Popper, writing in the depths of World War II, produced a triumphant retort to the forces of absolutism and illiberality then all-too evident in the world. Its relevance has not diminished with time; if anything, the book has greater power today, when we have both the lessons of the past to learn from and the threat of the future to confront. His criticisms of Plato are particularly brilliant. In school, I was taught that Plato was a "hero in democracy"- no person who has read Popper's book could maintain that view. In "The Open Society and its Enemies," he systematically examines and demolishes the persistent and pernicious arguments against democracy, crushing assumptions yet doing so with such relentless logic that the truth of his statements cannot be denied. All this is delivered in a style which is at once erudite and scrupulously documented yet also eminently readable: his arguments draw you in, and even if you are not a student of philosophy, the appeal of his writing is sufficient to maintain interest.
Popper's attempt at saving the Western World, part II. After refuting Plato in part I -to many shocking and "a priori" intellectually suicidal already- Popper went one better yet in part II: taking on Heidegger and Hegel (amongst others), the German fuehrers of contemporary philosophical thinking (at the time). - Unprecedented impertinence, utter blasphemy. Well, he did it nevertheless and did it mercilessly, again. The philosophical establishment was not pleased. But the world at large, us, left with a much clearer picture about what kind of ideas we better NOT base our civic order, life and liberty on. Mankind owes Popper for his "open society" book(s). Some of the greatest stuff ever printed. Do your civic self, your community, a favor. Don't let the century expire without reading this, one of its, yes, "most important" books.