The 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Century by National Review

The 100 best non-fiction books of all time judged by a panel of historians, authors, publishers, and experts for the National Review Magazine.

  1. 1. The Second World War by Winston Churchill

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    The Second World War is a six-volume history of the period from the end of the First World War to July 1945, written by Sir Winston Churchill. It was largely responsible for him winning (in 1953) t...


  2. 2. The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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    The Gulag Archipelago is a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn based on the Soviet forced labor and concentration camp system. The three-volume book is a massive narrative relying on eyewitness testimon...


  3. 3. Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

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    Homage to Catalonia is political journalist and novelist George Orwell's personal account of his experiences and observations in the Spanish Civil War, written in the first person.


  4. 4. The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich von Hayek

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    The Road to Serfdom is a book written by Friedrich von Hayek (recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1974) which transformed the landscape of political thought in the 20th ce...


  5. 5. Collected Essays of George Orwell by George Orwell

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    In this bestselling compilation of essays, written in the clear-eyed, uncompromising language for which he is famous, Orwell discusses with vigor such diverse subjects as his boyhood schooling, the...


  6. 6. The Open Society by Karl Popper

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    The Open Society and Its Enemies is an influential two-volume work by Karl Popper written during World War II. Failing to find a publisher in the United States, it was first printed in London by Ro...


  7. 7. The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis

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    The Abolition of Man is a 1943 book by C. S. Lewis. It is subtitled "Reflections on education with special reference to the teaching of English in the upper forms of schools," and uses that as a st...


  8. 8. The Revolt of the Masses by José Ortega y Gasset

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    In this work, Ortega traces the genesis of the "mass-man" and analyzes his constitution en route to describing the rise to power and action of the masses in society. Ortega is throughout quite crit...


  9. 9. The Constitution of Liberty by Friedrich A. Hayek

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    The Constitution of Liberty is a book by Austrian economist and Nobel Prize recipient Friedrich A. Hayek. The book was first published in 1960 and it is an interpretation of civilization as being m...


  10. 10. Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman

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    Capitalism and Freedom is a book by Milton Friedman originally published in 1962 which discusses the role of economic capitalism in liberal society. In accessible, jargon-free language, Friedman...


  11. 11. Modern Times by Paul Johnson

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    The classic world history of the events, ideas, and personalities of the twentieth century.


  12. 12. Rationalism in Politics by Michael Oakeshott

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    Rationalism in Politics established the late Michael Oakeshott as the leading conservative political theorist in modern Britain. This expanded collection of essays astutely points out the limits of...


  13. 13. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy by Joseph Schumpeter

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    Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy is the most famous book by Joseph Schumpeter in which he deals with capitalism, socialism and creative destruction. First published in 1942, it is largely unmath...


  14. 14. Economy and Society by Max Weber

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    Alongside The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Economy and Society is considered to be one of Weber's most important works. Extremely broad in scope, the book covers numerous themes i...


  15. 15. The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

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    The Origins of Totalitarianism is a book by Hannah Arendt which classed Nazism and Stalinism as totalitarian movements. Its original title was to be 'The Burden of Our Times', and the move away fro...


  16. 16. Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West

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    Black Lamb and Grey Falcon is an 1,181-page travel book written by Dame Rebecca West, published in 1941. The book gives an account of Balkan history and ethnography, and the significance of Nazi...


  17. 17. Sociobiology by Edward O. Wilson

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    Sociobiology: The New Synthesis is a book written by E. O. Wilson, which started the sociobiology debate, one of the great scientific controversies in biology of the 20th century. Wilson popularize...


  18. 18. Centesimus Annus by Pope John Paul II

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    Centesimus Annus (which is Latin for "hundredth year") was an encyclical written by Pope John Paul II in 1991, on the hundredth anniversary of Rerum Novarum. It is part of a larger body of writings...


  19. 19. The Pursuit of the Millennium by Norman Cohn

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    The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages (1957, revised and expanded in 1970), is Norman Cohn's study of millenarian cult movements. Cov...


  20. 20. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

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    The Diary of a Young Girl is a book based on the writings from a diary written by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The...


  21. 21. The Great Terror by Robert Conquest

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    The Great Terror is a book by British writer Robert Conquest, published in 1968. It gave rise to an alternate title of the period in Soviet history known as the Great Purge. The complete title of t...


  22. 22. Chronicles of Wasted Time by Malcolm Muggeridge

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    autobiography of Malcolm Muggeridge.

