Focus Point - Best and Worst BooksCommentary by Pete du Pont
February 18, 2000
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute recently came up with a list of the 50 best and worst non-fiction books of the 20th century.
Most of the worsts had a common characteristic: they were biased, poorly researched, or even knowingly fabricated, and they were balefully influential. Hence, Margaret Mead's "Coming of Age in Samoa," made it to number one -- a book so sexually and culturally fallacious that even liberal academics shoot holes in it. Yet, this justification of moral relativism still turns up on college reading lists. Or John Dewey's "Democracy and Education" -- a 1916 work perhaps more responsible than any other for wrecking public education. Particularly contemptible was Beatrice and Sidney Webb's "Soviet Communism: a New Civilization," anode to Stalinism written at the height of the purges.
The good news is in the best list, from "The Education of Henry Adams" to C.S. Lewis's "The Abolition of Man" to -- no kidding - "The Right Stuff." If you want more, the whole list is at www.isi.org.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas -- and great books -- can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you next time.