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Books that Changed the World Mass Market Paperback – March 2, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0451529282 ISBN-10: 0451529286 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics; Revised edition (March 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451529286
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451529282
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Todd Carlsen on February 28, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book used from a library, along with a dozen others, a decade ago without much thought of what I was buying. Wow! I ended up with a lifetime of excellent reading. I've since had this book at my bedside, off and on, for the last ten years. So much excellent information is packed into this book that you can keep coming back to it and learning the most important writings of civilization.
This book summarizes the works for you. With just a little reading you can say something like, "What Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity did was radically change our perspective of time and space, and matter and energy. He showed that all motion is relative, and that the velocity of light is independent of the motion of its source. The implications are profound. To illustrate..."
Or, "What Socrates means by his definition of love, as written in Plato's Symposium, is that love is the pursuit of the beautiful; a desire for the immortal though reproduction. This, at its highest state, is manifested in a generalized love of universal beauty - beautiful souls, thoughts, laws, institutions and the immortal afterlife."
Everyone needs to read these works, and here is a condensed way to do it. It's a small investment in your education.
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65 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Monson Marukatat on November 30, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have been reading an average of 2 books a month. Yet I throw most of them away after reading. This is one of a few books I keep in my library. And it is the third time I bought it because every time someone borrow the book, I never got it back. Books That Changed The World summarizes the influences of the great books to the way we believe in things, some of which we take it for granted now. Things like the solar system, gravitational force. I hardly give a five-star to any book reviews, but this one well deserves it.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A classic that discusses 16 books that have changed the world. But it is also much more. It delves into the times that the books were published and shows how society was affected by the book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and strongly recommend it to everyone interested in history and or historical people. How many people can honestly say that they know that Uncle Tom's Cabin is about? Sure the expression Uncle Tom is bandied about in the course of our society but what do you know about the person or the book where this and many more expression that live today arised. You will not waste money or time on this read. Enjoy!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 17, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The sixteen books Downs chooses as having changed the world are : Machiavelli's The Prince, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, Malthus' Essay on the principle of population, Thoreau's Civil Disobedience, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Karl Marx's Das Kapital, Alfred T. Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power Upon history, Halford Mackinder's The Geographical Pivot of history, The scum's Mein Kampf, Copernicus De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelsestium, William Harvey's De Motu Cordis, Newton's Principia, Darwin's Origin of the Species, Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams, Einstein's Relativity ;The Special and General Theories.

This is a list which deliberately excludes religion philosophy and literature. Perhaps it should have been titled 'The Most Influential Books from the Sciences and Social Sciences' The book has a very interesting opening chapter explaining its reasons for choosing the books it has chosen. It claims that the books it has chosen have had lasting and permanent influence. It seems to me that claim goes a bit too far and some of these books clearly had a great historical impact at a certain time, and may or should not have an impact in the future.

In any case this is a very worthwhile book built around a most interesting idea. I am surprised that there are not more books close in theme to this one.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Armijo on August 19, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book offers a wonderful overview of some of the most magificent writers who have written very well renown books from philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, Homer, the infamous Greek playwrights & scientists, Machiavelli, Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, to Thoreau, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and more. Depending on one's interests you'll find yourself skimming some sections and enveloping your total all to others. It's a great historic view that will enlighten anyone as to 'how things actually came to be'. Books do have impact globally (and this one does the trick for that needed 'intellectual stimulation' that we all need every now & again).
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Donald Simon on October 19, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I recently had the pleasure of taking a class at Missouri Southern State College in Joplin, MO that used the Downs book as a textbook for the class! At that time, I had not read, nor even heard of many of the works Downs discussed. However, after reading his insightful summaries on these classics of political, social and economic history, I felt I owed it to myself to pick up the full length versions and devour them!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By nHansen on July 23, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The author himself acknowledges that such books or articles that assert a universal list of "the world's most important books" are mostly of opinion and purely subjective. Though many books may share space on many lists, there are always differences of opinion. Despite the imperfect science behind inventing such a list, such as the author does, this book is a delightful read and a well-rounded education for all.

I find that the book did indeed reach the books of great significance, occasionally skipping some of the modern-day literary classics. You will not find any literature, per say, following the authors discussion of the Greeks. However, surely Dickens, Shakespeare, or even Hemminway, should find space on such lists as composed by the author. Nevertheless, Newton, Darwin, Copernicus, Augustine, and Stowe all find a presence and the author does great justince to them. This is certainly a list of books whose focus is founded from the perspective of scientific impact-- whether socail or political. The title may be best changed the The Most Influential Books of Political and Social Science-- and Behavioral (i.e. Freud).

In the end, I found the list fairly accurate and the presentation good but not consistent. Some books receive pages of insight as another may get a page and a half. The reader wonders if the author truly meant to include a book by the discussion and focus it receives. Some books I had never heard of and, as an English major, I can't figure how they made the list and others did not. However, the authors discussion of Stowe, Freud, Marx, Hitler, and Adam Smith shows great knowledge and insight.

This is a book worth reading and hopefully inspires new lists.
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