Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read
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    Default Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read

    Those of you on Reddit might have already caught this list, but I felt it needed sharing. Neil Degrasse Tyson's credentials for being a very smart man are listed below, but in case you need further proof, you should check out his podcast Star Talk.

    A Reddit.com user posed the question to Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Which books should be read by every single intelligent person on the planet?”
    Below, you will find the book list offered up by the astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium, and popularizer of science. Where possible, we have included links to free versions of the books, all taken from our Free Audio Books and Free eBooks collections. Or you can always download a professionally-narrated book for free from Audible.com.
    1.) The Bible - “to learn that it’s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself.”
    2.) The System of the World by Isaac Newton – “to learn that the universe is a knowable place.”
    3.) On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin - “to learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth.”
    4.) Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift – “to learn, among other satirical lessons, that most of the time humans are Yahoos.”
    5.) The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine – “to learn how the power of rational thought is the primary source of freedom in the world.”
    6.) The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith - “to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself.”
    7.) The Art of War by Sun Tsu - “to learn that the act of killing fellow humans can be raised to an art.”
    8.) The Prince by Machiavelli - “to learn that people not in power will do all they can to acquire it, and people in power will do all they can to keep it.”


    Tyson concludes by saying: “If you read all of the above works you will glean profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world.”
    He has also added some more thoughts in the comments section below, saying:
    Thanks for this ongoing interest in my book suggestions. From some of your reflections, it looks like the intent of the list was not as clear as I thought. The one-line comment after each book is not a review but a statement about how the book’s content influenced the behavior of people who shaped the western world. So, for example, it does no good to say what the Bible “really” meant, if its actual influence on human behavior is something else. Again, thanks for your collective interest. -NDTyson
    source

    I've read a couple of these (Art of War, System of the World, The Bible, Gulliver's Travels and I'm currently reading The Prince). Although I wouldn't argue with the significance of Gulliver's Travels, I contest its place on this list. Other works (The Republic easily comes to mind) seem more appropriate for this list. The Bible also seems like a Western driven choice.

    What are your thoughts? Have you read these works? Do you agree with him? Would you put any other works on this list?

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    Default Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read

    One other thing strike me on the -centric front - five works from anglo-american authors. And while all of them can be made a case for, the fact is the rest of Europe, and the rest of the world, have all contributed works worth reading. What of Confucius? What of the great French and German philosophers?

    Personally, I've read two, and large part of a third. They're the three international ones (large parts of the bible, and Prince/Art of War in full).
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    Default Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read

    I've read the Bible, Wealth of Nations, the Prince, the Art of War, Gulliver's Travels, and a little on the Origin of Species. I don't quite agree with the list; if I made it, I would take out Gulliver's Travels and replace it with Ethics by Aristotle. I'd also take out the Prince in favor of Mein Kampf, though Mein Kampf may not be in the public domain.

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    Default Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicoleta01 View Post
    I've read the Bible, Wealth of Nations, the Prince, the Art of War, Gulliver's Travels, and a little on the Origin of Species. I don't quite agree with the list; if I made it, I would take out Gulliver's Travels and replace it with Ethics by Aristotle. I'd also take out the Prince in favor of Mein Kampf, though Mein Kampf may not be in the public domain.
    Why Mein Kampf?

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    Default Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read

    Quote Originally Posted by The Man with No Name View Post
    Why Mein Kampf?
    I think the book is/was influential, even if the content is almost all lies; it is a cautionary book in that society should be aware of these types of books and aim to always speak out against them and their authors (though I never favor censorship) in order to help prevent Hitler-like people from gaining power.

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    Default Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicoleta01 View Post
    I think the book is/was influential, even if the content is almost all lies; it is a cautionary book in that society should be aware of these types of books and aim to always speak out against them and their authors (though I never favor censorship) in order to help prevent Hitler-like people from gaining power.
    I'm not quite sure I agree that it should make the list based on it's use to diagnose future dictators. I haven't read it (and honestly, probably never will) but isn't the literary quality of it rather poor? And I doubt he's the only crazed person to write such a book, his got famous because he drove himeslf to power.

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    Default Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read

    Having read all eight of the list myself, I do find that they do give great insight into the history of the western world and that these works are eight incredibly influential works. However, if I were to make my own list (right now off of the top of my head), there's one obvious change I'd make.

    Replace Gulliver's Travels with Voltaire's Candide, which is possibly the best work of satire ever written.
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