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The Torchlight List: Around the World in 200 Books Paperback – December 1, 2010
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This is a worthy endeavor. But in part it is badly executed. Some of the included books are substandard. Thus, Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, called by the author "excellent" (p. 137), is not a reliable book. And to recommend Richard Dawkins The Blind Watchmaker as the "best account of the current theory" of evolution (p. 16) is very doubtful.
More serious are glaring errors of omission. Thus, classical Greece, understanding of which is essential for comprehending the contemporary world, is mentioned only in relation to the development of mathematics (p. 11). As a minimum at least one of the books of Homer, Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War, and a good history of Athens and its culture, such as Christian Meier, Athens: A Portrait of the City in Its Golden Age, should have been included. And what about Rome and its literature, a book on the Catholic Church, Goethe, modern Arab authors, and so on? All these and more are missing from the list, which includes instead a disproportional number of books on some countries and many of no real significance. Therefore, anyone using this book as a guide for reading must do so very selectively, both adding and skipping much.
Still, the author should be congratulated on his idea of preparing such a list and doing so in part quite well.
Professor Yehezkel Dror
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem