The MacLamity

The News That Stays News, Reported Live

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

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Is there a correlation between the impact of a book and the lack of readers it attracts? The truth behind that age-old sneer about the supposedly top novels going unread is that because a book is so important there is no need to read it. What communist needs to read the communist manifesto? Doing so will only confuse the issue. And really, no free marketeer should have to read the "Wealth of Nations" until they reach the circle of hell devoted them. That does seem to be the message of Melvyn Bragg's list of 12 British books that changed the world:


Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton (1687)
Married Love by Marie Stopes (1918)
Magna Carta by Members of the English Ruling Classes (1215)
The Rule Book of Association Football by a Group of Former English Public School Men (1863)
On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (1859)
On the Abolition of the Slave Trade by William Wilberforce in Parliament, immediately printed in several versions (1789)
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792)
Experimental Researches in Electricity by Michael Faraday (3 volumes, 1839, 1844, 1855)
Patent Specification for Arkwright's Spinning Machine by Richard Arkwright (1769)
The King James Bible by William Tyndale and 54 Scholars Appointed by the King (1611)
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776)
The First Folio by William Shakespeare (1623)


Who needs to read Arkwright's patent to feel its impact on industry, or read Principia to learn calculus?