Books That Changed The World by Andrew Taylor

andrew taylorAndrew Taylor is a British author who was born in Stevenage, England on 14 October 1951. He is best known for his crime novels, which include the Lydmouth series, the Roth Trilogy and historical novels such as the best-selling The American Boy and The Anatomy of Ghosts. Taylor has been nominated for several prizes and had won many more including  the Cartier Diamond Dagger, CWA New Blood Dagger, the Martin Beck Award and CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award. So when a writer of this calibre produces Books That Changed The World, I take notice of his opinion. It is particularly useful now that I have taken over leading the local book group from my friend, the respected author, Evelyn Hood. What a set of shoes to fill!

So, in Books that Changed the World Andrew Taylor sets himself the task of choosing and profiling the fifty most important and influential books in the history of the world. He has selected books from every field of human creativity and intellectual endeavour and covers genres from poetry Evelyn Hoodto politics, fiction to philosophy, theology to anthropology, and economics to physics. In doing so the author has created a rounded and satisfying picture of how fifty towering achievements of the human intellect that have been important to building societies, shaping values, enhancing understanding of the world, enabling technological advancements, and reflecting concerns and dilemmas, strengths and failings.

Andrew Taylor sets each work and its author firmly in historical context, summarizes the content of the work in a series of engaging and lively essays. He also questions, and explores the works wider influence and legacy. Books that Changed the World is a fascinating and informative read.

None of the inclusions will really surprise the reader. Of course, they include The Bible and The Qur’an, I was not surprised to see Quotations from Chairman Mao included too. The inclusion of the 50 booksTelephone Directory amused me as I do not consider it a book, as such I suppose Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language also falls into this observation. However, their significance cannot be denied. I agreed with the inclusions of Charles Darwin’s Of The Origin of Species and The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes. There is also no dispute about the First Folio of William Shakespeare’s plays nor the Poems of Wilfred Owen, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy or The Catcher in the Rye by J.D.Salinger. However, it was a shame to see reference to J K Rowling’s Harry Potter, but not the Tolkien’s The Hobbit  and Silent Spring by Rachel Carson but not Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.

However, I am really not complaining. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to delve deeper into the library of great books, Books that Changed the World is a thought-provoking and stimulating read, and the likely cause of many an impassioned debate in book clubs and beyond. I highly recommend it.

Valerie Penny




  1. Mary A. Berger

    What a challenge Andrew Taylor has taken on in sorting out his choices of Books That Changed the World! I like Valerie’s evaluations. Telephone Directory, indeed.


    • Valerie Penny

      Thanks Mary, I have to say, I am looking forward to reading the most recent Mattie Mitchell Humor Mysteries book, The Message – that would not be so of the Telephone Directory!


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