Skip to comments.The Non-Fiction 100: The 100 Best Non-Fiction Books Of The (20th) Century (National Review)
Posted on 07/24/2006 8:01:24 AM PDT by Mr. Mojo
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Interesting to compare that list to the 1999 Modern Library list of 20th century non fiction...
01 Henry Adams The Education of Henry Adams
02 William James The Varieties of Religious Experience
03 Booker T. Washington Up From Slavery
04 Virginia Woolf A Room of One's Own
05 Rachel Carson Silent Spring
06 T.S. Eliot Selected Essays, 1917-1932
07 James D. Watson The Double Helix
08 Vladimir Nabokov Speak, Memory
09 H.L. Mencken The American Language
10 John Maynard Keynes The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
11 Lewis Thomas The Lives of a Cell
12 Frederick Jackson Turner The Frontier in American History
13 Richard Wright Black Boy
14 E.M. Forster Aspects of the Novel
15 Shelby Foote The Civil War
16 Barbara Tuchman The Guns of August
17 Isaiah Berlin The Proper Study of Mankind
18 Reinhold Niebuhr The Nature and Destiny of Man
19 James Baldwin Notes of a Native Son
20 Gertrude Stein The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
21 William Strunk, E.B. White The Elements of Style
22 Gunnar Myrdal An American Dilemma
23 Alfred North Whitehead, Bertrand Russell Principia Mathematica
24 Stephen Jay Gould The Mismeasure of Man
25 Meyer Howard Abrams The Mirror and the Lamp
26 Peter B. Medawar The Art of the Soluble
27 Bert Hoelldobler, Edward O. Wilson The Ants
28 John Rawls A Theory of Justice
29 Ernest H. Gombrich Art and Illusion
30 E.P. Thompson The Making of the English Working Class
31 W.E.B. DuBois The Souls of Black Folks
32 G.E. Moore Principia Ethica
33 John Dewey Philosophy and Civilization
34 D'Arcy Thompson On Growth and Form
35 Albert Einstein Ideas and Opinions
36 Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. The Age of Jackson
37 Richard Rhodes The Making of the Atomic Bomb
38 Rebecca West Black Lamb and Grey Falcon
39 W.B. Yeats Autobiographies
40 Joseph Needham Science and Civilization in China
41 Robert Graves Goodbye to All That
42 George Orwell Homage to Catalonia
43 Mark Twain The Autobiography of Mark Twain
44 Robert Coles Children in Crisis
45 Arnold J. Toynbee A Study of History
46 John Kenneth Galbraith The Affluent Society
47 Dean Acheson Present at the Creation
48 David McCullough The Great Bridge
49 Edmund Wilson Patriotic Gore
50 Walter Jackson Bate Samuel Johnson
51 Alex Haley, Malcolm X The Autobiography of Malcolm X
52 Tom Wolfe The Right Stuff
53 Lytton Strachey Eminent Victorians
54 Studs Terkel Working
55 William Styron Darkness Visible
56 Lionel Trilling The Liberal Imagination
57 Winston Churchill The Second World War
58 Isak Dinesen Out of Africa
59 Dumas Malone Jefferson and His Time
60 William Carlos Williams In the American Grain
61 Marc Reisner Cadillac Desert
62 Ron Chernow The House of Morgan
63 A.J. Leibling The Sweet Science
64 Karl Popper The Open Society and Its Enemies
65 Francis A. Yates The Art of Memory
66 R.H. Tawney Religion and the Rise of Capitalism
67 Walter Lippmann A Preface to Morals
68 Jonathan D. Spence The Gate of Heavenly Peace
69 Thomas S. Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
70 C. Vann Woodward The Strange Career of Jim Crow
71 William H. McNeill The Rise of the West
72 Elaine Pagels The Gnostic Gospels
73 Richard Ellmann James Joyce
74 Cecil Woodham-Smith Florence Nightingale
75 Paul Fussell The Great War and Modern Memory
76 Lewis Mumford The City in History
77 James M. McPherson Battle Cry of Freedom
78 Martin Luther King, Jr. Why We Can't Wait
79 Edmund Morris The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
80 Erwin Panofsky Studies in Iconology
81 John Keegan The Face of Battle
82 George Dangerfield The Strange Death of Liberal England
83 Lawrence Gowing Vermeer
84 Neil Sheehan A Bright Shining Lie
85 Beryl Markham West With the Night
86 Tobias Wolff This Boy's Life
87 G.H. Hardy A Mathematician's Apology
88 Richard P. Feynman Six Easy Pieces
89 Annie Dillard Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
90 James George Fraser The Golden Bough
91 Ralph Ellison Shadow and Act
92 Robert A. Caro The Power Broker
93 Richard Hofstadter The American Political Tradition
94 William Appleman Williams The Contours of American history
95 Herbert Croly The Promise of American Life
96 Truman Capote In Cold Blood
97 Janet Malcolm The Journalist and the Murderer
98 Ian Hacking The Taming of Chance
99 Anne Lamott Operating Instructions
100 Lord David Cecil Melbourne
Well, yeah...Chomsky's good, but if I had to choose between anything he wrote and Naughty Nurses, well...
I'm also surprised they omitted Belloc's The Servile State.
But, if they included Abolition of Man, The Elements of Style, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Witness, and The Gulag Archipelago, what they hey, they pass.
What in the bloody world is anything by this lying, brain donor clown doing on this list?
Bump for later reading.
Since Francis Fukuyama's ludicrous cockup of a book does not belong on the list, Aldrich's book should be at #40 in its place.
Since Atlas and Fountainhead are novels, they can't be on a list of non-fiction books, eh?
The book is "On Winning and Losing," by John Boyd.
James wasn't a New England native. Was he really more anti-immigrant than other American Protestants of his day?
Wikipedia has an interesting article on James's book, The American Scene, which provoked such views:
The book as it stands has been praised and damned, respected and dismissed. The extreme reactions may result from the contradictions inherent in the book itself. To take maybe the most notorious example, James indulged in racist bashing of black people as incapable of alertness and attention, then praised the "most accomplished" W.E.B DuBois' The Souls of Black Folk as "the only Southern book of any distinction for many a year."
Similarly, James was full of misgivings about unrestricted immigration and its effect on America's already thinly stretched social fabric. (Of course, many Americans share similar doubts about immigration to this day.) But he conceded that the strong assimilative forces of American life would work on the children of the immigrants, "the younger generation who will fully profit, rise to the occasion, and enter into the privilege" of full citizenship.
James also constantly criticized the materialism and greed he saw all around him in American business. But he again admitted that the result was a huge increase in material well-being for the average person: "this immense, vivid general lift of poverty and general appreciation of the living unit's paying property in himself." It was in this widespread prosperity "that the picture seems most to clear and the way to jubilation most to open."
On the whole James doesn't sound so very different from any conflicted 21st century American. Indeed, he came from a very conflicted background: quite comfortable yet outside traditional American society.
Henry James's grandfather was a (Protestant) immigrant from Ireland who made a fortune in real estate, his father an international intellectual wanderer. Henry became devoted to England, but his brother was passionately American, and his sister a fiery partisan of Irish freedom. James probably isn't today's cup of tea, but he saw and understood more than most people in his day -- or ours did.
Was it so ironic that James was so popular with 20th century intellectuals of immigrant stock (particularly the Jewish "New York Intellectuals" of the "Partisan Review School")? He comes across as a 19th century "New York Intellectual" himself.
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