The mainstream media in China have reported several times that the most popular college books in the US include "The Communist Manifesto" & "The Republic". I have always thought that is "fake news" until someone published the quoted source here (it is in Chinese). It seems that the data is collected from https://opensyllabus.org/. But who are they OpenSyllabus? Is their data credible?
This is from the Washington Post article "What Ivy League students are reading that you aren’t", which used the word "most popular" instead of "most assigned".
I then checked https://opensyllabus.org/. As of today (2022.9.14), "The Communist Manifesto" ranks 4th and ""The Republic" ranks 5th.
I googled these terms and find the top 2 results are:
They all said their data was from https://opensyllabus.org so the result is similar. But is is really the case that "The Communist Manifesto" and "The Republic" are among the most frequently assigned college books?
I explain why I have doubts about the claim:
For "The Communist Manifesto" it is obvious. And I have heard from many sources (although I can't verify that either) that nobody in the "west" takes this book seriously, only our Chinese or the Communist Party to be exact take it seriously. Actually we don't take this book seriously too.
For Plato's Republic, I would feel more real if professors in US assign the books from Adam Smith or Friedrich Hayek or any modern political books.
I know they are the assigned books and it does NOT imply anyone agrees with the content (of course!). But my question is why would professors assign these books? I got my entire education in China and I know little about the college education in US or the English world, so if the answer is obvious to you maybe not be obvious to me. That's one of reasons I asked the question. But I really don't see the obvious reason here. Surely Communist Manifesto was an extremely influential document but isn't there more influential document, especially in the west world the college students need to learn ?
The bottom line is is OpenSyllabus's data credible? If yes, how do we interpret its data? The very first comment I got from xyldke show that OpenSyllabus has explained Communist Manifesto’s High Rank.
I have got many replies for Communist Manifesto, but can someone talk about Republic? If it is indeed the case and if I were to guess the reason I would say it is because Martin Luther King said The Republic is the one book he would have taken to a deserted island, alongside the Bible.