100 Most Influential Books of the Century by Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library's list of "The 100 Most Influential Books of the Century". A booklist for Adults.

  1. The Golden Bough by James George Frazer

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    The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion is a wide-ranging, comparative study of mythology and religion, written by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941). It first was ...


  2. How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis


  3. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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    The story details an incident when Marlow, an Englishman, took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a ferry-boat captain in Africa. Although Conrad does not specify the name of th...


  4. 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...


  5. The History of the Standard Oil Company by Ida Tarbell


  6. The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov


  7. Creatures that Once Were Men by Maksim Gorky


  8. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

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    1906 best-seller shockingly reveals intolerable labor practices and unsanitary working conditions in the Chicago stockyards as it tells the brutally grim story of a Slavic family that emigrates to ...


  9. The School and the Child by John Dewey

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  10. Pragmatism by William James


  11. The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori

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    The Montessori method is a child-centered, alternative educational method based on the child development theories originated by Italian educator Maria Montessori (1870–1952) in the late nineteenth ...


  12. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

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    Swann's Way, the first part of A la recherche de temps perdu, Marcel Proust's seven-part cycle, was published in 1913. In it, Proust introduces the themes that run through the entire work. The narr...


  13. Psychology of the Unconscious by C.G. Jung

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  14. A Critique of the Theory of Evolution by Thomas Hunt Morgan


  15. Prufrock and Other Observations by T.S. Eliot


  16. 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.


  17. Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler

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    Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (29 May 1880 Blankenburg am Harz – 8 May 1936, Munich) was a German historian and philosopher whose interests also included mathematics, science, and art. He is bes...


  18. Ten Days That Shook the World by John Reed

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    Ten Days that Shook the World (1919) is a book by American journalist and socialist John Reed about the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 which Reed experienced firsthand. Reed followed many of ...


  19. Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello

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    Six Characters in Search of an Author (Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore) is the most famous and celebrated play by the Italian writer Luigi Pirandello. The play is a satirical tragicomedy. It was ...


  20. Ulysses by James Joyce

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    Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. The title parallels and alludes to Odysseus (Latinised into Ulysses), the hero of Homer's Odyss...


  21. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

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    When Babbitt was first published in 1922, fans gleefully hailed its scathing portrait of a crass, materialistic nation; critics denounced it as an unfair skewering of the American businessman. Spar...


  22. I and Thou by Martin Buber

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    Ich und Du, usually translated as I and Thou, is a book by Martin Buber, published in 1923, and first translated to English in 1937. Buber's main proposition is that we may address existence in two...


  23. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

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    The Magic Mountain is a novel by Thomas Mann, first published in November 1924. It is widely considered to be one of the most influential works of 20th century German literature.


  24. The Trial by Franz Kafka

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    Written in 1914, The Trial is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century: the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and mu...


  25. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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    The novel chronicles an era that Fitzgerald himself dubbed the "Jazz Age". Following the shock and chaos of World War I, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the "roar...


  26. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

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    The novel explores the lives and values of the so-called "Lost Generation," chronicling the experiences of Jake Barnes and several acquaintances on their pilgrimage to Pamplona for the annual San F...


  27. Happiness in Marriage by Margaret Sanger


  28. Conditioned Reflexes by Ivan Pavlov


  29. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

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    Steppenwolf (orig. German Der Steppenwolf) is the tenth novel by German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse. Originally published in Germany in 1927, it was first translated into English in 1929. Combining ...


  30. 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...


  31. Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead

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    Coming of Age in Samoa is a book by Margaret Mead based upon youth in Samoa and lightly relating to youth in America, first published in 1928. In the foreword to Coming of Age in Samoa, Mead's advi...


  32. Judgement and Reasoning in the Child by Jean Piaget


  33. Satyagraha in South Africa by Gandhi

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  34. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

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    Lyric and sensual, D.H. Lawrence's last novel is one of the major works of fiction of the twentieth century. Filled with scenes of intimate beauty, explores the emotions of a lonely woman trapped i...


  35. A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

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    A Room of One's Own is an extended essay by . First published during 24 October 1929, it was based on a series of lectures she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College, two women's colleges ...


