March 20, 2015

"When I was 9 or 10, in Kenya, the Nancy Drew books showed me a type of empowered girl that I was not used to at all."

"I used to read those in secret with my sister. When I was older, Charles Dickens inspired my sense of justice and fairness. George Orwell criticized liberals for apologizing for Communism; he continues to inspire me to persist in my position that Islam unreformed, when put into practice, leads to a dystopia. Orwell today would tell us that the Islamic State is Islamic and shame those who refuse to acknowledge a truth so plain."

Said Ayaan Hirsi Ali, answering the question "If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?" (and rejecting the premise because "It can never be one book; it has to be several books, because as a human being you evolve").

She also recommends 2 books that I just added to my Kindle: "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," by Charles MacKay, and "The Quran Speaks," by Bahis Sedq (who she says is "the most sophisticated of all the dissidents in the Muslim world... the Muslim Luther, if there were only a way to keep him safe"). The MacKay book was first published in 1841. Here's an illustration from it:

34 comments:

Unknown said...

It's a qreat question -- how refreshing (and unusual) for the NY Times:)

The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis is one of my favorites.

Also, wow, didn't know she was married to Niall Ferguson at Harvard! A Conservative power couple transcending liberal institutions (Harvard) and depraved religions (Islam). Heh.

Paco Wové said...

"Extraordinary Popular Delusions" just might have influenced me more than any other book I've read. First started reading it in my early teens; it's still good to pick off the shelf, open to a random page, and start reading. Different sections are most intriguing at different ages. The witch mania and Crusades chapters were most interesting in my youth; in money-grubbing old age the South Sea Bubble and Mississippi scheme chapters have become more interesting.

Lyle said...

I am going to read the MacKay book. Seems like a consistently timely read.

rhhardin said...

My father offered me $5 a book to read Dickens.

I never did.

rhhardin said...

I'd recommend Catch-22.

I read it only once but I read it permanently.

Clue, against the academic truths, it's about organizations, not the military.

Anybody in an organization at the time knew that.

Titus said...

I just read Bettyville-it was totally my life story.

tits.

the wolf said...

The comparison to Martin Luther betrays an ignorance of who Luther was and certainly what his movement was in relation was to the Catholic Church. Then again, Luther did author "On The Jews And Their Lies" so perhaps a comparison to a modern Muslim is appropriate.

Fernandinande said...

the wolf said...
Then again, Luther did author "On The Jews And Their Lies" so perhaps a comparison to a modern Muslim is appropriate.


That dude was a proto-Nazi:

Wiki: Luther argued that the Jews were no longer the chosen people but "the devil's people", and referred to them with violent, vile language.[208][209] Citing Deuteronomy 13, wherein Moses commands the killing of idolaters and the burning of their cities and property as an offering to God, Luther called for a "scharfe Barmherzigkeit" ("sharp mercy") against the Jews "to see whether we might save at least a few from the glowing flames."[210] Luther advocated setting synagogues on fire, destroying Jewish prayerbooks, forbidding rabbis from preaching, seizing Jews' property and money, and smashing up their homes, so that these "envenomed worms" would be forced into labour or expelled "for all time".[211] In Robert Michael's view, Luther's words "We are at fault in not slaying them" amounted to a sanction for murder.[212] "God's anger with them is so intense," Luther concluded, "that gentle mercy will only tend to make them worse, while sharp mercy will reform them but little. Therefore, in any case, away with them!"[210]
...
Luther was the most widely read author of his generation, and within Germany he acquired the status of a prophet.[216]

William said...

I like rhhardin's comment that he only read Catch 22 once, but he read it permanently, Some books stick with you and become part of your DNA after the first reading.......Al Smith said that he didn't know any girl who had been ruined by reading a book. I don't know of anyone whose life has undergone significant moral improvement by reading a single book.......What a shame that Dreams From My Father did not exist when Ali was a young girl. What triumphs she might have achieved.

Gabriel said...

I'd like to endorse "Extraordinary Popular Delusions", with the exception of the chapter on the Y1K panic, which never actually happened. But the "bubble" chapters are fantastic.

Quaestor said...

I always cringe when someone asks me what's your favorite this or that -- be book, music, film, or even dessert. I cringe because I know my answer will be either rude and insulting (as in "Jeez, what a stupid question...") or inaccurate, if not an outright lie.

I have no favorite anything, except maybe black turtleneck shirts. I have a lot of them. It simplifies getting dressed in the morning, and they reduce the need for ties to a bare minimum. I also have a favorite car, the '73 Ferrari 246TS -- a convenient choice in that I have little of hope of ever owning or even driving one. That way my fantasy ride need never risk becoming an in-reality-big-disappointment-maintenance-nightmare.

There's an interviewer on C-SPAN, I think his name is Brian Lamb, who routinely asks the idiot's delight question. I guess that's why he's on such a seldom watched outlet.

retail lawyer said...

In her book, Infidel, she talks about the impact of the Nancy Drew books, secretly traded among the schoolgirls. I thought that Boko Haram ("Western Education is Sinful") has at least properly identified their enemies.

The other thing that struck me from her book was that her very first training was to memorize her relatives. It was just like the "begats" in R. Crumb's Genesis, which I was also reading. Christianity moved on a bit, Somalia is still in Old Testament times.

Mackay's book is also terrific.

Expat(ish) said...

@althouse - I hope you didn't pay for it as it's available for the low low price of free from the fine folks at Gutenberg.

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/24518

-XC

Quaestor said...

The kindle edition is priced at an exorbitant no dollars and no cents.

Robert Cook said...

"My father offered me $5 a book to read Dickens."

HARD TIMES is brilliant, its "Mr. Gradgrind" a prescient depiction of man who could be the model for today's pitiless and soulless Ayn Rand acolytes.

(Actually, rather than being prescient, it is reportage, as Dickens reminds us such loathsome creatures have always been with us.)

Ben Calvin said...

I believe in using an Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds test for just about all human activity. Even in my short life span I have seen so many facts people know are true turn out to be complete fiction.

Quaestor said...

Bahis Sedq, author of The Quran Speaks, is a pseudonym (or perhaps more accurately a nom de guerre). Sedq assurers his readers that though he has sought safety in anonymity he nonetheless has no fear of the vast majority of Muslims.

Sedq should consult with Salman Rushdie on the good will of the Muslim majority.

Wilbur said...

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

The Historical Baseball Abstract by Bill James

A Child's Garden of Grass - author forgotten

American Constitutional Law by Laurence Tribe

Michael McNeil said...

Martin Luther also wrote this:

“[T]hat silly fool, that Devil's bride, Dame Reason, God's worst enemy….
We know that reason is the Devil's harlot, and can do nothing but slander and harm all that God says and does. If, outside of Christ, you wish by your own thoughts to know your relation to God, you will break your neck.
Thunder strikes him who examines. It is Satan's wisdom to tell what God is, and by doing so he will draw you into the abyss. Therefore keep to revelation and do not try to understand.”

Martin Luther

(Quoted in John Herman Randall Jr., The Making of the Modern Mind, 1940, pp. 166-167.)

Quaestor said...

Correction: my favorite car is the '73 Ferrari 246GTS, not 246TS. The G on my keyboard needs a bit more than a touch to register an input.

traditionalguy said...

This is no time for Luther bashing Luther wasn't perfect, but he enjoyed more blessings from God for his life of courage and earth shaking writing skills than the whole Industrial Strength Papacy enjoyed in 1700 years of screwing religious people out of their freedom and their money.

Beldar said...

When I was 9 or 10, after exhausting the Bobsie Twins and Hardy Brothers, I turned to the Nancy Drew series, and those books showed me a type of empowered girl that reminded me of my big sister. But that's the difference between growing up in Texas and in Kenya, I guess.

Patrick Wahl said...

The McKay book is quite interesting. After reading it, you will notice these little bubbles or manias springing up and then vanishing again. It's a constantly repeating pattern.

Quaestor said...

Whoa, Beldar! What an admission! Or is that a confession... wrung out of you by the cunning stratagems of that brilliant teen detective queen who listens at keyholes and always has a just what she needs in her stylish yet sensible purse?

I can see it now, The Secret of the Tall Attorney, and the secret is you're actually hollow and used by Jack Slade and his gang of smugglers to hide stolen diamonds.

Quaestor said...

Here's some nostalgia for you, Beldar.

David said...

If I had a sister, I might have followed Beldar's path. But no sister, and thus no Nancy Drew in the house.

I do think I read every Hardy Boys though. I wonder how it all turned out for Frank and Joe. Might make a good film or TV series.

wildswan said...

My car has a moon roof and when I open it and the wind ruffles my long blond hair as I whip around in my sporty blue roadster, I know I'm still 10.

Laslo Spatula said...

"I read it only once but I read it permanently."

THAT should be chiseled in stone.

Admiration.

I am Laslo.

Michael K said...

"didn't know she was married to Niall Ferguson at Harvard! "

They have a child.

Extraordinary delusions has been a powerful book for me since I read it in college.

buwaya puti said...

Good for her, didn't know she had a baby.
Glad to hear it.

Anil Petra said...

The Left said that the Soviet Union was not true Communism. So, of course, the Islamic State is not truly Muslim.

Tom Perkins said...

@ traditionalguy

3/20/15, 5:45 PM

True that. Before there could be liberty, crown and crozier both had to be broken.

JohnSteele said...

If you like MacKay, you might read some of Rene Girard's work. As some have mentioned above, once you see how social contagion works, you will see it everywhere. And it has been given a huge new theater to operate via the internet.

PeterJ said...

I got "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds", thinking only of climate-change delusions. But of course it applies to many of the popular delusions which are abroad in our own time, such as "religion of peace" nonsense.