There was near-unanimity on the book that deserved the No. 1 slot. The Communist Manifesto received almost twice as many points as the title that captured second place. And is it any wonder? The “dictatorship of the proletariat,” as implemented by Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong, led to the wholesale extermination of more than 200 million people.
Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) was originally published in two parts in 1925 and 1926, after Hitler was imprisoned for leading the Nazi Brown Shirts in the so-called “Beer Hall Putsch” that tried to overthrow the Bavarian government. In it, Hitler explained exactly what he planned to do once he seized power — murder the Jews, wage war against France and then Russia and establish a thousand-year reign (his “Third Reich”) for the Aryan race.
This tract, also known as “The Little Red Book,” was ostensibly written by the Chinese Communist dictator in 1966, 17 years after he seized power in China and founded the “People’s Republic.” More than a billion copies were distributed in China as part of Mao’s “cultural revolution.”
Kinsey and his staff conducted extensive surveys of American sexual habits, including incredibly explicit one-on-one interviews, in the 1940s. The results appeared in two books — Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, published in 1948, and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, published in 1953. Together, the two became known as The Kinsey Report.
Here’s a name that isn’t mentioned much anymore, but Dewey’s influence in the first half of the 20th century was enormous. In this 1916 work, Dewey (the “father of progressive education”) denounced education that focused on traditional character development and the accumulation of “hard” knowledge (i.e., facts).
When he died in 1867, Marx had completed just the first volume of a planned three-volume study. His benefactor Friedrich Engels finished the other two volumes from notes Marx left. In his magnum opus, Marx portrayed capitalism as merely an ugly phase in human development, in which capitalists exploit labor by paying the cheapest wages possible to amass as much wealth as possible. (Sounds like a Barack Obama speech today, doesn’t it?) Such injustice would end, Marx said, in a worldwide proletarian revolution.
In this 1963 bestseller, Betty Friedan, the first of the angry feminists, disparaged stay-at-home motherhood as “a comfortable concentration camp.” Friedan later founded and was for many years the president of the National Organization for Women.
Friedan was no mere liberal activist, however. As David Horowitz notes, “from her college days and until her mid-30s, she was a Stalinist Marxist, the political intimate of the leaders of America’s Cold War fifth column, and for a time even the lover of a young communist.”
The son of a royalist Catholic family that survived the French revolution, Comte turned his back on theology, bragging that, “I have naturally ceased to believe in God.” Comte taught that man alone, through scientific observation, could determine the way things ought to be, without any reliance on a Higher Power.
An oft-scribbled bit of college-campus graffiti goes, “God is dead — Nietzsche,” followed by “Nietzsche is dead — God.” Nietzsche’s contention that “God is dead” first appeared in his 1882 book, The Gay Science, but was expanded and popularized in Beyond Good and Evil, which appeared four years later.
In it, the German philosopher argued that all men are driven by an amoral “Will to Power,” and that superior men will sweep aside all obstacles to their ambition, including religiously-inspired moral rules. Not surprisingly, the Nazis loved Nietzsche.
Lord Keynes was an interesting contradiction. A member of the British elite (he was educated at Eton and Cambridge), he did more to popularize ever-expanding government than any other economist of his era.
Want some more really bad books? There are a few more titles that deserve mention. They are: