'Fahrenheit 451' is the classic novel of a post-literate future. It is a prophetic account of Western civilisation's enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity. Bradbury's beautiful, ebullient prose, with its precision of expression and vivid dialogue, brings to life a society in which trivial information is good, the appearance of happiness is the highest goal, and knowledge and ideas are bad.
The hero, Montag, is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. He can't afford the fourth wall-sized television screen his wife, Mildred, wants - for a fuller appreciation of the interactive soap operas that occupy her days.
An encounter with their new next-door neighbour, Clarisse, further unsettles Montag. The girl has vitality, curiosity, conversation. When Clarisse disappears mysteriously, Montag's melancholy leads his wife to suspect he is keeping books in the house, and reading them.
The astonishing prescience of Bradbury's vision gives the book a direct and immediate relevance to our lives today. His powerful and poetic writing combines with uncanny insight into the potential of technology to create a novel that, almost fifty years since its first publication, still has the power to dazzle and shock.