Into the Boston courtroom of Harvard-trained Municipal Judge Elijah Adlow, 48, marched the watchdogs of the New England Watch & Ward Society, eager to score their fourth book-banning in a year.* They marched out again, having suffered one of the worst defeats in 66 years of protecting Boston from naughty thoughts.

Judge Adlow refused to agree that Erskine Caldwell's novel Tragic Ground was an obscene book and dismissed charges against the bookstore clerk who sold it. He went further. He found nothing shocking in a scene in which a female character is allowed to see a man stripped to the...

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