: views from the Hill

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ten (well, thirty) Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries

from Dr. Judith Reisman's site: Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries (31 May 2005). Reisman lifted the article whole cloth from Human Events: the national conservative weekly.

A description of the scoring method and a list of the people on the nominating committee are given. The top ten books are described in detail.

The books?
  1. The Communist Manifesto Authors: Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels
  2. Mein Kampf Author: Adolf Hitler
  3. Quotations from Chairman Mao Author: Mao Zedong
  4. The Kinsey Report Author: Alfred Kinsey
  5. Democracy and Education Author: John Dewey
  6. Das Kapital Author: Karl Marx
  7. The Feminine Mystique Author: Betty Friedan
  8. The Course of Positive Philosophy Author: Auguste Comte
  9. Beyond Good and Evil Author: Freidrich Nietzsche
  10. General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money Author: John Maynard Keynes

    Also included on the list:
  11. The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich
  12. What Is To Be Done by V.I. Lenin
  13. Authoritarian Personality by Theodor Adorno
  14. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
  15. Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B.F. Skinner
  16. Reflections on Violence by Georges Sorel
  17. The Promise of American Life by Herbert Croly
  18. Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin
  19. Madness and Civilization by Michel Foucault
  20. Soviet Communism: A New Civilization by Sidney and Beatrice Webb
  21. Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead
  22. Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader
  23. Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
  24. Prison Notebooks by Antonio Gramsci
  25. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  26. Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
  27. Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
  28. The Greening of America by Charles Reich
  29. The Limits to Growth by Club of Rome
  30. Descent of Man by Charles Darwin

Six of these titles I've never heard of: Gramsci, Webb, Croly, Sorel, Adorno, Comte. (Yes, I'm sure not knowing Comte brands me jejune. Alas, that I am.) Five I read as part of the two-year Humanities series in college: Nietzsche, Fanon, JSM, Marx and Marx & Engels. Others I read on my own, including Carson, Skinner, Ehrlich, Reich.

Of the thirty titles listed, I've read (if memory serves) twelve, maybe thirteen. Those unread? Well, doesn't this list make you want to go out and read those you've missed, and reread those you have only a hazy memory of?

I came across this list today from a mention in John Baker's blog where he adds the comment, They turn out to be books that have a point of view different to the panel of conservatives who selected them. No surprises.

If I were to list what I thought were the "most harmful" books, of course the "most harmful" books would be those written by people with a viewpoint that I find poisonous. No surprises indeed.

My list of books would differ in many respects.

I'm having a problem coming up with a list of "harmful" books. Yes, millions of copies of Mein Kampf were published in Hitler's Germany, but was the book itself the cause of Hitler's Germany? How closely did the Soviet Union apparatchiks adhere to the dictums of Marx and Engels and Lenin? Would Communist China have never existed if the little red book had not been published?

My list of harmful books would include:
  • [FICTION] The Turner Diaries by Dr. William Luther Pierce (under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald). Pierce is a white supremacist. This is his ode to the fictional day in the glorious future when the white race will exterminate the vermin who are not white and will rule the world. Yippy ky yay.
  • [FICTION] The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion -- purported to be true, btw, by not just a few folks.
  • [FICTION] The Left Behind series by Jerry B Jenkins/Tim LaHaye
What books do you think are "harmful"? Besides the Tom Swift series, I mean.

[note: I wandered over to John Baker's blog from a post at This Thing Of Ours. Thanks for the headsup!]

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