Eric Mayer

Byzantine Blog

Get Email Updates
Cruel Music
Diana Rowland
Martin Edwards
Electric Grandmother
Jane Finnis
Keith Snyder
My Incredibly Unremarkable Life
Mysterious Musings
Mystery of a Shrinking Violet
The Rap Sheet
reenie's reach
Thoughts from Crow Cottage
This Writing Life
Woodstock's Blog
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

1481517 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

A Variety of Bestsellers
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (0)

In Russell Ash's The Top 10 of Everything 2002, the author provides a list of the 10 bestselling books of all time.

The Bible is first and the other titles were all familiar to me, except for Elbert Hubbard's A Message to Garcia published in 1899. I had recently come across Hubbard while doing some research on the late Victorian period. He was a philosopher, author, and editor an founder of the Roycrofters, a semi-communal community of artists and craftspeople.

A Message to Garcia is a short essay about a Spanish-American war hero who, at the behest of President William McKinley, braved death by carrying a note behind the lines to Garcia, the leader of the insurgents in Cuba. The essay was apparently viewed as highly inspirational by various railway owners, foreign governments and the U.S. military, and ultimately over 40,000,000 copies were published -- and no wonder, since the Hubbard admonishes us to snap to and follow orders and follow them well.

The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, "Where is he at?" By the Eternal! There is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college in the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this or that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies; do the thing - "carry a message to Garcia!"

At least McKinley knew that Garcia was in Cuba and knew where Cuba was, so the messenger's job was considerably easier than it would have been today. I guess I can't see any great virtue in carrying out orders, although in some situations it may be necessary. (The tiny essay "Initiative" also on the page I've linked is more amusing.)

By the way, the only work of fiction to make the top ten -- unless you count The McGuffey Readers -- was Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls. That came out in 1966, the same year as Number 2 on the list, Quotations from Chairman Mao. Mao has outsold Jacqueline 900,000,000 to 30,000,000. Is this good or bad?

Read/Post Comments (0)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.