what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Key Books of the 20th Century - Part I

For the past few days I’ve been engaged in a frustrating and probably useless task – trying to list the non-fiction books I think worthy of consideration as the "seminal books" of the last century….for English-speakers. This links to a table you will find on page 2 of the paper "Ways of Seeing...the Global Crisis" which tries to give a sense of the key debates of the post war period........

Any such list has to be arbitrary since league tables of book purchases or library loans are difficult to get hold of, unreliable and nationally biased. And note the dual (rather heavy) qualifications "I think" and "worthy of consideration"..... it is a list drawn up by a white male who had a Scottish university education (in politics and economics) in the early 1960s and is limited therefore by that interest in political economy – rather than, for example, psychology…. (although I have included the injunctions of Dale Carnegie and Benjamin Spock as well as the more thoughtful analyses of Carl Rodgers)
But "Mein Kampf" and the writings of Ann Raynd are excluded - despite the influence they had...... I simply can't view them as serious.....

My surfing did unearth some “mega-lists” generated from 107 "best of" book lists from a variety of sources eg this one which is, however, strongly biased to American reading….
As a starter, let me offer this list of 35 books – taking us to 1973. 

Political Parties – Robert Michels (1913)
Public Opinion - Walter Lippmann (1921)
Revolt of the Masses - Jose Ortega y Gasset (1930)
How to make friends and influence people - Dale Carnegie (1936)
The Managerial Revolution – James Burnham (1941)
Escape from Freedom - Erich Fromm (1941)
Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy – Joseph Schumpeter (1942)
The Open Society and its Enemies - Karl Popper (1944)
The Road to Serfdom - Friedrich Hayek (1944)
Baby and Child Care - Benjamin Spock (1946)
The Second Sex - Simone de Beauvoir (19949)
The Lonely Crowd - David Riesmann (1950)
The Power Elite – C Wright Mills (1956)
The Future of Socialism - CAR Crosland (1956)
The Hidden Persuaders – Vance Packard (1957)
The Affluent Society – JK Galbraith (1958)

The End of Ideology – Daniel Bell (1960)
The Fire Next Time - James Baldwin (1962)
Silent Spring – Rachel Carson (1962)
Capitalism and Freedom - Milton Friedmann (1962)
The Feminine Mystique – Betty Friedan (1963)
Unsafe at any speed - Ralph Nadar (1965)
The New Industrial State – JK Galbraith (1967)
The Costs of Economic Growth – EJ Mishan 1967
The Active Society – Amitai Etzioni (1968)
Deschooling Society - Ivan Illich (1970)
Future Shock – Alvin Toffler (1970)
The Limits to Growth – Club of Rome (1972)
Small is Beautiful – Ernst Schumacher (1973)

Somehow I think its going to difficult to find an equivalent number for the 40 years which followed!!

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