For a few days this year a Pennsylvania author achieved something he never dreamed of: One of his works appeared on a banned book list.
Michael Dreese is a historian who writes nonfiction books about the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place about two hours from his Kreamer home, according to a recent story from WNEP News. Two of his books have been about Union and Confederate battle flags.
He never considered them controversial, so he was surprised earlier this month when he received an email from Amazon saying that he needed to take down the listing for his book, “This Flag Never Goes Down: 40 Stories of Confederate Battle Flags and Color-Bearers at the Battle of Gettysburg.”
“It was kind of surprising at first,” Dreese told WNEP. “Being a nonfiction historical writer, I never thought any of my books would be on the banned book list.”
In an email dated June 26, Dreese was notified of new policies from the online retailer.
“Amazon has implemented listing restrictions for Confederate flag merchandise,” the email read, according to TheBlaze. “You may no longer list these products on Amazon.com, and your listings for these products will be removed. There is no adverse impact on your seller account for the removal, but we request that you refrain from relisting removed products.”
The letter came after Amazon and other retailers, including Walmart and eBay, sought to remove items bearing the flag from their virtual and physical shelves, according to USA Today. This change was sparked by the widespread removal of the flag from public display — including over the South Carolina Statehouse — following the shooting deaths of nine people at a black church in the state.
“We believe [the Confederate flag] has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism,” eBay spokeswoman Johnna Hoff told USA Today.
The email to Dreese gave him an Aug. 22 deadline to remove his listing, according to TheBlaze. But in WNEP’s July 17 story, Dreese said the book had already been taken down.
In a July 20 update to the WNEP story, the station noted that Amazon had seemingly reversed its decision and put the nonfiction book back up for sale on the site.
No official statement from Amazon regarding the apparent reversal was reported.
But Dreese maintained all along that there was nothing controversial about his book. He said battle flags are an important part of history and understanding them, and their use, is important to understanding Civil War battles.
“They were the primary means of communication,” he told WNEP. “The battlefield could be a very smoky, noisy, confusing atmosphere.”
Dreese added that his book didn't "promote the Confederate flag."
“I’m not really for it or against it, I was just telling the story of the Confederate battle flag," he said.
Photo Credit: WNEP News