A review from Interesting Literature suggests that Censored: A Literary History of Subversion and Control by Matthew Fellion and Katherine Inglis is a book well worth reading.

One fascinating case study (there are 25 of them apparently) is the story of Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors. The book was published pseudonymously in 1983 by Paladin Press, and was used as a template in a family murder ten years later. After the husband and the hit man he’d employed were found guilty, Paladin were sued by surviving members of the family. The moral position of a publisher who brings out such material is certainly open to question, but the legal position is however quite secure: “the judge found Hit Man to be reprehensible and ‘loathsome’, but the right to publish it fell under the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.” (In this context see also Security clearance.)

And that review is maybe as close as I’m going to get to this book at this quarantine-y time. It is published by McGill-Queens University Press. There is an ebook, available in Canada. I thought I’d put a hold on the physical copy at the New York Public Library, who have just reversed course and announced they’d be closing all branches. If I had it on hold I’d be able to go round and pick it up at our local branch as soon as the shut-down ceased. However, the library refuses to accept my hold request — closed it appears means closed. I guess there’s nobody there these days.

In a fit of benevolent inspiration I thought I’ll buy it from Bookshop, the new independent bookstore supporting online booksellers. No such luck; they don’t carry it. Can’t be because it’s Canadian can it: maybe it’s because it was published long ago, back in 2017. While I was willing to invest the dollars to support Bookshop, I don’t really want to get it from Amazon, who claim anyway to have but one copy left. Looks like they’re going to be the only way we can get anything for a few weeks anyway. They’ve just announced they are hiring more people. Let’s hope they stay healthy too.