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

    Image of The Second World War

    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

    Image of The Gulag Archipelago

    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

    Image of Homage to Catalonia

    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

    Image of The Road to Serfdom

    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

    Image of Collected Essays of George Orwell

    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

    Image of The Open Society

    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

    Image of The Abolition of Man

    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

    Image of The Revolt of the Masses

    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

    Image of The Constitution of Liberty

    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

    Image of Capitalism and Freedom

    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

    Image of Modern Times

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

  12. 12. Rationalism in Politics by Michael Oakeshott

    Image of Rationalism in Politics

    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

    Image of Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy

    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

    Image of Economy and Society

    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

    Image of The Origins of Totalitarianism

    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

    Image of Black Lamb and Grey Falcon

    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

    Image of Sociobiology

    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

    Image of Centesimus Annus

    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

    Image of The Pursuit of the Millennium

    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

    Image of The Diary of a Young Girl

    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

    Image of The Great Terror

    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

    Image of Chronicles of Wasted Time

    autobiography of Malcolm Muggeridge.


  23. 23. Relativity by Albert Einstein

    Image of Relativity

    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

    Image of Witness

    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

    Image of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

    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

    Image of Mere Christianity

    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

    Image of The Quest for Community


  28. 28. Encyclopedia Britannica by Encyclopedia Britannica

    Image of Encyclopedia Britannica

    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

    Image of Up in the Old Hotel

    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

    Image of The Everlasting Man

    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

    Image of Orthodoxy

    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

    Image of The Liberal Imagination

    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

    Image of  The Feynman Lectures on Physics

    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

    Image of The Myth of Sisyphus

    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

    Image of  The Unheavenly City


  38. 38. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

    Image of The Interpretation of Dreams

    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

    Image of The Death and Life of Great American Cities

    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

    Image of The End of History and the Last Man

    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

    Image of The Joy of Cooking

    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

    Image of The Age of Reform

    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

    Image of The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

    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.

    Image of God and Man at Yale

    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

    Image of Selected Essays of T. S. Eliot

    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

    Image of Ideas Have Consequences

    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

    Image of  The Economy of Cities


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

    Image of The Closing of the American Mind

    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

    Image of Ethnic America

    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

    Image of An American Dilemma

    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

    Image of Three Case Histories

    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

    Image of The Struggle for Europe

    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

    Image of Main Currents in American Thought

    Main Currents in American Thought


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

    Image of The Waning of the Middle Ages

    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

    Image of Systematic Theology

    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

    Image of The Campaign of the Marne

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

  57. 57. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein

    Image of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

    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

    Image of Insight: A Study of Human Understanding


  59. 59. Being and Time by Martin Heidegger

    Image of Being and Time

    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

    Image of Disraeli

    Biography of Benjamin Disraeli


  61. 61. Democracy and Leadership by Irving Babbitt

    Image of Democracy and Leadership

    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

    Image of The Elements of Style

    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

    Image of The Machiavellians

    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

    Image of Reflections of a Russian Statesman

    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

    Image of The Hedgehog and the Fox

    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

    Image of Roll, Jordan, Roll

    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

    Image of The ABC of Reading

    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

    Image of Second World War

    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

    Image of The Making of Homeric Verse

    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

    Image of The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling

    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

    Image of Scrutiny

    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

    Image of The Edge of the Sword


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

    Image of R. E. Lee

    Autobiography of Robert E. Lee.


  74. 74. Bureaucracy by Ludwig von Mises

    Image of  Bureaucracy

    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

    Image of The Seven Storey Mountain

    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

    Image of Balzac

    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

    Image of The Good Society

    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

    Image of Silent Spring

    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

    Image of The Christian Tradition

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

  80. 80. Strange Defeat by Marc Bloch

    Image of Strange Defeat

    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

    Image of Looking Back

    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

    Image of  Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres

    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

    Image of Poetry and the Age

    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

    Image of Love in the Western World

    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

    Image of The Conservative Mind

    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

    Image of Wealth and Poverty


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

    Image of Battle Cry of Freedom

    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

    Image of Henry James


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

    Image of Essays of E. B. White

    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

    Image of Speak, Memory

    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

    Image of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

    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

    Image of Darwin's Black Box

    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

    Image of The Civil War

    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

    Image of The Way the World Works

    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

    Image of To the Finland Station

    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

    Image of Civilisation


  97. 97. The Russian Revolution by Richard Pipes

    Image of The Russian Revolution

    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

    Image of The Idea of History

    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

    Image of The Last Lion

    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

    Image of The Starr Report

    THE STARR REPORT contains the complete text of the Independent Counsel