readers' enjoyment.” -Booklist
“As a catchphrase, ‘banned in Boston’ made history; as an imprimatur it sold books.” -Chronicle Review
“With precision, perception, and wry wit, Neil Miller serves up a juicy tale of censorship past. From sex, drugs, and a swearing parrot to almost anything French, Banned in Boston demonstrates that campaigns to save us from ourselves never go out of fashion.”–Nan Levinson, author of Outspoken: Free Speech Stories
“A lively history of the notorious Watch and Ward Society, which for a century sought to establish decency by suppressing ‘obscene’ works by authors such as Boccaccio, Whitman, Dreiser, Faulkner, and Mencken. This is a must read for anyone interested in understanding how censorship ultimately destroys not indecency, but freedom.”–Geoffrey R. Stone, author of Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism