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Fakültesi Dergisi

Cilt XIII. Sayı: 3    Eylül 1955

There is a popular misconception which holds that books are futile
objects, with very limited power and influence. The idea prevails widely
that books are harmless, innocent, and ineffective, full of theory, and of
little significance for the practical man of affairs. According to this attitude,
books have a place in the schools; they are appropriate for children, in¬
valids, and club women, and perhaps they may have some value for recrea¬
tional purposes. Otherwise, they are of slight consequence.

The savage in the jungle is given a more realistic understanding than
this, as he bows down before the printed page, with its strange power for
carrying messages. Throughout history, the evidence is piled high that
books frequently are not inanimate, peaceful articles, belonging to the
cloistered shades and academic quiet of monasteries, universities, and
other retreats from the evil world. On the contrary, books may be dynamic
and vital, capable of changing the whole direction of events, sometimes
for good, sometime for evil. Whenever dictators and other tyrants have
wanted to suppress opposition and to kill ideas, their first thought, almost
invariably, has been to destroy the books, and oftentimes their authors.
They were shrewd enough to realize the explosive forces pent up in books.

In order to demonstrate the enormous power wielded by books, I have
selected fıfteen titles which, in my opinion, have exerted the greatest in¬
fluence on the history, economics, culture, civilization, and science of our
time. There would be general agreement, probably, on about fifty per cent
of the list. After that, individual choices would vary. My principal crite¬
rion is that each book selected must have had a profound effect on human
thought and action, not in one nation alone, but for a large segment of
the world.

A further limitation has been placed on the list by confining it to
works in science and the social sciences. This omits the vast field of religion
and philosophy - the Bible, the Talmud, the Koran, Confucius, the Greek
philosophers, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Martin Luther. It also leaves out
the great literary masterpieces - fiction, poetry, drama, essays -, many of
which have deeply impressed society in various periods

My reasons for excluding religion and literatüre are not caused by
any failure to see their importance - actually their total impact may well
be greater than all other areas combined -, but rather by the intangible
nature of their influence, and the difficulty in measuring their effect by
any objective, non-controversial standards.

Of the fifteen selected titles, six classify as science, published from 1543
to 1915; and nine as social science, printed from 1523 to 1927. Such a classi¬
fication has no particular significance, however, for the social influence of
the several scientific works that are included has been fully as profound as
those defined in the social sciences proper. Three of the scientific books
belong in the physical sciences and three to the biological sciences. Each
group can be most logically treated in chronological order, with every one
building upon what has gone before, a characteristic of modern science.

Following this order, the first name to appear is that of Nicolaus Go-
pernicus, with his book
Concerning the Rerolutions of the Celestial Spheres, 1543.
"The father of modern astronomy," as he is called, was born in Poland
in 1473.

For more than fourteen centuries, a system devised by Claudius Pto¬
lemy, an Egyptian astronomer, had been accepted as the true conception
of the universe. Ptolemy held that the world was a fıxed and immovable
body, situated at the center of the universe about which all heavenly bo¬
dies, including the sun and the fixed stars, revolved.

Doubtful of this theory, Copernicus started testing a new system which
he conceived. This was a century before the invention of the telescope,
and his instruments were primitive. His conclusions, described in his cele¬
brated book, were cataclysmic. The sun was center of the universe, the earth
only a planet, like Mars, and it and all the planets revolved about the sun.
Upon the Copernican system, modern astronomy was built. The book was
completed in 1530, and dedicated to Pope Paul III, a strategical consid¬
eration, but not published for thirteen years. Copernicus did not care to
state his views too bluntly for fear of the Inquisition and heresy trials. Fi¬
nally, when Copernicus was age 70, he was persuaded to release the book
for publication. It did not come off the press until a few hours before his

Later astronomers added to and corrected Copernicus' theory: Kepler
showed that the planets moved not in circles, as stated by Copernicus, but
ellipses; Newton formulated the laws under which the planets moved;

Galileo made important contributions; and some of the remaining riddles
were solved by Einstein. Perhaps more than any of these, however, Coper¬
nicus' book revolutionized man's outlook upon the universe, and shook
the foundations of philosophy and religion.

The next great figure is Sir Isaac Newton, whose Philosophise Naturalis
Principia Mathmatica
came out in 1687. One authority has commented
that Newton's "laws of physics are employed in the design of every motor
car, every airplane, every Diesel locomctive, every safe railway bridge."

Newton conceived his two greatest contributions to physics and math¬
ematics in the 1660's, as a young man in his mid-twenties. These were
the principles of gravitation and the differential calculus. It was not until
about twenty years later that his great treatise on physical permitted was
science by the reluctant author to be given to the world.