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  23. 23. Relativity by Albert Einstein

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    In clear, concise language that is accessible to all, Albert Einstein's brilliant theory is explained and its implications discussed.


  24. 23. Witness by Whittaker Chambers

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    First published in 1952, Witness was at once a literary effort, a philosophical treatise, and a bestseller. Whittaker Chambers had just participated in America's trial of the century in which Chamb...


  25. 25. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

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    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is an analysis of the history of science. Its publication was a landmark event in the sociology of knowledge, and popularized the terms paradigm and paradigm...


  26. 26. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

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    Mere Christianity is a theological book by C. S. Lewis, adapted from a series of BBC radio talks made between 1941 and 1944, while Lewis was at Oxford during World War II. Considered a classic of C...


  27. 27. The Quest for Community by Robert Nisbet

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  28. 28. Encyclopedia Britannica by Encyclopedia Britannica

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    The Encyclopædia Britannica is a general English-language encyclopaedia published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., a privately held company. The articles in the Britannica are aimed at educated ad...


  29. 29. Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell

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    Mitchell explored a New York City that has now vanished in his four books and his classic reportage for The New Yorker. Mitchell's eccentrics live again in this omnibus volume that contains all of ...


  30. 30. The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton

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    The Everlasting Man is a two-part history of mankind, Christ, and Christianity, by G. K. Chesterton. Published in 1925, it is to some extent a conscious rebuttal of H. G. Wells’ Outline of History,...


  31. 31. Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton

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    Orthodoxy is a book by G. K. Chesterton that has become a classic of Christian apologetics. Chesterton considered this book a companion to his other work, Heretics. In the book's preface Chesterton...


  32. 32. The Liberal Imagination by Lionel Trilling

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    The Liberal Imagination is one of the most admired and influential works of criticism of the last century, a work that is not only a masterpiece of literary criticism but an important statement abo...


  33. 33. The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James D. Watson

    Image of The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

    The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA is an autobiographical account of the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA written by James D. Watson and pub...


  34. 34. The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard P. Feynman

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    Richard P. Feynman (1918–1988) was widely recognized as the most creative physicist of the post–World War II period. His career was extraordinarily expansive. From his contributions to the developm...


  35. 35. Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers by Tom Wolfe

    Image of Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers

    Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers was a 1970 book by Tom Wolfe. The book, Wolfe's fourth, is composed of two articles by Wolfe, "These Radical Chic Evenings," first published in June of 1...


  36. 36. The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus

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    The Myth of Sisyphus is a philosophical essay by Albert Camus. It comprises about 120 pages and was published originally in 1942 in French as Le Mythe de Sisyphe; the English translation by Justin ...


  37. 37. The Unheavenly City by Edward C. Banfield

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  38. 38. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

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    This book introduces Freud's theory of the unconscious with respect to dream interpretation. Dreams, in Freud's view, were all forms of "wish-fulfillment" — attempts by the unconscious to resolve a...


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

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    The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, is a greatly influential book on the subject of urban planning in the 20th century. First published in 1961, the book is a critique of m...


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

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    The End of History and the Last Man is a 1992 book by Francis Fukuyama, expanding on his 1989 essay "The End of History?", published in the international affairs journal The National Interest. In t...


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

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    The Joy of Cooking is one of the United States' most-published cookbooks, having been in print continuously since 1936 and with more than 18 million copies sold. It was privately published in 1931 ...


  42. 42. The Age of Reform by Richard Hofstadter

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    The Age of Reform is a 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Richard Hofstadter. The book is an American history that traces events from the Populist Movement of the 1890s through the Progressive Era...


  43. 43. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes

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    The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was written by the English economist John Maynard Keynes. The book, generally considered to be his magnum opus, is largely credited with creatin...


  44. 44. God and Man at Yale by William F. Buckley, Jr.

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    God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of "Academic Freedom," is a book published in 1951 by William F. Buckley, Jr., who eventually became a leading voice in the American conservative movement in ...


  45. 45. Selected Essays of T. S. Eliot by T. S. Eliot

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    This is the first large and representative book of T. S. Eliot's prose and it is being published just at the time when Mr. Eliot is returning to America for the Harvard lectures. A year ago Edmund ...


  46. 46. Ideas Have Consequences by Richard M. Weaver

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    Ideas Have Consequences is a philosophical work by Richard M. Weaver, published in 1948. The book is largely a treatise on the deleterious effects that the doctrine of nominalism has had on Western...


  47. 47. The Economy of Cities by Jane Jacobs

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  48. 48. The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom

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    One of our country's most distinguished political philosophers argues that the social/political crisis of 20th-century America is really an intellectual crisis. Allan Bloom's sweeping analysis is e...


