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Foerstel, Herbert N. 1933-

Foerstel, Herbert N. 1933-

PERSONAL:

Born October 6, 1933, in St. Louis, MO; son of William Herbert (a musician) and Margaret Foerstel; married Lenora Shargo; children: Jonathan, Helen, Karen. Ethnicity: "German/Irish." Education: Hamilton College, B.A., 1955; Rutgers University, M.L.S., 1959; Johns Hopkins University, M.S., 1970. Politics: Independent. Hobbies and other interests: Music.

CAREER:

Author and librarian. Towson State University, Towson, MD, fine arts librarian, 1959-66; University of Maryland at College Park, began as science librarian, became head of Engineering and Physical Sciences Library and, later, head of branch libraries, 1967-96. National Security Archive, member of board of directors, 1988—. Military service: U.S. Army, 1955-58.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award, 1988; Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries chose Surveillance in the Stacks as a "best academic book," 1990.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

Surveillance in the Stacks: The FBI's Library Awareness Program, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1991.

Secret Science: Federal Control of American Science and Technology, Praeger (Westport, CT), 1993.

Banned in the U.S.A.: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1994, revised edition, 2002.

(With daughter, Karen Foerstel) Climbing the Hill: Gender Conflict in Congress, Praeger (Westport, CT), 1996.

Free Expression and Censorship in America: An Encyclopedia, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1997.

Banned in the Media: A Reference Guide to Censorship in the Press, Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, and the Internet, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1998.

Freedom of Information and the Right to Know: The Origins and Applications of the Freedom of Information Act, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1999.

From Watergate to Monicagate: Ten Controversies in Modern Journalism and Media, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2001.

Refuge of a Scoundrel: The Patriot Act in Libraries, Libraries Unlimited (Westport, CT), 2004.

Killing the Messenger: Journalists at Risk in Modern Warfare, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2006.

The Patriot Act: A Documentary and Reference Guide, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2007.

Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals.

SIDELIGHTS:

Herbert N. Foerstel once told CA: "I had always claimed that the most essential quality of good writing was clarity, the accurate representation of the author's thoughts. Then one day my brother, an English professor, corrected me. Above all, he said, a writer must have something to say. By emphasizing a technical aspect of writing, I had simply assumed motivation, conviction, content itself. After all, why would anyone bother to write without the impulse to speak the truth? Perhaps the two go hand in hand. Have a point of view. Express it clearly."

Foerstel has expressed his point of view in his books about individual freedoms, in particular freedom of speech and expression, and censorship. His first book, Surveillance in the Stacks: The FBI's Library Awareness Program, is, according to RQ's Mary Nell Bryant, "an authoritative, thoroughly researched, highly readable exposé of the history of the FBI's attempts to infiltrate libraries and engage the cooperation of librarians in the abridgement of the library rights of library users." In the book, Foerstel explains to readers how the FBI has undermined their freedoms. He discusses the FBI's top-secret program to gain reports on library usage by foreigners, as well as FBI requests to see library circulation records to determine who was reading what. In Secret Science: Federal Control of American Science and Technology, Foerstel turns the same inquisitive eye on government's role in the censorship of scientific and technological information. A Publishers Weekly reviewer explained that the topic Foerstel discusses in Secret Science is extremely complicated and felt that "the short focal length of Foerstel's view severely limit the reader's grasp" of the topic.

Critics responded more favorably to Banned in the U.S. A.: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries. As its title suggests, the book takes an in-depth look at the censorship of certain books in schools and public libraries. Foerstel tackles the subject by presenting a survey of book-banning incidents from 1976 to 1992, court rulings in book-banning cases, interviews and stories from authors often banned by schools and libraries, and a list of the fifty most frequently banned books. Foerstel later produced a revised and expanded edition of the book that includes changes in book-banning legislation and updated interviews with authors between 1996 and 2000. Library Journal contributor Katherine Merrill deemed Banned in the U.S.A. "an enlightening analysis of censorship." School Library Journal reviewer Pat Scales concluded, "Librarians need this book, but patrons who want to better understand the threats to their First Amendment rights should be led to it as well."

Foerstel wrote Climbing the Hill: Gender Conflict in Congress with his daughter, Karen Foerstel. Nancy A. Humphreys, of the Affilia Journal of Women and Social Work, called Climbing the Hill a "short, informative, highly readable book" that discusses the historical impact of women who have been elected to Congress, such as Jeannette Rankin, Barbara Mikulski, and Debbie Stabenow. Humphreys observed, "If you want to understand how women struggle and successfully cope in an extremely sexist environment, you will find the book inspiring."