Within two years after graduation from Cambridge University, New¬
ton made three great scientific discoveries, each of which would.have en¬
titled him to a distinguished place in the history of science. First was the
mathematical method known today as the differential calculus, which
forms the basis of modern mathematics, and is the chief instrument by
which problems in theoretical physical science are now solved. The second
was the law of the composition of light, which led Newton on to the study
of the nature of color, the character of white light, and an explanation of
the rainbow. The third, and most famous discovery was the law of universal
gravitation, which is said to have stirred the imaginations of scientists more
than any theoretical discovery of modern times, with the possible exception
of the Gopernican system. According to a well-known story, Newton arrived
at the law of universal gravitation by observing an apple falling from a
tree, and from a contemporary biographer who knew Newton, there seems
to be an actual basis for the tale.

The three volumes of the Principia were produced in a period of about
seventeen months, an incredible achievement, during which it is reported
that Newton was so engrossed he often went without food and took very
little time to sleep. He probably would not have written or published his
monumental work except for the urging of his friend Edmund Halley, the
astronomer, and a promise made to the Royal Society. The work was finally
issued in a small edition in 1687, bearing the imprimatur of the learned
diarist, Samuel Pepys, as President of the Royal Society. Newton himself
became president of the Royal Scciety in 1708, remaining in that position
until his death in 1727, at the ripe age of 85.

Jumping now in this progression from the seventeenth to the twen¬
tieth century, brings us to Albert Einstein, who has been called "the god¬
father of the atomic age."

In 1905, while serving as an obscure official in the Swiss patent office,
Einstein published a paper entitled "On the Electrodynamics of Moving
Bodies," in which he set forth the special theory of relativity. This theory
challenged man's existing concepts of time and space, of matter and energy,
and has since prcfoundly affected science and philosophy. In a second
article on relativity, published the same year, Einstein developed a new
equation for the conversion of mass into energy. The equation reads: mul¬
tiply a mass by the speed of light and again by the speed of light, and you
have its enormous potential field of energy. As one physicist commented,
"Without that equation experimenters might stili have stumbled upon
the fission of uranium, but it is doubtful if they would have realized its sig¬
nificance in terms of energy, or of bombs. . . Influence is a weak word for
the work of Albert Einstein. The theories he advanced were revolutioary.
In them was born the atomic age."

Einstein's first comprehensive book on relativity was published in
Germany in 1915, and this is therefore the work listed for him.

Turning from the physical to the biological or "life" sciences, the first
name chronologically is William Harvey, author of
Essay on the Motion of
the Heart and Blood,
1628, a seventy-two page book published in Latin in
Frankfort, Germany. In this treatise was described for the first time the
discovery of the circulation of the blood. Harvey exerted a greater influ -
ence perhaps upon modern medicine than any other individual, because
of his use of experimental methods.

For more than a thousand years before Harvey, no substantial con¬
tribution to man's knowledge of blood circulation had been made. Aris¬
totle had taught that blood originated in the liver, went from there to the
heart, and then through the body to the veins. Others of the time taught
that the arteries carried a subtle kind of air or spirits. Galen in the second
century, A. D., discovered that the arteries carried blood, not air, but for
centuries after him physicians believed that a spirit of some sort had a part
in • the blood system, perhaps animating the heart

After graduating from Cambridge, Harvey took a medical degree in
Italy, and returned to England to become personal physician to James I,
and later Charles I". By nature, he was more of an experimenter than a
practicioner of medicine. He dissected and watched for evidences of cir¬
culation in dogs, pigs, serpents, frogs, fishes, oysters, lobsters, shrimps, and
even insects. By the time he published his theory, it was well known to his
contemporaries through his lectures, and already widely accepted, though
it naturally met with conservative opposition at first.

Skipping a little over two centuries, we come to another great biolo¬
gist, Charles Darwin, and another book that shook the world,
The Origin
of Species.
Darwin's career was profoundly influenced by his five-year voy¬
age asnaturalist on the
Beagle, 1831-1836. He came back to England full of
thoughts on evolution, which he had gained from a study of South Ameri¬
can fossils, Galapagos birds, and from the general knowledge of the complex
inter-dependence of all living things which he had picked up in wander¬
ings. He began, as a result, his first notebook on evolution, the beginning
The Origin of Species. The first rough draft of his theory was written out
in thirty-five pages in 1942, and this was enlarged to a fuller sketch of 230
pages in 1844 From 1844. to 1858 when Darwin began to write
The Origin
of Species,
he read enormously, going over whole series of periodicals, books
of travel, sport, general natural history, horticulture, and the breeding
of animals, He prepared skeletons of many kinds of domesticated birds,
comparing the age and weight of their bones with those of the wild species.
He kept tame pigeons and made laborious crossing experiments. Extensive
correspondence was carried on with other scientists on the transport of seed,
geological questions, geographical distribution, and many other points.
Finally, the book came out in 1859 in an edition of 1250 copies, all of
which were sold on the day of publication. A second edition of 3000 copies
came off the press about two months later.

