100 Most Influential Books Ever Written

The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written: The History of Thought from Ancient Times to Today (Citadel Press, Secaucus, NJ, 1998, ISBN 0806520000) is a book of intellectual history written by Martin Seymour-Smith (1928 - 1998), a British poet, critic and biographer.

Chronological list

The one hundred most influential books, according to Seymour-Smith, listed in approximate chronological order:

Author Title Date
Jewish scripture Torah 13th-4th century BCE
Chinese classic text I Ching late 9th century BCE
Homer Iliad and Odyssey 8th-early 7th century BCE
Hindu scripture Upanishads 7th-5th century BCE
Lao Tsu Tao Te Ching 3rd century BCE
Zoroastrian scripture Avesta 3rd century BCE--3rd century AD
Confucius Analects 5th-4th century BCE
Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War 5th century BCE
Hippocrates Works 400 BCE
Aristotle Works 4th century BCE
Herodotus Histories 4th century BCE
Plato The Republic 380 BCE
Euclid Elements 280 BCE
Theravada Buddhist scripture Dhammapada (Path of the Dharma) 252 BCE
Virgil Aeneid 19 BCE
Lucretius On the Nature of Reality 55 BCE
Philo of Alexandria Allegorical Expositions of the Holy Law 1st century AD
Christian scripture New Testament ca. 50-100 AD
Plutarch Parallel Lives 120 AD
Cornelius Tacitus Annals, From the Death of the Divine Augustus 120 AD
Valentinus Gospel of Truth (Gnostic text) 2nd century AD
Marcus Aurelius Meditations 167 AD
Sextus Empiricus Outlines of Pyrrhonism 150-210 AD
Plotinus Enneads 3rd century AD
Augustine of Hippo Confessions 400 AD
Muslim scripture Quran 7th century AD
Moses Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed 1190
Text of Judaic mysticism Kabbalah 12th century
Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae 1266-1273
Dante Alighieri The Divine Comedy 1321
Desiderius Erasmus In Praise of Folly 1509
Niccolo Machiavelli The Prince 1532
Martin Luther On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church 1520
Francois Rabelais Gargantua and Pantagruel 1534 & 1532
John Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion 1536
Nicolaus Copernicus On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres 1543
Michael Eyquem de Montaigne Essays 1580
Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote 1605 & 1615
Johannes Kepler Harmony of the Worlds 1619
Francis Bacon Novum Organum 1620
William Shakespeare First Folio 1623
Galileo Galilei Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems 1632
Rene Descartes Discourse on Method 1637
Thomas Hobbes Leviathan 1651
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Works 1663-1716
Blaise Pascal Pensées 1670
Baruch de Spinoza Ethics 1677
John Bunyan Pilgrim's Progress 1678-1684
Isaac Newton Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy 1687
John Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding 1689
George Berkeley Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge 1710, revised 1734
Giambattista Vico The New Science 1725, revised 1744
David Hume A Treatise of Human Nature 1739-1740
Denis Diderot (ed.) Encyclopédie 1751-1772
Samuel Johnson A Dictionary of the English Language 1755
Francois-Marie de Voltaire Candide 1759
Thomas Paine Common Sense 1776
Adam Smith The Wealth of Nations 1776
Edward Gibbon The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 1776-1787
Immanuel Kant Critique of Pure Reason 1781, revised 1787
Jean-Jacques Rousseau Confessions 1781
Edmund Burke Reflections on the Revolution in France 1790
Mary Wollstonecraft Vindication of the Rights of Woman 1792
William Godwin An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice 1793
Thomas Robert Malthus An Essay on the Principle of Population 1798, revised 1803
George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Phenomenology of Spirit 1807
Arthur Schopenhauer The World as Will and Idea 1819
Auguste Comte Course in the Positivist Philosophy 1830-1842
Carl von Clausewitz On War 1832
Soren Kierkegaard Either/Or 1843
Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels Communist Manifesto 1848
Henry David Thoreau Civil Disobedience 1849
Charles Darwin The Origin of Species 1859
John Stuart Mill On Liberty 1859
Herbert Spencer First Principles 1862
Gregor Mendel Experiments on Plant Hybridization 1866
Leo Tolstoy War and Peace 1868-1869
James Clerk Maxwell Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism 1873
Friedrich Nietzsche Thus Spake Zarathustra 1883-1885
Sigmund Freud The Interpretation of Dreams 1900
William James Pragmatism 1908
Albert Einstein Relativity 1916
Vilfredo Pareto The Mind and Society 1916
Carl Gustav Jung Psychological Types 1921
Martin Buber I and Thou 1923
Franz Kafka The Trial 1925
Karl Popper The Logic of Scientific Discovery 1934
John Maynard Keynes General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money 1936
Jean-Paul Sartre Being and Nothingness 1943
Friedrich von Hayek The Road to Serfdom 1944
Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex 1948
Norbert Wiener Cybernetics 1948, revised 1961
George Orwell Nineteen Eighty-Four 1949
George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson 1950
Ludwig Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations 1953
Noam Chomsky Syntactic Structures 1957
Thomas Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions 1962, revised 1970
Betty Friedan The Feminine Mystique 1963
Mao Zedong Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-tung (Little Red Book) 1966
B. F. Skinner Beyond Freedom and Dignity 1971


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