Summer Reading: The Ten Most Harmful Books

Here, on the day before the big yucky displays of patriotic schmalz, are the ten most harmful books, according to the deep right wing — should you not have read one or the other of them, put it or them on your summer reading list immediately! (Well, Mein Kampf may not be good summer reading, though for a serious understanding of fascist ideology — & that’s right now a much more likely threat than a Red Revolutionary Revival — it is a core text, no matter how unsavoury). The conservative US org HUMAN EVENTS says that it “asked a panel of 15 conservative scholars and public policy leaders to help us compile a list of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Each panelist nominated a number of titles and then voted on a ballot including all books nominated. A title received a score of 10 points for being listed No. 1 by one of our panelists, 9 points for being listed No. 2, etc. Appropriately, The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, earned the highest aggregate score and the No. 1 listing.” I have cut out the original capsule reviews of the books in question, but shld you want to read them, go here. The list is both obvious and baffling — John Dewey more dangerous than Das Kapital? Hilarious that Maoism should beat out sex (in the shape of the Kinsey report) by one vote, and that Betty Friedan beats Auguste Comte & Friedrich Nietzsche by a nose — and one could dissect it endlessly in terms of either actual conservative ideological strictures or of the sheer paranoia and ignorance that drive the “panel of conservative scholars.” But ’nuff ‘s ’nuff — the Mets game is in progress & they are 2 runs behind so I need to concentrate on them.

1. The Communist Manifesto

Authors: Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels
Publication date: 1848
Score: 74

2. Mein Kampf

Author: Adolf Hitler
Publication date: 1925-26
Score: 41

3. Quotations from Chairman Mao

Author: Mao Zedong
Publication date: 1966
Score: 38

4. The Kinsey Report

Author: Alfred Kinsey
Publication date: 1948
Score: 37

5. Democracy and Education

Author: John Dewey
Publication date: 1916
Score: 36

6. Das Kapital

Author: Karl Marx
Publication date: 1867-1894
Score: 31

7. The Feminine Mystique

Author: Betty Friedan
Publication date: 1963
Score: 30

8. The Course of Positive Philosophy

Author: Auguste Comte
Publication date: 1830-1842
Score: 28

9. Beyond Good and Evil

Author: Freidrich Nietzsche
Publication date: 1886
Score: 28

10. General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

Author: John Maynard Keynes
Publication date: 1936
Score: 23

Worth also mentioning those titles that got honorable mentions:

These books won votes from two or more judges:

The Population Bomb
by Paul Ehrlich
Score: 22

What Is To Be Done
by V.I. Lenin
Score: 20

Authoritarian Personality
by Theodor Adorno
Score: 19

On Liberty
by John Stuart Mill
Score: 18

Beyond Freedom and Dignity
by B.F. Skinner
Score: 18

Reflections on Violence
by Georges Sorel
Score: 18

The Promise of American Life
by Herbert Croly
Score: 17

The Origin of Species
by Charles Darwin
Score: 17

Madness and Civilization
by Michel Foucault
Score: 12

Soviet Communism: A New Civilization
by Sidney and Beatrice Webb
Score: 12

Coming of Age in Samoa
by Margaret Mead
Score: 11

Unsafe at Any Speed
by Ralph Nader
Score: 11

Second Sex
by Simone de Beauvoir
Score: 10

Prison Notebooks
by Antonio Gramsci
Score: 10

Silent Spring
by Rachel Carson
Score: 9

Wretched of the Earth
by Frantz Fanon
Score: 9

Introduction to Psychoanalysis
by Sigmund Freud
Score: 9

The Greening of America
by Charles Reich
Score: 9

The Limits to Growth
by Club of Rome
Score: 4

Descent of Man
by Charles Darwin
Score: 2

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3 Responses

  1. Tom Beckett says:

    Fascinating.

  2. Anonymous says:

    People voted for ‘On Liberty’ by John Stuart Mill? Bizarre.

  3. Sofia says:

    Well, Mill was sure painful to learn about…

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