Darwin's thesis had an explosive effect on scientists, clergy, and lay¬
men the world over. It has had a penetrating influence on our whole con¬
temporary world, not only in the biological sciences, but in nearly every
other discipline, particularly psychology, religion, sociology, political
science, and education, and to a considerable degree the physical sciences.

The third and last of the great biologists is Sigmund Freud, founder
of psychoanalysis. Freud, a Viennese, set out to become a medical doctor,
and was engaged at first in the praetice of neurology and pediatrics. He
became interested in clinical psychology, especially in hypnosis as a means
of treating hysteria and reviving hidden memories. Later, about 1894,
he replaced hypnotism by the method of "free association", which is the
core of the psychoanalytic method. He investigated various types of psy¬
choneuroses, particularly the influence of the subconscious upon conscious¬
ness, the interpretation of dreams, the existence and importance of in¬
fantile sexuality, and repressed complexes. Freud developed an elaborate
array of concepts, terms, and dogmas which constitute psychoanalytic

The book which placed Freud and psychoanalysis on the map origi¬
nated in the United States. In 1909, Freud received an invitation to be
the honored guest at the twentieth anniversary of the founding of Clark
University, and to deliver a series of lectures there. Present on that notable
occasion were the greatest psychologists of the time from Europe and Ame¬
rica. Freud's five lectures were at once translated into English, and sub¬
sequently published in many other languages. Literally millions of copies
have sold of this Freudian product on American soil,
Introductory Lectures
on Psychoanalysis.

Freud's influence is difficult to weigh, but it may not be too much
to say that he changed our whole outlook on civilization. The prejudices
which he had to surmount in order to spread his gospel are more intense
than even Copernicus and Darwin had to contend with. Nevertheless, psy¬
choanalytic principles are now widely accepted in medicine, psychiatry,
and psychology, as well as by millions of the lay public, including Hollywood,
the novelists, and the playwrights.

Proceeding now to social science books whose impact has been similar
in force to those named for the sciences, a chronological approach is per¬
haps as logical as any. The first title, then, would be Niccolo Machiavelli's
The Prince, printed in 1523, certainly one of the great books of all time.
As one commentator suggested, "So much observation on the facts of poli¬
tical life has never been compressed in so small a package by anyone else."
The Prince has been the treasured handbook of those who have aspired to
tyrannical rule. It was the favorite nightcap of Louis XIV, and guided
the career of Frederick the Great. A carefully annotated copy of it was
found in Napoleon's coach at Waterloo. Statesmen of the Talleyrand-
Metternich-Bismarck type have abvays followed the Machiavelli code.
Mussolini claimed Machiavelli as his spiritual ancestor. These are a few
of many influenced by Machiavelli's work.

Machiavelli was a minor official in Rcnaissance Florence, who learned
politics by first-hand observation as a sccretary and ambassador. He was
sent as envoy to Cesare Borgia. Machiavelli was charmed by Cesare's com¬
bination of political audacity, prudence, cruelty, fraud, firmness, and f lexi-
bility. In
The Prince, Machiavelli idealized Cesare's political character,
seeing in him the strong man who might some day unite Italy.

The Prince was written after Machiavelli lost his government job, and
records what he had learned about realistic politics. He analyzed how
power is won, lost, retained, Consolidated, transformed, and what it is that
moves men to obey, fight, betray, and revolt. Taking the Medici in Flo¬
rence, the Borgias in Rome, and the King of France as examples, he was
the first to understand that the main purpose of politics is success. Machia-
vell assumed that man is a political animal and will behave like an ani¬
mal. Necessity overrules ethics. Machiavelli was almost inhumanly detached
and unemotional. He believed that fair dealing may be too costly a luxury
for a ruler. Over and over again he had seen chicanery beat clumsy hon¬
esty, and the experience impressed him. Nevertheless, Machiavelli did
not assert that the state ought to be immoral. What he taught was that
the state had nothing to do with morality. He wished to separate politics
from ethics. He believed in a strong state, and a well-trained governing
elite, stressed war and militarism. All these things entitle Machiavelli to
be called not only the father of power politics, but also the father of the
martial spirit, of the propaganda technique, and of the totalitarian state.
His writings are generally accepted today as the greatest expositions of
the realistic tradition of political theory. That is why
The Prince has been
a best seller for over 400 years.

Next in order is Adam Smith, with his The Wealth of Nations, in 1776.
In this work, Smith produced one of the most hard-headed, fact-füled,
and influential books about business ever written. It has made him the
patron saint of free enterprise and a businessman's hero, considered by
many to be the founder of modern capitalism. Buckle in his
History of Civi¬
doubtless exaggerated in calling The Wealth of Nations "in its ultimate
results probably the most important book that has ever been written."
But even Max Lerner, who is unfriendly to Smith's doctrines, conceded
that, "It has done as much perhaps as any modern book thus far to shape
the whole landscape of life as we live it today."

