- Hardcover: 498 pages
- Publisher: MJF Books - Fine Communications (2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1567316786
- ISBN-13: 978-1567316780
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.8 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #507,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written: The History of Thought From Ancient Times to Today Hardcover – 2004
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Most of us are coming to a bona fide phenomenon like Seymour-Smith from the standpoint of modern article writing, i.e. hack writing. This is now the norm and has become our standard.
Marty, on the other hand, has been reading primarily truly great literature, in unimagineable quantities, his entire life. In addition to this book, for example, one should take a gander at his 1450 page "The Guide to Modern World Literature". He had read all the authors' entire ouevre, plus apparently their letters, as well as all of the major critical assessments of each.
So, let's give him the benefit of the doubt that he probably knows what a good sentence looks like.
In addition, Anthony Burgess compared him favorably to Samuel Johnson (no less), and before Marty passed away he produced what has been hailed as an "extraordinary" collection of poems.
But, besides his style, is the content. I personally can't imagine that there has been any single book produced in modern times which has said so many important, perhaps essential, things about the written works, and their authors, which have, more or less, created western civilization.
I don't believe that those of us who surf the internet, or are intellectually mostly consumers of information, have earned the right to pass judgement on something as truly substantive and meaningful as this book.
Try reading all the works he has and I guarantee you, that his sentences will start to seem downright awe-inspiring...
This book, and the books it is about, should be required reading by anyone prior to their being awarded any kind of college degree.
1. Seymour Smith does suffer for the same impenetrable prose that he castigates many of the authors he is writing about, especially, as mentioned before, the lengthy sentence structure he is in love with. (As you can see, it is contagious)
2. Anyone who has not read at least 20% of the books in the table of contents need not try this book until they have. Smith is tracking influences in western thought and without a BA in Philosophy, you may not stand a chance
3. He is an agnostic liberal, and not liberal in the American Dem/Rep fashion, but as in liberal like a British left Labour type. His suggested venom towards the church, to be fair about it, is based mostly on judgements of the behavoir of the Catholic Church from 800 - 1700, which almost everyone can agree was not their finest hour.
4. His comments on Gnosticism are interesting as he sees a tie in between it and many of the undelying themes of modern religions. I would suggest anyone interested in this actually do some original source reading with an open mind. Smith does at least point you in some good directions for that.
5. Be prepared to consult a dictionary to define some words chosen by Smith. Also, many of the reviews expect that you have read the work in question. One unfortunately gets the feeling that Smith is sometimes either trying to show off his knowledge, or like many professors (and some I met at Oxford) one who just likes to hear himself talk.
In summation, the earlier the entry the better. His reviews of ancient literature are the best in the book, as he focuses much more on thinkers than pieces.Read more ›
HOWEVER, I have found this book to be one of the most convoluted reads I have ever experienced. For example, in the chapter concerning Wollstonecraft's "Vindication of the Rights of Woman" (page 301), the reader is assaulted with this sentence: "William Goodwin, who became Mary's loving husband - she lost her life after giving birth to their daughter, who became Mary Shelley - devoted much of his time to the memory of her and to the printing of her writings (including her letters to him in the candid and explicit 'Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman); but for many years she was known as a "prostitute" and her ideas rejected on such grounds, or on grounds like it - "lascivious", "disgusting", "shameless", "advocate of priapism" (this from a Rev. Polwhele, horrified by the discussion of the "organs of the generation" in one of her books)." A PERIOD! FINALLY A PERIOD! Alas, the books is full of such sentences, lined one after another throughout the book.
One also needs a good encyclopedia readily available, as the book also has a number of editorial errors: for instance, the same chapter on Wollstonecraft states she was born in 1859 (page 301), when of course, this is not the case. I also noted some errors in the chapter on Heroditus.
So, while I find the content of this book excellent beyond reproach (when it is not in error), I must say the writing itself is laborious to follow. Still, I would recommend the book as a good introduction to some classic books that should be on everyone's reading list.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I like this book. Gives a synopsis of each book listed. A great resource volume.Published 16 months ago by planosue
Re: The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written.
I found this book tremendously informative. Read more
Well researched with very good synopsis of the works which he chooses to include as the "most influential". Be aware that Mr. Read morePublished on August 12, 2013 by Ritsuka Kyo- chan
I will be looking forward to reading more of MSS's books in the future. The author's purpose is to reveal objective truth and expose good and bad thinking. Read morePublished on August 2, 2013 by zach
Seymour-Smith is a challenging writer. His convoluted, digressive sentences, with references to authors of other books on the same topic being addressed by the book he has under... Read morePublished on January 30, 2010 by Kindle Customer
Martin Seymour-Smith shares insightful knowledge about the socio-economical and political times of when each book is written, and a wealth of interesting personal facts, both which... Read morePublished on January 29, 2009 by Cheryl Mcdonough
Obviously written by an agnostic liberal. What about Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand? Most people have said they were highly influenced by this book.Published on January 16, 2009 by Shari Anderson
This book is not so much about the CONTENT, but rather the INFLUENCE of "The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written". It was not what I expected/hoped for. Read morePublished on May 3, 2008 by Reader
Ditto the "pompous" label from other reviewers. Also, you would hope that the author would be a little more impartial, but his admiration of Gnosticism (including strong favor of... Read morePublished on January 2, 2008 by P. J. Rowan