The cover is actually far from bad, though one reason I oddly don't detest the screw is that the book seems to resemble an old Wisden like I used to read in the State Library of Victoria. I still adore my old Wisdens and old county cricket is my longest-standing hobby, having been started in a holiday at Merimbula back in 1991, when I read about 1906 county cricket in all my spare time and was really fascinated because it seemed different from the more modern cricket I had read about before.
The list is basically, as one would expect, very similar to the lists of Human Events and to a lesser extent the Intercollegiate Studies Institute that have attracted my attention despite - or perhaps because of - the attacks my mother and brother make upon them.
The “ten books that screwed up the world”, listed in order of publication rather than effect (though the author yet again says The Communist Manifesto must absolutely be the worst offender of the lot), are:
- The Communist Manifesto: easily #1 on Human event's list; ineligible for ISI list.
- Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill. Mill is an author who (like Ayn Rand) gets very mixed receptions from the Right, almost certainly because both were extremely pro-free-market but also equally anti-religion. On Liberty was voted as an “honourable mention” in Human Events list, but all his books are again ineligible for the ISI list.
- The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin. Gained two votes on the Human Events list. Included according to Benjamin Wiker for its “eugenic” implications and its influence upon Hitler and Sanger.
- Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche. Ranked #9 by Human Events. Essentially an expected choice.
- State and Revolution by Vladmir Illich Lenin. Not on Human Events list, but one commentator I read a comparatively long time ago said it should have been there instead of What Is To Be Done.
- The Pivot of Civilisation by Margaret Sanger. One of the people most hated by the Right, George Grant's biography Killer Angel is perhaps the rantiest book I have ever read. I tried half-heartedly to read both Pivot and her previous book, 1920’s Woman and the New Race, which the Intercollegiate Studies Institute listed as one if its worst books. Neither seemed half as aggressive as Grant's biography of Sanger, but given her reputation I still wonder how at least thirteen of the fifteen Human Events judges overlooked Sanger entirely.
(Here I will note that Human Events’ rules for “Top Tens” exclude The Pivot of Civilisation and Woman and the New Race from being “Honourable Mentions” if only one judge voted for them, even if that solitary judge put them at #1 of their ten. From my experience with other lists of books or music, such an occurrence is not improbable, even if the book with which that occurred would not necessarily have been by Sanger.)
- Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. This one needs no discussion, really, except to say that some on the Left think its inclusion does not fit with what the Right think. In fact, Hitler attacked the Right’s heroes, like Ludwig von Mises, every bit as violently as any Stalinist regime, and they condemn the “state-directed” ideal of fascism every bit as much as state- or worker-controlled socialism. Ineligible for the ISI list (and its ineligibility has been the focus of many a misunderstanding), but ranked #2 by Human Events.
- The Future of an Illusion by Sigmund Freud. If it is as Wiker describes it, it is simplistic at best, given the clearly valuable and beneficial cultural and community-binding role of religion in traditional societies and in suburban/exurban Australia and Red America today. I have never read Freud, but have refrained from noting how the Right condemns him to my relatives. Looking inside the book, it aims to link Freud to the Right's older villains in a way I have never read of before.
- Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead. This one needs little explanation: it was after all #1 on the ISI’s list, and Derek Freeman's criticisms in Margaret Mead and Samoa (which I have read) seem reasonable.
- Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male by Alfred Kinsey. Perhaps the most hated book among conservatives, I actually tried very hard to read both this and Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female but no matter how hard I read it was very difficult to tell whether the truth is that Kinsey was truly scientific or Judith Reisman’s claims in Kinsey, Sex and Fraud that he was deliberately distorting evidence and his samples were actually completely unrepresentative. Reading others on both Left and Right makes me doubt Kinsey's originality and makes me think others could question it far more than they do. The Havelock Ellis book Psychology of Sex (listed by the ISI) seems, given the difference today between Europe on one hand and Australia/Red America on the other, to be the tip of the iceberg in this quest.
In addition, Wiker adds Five Others that Didn’t Help:
- The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli. He says Stalin read this book and used it to justify his dictatorship.
- Discourse on Method by Rene Descartes. I have read good criticisms of Descartes from outside the radical Right, but his inclusion is surprising.
- Levithan by Thomas Hobbes. It is argued that Hobbesianism creates a society of radical individualism, in which people are free to pursue their own interests without any responsibilities.
- Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Between Men by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Wiker views Rousseau as having invented utopianism in its various guides, from the socialism of Marx to the matriarchalism of Gould Davis and Gimbutas.
- The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan.