CONSERVATIVE BOOKS….Here’s a weird question. It requires me to expose some serious ignorance on my part, but what the hell. Here goes.
A few days ago I mocked the Human Events lists of the “Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries,” which included such works as Dewey on education, Friedan on feminism, Kinsey on sex, and Keynes on economics. I wanted to create a competing list of my own, but I just don’t have the historical chops to do it, so I figured that maybe my commenters would provide some good raw material.
As it turns out, though, not really. Atlas Shrugged? I agree that it’s eminently mockable, but let’s face it: has this book really had that much influence on anyone who doesn’t still use Clearasil pads? I don’t think so.
The Clansman, by Thomas Dixon? Another worthy choice, but it was written in 1905, long after the Klan and Jim Crow had taken over the South. It’s hard to argue that it was really very influential.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion? An excellent choice! We have a winner.
But that’s only one. We need nine more. Even if you toss in the usual Communist and Nazi suspects, which were already on the Human Events list, we’re still short by four or five books if we want to create our own Top Ten.
Not to be flip about it, but it makes me wonder if SqueakyRat is right:
In trying to come up with a left-wing equivalent to the Human Events list, I’ve come to realize that the right has basically not influenced public opinion via books at all….
Is our failure to come up with a list due to the fact that we don’t have a lot of historians commenting here? Maybe, but Ralph Luker, who is an historian, tried to come up with a list and failed pretty miserably too. (Any list that has to include Ann Coulter and her ilk in order to gin up ten titles obviously doesn’t have much energy behind it.) His second try is better, particularly the inclusion of Spencer, but his titles are very clearly not as well known as the Human Events books.
It’s kinda weird. Where are the really famous and genuinely influential books of the past 200 years that liberals dislike as much as conservatives dislike Keynes and Kinsey? Not miscellaneous Regnery titles of the past couple of decades, but books published (at least) prior to 1970 that have had a wide impact on the course of public opinion. If they don’t exist, why? I’m mystified.