Sunday, March 28, 2010

The 10 Books that Will Influence Me

Tyler Cowen has sired a spreading meme: what are the top 10 books that have influenced you? Being sufficiently (pathologically) bookish, I'm tempted to play along; however, I'm more interested in listing the 10 books I'm going to read in the next year or two that I believe will remake my mind. I do this arming my enemies with documentary evidence of my ignorance, but hey, I take risks for my readers!

Here are the books in no special order. Comments and suggestions are most welcome.

1) The Managerial Revolution: What is Happening in the World by James Burnham

2) The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber

3) The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects by Lewis Mumford

Possibly, I'll follow up the Mumford with The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. I'm also wondering if Robert Caro's biography of Robert Moses (The Power Broker) would serve as a contemporary and more topical follow-up.

4) The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen

5) The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer

6) Origins of Totalitarian Democracy by J.L. Talmon

7) Main Currents of Marxism: The Founders - The Golden Age - The Breakdown (three volumes) by Leszek Kolakowski

8) Utopian Thought in the Western World by Frank and Fritzie Manuel

9) Metapolitics: From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler by Peter Viereck

10) Ideology and Utopia: An Introduction to the Sociology of Knowledge by Karl Mannheim

If you are interested in books I've read that have influenced my understanding of geopolitics today, I offer the following tiny list:

1) The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War edited by Robert B. Strassler

2) Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam by John Nagl

3) Inside Terrorism by Bruce Hoffman

4) How Democracies Lose Small Wars: State, Society, and the Failures of France in Algeria, Israel in Lebanon, and the United States in Vietnam by Gil Merom

And as for my sense of style, Herman Melville's Moby Dick, Nabokov's Lolita and Martin Amis' Dead Babies have been the most forceful agents of influence.