  36. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

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    All Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im Westen nichts Neues) is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I. The book describes the German soldiers' extreme physical and men...


  37. Behaviorism by John Watson


  38. The Masters and the Slaves by Gilberto Freyre

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    Gilberto de Mello Freyre (March 15, 1900 – July 18, 1987) was a Brazilian sociologist, cultural anthropologist, historian, journalist and congressman. His best-known work is a sociological treatise...


  39. Man's Fate by Andre Malraux

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  40. Patterns of Culture by Ruth Benedict


  41. Uncertainty Principle by Werner Heisenberg


  42. 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...


  43. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

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    Dale Breckenridge Carnegie (originally Carnagey until 1922 and possibly somewhat later) (November 24, 1888 – November 1, 1955) was an American writer and lecturer and the developer of famous course...


  44. Genetics and the Origin of Species by Theodosius Dobzhansky

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    Genetics and the Origin of Species (ISBN 0-231-05475-0) is a 1937 book by the Ukrainian-American evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky and one of the important books of the modern evolutiona...


  45. AA Big Book by Bill W

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    The history of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been documented in books, movies, and AA literature from its founding in 1935 as a solution for alcoholism by Bill Wilson (known as Bill W.) and Dr. Rob...


  46. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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    Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, the Joads, driven from their home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. In a ...


  47. Native Son by Richard Wright

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    The novel tells the story of 20-year old Bigger Thomas, an African American living in utter poverty. Bigger lived in Chicago's South Side ghetto in the 1930s. Bigger was always getting into troubl...


  48. Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

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    Darkness At Noon stands as an unequaled fictional portrayal of the nightmare politics of our time. Its hero is an aging revolutionary, imprisoned and psychologically tortured by the Party to which ...


  49. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee

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    Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a book with text by American writer James Agee and photographs by American photographer Walker Evans first published in 1941 in the United States. The title is from ...


  50. Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology, sometimes subtitled A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, is a 1943 philosophical treatise by Jean-Paul Sartre. Its main purpose was to...


  51. Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by John Von Neumann

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    Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, published in 1944 by Princeton University Press, is a book by mathematician John von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern which is widely considered the gr...


  52. 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...


  53. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

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    The Catcher in the Rye is a 1945 novel by J. D. Salinger. Originally published for adults, the novel has become a common part of high school and college curricula throughout the English-speaking wo...


  54. The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care by Benjamin Spock

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    The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (often referred to simply as Baby and Child Care), written by Benjamin Spock, was first published on 14 July 1946, and is one of the biggest best-seller...


  55. The Stranger by Albert Camus

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    Since it was first published in English, in 1946, Albert Camus's extraordinary first novel, The Stranger (L'Etranger), has had a profound impact on millions of American readers. Through this story ...


  56. The Engineering of Consent by Edward Bernays

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    "The Engineering of Consent" is an essay by Edward Bernays first published in 1947. He defines "engineering consent" as the art of manipulating people; specifically, the American citizen, who are d...


  57. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred C. Kinsey


  58. 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...


  59. 1984 by George Orwell

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    The story follows the life of one seemingly insignificant man, Winston Smith, a civil servant assigned the task of perpetuating the regime's propaganda by falsifying records and political literatur...


  60. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

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    The Second Sex (French: Le Deuxième Sexe, June 1949) is one of the best-known works of the French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir. It is a work on the treatment of women throughout history and of...


  61. Cybernetics by Norbert Wiener

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    Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems. Cybernetics is closely related to control theory and systems theory. Both in its origins and in its evolution in t...


  62. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

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    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is a science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke. It was developed concurrently with Stanley Kubrick's film version and published after the release of the film. The story...


  63. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

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    The novel examines the role of the Christian Church in the lives of African-Americans, both as a source of repression and moral hypocrisy and as a source of inspiration and community. It also, more...


  64. Motivation and Personality by Abraham Maslow


  65. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

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    The book is internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle aged Humbert Humbert, becomes obsessed and se...