Smith may have begun work on his magnum opus as early as 1750, but
it matured slowly, and was not published until 1776. A work of 380,000
words, readable but discursive, it discussed everything from history to money
and taxes, the sate of education, and the agricultural practices of the
Romans, plus contemporary economic problems. Essentially, the book
was a rebellion against the established economic order of Smith's day.
His sympathies were with the workers and farmers. He argued against the
mercantilist notion that a nation's wealth consists of gold and silver, and for
the idea that a nation's real wealth is the consumable goods it produces. He
was against tariffs, export subsidies, and so-called "favorable balances of
trade." Instead, he favored free competition and a free market, with as
little governmental interference as possible, high wages for workers, and
other ideas which we would classify today as "enlightened capitalism."

The enormous, world-wide prestige of The Wealth of Nations did not
come for some years after its publication, when Britain had become indus¬
trially revolutionized in the nineteenth century, and by following Smith's
precepts, became, for a time, the world's richest nation.

Published in the same year as Smith's Wealth of Nations was another
title on my üst, but of a very different nature. This was Thomas Paine's
Common Sense.

The revolutionary political pamphleteer and agitator, Thomas Paine,
was born in England, and did not come to America until 1774, when
he vvas thirty-seven years of age. In England, he had followed a variety
of occupations: privateer, corset maker, exciseman, school teacher, to¬
bacconist, and grocer. He had done little writing in England, but in Ame¬
rica took naturally to journalism.

A little over a year after his arrival, on January 10, 1776, Paine pub¬
lished an anonymous pamphlet of forty-seven pages, priced at two shillings,
and entitled
Common Sense, It urged an immediate declaration of independ¬
ence, not merely as a striking political gesture that would help to unite
the colonoies and secure French and Spanish aid, but as the fulfillment
of America's moral obligation to the world. Paine argued that the colonies
must break with Britain eventually, in any case, because, as he put it, "a
colony could not remain tied to an island." In this little book, Paine may
be said to have discovered America's mission. His political ideology was
close to Thomas Jefferson's, though he insisted on the need for a strong
federal union as opposed to too much state sovereignty.

The success of Common Sense was amazing. In less than three months,
120,000 copies ,were sold, and in all about half a million, a large total in
relation to the population of the colonies.

As one discerning commentator, Crane Brinton, pointed out, "Con¬
ceivably the United States of America might have become a free nation
Common Sense never been written. But even those whc see history deter¬
mined by economic and other physical, concrete forces can hardly deny
Common Sense helped to humanize and to concentrate such forces."

Next on our list is another American, a striking contrast to the firebrand,
Thomas Paine, but similar in his effect. This is Henry Thoreau. During
the summer of 1845, Thoreau was arrested for non-payment of poll
tax. He was protesting against slavery and chose "civil clisobedience" as
a form protest. He spent one night in jail, the tax, to his disgust, being
paid by one of his aunts. Thoreau told the story of his jailing in his essay
"On the Duty of Civil Disobedience," published in 1849. He quoted
Jefferson's statement, "that government is best which governs least," and
carried it further by declaring, "that government is best which governs
not at all." What Thoreau actually meant was that the citizen's duty is
to resist evil in the state even to the point of open and deliberate disobedi¬
ence to it. Thoreau was an individualist rather than an anarchist. His essen¬
tial thesis was: The state was made for man and not man for the state.

Now we come to the next chapter in the stcry. During the period
when Mahatma Gandhi spent in South Africa, 1893-1914, he encountered
problems of racialism, imperialism, and nationalism. While in South Af¬
rica, he read Thoreau's essay on "Civil Disobedience." and it made a pro¬
found impression on him. Under its inspiration, he used South Africa as a
laboratory for the development of a new weapon — the weapon of non-violent
resistance in the struggle of a handful of Hindese against the might of the
British Empire and the government of South Africa. Later, the same
weapon was used by Gandhi in India, a campaign which ended by India
gaining her independence from Britain.

Gandhi was also greatly influenced by Thoreau's ideas on the simple
way of life and anti-industrialism. The spinning wheel, the emblem of non¬
violent resistance in India, had both political and sentimental significance
for Gandhi.

Another relentless enemy of slavery threw her bombshell about three
years after Thoreau's, when Harriet Beecher Stowe's
Uncle Tom's Gabin
appeared. Harriet was the daughter of Lyman Beecher, pastor of the Congre¬
gational Church, who moved to Cincinnati to become head of the Lane

Theological Seminary. There Harriet married Calvin Ellis Stowe, Pro¬
fessor of Biblical Literature. The Seminary was a hotbed of anti-slavery
sentiment and abolitionism, but apparently Harriet's only first-hand con¬
tact with slavery was on a visit she paid to a Kentucky planntation, where
she saw the life of the slaves in their cabins.

