The hundred most influential books since the war
In a recent essayfor the TLS (September 26, 2008), Ian Mortimer made reference to the paper’s list, first printed in 1995, of the 100 most influential non-fiction books published since the Second World War. The original list (with accompanying introduction) is reproduced below. Dr Mortimer discussed the relative lack of historical works on the roll-call from more recent decades. One wonders which books from all disciplines might find themselves on a similar list more than ten years on. New additions needn’t actually have been written since 1995, as some books’ stature seems to have grown so much since then that it would be inconceivable to ignore them. It is, for example, a surprise to see that Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene (1976) was not in the original line-up – a book now at least as widely referred to as Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time (which did make the cut). Another uninvited guest who continues to dominate scholarly conversation is Edward Said, whose Orientalism (1978) received the first of a promised two comprehensive broadsides from the TLS’s own Middle East Editor, Robert Irwin, in 2006 (For Lust of Knowing). As for books that the original compilers couldn’t have considered, Ian Mortimer mentioned Eamon Duffy and Orlando Figes among historians (and one might add C. A. Bayly’s The Birth of the Modern World, 2004, and Chris Wickham’s Framing the Middle Ages, 2005).