[Paleopsych] NR's List of the 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Century

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NR's List of the 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Century

[Another strange list. It's far from clear what the panel means by "best"! I've 
actually read about a quarter of them.

[3 means I read it over thirty years ago, when I first started reading free 
market economics books and wandered into the writings of conservatives.

[c means books I read at the urging of Christian friends. If there is a Hell, I 
may be going there, for none of these books caused me to repent my sins.

[s means some. No one reads the entire 11th edition, which is now online. I got 
a copy around 1972. And hardly anyone goes through all of Max Weber's Economy 
and Society.

[x means I read it once, within the last 30 years, and x2 means I read it once 
a long time ago and reread it more recently.

      Earlier this year, Random House announced that it would release a
      list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century. The
      publisher had enjoyed success (and controversy) with its 100 best
      novels; now it would do this. Here at National Review, we decided
      to get a jump on them by forming our own panel and offering our own
      list. Under the leadership of our reporter John J. Miller, we have
      done so. We have used a methodology that approaches the scientific.
      But-certainly beyond, say, the first 40 books-the fact of the
      books' presence on the list is far more important than their
      rankings. We offer a comment from a panelist after many of the
      books; but the panel overall, not the individual quoted, is
      responsible for the ranking. So, here is our list, for your
      enjoyment, mortification, and stimulation.

      THE PANEL:

      Richard Brookhiser, NR senior editor
      David Brooks, senior editor of The Weekly Standard
      Christopher Caldwell, senior writer at The Weekly Standard
      Robert Conquest, historian
      David Gelernter, writer and computer scientist
      George Gilder, writer
      Mary Ann Glendon, professor at Harvard Law School
      Jeffrey Hart, NR senior editor
      Mark Helprin, novelist
      Arthur Herman, author of The Idea of Decline in Western History
      John Keegan, military historian
      Michael Kelly, editor of National Journal
      Florence King, author of Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady
      Michael Lind, journalist and novelist
      John Lukacs, historian
      Adam Meyerson, vice president at the Heritage Foundation
      Richard John Neuhaus, editor-in-chief of First Things
      John O'Sullivan, NR editor-at-large
      Richard Pipes, historian
      Abigail Thernstrom, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute
      Stephan Thernstrom, historian
      James Q. Wilson, author of The Moral Sense.

      If you would like to purchase one of these classic books, simply
      click on the title and you'll be taken to Amazon.com.

      THE LIST:

     1. The Second World War, Winston S. Churchill
     Brookhiser: "The big story of the century, told by its major hero."

       Vol. 1, The Gathering Storm
       Vol. 2, Their Finest Hour
       Vol. 3, The Grand Alliance
       Vol. 4, The Hinge of Fate
       Vol. 5, Closing the Ring
       Vol. 6, Triumph and Tragedy

    2. The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
    Neuhaus: "Marked the absolute final turning point beyond which nobody
    could deny the evil of the Evil Empire."

    3. Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell
    Herman: "Orwell's masterpiece-far superior to Animal Farm and 1984. No
    education in the meaning of the 20th century is complete without it."

x2 4. The Road to Serfdom, F. A. von Hayek
    Helprin: "Shatters the myth that the totalitarianisms 'of the Left'
    and 'of the Right' stem from differing impulses."

    5. Collected Essays, George Orwell
    King: "Every conservative's favorite liberal and every liberal's
    favorite conservative. This book has no enemies."

    6. The Open Society and Its Enemies, Karl Popper
    Herman: "The best work on political philosophy in the 20th century.
    Exposes totalitarianism's roots in Plato, Hegel, and Marx."

c  7. The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis
    Brookhiser: "How modern philosophies drain meaning and the sacred from
    our lives."

x2 8. Revolt of the Masses, José Ortega y Gasset
    Gilder: "Prophesied the 20th century's debauchery of democracy and
    science, the barbarism of the specialist, and the inevitable fatuity
    of public opinion. Explained the genius of capitalist elites."

3  9. The Constitution of Liberty, F. A. von Hayek
    O'Sullivan: "A great re-statement for this century of classical
    liberalism by its greatest modern exponent."

3  10. Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman

x  11. Modern Times, Paul Johnson
    Herman: "Huge impact outside the academy, dreaded and ignored inside

    12. Rationalism in Politics, Michael Oakeshott
    Herman: "Oakeshott is the 20th century's Edmund Burke."

x  13. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, Joseph A. Schumpeter
    Caldwell: "Locus classicus for the observation that democratic
    capitalism undermines itself through its very success."

s  14. Economy and Society, Max Weber
    Lind: "Weber made permanent contributions to the understanding of
    society with his discussions of comparative religion, bureaucracy,
    charisma, and the distinctions among status, class, and party."

    15. The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt
    Caldwell: "Through Nazism and Stalinism, looks at almost every
    pernicious trend in the last century's politics with stunning

    16. Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Rebecca West
    Kelly: "For its writing, not for its historical accuracy."

s  17. Sociobiology, Edward O. Wilson
    Lind: "Darwin put humanity in its proper place in the animal kingdom.
    Wilson put human society there, too."