It was not until her return to New England in 1850, during discussions
over the Fugitive Slave Law, that Mrs. Stowe's anti-slavery feelings
became intense. She began workon a book,
Uncle Tom's Cabin or Life Among the
first published as a serial, 1851-52, in the the National Era, an anti¬
slavery paper of Washington, D. C. In 1852, it was brought out in two
volumes, with a woodcut of a Negro cabin as the frontispiece. About 10,000
copies were sold in less than a week, and by the end of the year 300,000
copies. It was pirated in England, where sales of 1,500,000 copies were
reported. It was translated immediately into a score of languages.

The hero of Uncle Tom's Cabin is a colored man, a slave, who passed
form the ownership of a Kentucky planter to that of a New Orleans gentle¬
man, and finally to that of a cotton planter on the Red River. The third
owner, Simon Legree, who caused Uncle Tom's death, is a historic villain.

Uncle Tom's Cabin served as a match which lighted a fuse leading to
a powder keg. The success of the book depended upon its timeliness. Accu¬
sations of unfairness and inaccuracy were made against Mrs. Stowe, but
the violent feelings aroused helped to create the atmosphere for civil war.

Uncle Tom's Cabin brought the slavery system home to, and stirred the emo¬
tions of multitudes of people who had never read a political speech or heard
a serious debate on any subject. Though exact figures are not available,
it seems certain that as a best seller
Uncle Tom in the century since it first
made its appearance has outstripped any work of American fiction, and
possibly any work of fiction in any language.

Shortly after the end of the great Civil War, which Mrs. Stowe's book
helped to precipitate, another world-shaking book made its appearance,
in Germany. In the year 1867 was published the first portion of Karl Marx's
Das Kapital. Other parts wereissued in 1885 and 1894. Marx-social philo¬
sopher, revolutionary leader, and founder of the chief current in modern
socialism - originally planned an academic career, but later turned to jour¬
nalism. After the suppression of the
Rheinische Zeitung on which he was
employed, Marx went to Paris in 1844 to study economics. Expelled from
France, he went to Brussels to continue his studies until 1848, returned
to Germany for a brief period of revolutionary activity, and finally to
London in 1849, where he remained until his death in 1883, living with
his family in dire poverty.

Beginning in 1844 and continuing for about twenty years, Marx
engaged in writing an enormous work intended to cover the entire field of
economics. The manuscript was never published in its original form, but
a less comprehensive book,
Das Kapital, was issued by Marx in 1867. Das
is Marx's description and analysis of the capitalist system as he
found it in nineteenth-century England. The chief arguments offered by
the book are that: (1) Most of the world's troubles have sprung from the
exploitation of class by class; (2) The ascendancy of the working class
would abolish classes by making every man a producer; and (3) Abolition
of private property in the means of production would mean that noone
would have anything to exploit anybody with.
Das Kapital is full of involved
economic and metaphsical abstractions that make it hard going in spots,
as is true of most Communist literature, with its exposition of dialectial
materialism, etc.

Marx is generally recognized as the intellectual father of the Soviet
regime and as perhaps the most influential political economist of the past
century, if not of all time. Today he is a sort of demigod to Communists
throughout the world; to them, his doctrines, as interpreted by Lenin
and Stalin, are an official gospel with the force of a religion.

A little more than two decades go by, until we reach another high
water mark in the world of books, and I use the term "water mark" advis¬
edly, for the book is Admiral Alfred William Mahan's
The Influence of Sea
Power Upon History.
Admiral Mahan was called to lecture on tactics and
naval history at the newly-established War Gollege in Newport in 1886,
after twenty-seven years experience as a United States naval officer. In
1890 the lectures were published under the title
The Influence of Sea Power
Upon History, 1660-1783.
This celebrated book contains the essence on Ma¬
han's teachings, the first 100 pages tracing rapidly the rise and decline of
the great maritime nations, and pointing out the elements constituting
a nation's sea power, while the remainder treats in detail, over the period
indicated, the inter-relation of naval and political history.

The book won immediate recognition, though far greater in Europe
than in America. It offered perfect propaganda for the naval expansion
already under way in Great Britain, Germany and the United States.
Kaiser Wilhelm II was so fascinated by the work that he had copies placed
in all ships of the German Navy, and Britain accepted it as "the gospel
of England's greatness." Mahan has rightly been called "the first philos¬
opher of sea power."
The Influence of Sea Power and his later writings were
translated into many languages, and were nowhere more assiduously studied
than in Japan. By encouraging rapid naval expansion and armament
races, Mahan helped to promote the philosophy of big navies, leading to
World War I. He has many followers today, as is shown, for example, by
the Russians' great fleet of submarines, though naval power is having to
make way to some extent for air power.

An exponent of land power as opposed to sea power is our next can¬
didate for the hall of fame: Sir Halford Mackinder, author of a little book
The Geographic Pivot of History, 1904. Mackinder was a British geog¬
rapher, who warned statesmen that the power which controlled the great
inner reaches of Eurasia — a spacenow roughly synon omous with Soviet
Russia — could one day rule the world. His argument ended with the oft-
repeated warning: Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; who
rules the Heartland commands the World Island; who rules the World
Island commands the world.

