This admirably written book can be read both as a comprehensive history of National Socialist censorship and as a more abstract study of bureaucracy in the Third Reich. Nazi Germany, argues Lewy, was ‘monolithic in theory but polycratic in practice’ (p. x). In great detail Lewy retraces bureaucratic rivalries and the mechanisms by which competing organizations sought to enlarge their competences in a ‘battle for turf’ (p. 145).

While public book burnings have shaped our collective memory, it is easily forgotten that the history of Nazi book censorship started already before 1933. As the Weimar constitution included provisions ‘to combat trashy and obscene literature’ (p. 3), Nazi politicians such as Wilhelm Frick in Thuringia were enabled as early as 1930 to ban authors like Erich-Maria Remarque and to issue decrees ‘against...

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