June 1, 2005

List-o-mania.

Here's a list getting a lot of links today: Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries. The first three, sure, but after that, it's more, huh? What's really the game here? The first three seem to be there so we can slam the other things -- "The Second Sex," "The Feminine Mystique" -- by putting them in their company.

But people love lists. People will read lists. There's something so readable about them. In 1977, "The Book of Lists" was a huge best seller. I happen to have a copy here. Let me show you my favorite page:

A page from

UPDATE: The first page of "The Book of Lists" is a set of seven lists of "The Most Hated and Feared Persons in History" for the years 1970-1976. Hitler comes in Number 1 for all the years except 1972 and 1973, when Nixon comes in first! In fact, 1972 was a good year for Hitler, when he made it all the way down to fourth place. Idi Amin and Mao Tse-tung were, along with Nixon, more hated and feared. Satan was in fifth place that year. Amusingly, by 1976, Nixon is off the five-person list altogether, and Jimmy Carter is on, tied for fourth place with Count Dracula. The list was based on asking "3,500 international visitors" to the Madame Tussaud Wax Museum in London "which persons -- past or present -- they hated the most."

16 comments:

Mark Kaplan said...

We have another example of Althouse as the Queen of Irony.

HaloJonesFan said...

Boy's favorite heroes: Elton John? Henry Kissinger?

Okay, well, the latter I can understand--Jill St. John, after all--but wow, they say we're less-repressed and more-permissive, but how many modern teenage boys would put Elton John as their #2 "favorite hero"?

Matt said...

I'd be interested to see the results of a similar poll taken now. My bet is that Bush and Blair would probably both make the top 5.

Pancho said...

The boys of 1977 must have been real wusses. Chris Evert in #4? Real men don't vote for female tennis stars. This is the same pack of pansies who grew up and supported the John Dean campaign.

leeontheroad said...

What office did JOHN Dean run for? I think you're confusing the Nixon counsel and a doc named Howard, Pancho, but enlighten me if I'm wrong about that.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

I've never understood the attitude that real men don't like women -- that men who like women are pansies. I don't get the logic.

SteveR said...

As I recall 1977 and Chrissie Evert, it was very real for this man.

As far as the list you originally linked to, it loses any credibility when you throw Charles Darwin in there. I'm a conservative Christian but that's just shallow analysis, IMHO

Ron said...

ah...1977...Chris Evert, yes! But Dorothy Hamill...even more Yes!!


RLC, I got ya back, my brother! Up with the women-love!

Peace out!

Kathleen B. said...

the best part about the list of books is the blurbs!!
That John Dewey - he "encouraged the teaching of thinking “skills” instead." yes, that is clearly when it all started to go downhill: teaching thinking skills.

And they don't even attempt to refute The Feminine Mystique! It's just bad because Betty was "the lover of a young Communist physicist"!

Man that was a good laugh!

I am also having a laugh at Halo and Pancho's comments. I am assuming they are joking. Nice work gentlemen!

Ann Althouse said...

I think there's a difference between having someone as your hero and loving them, though.

Kathleen B. said...

I think there's a difference between having someone as your hero and loving them, though.

maybe because with a "hero" you don't see their faults, but with love you have to see and love (or accept) their faults?

I do think that you can't really love a woman if you see her as inferior and undeserving of hero-worship.

SteveR said...

Ann: In 1977 I was 20 years old, I'm sure I pretty well blurred the distinction. Now I'd put Maria Sharapova and Tom Brady on completely different lists.

Michael said...

I LOVED The Book of Lists as a kid. My public library had 3 of the series (not sure how many there were total), and I probably checked out each of them a half-dozen times. Is it any wonder I became a librarian...

Off to ebay to order a copy...

Bruce Hayden said...

Well, looking at the panelists, I guess I can see why the books that made the top 10 list did so.

But I would suggest that they let their political biases overcome their common sense.

I would agree with them on: 1(Marx), 2 (Hitler), 3 (Mao), 6 (Marx), 9 (Nietzsche) and 10 (Keynes), which, I guess, at 6 of 10, a fellow traveler.

Kinsey (4) and Friedan (7) may have gone a bit overboard. But, I would suggest that they were the antithesis to the then prevailing thesis. In other words, though they went too far, the resulting synthesis is, to my mind, quite positive - esp. in view of our discussion yesterday on sexual differences, etc.

Bruce Hayden said...

I have to agree with Richard - after all, it is women who make us men (and, presumably, visa versa). I would suggest that any man who doesn't like women is probably deep down worried about his own sexuality.

fish said...
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