This formula was Mackinder's way of expressing a basic geographic
conception: the three continents, Europe, Asia, and Africa, constitute
the great central land mass of the earth, a mammoth island set in oceans
which of themselves cover some seventy-five percent of the surface of the
earth. The minor land units — the Western Hemisphere, Australia, ete. — are
appendages, as it were, supplemental to this World Island of the Eastern
Hemisphere. The key to the World Island, Mackinder maintained, was
the inner area which extends roughly from the Himalayas to the Arctic
Ocean, and from the Volga to the Yangtze, stretehing 2500 miles north
and south, another 2500 miles east and west. Invulnerable to sea power
because of its inland position, this Heartland could, if properly developed
and organized militarily, become the seat and pivot of effective world

Mackinder's theories were extremely influential in the Germany of
Hitler's day and before, and in present-day Soviet Russia. His writings
were swallowed with little change by Karl Haushofer in his geopolitical
writings and research for Nazi Germany, and substantially influenced
Hitler in his plans to conquer Russia. As for the Soviet Union, Russia has
long been interested in geopelitics and has a geopolitical institute. Mos¬
cow's institute for "World Economy and Politics concerns itself with the
conflict between the United States and what Mackinder called the "World
Island" which Russia hopes to dominate.

There fcllows logically the final book on the list: Adolf Hitler's Mein
first published in two volumes, 1925-27, which however much we
may dislike it, has to be acknowledged as a powerfully influential work.
Hitler wrote his inflammatory testament from 1924 to 1926, in 781 rant¬
ing pages. It has been called "The anatomy of megalomania," but whether
or not it made sense, it became the philosophy of millions of people. In
1939 alone, 5,000,000 copies were sold in Germany. It is a spoken rather
than a written book; the first half was dictated to his secretary while Hitler
was a prisoner at the Landsberg fortress, after the 1923 "Beerhall Putsch."

The underlying idea in Mein Kampf is blood and race, His anti-Se¬
mitism and anti-Marxism grew out of his theories of racism. Doubtless the
most significant contribution to political science in the book deals with
povver—how to capture, extend, and consolidate power— a theme which, of
course, obsessed Machiavelli several centuries earlier. Hitler has been
called "probably the greatest master of propaganda and organization in
modern history. To find his equal one must go back to Loyola and the
Jesuits." Hitler studied the propaganda techniques of the Marxists, the
organization and methods of the Catholic Church, British propaganda
of the first World War, American advertising techniques, and Freudian
psychology to perfect his own understanding of the propaganda art. All
the principles of psychological warfare are there.

In his book, Hitler divides men into leaders and the herd. According
to his theory, "only a fraction of mankind is energetic and bold." The rest
are cowards and dupes. Therefore, human material must be divided into
two great groups: followers and members. The followers are the mass, the
mass, the members are the ruthless, disciplined group who will stop at
nothing in the struggle for power. Great emphasis is placed on state control
of education, in order to train tools for the state.

It is the world's misfortune that Hitler's ideas did not expire with
him. They stili have many adherents in Germany, the Communist govern¬
ments have borrowed and are making extensive use of them, and dictators
are likely to continue to find primary source material for their evil purposes
Mein Kampf. If free, democratic nations are to combat these ideas suc¬
cessfully, we must understand them, and be prepared to use them against
our enemies on occasion.

As one reviews these fifteen dynamite-laden books, there is always a
question present: Did the times make the book, or vice versa, i. e., was a
particular book influential chiefly because the period was ripe for it? Would
the book have been equally significant in another era, or could it even
have been written at any othcr date? It is impossible to escape the con¬
clusion in nearly every instance that the times produced the book. In some
other historical epoch, the work would either not have been produced at
all, or if it had appeared would attracted little attention.

Examples are on every hand, Machiavelli's The Prince was written for
the express purpose of freeing his beloved Italy from foreign aggression.
England was ready for a vast expansion of her commercial and industrial
economy when Adam Smith was writing
The Wealth of Nations. Thomas
Common Sense triggered the American Revolution, already primed
for explosion; and Harriet Beecher Stowe's
Uncle Tom's Cabin did likewise
for the Civil War. Except for dreadful conditions prevailing European
industry, especially the English factory system, in the mid-nineteenth cen¬
tury, Karl Marx would have lacked amnunition for
Das Kapital. Inaugu¬
ration of a naval race among world powers after 1890 was inspired by Ad¬
miral Mahan's
Influence of Sea Power, but the pressure for expansion and
imperialistic adventure already existed. Adolf Hitler might well have re¬
mained an unknown Austrian house painter except for the chaos in Ger¬
many following World War I.

