查看: 1977|回复: 0

10 Books that Changed America

发表于 2008-3-26 12:06:58 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
There are books that are revered because of their effect on art, and there are books that are remarkable because they literally change the very society from which they came. Here is a list of ten books that radically changed or shaped American society. I’ve excluded all religious texts because those are just too obvious. So without further delay, here’s the list!

Leaves of Grass
Walt Whitman, 1855

This 1855 book of poetry ushered in the American equivalent of the Romantic Era of literature. Whitman’s brilliant work changed art, and changed what could be discussed in art with his bold and bawdy epic poem. This work was both subversive and celebratory, that opened the door for discussion of many issues, and also was the work that opened the beat movement that followed nearly a century later.

The Clansman
Thomas Dixon Jr, 1905

Unfortunately, not every book has a good influence on society. This 1905 book made the KKK out to be heroes, and lead to a disgraceful anti-black film (the Birth of a Nation) that was quoted by then President Woodrow Wilson as being, “Sad because it’s true.” This was the racist answer to “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and this book was a best seller that eventually led to support for the Jim Crow laws. Sad and sick, but influential all the same.

The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck, 1939

This novel, which won the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, was a stunning and powerful novel. This fictional book was based on the real life plight of the poor Midwestern farmers who went into California looking for work, and ended up in slave conditions and tragedy. This book was extremely controversial, and hated in California, but invoked such an outrage that Congress actually passed legislation to help the migrants and their families. This never would have happened without this book, which remains a classic to this day.

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass, 1845

The full title of this book is “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”. This autobiography of Frederick Douglass was printed in 1845 and really opened people’s eyes not only because of the intriguing title, but because Douglass’s exceptional prose, poetic fables, and great writing skill showed what a former slave could aspire to. With this beautiful writing, others realized that the point of view Douglass has was valid, and the fable referring to slavery was too hard to miss.

Silent Spring
Rachel Carson, 1962

This simple yet powerful book caught the attention of millions and was the cry against the loss of our environmental treasures that finally forced Congress to listen and spawned the modern environmental movement. This book caused DDT to be made illegal, and helped save the Bald Eagle, among hundreds and hundreds of other animals.
Buy this book at Amazon

Native Son
Richard Wright, 1940

This novel by Richard Wright was incredible, and shocked the entire nation by making a seemingly vicious black man (and a murderer) a hero, or at least an anti-hero. Bigger Thomas was the epitome of an angry black man, pushed too far not only by a society that hated him because of the color of the skin, but by the self-loathing he felt as a result and by even the white Socialists who thought they understood, but did not. This violent and startling story brought to attention the savage inequalities and racism in America, and helped lay part of the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement.

A Vindication of the Rights of Women
Mary Wollstonecraft, 1792

This 1792 work was a passionate manifesto, and this work’s effect caused Wollstonecraft to be considered the mother of modern feminism. This was the first major literary assertion of women’s rights, and started the ball rolling on every major breakthrough to follow.

The Jungle
Upton Sinclair, 1906

Hot dog, anyone? This novel was meant to be about not only the meat packing plant, but also about the terrible conditions of poverty that immigrants and low wage workers dealt with in the cities. This novel shocked the nation, and the understanding that humans who fell in the vat simply ended up in hot dogs . . . well apparently that’s more important than poverty. Nonetheless, this caused several acts to be passed by congress in dealing with both employment laws and with meat packing and food and safety standards. Many of these laws are still in effect even today.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852

This was almost number one, but even at 2, no one can argue that this was one of the most influential books in American history. Not only was this the first book to sell a million copies, and inflamed the issue of slavery to the point where there was no way to ignore it any longer. When author Harriet Beecher Stowe met President Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln was quoted as saying: “So you’re the little woman who started this great war.” Whether the quote is true or not, it shows the effect she had on society.

Common Sense
Thomas Paine, 1776

It’s almost impossible to argue with this one at the top. The fiery yet intelligent public indictment of monarchy and demanding freedom may have been the single biggest fuse that lead to wide spread support of the Revolutionary War. Many historians think of Paine’s book as the ember that sparked the blaze. Over 100,000 copies were sold in the first few months, and before “Common Sense” became widely read, most colonists didn’t give a crap about breaking away from Great Britain, so the book that helped create America is the one that gets the number one spot.




这本1855年出版的诗集代表了 美国浪漫主义文学的高峰。惠特曼的这部显赫的史诗著作以其大胆的写作方式改变了艺术和艺术中可被讨论的话题。它为许多问题的讨论打开大门,也为之后一个世纪的避世运动开了先河,其颠覆性值得纪念。




可惜的是,不是每本书都会对社会产生好的影响。这本1905年出版的书让3K党成了英雄,还被拍成一部反黑人电影《一个国家的诞生》,美国总统伍德鲁. 威尔逊说:“虽悲惨凄凉却反映真实。”这本书以种族主义者的角度回应了《汤姆叔叔的小屋》,它畅销一时,最终得以使人们支持种族歧视法。此书虽令人悲伤、丧失信心,但影响力却丝毫不减。




这部小说精彩而充满力量,于1939年赢得普利策奖。这部小说讲的是一个中西部农民的真实生活中的困境,他到加利福尼亚找工作,却沦落至做苦工的悲剧之中。这本书极具争论性, 在加利福尼亚引起反感,却引起了国会通过立法来帮助移民和他们的家庭的创举。没有这本书,这一切从未发生,直至今天,仍堪称佳作。
















    这本书在这张榜单上的位置数一数二,无人质疑它是美国历史上最具影响力的书籍。不仅仅因为它的销量达一百万本,前所未有,还将奴隶制问题推到了不再被忽视的风口浪尖上。当这本说的作者与美国总统林肯会面时,林肯说:“你就是那个引发那场伟大战争的小妇人啊。” 无论这个引用是真是假,可她确实在这个社会上引起了轰动。


您需要登录后才可以回帖 登录 | 注册


上海世贸论坛 © 版权所有
本站网址:http://trade.wtosh.com E-mail:zhujp@wtosh.com Tel:021-59997393 工作联系QQ:点击这里给本站留言

QQ|Archiver|手机版|小黑屋|上海世贸网 ( 沪ICP备10034107号-3

GMT+8, 2020-7-2 17:15

Powered by Discuz! X3.2

© 2001-2013 Comsenz Inc.

快速回复 返回顶部 返回列表