The book has a unique status as an emblem of human culture and civilisation. It is a vessel for sharing stories, dispersing knowledge, examining the nature of our extraordinary species and imagining what lies beyond our known world. Books ultimately provide an invaluable and comprehensive record of what it means to be human.
This volume takes a curated list of fifty of the most influential books of all time, putting each into its historical context. From Ancient game-changers including the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Diamond Sutra, through scared texts and works of philosophical rumination by the likes of Confucius and Plato, via scientific treatises, historic 'firsts' (like the first printed book) and cultural works of enduring impact (think Shakespeare, Cervantes and Joseph Heller), these are volumes that are at once both products of their societies and vital texts in moulding those same civilisations. It would take a lifetime and more to read and absorb all of them. But this volume allows you to become ridiculously well read in just a fraction of the time. This isn’t a celebration of the canon, it’s about the books that have changed how we think and live, and so changed the course of history.
Daniel Smith was born in London in 1976 and studied English and History at Cardiff University. He began a career in publishing shortly after graduating, which included a stint working in Kolkata, India. He has been a contributor to The Statesman’s Yearbook, a geo-political guide to the world published annually since 1854, for twenty years.
He wrote his first book, The Sherlock Holmes Companion: An Elementary Guide, in 2009 and has subsequently written over 30 non-fiction titles, for both adults and children. He is the author of the best-selling How to Think Like… biographical ...
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