Beacon Press
Independent Publishing Since 1854
25 Beacon Street Boston, MA 02108 · Tel: 617.742.2110 · Fax: 617.723.3097
Cart is empty  View Cart View Shopping Cart

Book Search

Banned in Boston - The Watch and Ward Society’s Crusade against Books, Burlesque, and the Social Evil
Banned in Boston: The Watch and Ward Society’s Crusade against Books, Burlesque, and the Social Evil
Author: Neil Miller
Product Code: 5111 ISBN: 978-080705111-5
Binding Information: Paperback 
6 X 9 Inches (US)
Copyright Date Ed: 
Trade Code: 
Price: $16.00 In stock.

Also available from: Independent Bookstore | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell's

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."
Read chapter 2, "First Forays into Censorship, 1881-1898

In the Media

Click here to read a review of Miller's work on

Click here to read a piece about HL Menecken and the Watch and Ward Society for The Daily.

Review   Choice Reviews - February 1, 2011
“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.”

"As a catchphrase, 'banned in Boston' made history; as an imprimatur it sold books." —Chronicle Review

"Miller relates a wealth of historical anecdotes...[they] left no shortage of entertaining censorship initiatives for Miller to recall here for readers' enjoyment." —Booklist

"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

"The fight for artistic freedom in America begins in Boston, and Miller gives us a front-row seat." —Christopher M. Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and author of From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act

"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

"I read this book with one eye over my shoulder, fully expecting the Watch and Ward police to burst in and confiscate it for being too provocative! But it would have been worth it. Neil Miller has given us everything we could ask for in an enjoyable history—a revealing subject, well-drawn characters, and a colorful portrait of another era, all wrapped in a fast-paced, easy-to-read story. Banned in Boston is a Boston gem." —Stephen Puleo, author of A City So Grand, The Boston Italians, and Dark Tide

Also Available As:
Binding Information: Cloth Not Defined
ISBN: 978-080705112-2
Availability: In stock.
Price: $26.95
Related Products:

ISBN: 978-080705021-7
Availability: In stock.
Price: $16.00

ISBN: 978-080704429-2
Availability: In stock.
Price: $18.00
Beacon pressBeacon Press is a department of the Unitarian Universalist Association