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This is a revised and expanded version of a 1985 work (with a different subtitle), this time organized chronologically rather than alphabetically. It starts with Homer and concludes with J.K. Rowling, covering not just literature and drama but also science, history, mathematics, and philosophy through the centuries. Van Doren (How To Read a Book) places authors within their historical context and gives us the subject matter and a flavor of their writing style. His aim: "to keep alive and warm the memory of some very great people. And ideas. And books." This is a worthy undertaking, and Van Doren's awe and admiration for the authors are evident in his writing. However, his suggestion that people undertake a ten-year historical reading program is not likely to get many takers.