The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written: The History of Thought from Ancient Times to Today

Martin Seymour-Smith, Author
Martin Seymour-Smith, Author Citadel Press $34.95 (504p) ISBN 978-0-8065-2000-1
Reviewed on: 05/04/1998
Release date: 01/01/1960
Hardcover - 500 pages - 978-0-8065-1865-7
Paperback - 524 pages - 978-0-8065-2192-3
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British literary historian Seymour-Smith's survey of what he considers the 100 most influential books is a searching inquiry into major thinkers, writers and philosophers. Arranged in chronological order from the I Ching to B.F. Skinner's Beyond Freedom and Dignity, the selection is admirably inclusive, setting Confucius's Analects, India's Upanishads, the Koran and the Zoroastrian Avesta alongside the Old and New Testaments, Plato's Republic, and works by Dante, Shakespeare, Spinoza, Gibbon, Copernicus, Voltaire, Marx, Thoreau, Einstein, Freud, Jung. His compendium features concise, opinionated essays marked by intellectual depth and scope, and includes vivid biographical details of each book's author. Seymour-Smith finds most modernist techniques already present, or anticipated, in Cervantes's Don Quixote, and he views Rabelais as the first truly popular writer. His eclectic choice of influential moderns--de Beauvoir, Mao, Orwell, Keynes, Chomsky, cybernetician Norbert Winer, mystic G.I. Gurdjieff, Wittgenstein--is unpredictable, a roster he defends with alacrity. This is a mind-expanding one-volume humanities course. Illustrations. (June)
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