Fahrenheit 451 is one of the most famous works of science fiction, and with "Brave New World" and "1984" represents one of the most memorable and haunting dystopias. In a future world, books are banned and firemen actually set fires instead of extinguishing them. The state exercises a form of social control through controlling what sort of information people have access to. It turns out that not all books are banned, only those that we would today consider "great works" - Plato, Shakespeare, The Bible, Darwin, etc. For me one of the biggest surprises about Fahrenheit 451 was the rationale that was offered for the burning of those books. In a nutshell, they offended politically correct sensibilities and the authorities felt that they would undermine the social cohesion. This expunging of the classics from the culture has an uncanny resonance with the attempts over past few decades to expunge them from the undergraduate liberal arts curriculum. And rationale is also similar: these books are not "diverse" enough and may offend the sensibilities of an ever-increasing list of "minorities." It is hard not to wonder if a milder, softer version of dystopian future that Bradbury was worried about in the early 1950s has not in fact arrived.
Bradbury's writing and ideas are somewhere between those of George Orwell and Philip K. Dick. His style is very engaging, and even poetic. His writing is at its best when one of his characters engages in a prolonged monolog. However, the plot development could use some improvement. There is very little in terms of transition from one scene to the next, and most scenes are overly compressed. It is very hard to follow the plot developments at times. Nonetheless, Bradbury is a wonderful stylist and unlike much of science fiction this book is a pleasure to read on a purely literally level as well as for its sweeping ideas.
As a last note, I found it incredibly ironic that I read this book on Kindle. Based on this alone I am fairly optimistic that reading and great books will not only survive but in fact thrive well into the 21st century.