Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries

This isn't my list of Books Most Harmful, I hasten to add, it's a list compiled by "a panel of 15 conservative scholars and public policy leaders." Plenty of the usual suspects here (and that's just on the panel) -- the authors include the likes of Hitler, Marx, August Comte and John Maynard Keynes.

If I was to remove two from the list they would be Betty Friedan's Feminist Mystique, and Charles Darwin's Origins of the Species. Having these in a list of harmful books is just nuts, as American conservatives of the kinder-kuche-kirke persuasion so often are.

What would I add? I'm pleased to see both Paul Erlich's Population Bomb and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring receiving much-deserved derision, but I would add Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac to the list, that bible of the deep-ecologists who maintain humankind is "the cancer of the planet." And I would also add to the list John Rawls' hymn to irresponsibility, A Theory of Justice, the justification for the modern school of 'it-wasn't-my-fault' whining.

What would be your two-and-two to add and remove?

Radley Balko has pointed out that the conservatives make money off these harmful books every time someone clicks through from the list to Amazon and buys one. He objects to that.

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