  49. 49. Ethnic America by Thomas Sowell

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    A distinguished economist traces the history of nine American ethnic groups--the Irish, the Germans, the Jews, the Italians, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Blacks, the Puerto Ricans, and the Mexica...


  50. 50. An American Dilemma by Gunnar Myrdal

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    An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy is a 1944 study of race relations authored by Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal and funded by The Carnegie Foundation. The foundation chose...


  51. 51. Three Case Histories by Sigmund Freud

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    Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was an Austrian neurologist and psychologist who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology. Although his theories remain controversial until this day, Freud made a l...


  52. 52. The Struggle for Europe by Chester Wilmot

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    From the ashes of World War II to the conflict over Iraq, William Hitchcock examines the miraculous transformation of Europe from a deeply fractured land to a continent striving for stability, tole...


  53. 53. Main Currents in American Thought by Vernon L Parrington

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    Main Currents in American Thought

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  54. 54. The Waning of the Middle Ages by Johan Huizinga

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    The Autumn of the Middle Ages, or The Waning of the Middle Ages, (published in 1919 as Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen and translated into English in 1924) is the best-known work by the Dutch historian ...


  55. 55. Systematic Theology by Wolfhart Pannenberg

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    An important mark of a systematic theology is that it be distinct from the rest; owning one does not preclude the need for others. What distinguishes Pannenberg's (systematic theology, Univ. of Mun...


  56. 56. The Campaign of the Marne by Sewell Tyng

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    A forgotten American's masterly account of the First World War in the West.


  57. 57. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein

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    Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is the only book-length philosophical work published by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein during his lifetime. It is an ambitious project to identify the r...


  58. 58. Insight: A Study of Human Understanding by Bernard Lonergan

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  59. 59. Being and Time by Martin Heidegger

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    Being and Time is a book by German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Although written quickly, and despite the fact that Heidegger never completed the project outlined in the introduction, it remains h...


  60. 60. Disraeli by Robert Blake

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    Biography of Benjamin Disraeli

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  61. 61. Democracy and Leadership by Irving Babbitt

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    Irving Babbitt was a leader of the intellectual movement called American Humanism, or the New Humanism, and a distinguished professor of French literature at Harvard. Democracy and Leadership, firs...


  62. 62. The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr and E. B. White

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    The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White, is an American English writing style guide. It is the best-known and most influential prescriptive treatment of English grammar and us...


  63. 63. The Machiavellians by James Burnham

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    Burnham is the greatest political analyst of our century and this is his best book.


  64. 64. Reflections of a Russian Statesman by Konstantin P. Pobedonostsev

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    In his "Reflections of a Russian Statesman" (1896), he promoted autocracy and condemned elections, representation and democracy, the jury system, the press, free education, charities, and social re...


  65. 65. The Hedgehog and the Fox by Isaiah Berlin

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    Berlin expands upon this idea to divide writers and thinkers into two categories: hedgehogs, who view the world through the lens of a single defining idea (examples given include Plato, Lucretius, ...


  66. 66. Roll, Jordan, Roll by Eugene Genovese

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    This weighty book intends to "tell the story of slave life as carefully and accurately as possible."


  67. 67. The ABC of Reading by Ezra Pound

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    ABC of Reading is a book by Ezra Pound published in 1934. In it, Pound sets out an approach to the appreciation and understanding of literature (focusing primarily on poetry).


  68. 68. Second World War by John Keegan

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    Praised as "the best military historian of our generation" by Tom Clancy, John Keegan here reconsiders his masterful study of World War II, The Second World War, with a new foreword. Keegan examine...


  69. 69. The Making of Homeric Verse by Milman Parry

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    Milman Parry, who died in 1935 while a young assistant professor at Harvard, is now considered one of the leading classical scholars of this century. Yet Parry's articles and French dissertations--...


  70. 70. The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling by Angus Wilson

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    A critical biography of Kipling focuses on the writer's literary and peripatetic searches for a refuge to replace the lost Indian Eden of his childhood


  71. 71. Scrutiny by F. R. Leavis

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    Enormously important in education, especially in England. Leavis understood what one kind of 'living English' is.


  72. 72. The Edge of the Sword by Charles De Gaulle

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  73. 73. R. E. Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman

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    Autobiography of Robert E. Lee.

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  74. 74. Bureaucracy by Ludwig von Mises

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    Bureaucracy is a political book written by Austrian School economist and libertarian thinker Ludwig von Mises. The author's stated motivation in writing the book is his concern with the spread of s...