  66. The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills

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    The Power Elite is a book written by the sociologist, C. Wright Mills, in 1956. In it Mills called attention to the interwoven interests of the leaders of the military, corporate, and political ele...


  67. Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

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    Howl and Other Poems is a collection of poetry by Allen Ginsberg published November 1, 1956. It contains Ginsberg's most famous poem, "Howl", which is considered to be one of the principal works of...


  68. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

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    Ayn Rand's epochal novel, first published in 1957, has been a bestseller for more than four decades as well as an intellectual landmark. It is the story of a man who said that he would stop the mot...


  69. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

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    On the Road is a largely autobiographical work that was based on the spontaneous road trips of Kerouac and his friends across mid-century America. It is often considered a defining work of the post...


  70. Syntactic Structures by Noam Chomsky

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    Syntactic Structures is an influential book by American linguist Noam Chomsky, first published in 1957. Widely regarded as one of the most important texts in the field of linguistics, this work lai...


  71. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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    Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of World War II from 1943 onwards, is frequently cite...


  72. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle

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    Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a two-volume French cookbook written by American Julia Child, and Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle both of France. The book was written for the American ma...


  73. Art and Culture: Critical Essays by Clement Greenberg

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  74. Smoking and Health by Surgeon General


  75. 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...


  76. 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...


  77. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

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    The title is taken from an old Cockney expression, "as queer as a clockwork orange" and alludes to the prevention of the main character's exercise of his free will through the use of a classical co...


  78. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

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    This book, as well as the couple that followed it, enters the realm of what Margaret Drabble in The Oxford Companion to English Literature has called Lessing's "inner space fiction", her work that ...


  79. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

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    The Feminine Mystique, published 25 February 1963, is a book written by Betty Friedan which brought to light the lack of fulfillment in many women's lives, which was generally kept hidden[citation ...


  80. Quotations from Chairman Mao by Mao

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    Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (simplified Chinese: 毛主席语录; pinyin: Máo zhǔxí yǔlù), better known in the West as The Little Red Book, was published by the Government of the People's Republic of...


  81. Encyclicals of Pope John XXIII by Pope John XXIII

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    Pope John XXIII issued eight Papal Encyclicals during his five-year reign as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, from his election on October 28, 1958 until his death on June 3, 1963. Two of his enc...


  82. On Aggression by Konrad Lorenz

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    On Aggression (1966) is a book by ethologist Konrad Lorenz. As he writes in the prologue, "the subject of this book is aggression, that is to say the fighting instinct in beast and man which is dir...


  83. Intelligent Life in the Universe by Carl Sagan


  84. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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    One of the 20th century's enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world, and the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize–winning car...


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

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    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...


  86. The Raw and the Cooked by Claude Levi-Strauss


  87. In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall


  88. Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B.F. Skinner

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    In Beyond Freedom and Dignity, Skinner suggests that a technology of behavior could help to make a better society. We would, however, have to accept that an autonomous agent is not the driving forc...


  89. The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort

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    The Joy of Sex is an illustrated sex manual by Alex Comfort, M.B., Ph.D., first published in 1972. An updated edition was released in September, 2008.


  90. Looking at Dance by Edwin Denby

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    Edwin Orr Denby (February 4, 1903 – July 12, 1983) was one of the most important and influential American dance critics of the 20th century, as well as a poet and novelist. His dance reviews and es...


  91. 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...


  92. Function of the Orgasm by Wilhelm Reich

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  93. Philosophy of Modern Music by Theodor Adorno

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  94. Our Bodies, Ourselves by Our Bodies, Ourselves

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    Our Bodies, Ourselves is a book about women's health and sexuality produced by the nonprofit organization Our Bodies Ourselves (originally called the Boston Women's Health Book Collective). First p...


  95. Roots by Alex Haley


  96. Reflections from Captivity by Ho Chi Minn

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  97. Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

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    Viktor Frankl's 1946 book Man's Search for Meaning chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding a reason to live. According to Fra...


  98. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray

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    Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (published in May 1992) is a book by John Gray offering many suggestions for improving men-women relationships in couples by understanding the communication ...


  99. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

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    Mein Kampf, in English: My Struggle, is a book by Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925...