The number of influential books in the world is impossible to count. While many famous books promote ideas that help humanity prosper, others do the exact opposite and instill hatred and violence in some readers.
One user on a popular online forum wonders which books are considered the most dangerous ever written. Commenters took to the comments with these book titles.
1. Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand is controversial because of her books and the messages they teach. Her writings are all about the virtues of extreme individualism and the rejection of altruism, which is why many readers find her books dangerous and off-putting.
2. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
While Karl Marx’s most famous text is loved by many, it is undeniable that its influence led to millions of deaths under Stalin in Russia and Mao in China. Neither Stalin nor Mao could follow the guidelines Marx laid out about communism, which resulted in mass starvation and poverty.
3. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations is one of the most influential capitalist texts ever written. Published in 1776, the book shares its central argument: that a free-market system promotes prosperity for every social class.
However, as many commenters point out, capitalism has not created equality between economic classes. The gap between rich and poor continues to grow.
4. The Turner Diaries by William Luther Pierce
William Luther Pierce, the author of The Turner Diaries, is well-known to be a neo-Nazi and white supremacist. His novel is about an American man who plots to overthrow the U.S. government while committing a massive genocide against Jewish people and people of color. Many white supremacist groups read this book and agree with its ideology.
5. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion appeared in the early 1900s, claiming to be a transcript of a secret meeting of Jewish leaders with plans for global domination. It turns out that this was a hoax fabricated by antisemites.
However, this text was used throughout history to promote hateful stereotypes of Jewish people. The ideas in this book inspired Hitler and the Nazis to commit atrocities during the Holocaust. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is still read and distributed today by antisemitic hate groups.
6. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
Banned in prisons across America, the 48 Laws of Power is essentially a how-to guide that teaches people how to manipulate and take advantage of others to gain power. Many readers say this book lacks morality and promotes hierarchies and evil deeds at the expense of others.
7. The Prince by Niccolo Machiaveli
Written in 1532, this classic text encourages politicians to be logical, cruel, and patriotic. Some commenters claim that Machiaveli’s whole thing was about “cruelty because it works.” The Prince makes no space for compassion or equality. This controversial text has been wildly influential since it was published almost 500 years ago.
8. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
Popular amongst doomsday preppers in the late 1980s, the Anarchist Cookbook became a problem in the U.S. when people began to use it for evil. This book by William Powell details instructions for homemade weapons, bombs, and drugs. While many people use the book for reading material or preparing for the worst, others use it to craft weapons to hurt others and commit crimes.
9. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
When Adolf Hitler was in prison before he came to power, he wrote his infamous book Mein Kampf, which in English means “my struggle.” This manifesto details Hitler’s beliefs and how he turned to antisemitism and discusses his plans for genocide and world domination in Germany.
10. The Malleus Maleficarum by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger
Known as The Hammer of Witches when translated into English, the Malleus Maleficarum is a treatise on witchcraft that leveled the crime of witchcraft with that of heresy.
This text, written in 1486, became the central text for punishing witches for the following few centuries. It’s most famous for introducing the idea of burning witches at the stake. Of course, the women killed were not witches at all but women who didn’t follow social rules.