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Publishers Weekly -British literary historian Seymour-Smith's survey of what he considers the 100 most influential books is a searching inquiry into major thinkers, writers and philosophers. Arranged in chronological order from theI Ching to B.F. Skinner's Beyond Freedom and Dignity, the selection is admirably inclusive, setting Confucius's Analects, India's Upanishads, The Koran and the Zoroastrian Avesta, alongside the Old and New Testaments, Plato's Republic, and works by Dante, Shakespeare, Spinoza, Gibbon, Copernicus, Voltaire, Marx, Thoreau, Einstein, Freud, Jung.
His compendium features concise, opinionated essays marked by intellectual depth and scope, and includes vivid biographical details of each book's author. Seymour-Smith finds most modernist techniques already present, or anticipated, in Cervantes's Don Quixote, and he views Rabelais as the first truly popular writer. His eclectic choice of influential moderns includes de Beauvoir, Mao, Orwell, Keynes, and Chomsky; cybernetician Norbert Winer; and mystic G.I. Gurdjieff, a roster he defends with alacrity. This is a mind-expanding one-volume humanities course.