On the other hand, like slow fuses, there are books which did not make
their full impact until years after their initial publication. Adam Smith
and Karl Marx, to illustrate, were dead when the importance of their
books was perceived. Thoreau had been gone half a century when his
doctrine of civil disobedience was applied by Mahatma Gandhi in India
and South Africa. Not until the rise of the German school of Geopoliticans
under Haushofer's direction did Mackinder's theories, formulated years
before, receive the notice they deserved. These are among names of pio¬
neering thinkers who knew the disappointment of having their first editions
go begging.

Also a recurring question in the back of one's mind, while pondering
the select roll, is this: how can influence be measured? As previously indi¬
cated, the aim always has been to choose books whose effects can be judged
in terms of concrete results or actions. That is, they must have demon¬
strated a direct connection with certain courses of events, Frequently, the
books were attempting to find solutions to problems in a particular field
at some particular period. Dealing as they do, therefore, with timely and
topical matters, such books inevitably tend to date more rapidly than the
great works of religion, philosophy, or literature.

Specifically as to means of estimating extent of influence, a well-nigh
infallible index is the strength of contemporary sentiment, pro and con.
Ifa book stirs up violent opposition and equally partisan feeling in support
of its point of view, the probabilities are that it has deeply affected the think¬
ing of the people. Official censorship and other efforts at suppression are
also indicative of its reception. Insight into these attitudes is provided by
such sources as contemporary newspapers, controversial pamphlet litera¬
ture, accounts of historians, and biographical studies. The crucial test is
whether or not the theories, programs or ideas advocated eventually win
acceptance, cross international borders, are translated into other lan¬
guages, cause disciples, imitators, and rivals to rise, and are gradually incor¬
porated into the lives and thoughts of peoples and nations.

A curious manifestation of fame is the creation of new terms drawn
from an individual to describe a particular concept or pattern of thought.
Thus there have been added to everyday vocabulary such words as Mac¬
hiavellian, Copernican, Newtonian, Malthusian, Freudian, Darwinism,
Marxism, and Hitlerism, each connoting a definite set of ideas, and attest¬
ing to the fame or infamy—depending upon the point of view—of the pro¬
totype. A well-known instance of this kind of invention in our own time
is McCarthyism.

In view of the extreme difficulty as to readability of perhaps a ma¬
jority of titles on the select list, it could logically be asked: How could these
works exert influence on any except a narrow band of specialists? Cer¬
tainly few laymen could comprehend and follow with ease the original Latin
texts of Copernicus, Harvey, and Newton, or Einstein's theories in any
language. Only the trained social scientist will be able to appreciate fully
the often tortuous reasoning of an Adam Smith or a Marx, while a biolo¬
gical background enriches the understanding of a Harvey, Darwin, or Freud.
The answer to the question is that the mass of people obtain ideas second¬
hand, predigested, by way of a filtering-down process, through such me¬
dia as popularizations in books, magazines and newspapers, classroom
lessons, public lectures, and, more recently, radio, television, and motion
pictures. Except for
Common Sense, Uncle Tom's Gabin, and Mein Kampf, none
of the fifteen select titles was a best seller in its own time, if ever. Their
influence, accordingly, has resulted from interpretation by experts. Often¬
times, applications to daily living are made without the conscious know¬
ledge of people generally, as, for example, the mechanistic discoveries of
Newton, or Einstein's theories in relation to nuclear fission and atomic

Reviewed chronologically, the most striking single impression made
by the fiften books is the continuity of knowledge—the connecting threads
which tie them together. Truly, as Hutchins phrased it, there is in progress
here "The Great Gonversation." Copernicus received inspiration from
the ancient Greek philosophers. Newton, in turn, "stood on the shoulders
of giants"—Copernicus, Galileu, Kepler, and others. Without them, an
Einstein might never have existed. Darwin freely acknowledged his debt
to a host of preceding biologists, geographers, and geologists, on whose
work he built in developing the theory of the origin of species. The experi¬
mental laboratory approach to science, as opposed to the strictly philo¬
sophical, may be said to have begun with Copernicus and to have been
practiced by all his great successors, including Harvey, Newton, Darwin,
and Freud.

The passion for freedom, conceivably an age-old obsession with man,
is exemplified by the stirring pleas of Machiavelli, Adam Smith, Paine,
Thoreau, and Stowe. Karl Marx drew heavily on classical English econo¬
mists, especially Adam Smith, Malthus, and Ricardo, and tried to pattern
his work on Darwin's. Mahan's
influence of Sea Power Upon History was essen¬
tially a secondary work, utilizing as sources the writings of earlier naval,
military, and general historians.

While not accepting some of Mahan's conclusions, Mackinder and
later geopoliticans found his deas provocative and stimulating. Consciou¬
sly or unconsciously, Hitler's
Mein Kampf derived much from Machia-
velli, Darwin, Marx, Mahan, Mackinder, and Freud.

Certain additional comments might be made on the present selection
of books and authors. Has the natural tendency, for example, to emphasize
one's own country or language been avoided? Probably not. The list in¬
cludes four Americans: Paine, Thoreau, Stowe, and Mahan; and five Bri-

Another point open to criticism is the definition of a book. What is a
book? Should it be judged by size alone? The thought is preposterous.
Nevertheless, strictly defined, Thomas Paine's
Common Sense, Thoreau's Civil
Mackinder's Geographic Pivot of History, and the original state¬
ment of Einstein's
Special Theory of Relativity are no more than pamphlets.
The last three, in fact, first appeared as periodical articles. What a con¬
trast these offer to heavy tomes like the
Principia Mathematica, The Wealth
of Nations, Das Kapital,
and Mein Kampf. Voltaire is quoted as having said
that the big books are never the ones to set a nation on fire; "it is always
the little books, packed with emotions, aflame with passion, that do the
business" - a quotation that would apply to Paine and Thoreau, but not
Mackinder and Einstein. Actually, for the present list, size is virtually
without significance.

A related point is the length of time spent in writing - short or long. The
record, apparently, was set by Copernicus, whose
De Revolutionibus was
more than thirthy years in the making, though the author was certainly
not continuously engaged in its production. Who would be willing to say
that the Copernican treatise is a more profound work than Newton's
cipia Mathematica,
which was completed in an eighteen-month period? By
a curious coincidence, Adam Smith's
Wealth of Mations, Darwin's Origin
of Species,
and Marx's Das Kapital were each seventeen years in the
writing. At the other end of the scale, Machiavelli's
Prince was turned out
in six months, and Paine's
Common Sense in perhaps three or four months.

The wide variations in writing periods may be attributed to several
factors. Individual personalities account for some of the differences. Sci-
entlists like Copernicus, Newton, Harvey, and Darwin refused to rush into
print until their fmdings had been thoroughly verified and subjected to
stringent laboratory tests. Even after the most careful checking, they hesi¬
tated to publish, because of fear of controversy, potential censorship, their
desire for absolute perfection, possible criticism by fellow-scientists, dislike
of publicity, or like reasons. The economic treatises of Smith and Marx
involved the time-consuming assembling of an enormous mass of data,
with neither author being willing to go to press until his work had been
revised over and over again. On the other hand, such impetuous fellows
as Machiavelli, Paine, and Thoreau had urgent messages to deliver with¬
out delay.

Perhaps connected with the question of writing time is the fact that
a majoriey of the fifteen selected authors are known principally for a single
book. With few exceptions, the fame of each rests upon one title and all
else is forgotten. Harvey, Newton, Smith, Marx, Stowe, and Einstein wrote
further books—in some cases were prolific authors—but who save a few spe¬
cialists could name them? Paine, Thoreau, Darwin, and Freud are exccpt-
ions to the rule, for their fertile pens produced other books that are in some
as celebrated as those here listed.

tish representatives: Harvey, Newton, Smith, Darwin, and Mackinder.
In the remainder are three Germans (Marx, Einstein, Hitler), an Italian
(Machiavelli), a Pole (Copernicus), and an Austrian (Freud). Of the six
Continental European names, three are Jewish. If a Chinese, a Frenchman,
or a Russian were making the list, no doubt there would be biases in other

A few biographical notes may be revelatory of certain additional
aspects of the authors' characters and personalities. Does marital status,
for example, have an important bearing on the creation of a masterpiece?
Copernicus was a monk. Also unmarried were Newton, Smith, Thoreau,
and Hitler. Harvey, Mahan, Mackinder, and Paine were married, but
childless, and Paine's two marriages turned out disastrously. Einstein had
two children and was married twice. Several others-Machiavelli, Darwin,
Stowe, Marx, and Freud-were not only devoted spouses but producers of
large families. Again, one would hesitate to draw any inferences from these

It might be supposed that age and maturity would be almost essential
ingredients in the author of a great book. What import did they actually
have for the select fifteen? When their first editions came from the presses,
the oldest of the lot, Copernicus was 70, and the most youthful. Einstein,
was about 26. One (Thoreau) was in his early thirties, and two others
(Paine and Hitler) in their late thirties. The ten-tear period from age 44
to 54 was most fruitful of all, for coming within that range were, from you¬
ngest to oldest, Machiavelli, Freud, Newton, Mars, Mahan, Darwin,
Harvey, and Smith. Stowe and Mackinder were in their beginning forties.

By way of summary, certain characteristics shared by a majority of
the authors stand out. Omitting the scientists in the group, for whom the
whom the comments are less pertinent, the books included were written
by non-conformists, radicals, fanatics, revolutionists, and agitators, Often,
they are badly-written books lacking in literary style. The secret of their
success, to repeat, was that the times were ready for them. The books car¬
ried messages, frequently of a highly emotional nature, appealing to mil¬
lions of people. Sometimes the influence was beneficient and sometimes
evil; clearly books can be forces for both good and had. The intention
here, in any case, is not to measure moral values, but instead to demon¬
strate that books are dynamic and powerful instruments, tools, or weapons.