  75. 75. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

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    The Seven Storey Mountain is the autobiography of Thomas Merton, a Trappist Monk and a noted author of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Merton finished the book in 1946 at the age of 31, five years afte...


  76. 76. Balzac by Stefan Zweig

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    On the joys of working one's self to death. The chapter 'Black Coffee' is a masterpiece of imaginative reconstruction.


  77. 77. The Good Society by Walter Lippmann

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    The Good Society is a critical text in the history of liberalism. Initially a series of articles published in a variety of Lippmann's favorite magazines, as the whole evolved, it became a frontal a...


  78. 78. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

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    Silent Spring is a book written by Rachel Carson and published by Houghton Mifflin in September 1962. The book is widely credited with helping launch the environmental movement. When Silent Spri...


  79. 79. The Christian Tradition by Jaroslav Pelikan

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    The century's most comprehensive account of Christian teaching from the second century on.


  80. 80. Strange Defeat by Marc Bloch

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    L'Etrange defaite (English, "Strange Defeat") is a book written in the summer of 1940 by French historian Marc Bloch and published after his death in the summer of 1944. The main thesis of the boo...


  81. 81. Looking Back by Norman Douglas

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    Looking Back is an autobiography written by the American author Lois Lowry, in which she uses photographs and accompanying text to construct a picture of her life.


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

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    Widely considered one of the most valuable works on European religion, philosophy, economics, politics, and art in the middle ages.


  83. 83. Poetry and the Age by Randall Jarrell

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    The book for showing how 20th- century poets think, what their poetry does, and why it matters.


  84. 84. Love in the Western World by Denis de Rougemont

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    In this classic work, often described as "The History of the Rise, Decline, and Fall of the Love Affair," Denis de Rougemont explores the psychology of love from the legend of Tristan and Isolde to...


  85. 85. The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk

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    The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk is arguably one of the greatest contributions to twentieth-century American Conservatism. Brilliant in every respect, from its conception to its choice of sign...


  86. 86. Wealth and Poverty by George Gilder

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  87. 87. Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson

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    Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era is a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the American Civil War published in 1988 by James M. McPherson. Writing for the The New York Times, historian Hugh Br...


  88. 88. Henry James by Leon Edel

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  89. 89. Essays of E. B. White by E. B. White

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    The classic collection by one of the greatest essayists of our time. White is the apotheosis of the American liberal now spurned and detested by the Left (and the cultural mainstream). His mesme...


  90. 90. Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov

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    Speak, Memory is an autobiographical memoir by writer Vladimir Nabokov. The first twelve chapters describe Nabokov's remembrance of his youth in a quasi-aristocratic family living in pre-revolut...


  91. 91. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

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    The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is a work of literary journalism by Tom Wolfe, published in 1968. Using techniques from the genre of hysterical realism and pioneering new journalism, the novel tell...


  92. 92. Darwin's Black Box by Michael J. Behe

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    Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (1996, first edition; 2006, second edition) is a book written by Michael J. Behe and published by Free Press in which he presents his noti...


  93. 93. The Civil War by Shelby Foote

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    The Civil War: A Narrative (1958-1974) is a three volume, 2,968-page, 1.2 million-word history of the American Civil War by Shelby Foote. Although previously known as a novelist, Foote is most famo...


  94. 94. The Way the World Works by Jude Wanniski

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    Jude Wanniski's masterpiece defined the economic policies of the 1980s responsible for a booming stock market, the creation of thirty million new jobs. untold wealth, and unparalleled prosperity. T...


  95. 95. To the Finland Station by Edmund Wilson

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    To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History is the most famous book by the American critic and historian Edmund Wilson. Published in 1940, the work presents the history of ...


  96. 96. Civilisation by Kenneth Clark

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  97. 97. The Russian Revolution by Richard Pipes

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    Ground-breaking in its inclusiveness, enthralling in its narrative of a movement whose purpose, in the words of Leon Trotsky, was "to overthrow the world," The Russian Revolution draws conclusions ...


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

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    The Idea of History is the best-known work of the great Oxford philosopher, historian, and archaeologist R.G. Collingwood. It was originally published posthumously in 1946, having been mainly recon...


  99. 99. The Last Lion by William Manchester

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    The Last Lion is the second book in a planned trilogy of biographies on Winston Churchill by author and historian William Manchester.


  100. 100. The Starr Report by Kenneth W. Starr

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    THE STARR REPORT contains the complete text of the Independent Counsel