The Most Dangerous Books

My “ASAO”: homies and I have been pondering “Human Events”: listing of the “the ten most harmful books of the 19th and 20th century”: Human Events is, as they put it, a weekly magazine that “is objective.. but [] not impartial. It looks at events through eyes that favor limited constitutional government, local self-government, private enterprise and individual freedom.” The list, as you might expect, is quite a doozy. Amazingly, the Communist Manifesto wins over Mein Kampf and both win over Chairman Mao’s little red book. I’m pretty much on the opposite end of the political spectrum from this website, but what is the criteria being used here? I think the Manifesto is supposed to stand for ‘Stalin and Lenin’ but what are the figures for the Cultural Revolution and the Long March again, in terms of Just Lots Of People Dead?

Even more amazing, John Dewey’s Democracy and Education wins out over The Wretched of the Earth, a book that advocates the therapeutic effects of violence. I’m not a Fanon hater (I have a post on Algeria up my sleeve in fact) but if I were a hardcore right winger it seems to me I’d be more upset at Fanon than Dewey! I long for the time when ‘conservative’ meant ‘people who read Burke and Oakeshott and Macintyre.’ And when did ‘conservatives’ stop reading the Great Books and focus exclusively on the Christian bible? Sigh.

At any rate — what would you put on this list?


Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His book Leviathans at The Gold Mine has been published by Duke University Press. You can contact him at

4 thoughts on “The Most Dangerous Books

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  2. “Bush youth?”
    A CIA scheme to sponsor trainee spies secretly through US university courses has caused anger among UK academics.

    The Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program pays anthropology students, whose names are not disclosed, up to $50,000 (£27,500) a year.

    They are expected to use the techniques of “fieldwork” to gather political and cultural details on other countries.

    Britain’s Association of Social Anthropologists called the scholarships ethically “dangerous” and divisive.

    Undergraduates taking part in the scholarship programme must not reveal their funding source and are expected to attend military intelligence summer camps.

  3. I suspect that the principle of selection here is probably hampered by the fact that they haven’t actually read any of them.

  4. Maybe it might be worth asking what the “most dangerous” books in and for anthropology might have been. I think Boas’ “Race, Language, & Culture” might be considered a “dangerous” anthropology book, at least to the kind of people who read and write for Human Events; Madison Grant’s (I’m not sure that’s the author’s name) book on the “suicide” of the white race might be one in the “dangerous for” anthropology column.

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