    18. Centissimus Annus, Pope John Paul II

    19. The Pursuit of the Millennium, Norman Cohn
    Neuhaus: "The authoritative refutation of utopianism of the left,
    right, and points undetermined."

3  20. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
    Helprin: "An innocent's account of the greatest evil imaginable. The
    most powerful book of the century. Others may not agree. No matter, I
    cast my lot with this child."
    Caldwell: "If one didn't know her fate, one might read it as the
    reflections of any girl. That one does know her fate makes this as
    close to a holy book as the century produced."

    21. The Great Terror, Robert Conquest
    Herman: "Documented for the first time the real record of Stalinism in
    the Soviet Union. A genuine monument of historical research and
    reconstruction, a true epic of evil."

    22. Chronicles of Wasted Time, Malcolm Muggeridge
    Gilder: "The best autobiography, Christian confession, and historic
    meditation of the century."

    23. Relativity, Albert Einstein
    Lind: "The most important physicist since Newton."

    24. Witness, Whittaker Chambers
    Caldwell: "Confession, history, potboiler-by a man who writes like the
    literary giant we would know him as, had not Communism got him first."

    25. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas S. Kuhn

c  26. Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis
    Neuhaus: "The most influential book of the most influential Christian
    apologist of the century."

x  27. The Quest for Community, Robert Nisbet

s  28. Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed.
    Helprin: "The infinite riches of the world, presented with elegance,
    confidence, and economy."

    29. Up in the Old Hotel, Joseph Mitchell

    30. The Everlasting Man, G. K. Chesterton
    Lukacs: "A great carillonade of Christian verities."

c  31. Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton
    O'Sullivan: "How to look at the Christian tradition with fresh eyes."

    32. The Liberal Imagination, Lionel Trilling
    Hart: "The popular form of liberalism tends to simplify and caricature
    when it attempts moral aspiration-that is, it tends to 'Stalinism.'"

    33. The Double Helix, James D. Watson
    Herman: "Deeply hated by feminists because Watson dares to suggest
    that the male-female distinction originated in nature, in the DNA code

    34. The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Richard Phillips Feynman
    Gelernter: "Outside of art (or maybe not), physics is mankind's most
    beautiful achievement; these three volumes are probably the most
    beautiful ever written about physics."

3  35. Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, Tom Wolfe
    O'Sullivan: "Wolfe is our Juvenal."

    36. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, Albert Camus

3  37. The Unheavenly City, Edward C. Banfield
    Neuhaus: "The volume that began the debunking of New Deal socialism
    and its public-policy consequences."

3  38. The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud

3  39. The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs

x  40. The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama

    41. Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and
    Ethan Becker

    42. The Age of Reform, Richard Hofstadter
    Herman: "The single best book on American history in this century, bar

    43. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, John Maynard
    Hart: "Influential in suggesting that the business cycle can be
    modified by government investment and manipulation of tax rates."

3  44. God & Man at Yale, William F. Buckley Jr.
    Gilder: "Still correct and prophetic. It defines the conservative
    revolt against socialism and atheism on campus and in the culture, and
    reconciles the alleged conflict between capitalist and religious

    45. Selected Essays, T. S. Eliot
    Hart: "Shaped the literary taste of the mid-century."

3  46. Ideas Have Consequences, Richard M. Weaver

3  47. The Economy of Cities, Jane Jacobs

x  48. The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom

    49. Ethnic America, Thomas Sowell

    50. An American Dilemma, Gunnar Myrdal

      An American Dilemma, Vol. 1
      An American Dilemma, Vol. 2

    51. Three Case Histories, Sigmund Freud
    Gelernter: "Beyond question Freud is history's most important
    philosopher of the mind, and he ranks alongside Eliot as the century's
    greatest literary critic. Modern intellectual life (left, right, and
    in-between) would be unthinkable without him."

    52. The Struggle for Europe, Chester Wilmot

    53. Main Currents in American Thought, Vernon Louis Parrington
    King: "An immensely readable history of ideas and men. (Skip the
    fragmentary third volume-he died before finishing it.)"

x  54. The Waning of the Middle Ages, Johann Huzinga
    Lukacs: "Probably the finest historian who lived in this century. "

    55. Systematic Theology, Wolfhart Pannenberg
    Neuhaus: "The best summary and reflection on Christianity's encounter
    with the Enlightenment project."

      Systematic Theology, Vol. 1
      Systematic Theology, Vol. 2
      Systematic Theology, Vol. 3

    56. The Campaign of the Marne, Sewell Tyng
    Keegan: "A forgotten American's masterly account of the First World
    War in the West."

3  57. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein
    Hart: "A terse summation of the analytic method of the analytic school
    in philosophy, and a heroic leap beyond it."

    58. Insight: A Study of Human Understanding, Bernard Lonergan
    Glendon: "The Thomas Aquinas of the 20th century."

    59. Being and Time, Martin Heidegger
    Hart: "A seminal thinker, notwithstanding his disgraceful error of
    equating National Socialism with the experience of 'Being.'"

