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The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments - Banned Book

I am facinated by banned books, mostly because they serve as a dip stick into the crazy morass of evolving societal values.  Catcher in the Rye seems tame these days, but was banned in its time.  The AD&D rule books were also banned in some communities (and probably served as the spark of this morbid facination).

So when boing boing ran a post about the Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments as part of its ongoing charting of the history of the war on fun, and indicated that it was banned. I had to find a copy. If the same company which produces the Pokey Little Puppy and the Little engine that could, actually had a banned book I had to see it.

The book is short, 112 pages, and filled with the independent "you can do it" attitude which marked kids books from earlier times.  It was originally printed in 1960, and contains a solid introduction to chemistry, from how to assemble your own lab from household items, to its history and on to how to balance equations.

Why ban it?  Well about 1/2 of the experiments involve working with Hydrochloric acid, to produce things like Hydrogen and Chlorine gas.  The lab setup section actually goes through how to shape glass tubes, and the Safety section is 12 sentences which basically state follow our directions carefully, and lock your stuff up if there are young kids around. Nowhere on the book, is there a recommended age - the language and voice would make you think there were targetting 10-12 year olds, but parents were expected to use their judgement when buying this book.

Can you imagine a book targeting that age group advocating using Hydrochloric acid or melting glass in our current mommy culture?   Our parents/grandparents grew up in a time when a few acid burns on the hand, built character, not lawsuits.

Its worth tracking down and giving it a read, if nothing else to remember what it was like when we were still expected to be our own keepers.