You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom by Nick Cohen - review by Sonia Purnell

Sonia Purnell

The Truth Won’t Out

You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom


Fourth Estate 330pp £12.99

Nick Cohen’s book opens with a quotation from the late Christopher Hitchens about how ‘ideas and books have to be formulated and written by individuals’. It is just as well that we still have individuals such as Cohen, who are sufficiently bloody-minded – as Hitchens himself was – to strike out against conventional wisdoms and a wilful collective complacency. As Cohen’s work amply demonstrates, we in the West believe ourselves to be free but when it comes to freedom of speech we are anything but. Even legitimate criticism can leave us financially ruined or dead.

After Parliament gave judges the power to develop a right to privacy in 2000, the judiciary saw fit to reject England’s tradition of open justice with a breathtaking disdain for the past. They built a wedding cake of suffocating injunctions and super-injunctions to the point, Cohen observes, that ‘the censors

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