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					gung-ho for eugenic abortion, and         it and sometimes made it (along with      to a mad tyrant. Thus did Weimar’s
while he made abortion virtually in-      sterilization) compulsory for women       “cultures of abortion” usher in the
accessible for German women of sup-       of what he called “inferior races.”       Holocaust. Perhaps we should take
posedly superior “stock,” he legalized    Thus did an enervated society cave in     warning.                          n

                                      Christopher Beiting
                  The Raised Fist & the Raised Phallus

10 Books That Screwed Up the              ering these materials in an academic      norms of the society that supported
World (and 5 Others That Didn’t           setting. The result is a breezy, idio-    those realities. However, his book is
Help). By Benjamin Wiker. Reg-            syncratic work with a light and amus-     not a militant’s tocsin for a new bon-
nery. 206 pages. $27.95.                  ing style — Wiker has a gift for well-    fire of the vanities — no book-burn-
                                          turned phrases and amusing asides         ing here — but rather an academic’s
      A book dealer of my acquain-        — that wears its learning lightly and     call for a closer reading, better un-
tance — who came to his trade after       is sure to amuse or annoy all the right   derstanding, and ultimate rejection
securing an advanced degree and then      people.                                   of a lot of “great” works.
becoming disillusioned with aca-                 Given Wiker’s background, the             Most of the authors Wiker con-
demia — told me an amusing anec-          assumptions that undergird his book       siders are from either the nineteenth
dote about his mentor, an immensely       should come as no surprise. Wiker         century, during which the Christian
learned man who also gave up              takes as norms central principles         underpinning for Western civilization
academia for the book trade. “Ninety      that virtually all educated people        came under serious criticism, or the
percent of all books,” the mentor once    once agreed upon five centuries or so     twentieth century, during which the
maintained, “should have stayed           ago — namely, that God is real, hu-       chickens came home to roost with a
trees.” If this is the case, then Ben-    man beings are sinful, and ideas have     vengeance. But he begins his work
jamin Wiker’s 10 Books That Screwed       consequences. To these he adds an-        with five earlier individuals who, he
Up the World (and 5 Others That           other salutary old-fashioned ele-         believes, planted the poisonous seeds
Didn’t Help) is a useful demonstra-       ment: a belief in the ultimate reality    that were to yield such a deadly har-
tion of the maxim: an opinionated and     of the world rooted in a classical re-    vest in the last two centuries. Wiker
interesting examination of fifteen sig-   alist approach to philosophy. It is a     believes that his chosen authors’
nificant works of Western civilization    sad testament to our tarnished age        works would not have been possible
that Wiker reckons were so damaging       that these simple, commonsense po-        without the pioneering wrong-
that the world would have been bet-       sitions are not so common (nor con-       headedness of such luminaries as
ter off had they never been written.      sidered so sensible) any more, in part    Machiavelli (who stripped serious
Wiker, the recipient of a Ph.D. from      because of the actions of the indi-       considerations of morality from poli-
Vanderbilt University, has taught in      viduals Wiker excoriates in his work.
great-books programs at places as var-    In short, Wiker’s yardstick for mea-
ied as Marquette University, St.          surement is the Perman
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