    60. Disraeli, Robert Blake
    Keegan: "Political biography as it should be written."

    61. Democracy and Leadership, Irving Babbitt
    King: "A conservative literary critic describes what happens when
    humanitarianism over takes humanism."

3  62. The Elements of Style, William Strunk & E. B. White
    A. Thernstrom: "If only every writer would remember just one of Strunk
    & White's wonderful injunctions: 'Omit needless words.' Omit needless

    63. The Machiavellians, James Burnham
    O'Sullivan: "Burnham is the greatest political analyst of our century
    and this is his best book."

    64. Reflections of a Russian Statesman, Konstantin P. Pobedonostsev
    King: "The 'culture war' as seen by the tutor to the last two czars. A
    Russian Pat Buchanan."

    65. The Hedgehog and the Fox, Isaiah Berlin

    66. Roll, Jordan, Roll, Eugene D. Genovese
    Neuhaus: "The best account of American slavery and the moral and
    cultural forces that undid it."

    67. The ABC of Reading, Ezra Pound
    Brookhiser: "An epitome of the aging aesthetic movement that will be
    forever known as modernism."

    68. The Second World War, John Keegan
    Hart: "A masterly history in a single volume."

    69. The Making of Homeric Verse, Milman Parry
    Lind: "Genuine discoveries in literary study are rare. Parry's
    discovery of the oral formulaic basis of the Homeric epics, the
    founding texts of Western literature, was one of them."

    70. The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling, Angus Wilson
    Keegan: "A life of a great author told through the transmutation of
    his experience into fictional form."

    71. Scrutiny, F. R. Leavis
    Hart: "Enormously important in education, especially in England.
    Leavis understood what one kind of 'living English' is."

    72. The Edge of the Sword, Charles de Gaulle
    Brookhiser: "A lesser figure than Churchill, but more philosophical
    (and hence, more problematic)."

    73. R. E. Lee, Douglas Southall Freeman
    Conquest: "The finest work on the Civil War."

3  74. Bureaucracy, Ludwig von Mises

    75. The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton
    Neuhaus: "A classic conversion story of a modern urban sophisticate."

    76. Balzac, Stefan Zweig
    King: "On the joys of working one's self to death. The chapter 'Black
    Coffee' is a masterpiece of imaginative reconstruction."

    77. The Good Society, Walter Lippmann
    Gilder: "Written during the Great Depression. A corruscating defense
    of the morality of capitalism."

    78. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson
    Lind: "For all the excesses of the environmental movement, the
    realization that human technology can permanently damage the earth's
    environment marked a great advance in civilization. Carson's book,
    more than any other, publicized this message."

    79. The Christian Tradition, Jaroslav Pelikan
    Neuhaus: "The century's most comprehensive account of Christian
    teaching from the second century on."

    80. Strange Defeat, Marc Bloch
    Herman: "A great historian's personal account of the fall of France in

    81. Looking Back, Norman Douglas
    Conquest: "Fascinating memoirs of a remarkable writer."

    82. Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres, Henry Adams

    83. Poetry and the Age, Randall Jarrell
    Caldwell: "The book for showing how 20th- century poets think, what
    their poetry does, and why it matters."

    84. Love in the Western World, Denis de Rougemont
    Brookhiser: "What has become of eros over the last seven centuries."

    85. The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk

    86. Wealth and Poverty, George Gilder

    87. Battle Cry of Freedom, James M. McPherson

    88. Henry James, Leon Edel
    King: "All the James you want without having to read him."

    89. Essays of E. B. White, E. B. White
    Gelernter: "White is the apotheosis of the American liberal now
    spurned and detested by the Left (and the cultural mainstream). His
    mesmerized devotion to the objects of his affection-his family, the
    female sex, his farm, the English language, Manhattan, the sea,
    America, Maine, and freedom, in descending order-is movingly

    90. Speak, Memory, Vladimir Nabokov

3  91. The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe

x  92. Darwin's Black Box, Michael J. Behe
    Gilder: "Overthrows Darwin at the end of the 20th century in the same
    way that quantum theory overthrew Newton at the beginning."

    93. The Civil War, Shelby Foote

    94. The Way the World Works, Jude Wanniski
    Gilder: "The best book on economics. Shows fatuity of still-dominant
    demand-side model, with its silly preoccupation with accounting
    trivia, like the federal budget and trade balance and savings rates,
    in an economy with $40 trillion or so in assets that rise and fall
    weekly by trillions."

    95. To the Finland Station, Edmund Wilson
    Herman: "The best single book on Karl Marx and Marx's place in modern

    96. Civilisation, Kenneth Clark

    97. The Russian Revolution, Richard Pipes

    98. The Idea of History, R. G. Collingwood

    99. The Last Lion, William Manchester

      Last Lion: William Spencer Churchill: Vol. 1 Visions of Glory, 1874-1932
      Last Lion: William Spencer Churchill: Vol. 2 Alone, 1932-1940

    100. The Starr Report, Kenneth W. Starr
    Hart: "A study in human depravity."

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