Monday, August 07, 2006


According to Human Events these are the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries:

  1. The Communist Manifesto
  2. Mein Kampf
  3. Quotations from Chairman Mao
  4. The Kinsey Report
  5. Democracy and Education
  6. Das Kapital
  7. The Feminine Mystique
  8. The Course of Positive Philosophy
  9. Beyond Good and Evil
  10. General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
Honorable Mentions include:
The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich
On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B.F. Skinner
Reflections on Violence by Georges Sorel
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Madness and Civilization by Michel Foucault
Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead
Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader (???)
Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
The Greening of America by Charles Reich
Descent of Man by Charles Darwin

Interesting list to heat up the fireplace although my pick would be The Holy Bible and -Quran ex aequo on numbers 1 -20 !!


Lindsay Lobe said...

I dont think the Bible or Koran was written in the 19th or 20th century !! Ha Ha -how far do you want to go back ?

These 15 conservative scholars who acted as judges,all hale from the USA I think. a certain bias in their selections don't you think ?. Now Books don’t generally hurt people and I don’t think many are converted on mass from what they read.

Books I think become popular usually as a reflection of society, or to point out what is happening, but not as persuader to massive cultural change.

consider 2 examples.

Mein Kampf was originally ignored. But not after Hitler rose to power, when 10 million copies in circulation by 1945.

Mao for instance was a great strategist in terms of enlisting intellectual support abroad, and diverted a massive 7 % of gross national product to those splinter groups of intelligence who became supporters of his purpose.

These intellectuals who sold their sole for a pocket full of money and travel, helped to give Mao the prestige he desperately sought while 70,000 staved in China, as a direct result of his policies.

Consider that to day where foreign aid is much less than 1% of GDP for even the wealthiest of countries.

During the period of the 'Cultural Revolution' all cultural activity was banned as Mao knew culture is what makes us human and his attachment to power by dehumanisation remained with him all of his life.

Best wishes

Granny said...

I'm a little surprised, considering their general philosophy, that they included Mein Kampf.

Ingrid said...

Dimitri, could you provide a link for 'Human Events'? I want to know what they are basing it on although I can imagine as to why with some of the publications. That said, it's not in the book but what people do with it. Of course, they're probably talking about the pen being mightier than the sword as it can 'make' people do things...still..I am curious to know more about them.
When we had history in highschool (in the Netherlands, little Hoogeveen) our teacher said, don't tell anyone, but I have a copy of Mein Kampf and he told us about it. In order to teach, not to advocate following it. We were in the midst of learning everything about the first and the second WW and everything in between and he believed it was important to understand it in its context. I don't know if it still is, but 'back then' (I am so ancient you know, ..ehem NOT), it was.

Anonymous said...

Ooh - I agree with granny!! Good answer. Interesting list. (BTW - I tagged you if you want to play. It's about books).

DA said...

You're right there Lindsay, It's my all time low ranking I guess.

I have a copy of Main Kampf too Ann & Ingrid, I think it is ok to comprehend evil persons too. The link was provided in the header. You will find these people somewhat narrowminded and the list not scientifically validated.

I'll give it a shot Laura :-)

Lesley said...

Oh Granny! I couldn't agree more!

Ingrid said...

thanks Dimitri

Blogger formerly known as JBlue said...

Soooo, what happens if you've already read a bunch of them? Should I have my brain washed? Am I in immediate danger?


Kathleen Callon said...

I've only read 6 of these. Now I have four more books to write into my reading list...

Nerdine said...

I have read excerpts and parts of most of these books, and I find them all very interesting. Harmful? well - that all depends if you're smart enough to not take every syllable as your law. As a lot of people have with these books.
But I also think it's really important to read these books. after all they provide an excellent way of understanding the background for important events in history.

Progressive Traditionalist said...

I'm wondering what I should do now that I have been harmed by these terrible books. Darwin's sentence structure is needlessly complex. Nieztsche rambles too much. And I care care for Nader's choice of ties.

dragonflyfilly said...

i'm not sure what you mean by honourable mentions" - are they what is listed as books NOT to read, and when you say "interesting list to heat up the fireplace" do you mean you would like to burn the list, or burn the books?

Elizabeth Green said...

Granny, I was thinking the same thing. I would have thought GWB was involved in making the list, but I am convinced he is functionally illiterate.

I don't find these books particularly destructive or instructive. I think it's how you use them. I just know that now I will have to work at reading the ones I haven't read already.