Foerstel returns to First Amendment rights in Free Expression and Censorship in America: An Encyclopedia. In this book, he provides readers with some of the key issues, subjects, and people involved in censorship debates today. Foerstel briefly covers issues pertinent to books, television, movies, and music. Libraries and Culture critic Nathaniel Feis noted that, while many of popular music's most outspoken and controversial stars were not mentioned, the book "provides good basic information on the subject of free expression," and is still "a valuable reference tool for anyone researching or just curious about the state of free expression in America today." Foerstel further examined censorship in popular media in his book Banned in the Media: A Reference Guide to Censorship in the Press, Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, and the Internet, which Booklist reviewer Charles Harmon described as "the perfect book to hand to students writing papers on censorship."

In Freedom of Information and the Right to Know: The Origins and Applications of the Freedom of Information Act, Foerstel advocates for freer access to information controlled by the government. The book provides a brief history of the laws regarding government information and a discussion of the Freedom of Information Act and the problems faced by people who have "the right to know." Foerstel's next book, From Watergate to Monicagate: Ten Controversies in Modern Journalism and Media, examines the controls placed on media by the government and media corporations. Throughout the book, the author discusses why the public no longer trusts the media, and he attempts to explain how journalistic standards are lowered by corporate controls. Susan Colowick of Library Journal dubbed the book "an eye-opener for anyone who may not realize the extent of corporate and government influence on the media."

Foerstel's book Killing the Messenger: Journalists at Risk in Modern Warfare examines the dangers faced by modern war correspondents. The book opens with a quick retrospective of key war reporters, beginning with those who worked during the Civil War and continuing on through the twentieth century. The greater part of the book, however, focuses on recent history and examines the reasons why war reporting has become more dangerous. Included are accounts of the civil war in Lebanon during the 1970s and 1980s, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Foerstel uses accounts from reporters and former hostages to create a picture of the life of a war correspondent. He explains why reporters have increasingly become targets for kidnapping and violence. One prominent figure in his book is Terry Anderson, a British reporter who was kidnapped in 1985 while in Lebanon and held hostage for more than six years. Foerstel interviewed Anderson and also lets the journalist tell his story in his own words. The book also presents various reporters' opinions on the subject of journalists being embedded in military units and how to provide better safety for journalists. Foerstel's book is "a highly credible and engaging read," according to Leigh Mihlrad in a Library Journal review. Vanessa Bush of Booklist said it presented the dangers of modern war journalism in a way that is "impressive and thoroughly engrossing."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Affilia Journal of Women and Social Work, fall, 1997, Nancy A. Humphreys, review of Climbing the Hill: Gender Conflict in Congress, p. 371.

American Reference Books Manual, 1999, review of Banned in the Media: A Reference Guide to Censorship in the Press, Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, and the Internet, p. 345.

Booklist, January 1, 1994, Charles Harmon, review of Banned in the U.S.A.: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries, p. 836; July, 1997, review of Free Expression and Censorship in America: An Encyclopedia, p. 1834; May 1, 2006, Vanessa Bush, review of Killing the Messenger: Journalists at Risk in Modern Warfare, p. 54.

Book Report, January, 1999, review of Banned in the Media, p. 80; March, 2002, review of From Watergate to Monicagate: Ten Controversies in Modern Journalism and Media, p. 77.

Bookwatch, December, 2001, review of From Watergate to Monicagate, p. 3.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, January, 1999, review of Banned in the Media, p. 879; March, 2002, P.E. Kane, review of From Watergate to Monicagate, p. 1231; February, 2003, R.M. Roberts, review of Banned in the U.S.A., p. 959.

Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, spring, 1999, Randall Sumpter, review of Banned in the Media, p. 165.

Libraries and Culture, fall, 1999, Nathaniel Feis, review of Free Expression and Censorship in America, p. 427; winter, 1999, Melonie Alspaugh, review of Banned in the U.S.A., p. 88.

Library Journal, August, 2001, Susan M. Colowick, review of From Watergate to Monicagate, p. 125; December, 2002, Katherine E. Merrill, review of Banned in the U.S.A., p. 105; June 15, 2006, Leigh Mihlrad, review of Killing the Messenger, p. 78.

Publishers Weekly, March 8, 1993, review of Secret Science: Federal Control of American Science and Technology, p. 60.

Reference and Research Book News, November, 2001, review of From Watergate to Monicagate, p. 220; August, 2006, review of Killing the Messenger.

RQ, summer, 1991, Mary Nell Bryant, review of Surveillance in the Stacks: The FBI's Library Awareness Program, p. 592.

School Library Journal, March, 2003, Pat Scales, review of Banned in the U.S.A., p. 263.

Teacher Librarian, May, 1999, Jennifer Barth, review of Banned in the U.S.A., p. 64.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2002, review of From Watergate to Monicagate, p. 67.

ONLINE

University of Maryland, College of Behavioral Sciences Web site,http://www.bsos.umd.edu/ (March 14, 2003), reviews of Free Expression and Censorship in America, Banned in the Media, and Freedom of Information and the Right to Know: The Origins and Applications of the Freedom of Information Act.

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