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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

‘Things Fall Apart’ Named One Of The ‘50 Most Influential Books Of The Last 50 Years’



Chinua Achebe’s 1958 classic novel,
‘Things Fall Apart’ has been named one
of the ‘50 Most Influential Books of the
last 50 years', by a group called
SuperScholar. The top 50 most
influential books of the last 50 years
when you continue...
1. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart
(1958), as the most widely read book in
contemporary African literature, focuses
on the clash of colonialism, Christianity,
and native African culture.
2. Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide
to the Galaxy (1979) reinvented the
science fiction genre, making it at once
sociologically incisive as well as funny.
3. Robert Atkins’ Dr Atkins’s New Diet
Revolution (1992, last edition 2002)
launched the low-carbohydrate diet
revolution, variants of which continue
to be seen in numerous other diet
programs.
4. Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion
(2006), drawing on his background as
an evolutionary theorist to elevate
science at the expense of religion,
propelled the neo-atheist movement.
5. Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the
American Mind (1987) set the tone for
the questioning of political correctness
and the reassertion of a “canon” of
Western civilization.
6. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code
(2003), an entertaining thriller, has been
enormously influential in getting people
to think that Jesus is not who Christians
say he is and that Christianity is all a
conspiracy.
7. Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at
Wounded Knee (1970) transformed the
way we view native Americans as they
lost their land, lives, and dignity to
expanding white social and military
pressures.
8. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962)
more than any other book helped
launch the environmental movement.
9. Noam Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures
(1957), laying out his ideas of
transformational grammar,
revolutionized the field of linguistics
and at the same time dethroned
behaviorism in psychology.
10. Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of
Highly Successful People (1989) set the
standard for books on leadership and
effectiveness in business.
11. Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box
(1996), though roundly rejected by the
scientific community, epitomizes the
challenge of so-called intelligent design
to evolutionary theory and has
spawned an enormous literature, both
pro and con.
12. Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and
Steel (1997), in employing evolutionary
determinism as a lens for understanding
human history, reignited grand history
making in the spirit Spengler and
Toynbee.
13. Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose
(1980) examines, in the context of a
mystery at a medieval monastery, the
key themes of premodernity, modernity
and postmodernity.
14. Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for
Meaning (1962) provides a particularly
effective answer to totalitarian attempts
to crush the human spirit, showing how
humanity can overcome horror and
futility through finding meaning and
purpose.
15. Betty Friedan’s The Feminine
Mystique (1963), in giving expression to
the discontent women felt in being
confined to the role of homemaker,
helped galvanize the women’s
movement.
16. Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and
Freedom (1962) argued that capitalism
constitutes a necessary condition for
political liberties and thus paved the
way for the conservative economics of
the Reagan years.
17. Daniel Goleman’s Emotional
Intelligence (1995) showed clearly how
skills in dealing with and reading
emotions can be even more important
than the cognitive skills that are usually
cited as the official reason for career
advancement.
18. Jane Goodall’s In the Shadow of Man
(1971), in relating her experiences with
chimpanzees in the wild, underscored
the deep connection between humans
and the rest of the animal world.
19. John Gray’s Men Are from Mars,
Women Are from Venus (1992), in
highlighting and elevating the
differences between men and women
in their relationships, challenged the
contention that gender differences are
socially constructed.
20. Alex Haley’s Roots (1976), by
personalizing the tragic history of
American slavery through the story of
Kunta Kinte, provided a poignant
challenge to racism in America.
21. Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of
Time (1988, updated and expanded
1998), by one of the age’s great
physicists, attempts to answer the big
questions of existence, not least how
the universe got here.
22. Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 (1961)
etched into public consciousness a deep
skepticism of bureaucracies, which in
the book are portrayed as self-serving
and soul-destroying.
23. Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of
Scientific Revolutions (1962, last edition
1978) changed our view of science
from a fully rational enterprise to one
fraught with bias and irrational
elements.
24. Harold Kushner’s When Bad Things
Happen to Good People (1981)
transformed people’s view of God,
exonerating God of evil by making him
less than all-powerful.
25. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
(1960) served as prelude to the civil
rights advances of the 1960s by
portraying race relations from a fresh
vantage—the vantage of an innocent
child untainted by surrounding racism
and bigotry.
26. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One
Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), as an
example magical realism, epitomizes the
renaissance in Latin American literature.
27. Alasdair McIntyre’s After Virtue
(1981, last edition 2007) is one of the
20th century’s most important works of
moral philosophy, critiquing the
rationalism and irrationalism that
pervade modern moral discourse.
28. Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved
(1987) provides a profound and
moving reflection on the impact of
American slavery.
29. Abdul Rahman Munif’s Cities of Salt
(1984-89) is a quintet of novels in
Arabic focusing on the psychological,
sociological, and economic impact on
the Middle East of oil.
30. Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed>
(1965), attacking car industry’s lax
safety standards, not only improved the
safety of cars but also mainstreamed
consumer protection (we take such
protections for granted now).
31. National Commission on Terrorist
Attacks’ The 9/11 Commission Report
(2004), though not the final statement
on the 9/11 disaster, encapsulated the
broader threat of terrorism in the new
millennium.
32. Roger Penrose’s The Emperor’s New
Mind (1988) provides a sweeping view
of 20thcentury’s scientific advances
while at the same time challenging the
reductionism prevalent among many
scientists.
33. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (1957)
has become a key inspiration for
conservative economics in challenging
entitlements and promoting unimpeded
markets.
34. John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice
(1971, last edition 1999) is the most
significant effort to date to resolve the
problem of distributive justice and has
formed the backdrop for public policy
debates.
35. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series
(seven volumes, 1997-2007), loved by
children, panned by many literary
critics, has nonetheless set the standard
for contemporary children’s literature.
36. Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses
(1988), which led Iran’s Ayatollah
Khomeini to issue a death edict (fatwa)
against Rushdie, underscored the clash
between Islamic fundamentalism and
Western civilization.
37. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (1980), based
on his wildly popular PBS series by the
same name, inspired widespread
interest in science while promoting the
idea that nothing beyond the cosmos
exists.
38. Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation
(2001) details the massive impact that
the U.S. fast food industry has had on
people’s diets not just in the U.S. but also
across the globe.
39. Amartya Sen’s Resources, Values and
Development (1984, last edition 1997)
develops an approach to economics
that, instead of focusing on utility
maximization, attempts to alleviate
human suffering by redressing the
poverty that results from economic
mismanagement.
40. B. F. Skinner’s Beyond Freedom and
Dignity (1971) attacked free will and
moral autonomy in an effort to justify
the use of scientific (behavioral)
methods in improving society.
41. Aleksander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag
Archipelago (in three volumes, 1974-78)
relentlessly exposed the totalitarian
oppression of the former Soviet Union
and, more than any other book, was
responsible for its government’s
subsequent dissolution.
42. Hernando de Soto’s The Mystery of
Capitalism (2000) argues that the
absence of legal infrastructure,
especially as it relates to property, is the
key reason that capitalism fails when it
does fail.
43. Benjamin Spock’s The Common
Sense Book of Baby and Child Care
(1946, last edition 2004) sold 50 million
copies and revolutionized how
Americans raise their children.
44. Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan
(2007, last edition 2010) provides the
most trenchant critique to date of the
financial and monetary backdrop to the
current economic crisis.
45. Mao Tse-tung’s The Little Red Book,
aka Quotations From Chairman Mao
(1966) was required reading
throughout China and epitomized his
political and social philosophy.
46. Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven
Life (2002), though addressed to the
American evangelical culture, has
crossed boundaries and even led to
Warren giving the invocation at
President Obama’s inauguration.
47. James D. Watson’s The Double Helix
(1969), in presenting a personal account
of his discovery, with Francis Crick, of
the structure of DNA, not only recounted
one of the 20thcentury’s greatest
scientific discoveries but also showed
how science, as a human enterprise,
really works.
48. E. O. Wilson’s Sociobiology (1975)
challenged the idea that cultural
evolution can be decoupled from
biological evolution, thus engendering
the fields of evolutionary psychology
and evolutionary ethics.
49. Malcolm X’s The Autobiography of
Malcolm X (1965), written posthumously
by Alex Haley from interviews, portrays
a complex activist for human rights at a
complex time in American history.
50. Muhammad Yunus’ Banker to the
Poor (1999, last edition 2007) lays out
how “micro-lending” made it possible to
provide credit to the poor, thereby
offering a viable way to significantly
diminish world poverty.

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