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"Spirited defense" of a banned book

By / January 22, 2009

John Berendt's nonfiction work "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" had never been banned before. So the author said he was speechless with surprise when a North Dakota high school banned his book from its library for four days.

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Although initially he found the whole thing "ridiculous," Berendt told the Bismarck Tribune that the incident ultimately led him to think more highly of North Dakota  – a state of which, he admits, previously, "I hadn't thought of ... one way or another."

The book was removed from the school library after a student's parents said they found it to be "pornographic." The decision caused North Dakotans to rush to their blogs and comment.

Berendt said he followed every word of news coverage of the event and the many online comments. He said he was impressed by the "spirited defense" mounted by North Dakotans, not only of his book, but in opposition to book banning in general.

"The comments were very reasonable and extremely sophisticated," Berendt said.

Berendt also has a new hero: the Beulah High School librarian. "She said all the right things," he said.

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