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12 Books That Changed the World

3.45  ·  Rating Details  ·  168 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
When we think of great events in the history of the world, we tend to think of war, revolution, political upheaval or natural catastrophe. But throughout history there have been moments of vital importance that have taken place not on the battlefield, or in the palaces of power, or even in the violence of nature, but between the pages of a book. In our digitised age of ins ...more
Paperback, 372 pages
Published 2007 by Sceptre (first published 2006)
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Ste J
Feb 08, 2014 Ste J rated it really liked it
Being the faithful bibliophile that I am, I ignored the accompanying TV series because reading is better. As Bragg notes with Charles Lamb’s point about reading Shakespeare (compared to watching his plays), ‘The argument is that there is so much in it which even the finest actor will have to speak without pause where a pause, perhaps a pause of an hour or so, is what is needed to think through how much the words mean’.

Anyway I enjoy watching Shakespeare as well so it’s all good and this introduc
Jane White
May 20, 2012 Jane White rated it really liked it
i can't quite finish this book and after three consecutive loans the library is making me take this one back ... but I have loved what I have read.
It is an easy read - in a hard kind've way.
I can't read it at night as I end up spending teh whole night lying awake thinking about what I had read ... and so I haven't even gotten half way through in about seven weeks.
But I plan to re-borrow the book on another day and maybe over those next few months I'll get closer to the end.
I have enjoyed reading
Jan 08, 2012 Catherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing
This was an interesting selection and included some I had read, some I knew a lot about even though I've never really read them, and others I knew nothing of.

Each book was put in context and its choice justified by Bragg. While he has succeeded in making even The Rules of Association Football seem important, he has not tempted me to read it, but then I'm not sure that's his aim. It certainly is a whistle stop tour through several hundred years of British culture, but it is that parochialism that
Frank Cardenas
Feb 28, 2008 Frank Cardenas rated it liked it
I liked this book as it allowed me to get a gist of highly important but difficult-to-read books I would've never chosen to read by my own will. The language is clear and it makes it easy for us to understand the powerful influence those books had and continue to have nowadays. Nice read.
Jul 26, 2014 Michael rated it it was ok
Recommended to Michael by: A British postcrosser (cucoriedka)
2 stars. Uneven in places, but a good survey overall. Made me stop to reflect what 12 books have most changed my life (as opposed to the world as a whole). If you like books about books, give it a try. ...more
May 10, 2008 carynn rated it it was ok
Shelves: ok-ish, 2008
eh. was interesting, learned much, but mostly to despise any author with his picture on the front cover. Melvyn has such a pompous way of writing, he certainly earned his surname.
Rat de bibliothèque
Jun 22, 2008 Rat de bibliothèque rated it did not like it
It was alright. But mostly - it was awful.
Jun 27, 2014 Graham rated it it was amazing
What a really interesting book, but then what else would you expect from Melvyn Bragg. The book does what it says , it discusses 12 books and explains why, in the opinion of the author they changed the world.

As he points out in his preface the title is '12 books' not 'THE 12 books', his selection having changed numerous times during the writing and obviously different people will choose different books. However his explanations as to why his choice is as it is extremely well argued and things wh
Saranga Sharma
Read about the 12 British books that went on to change the world's view on a range of subjects like science, drama, machines, law and football. Makes an interesting read.
John Grinstead
Jul 26, 2011 John Grinstead rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first look Melvin Bragg's selections might appear a little random and certainly not a collection that one would automatically jump to but his ability to draw out the story of the author, their work and the influence that they have subsequently had on societies across the world is profound. He manages to convey not only a genuine interest in the work but in the social impact throughout history of such inspirational characters from Shakespeare to Stopes. Melvin Bragg's style can sometimes be a ...more
Girts Gailans
Sep 04, 2012 Girts Gailans rated it it was amazing
Literally, a wonderful book; a book of books, in fact.

It seems at first like an impossible claim - that any book could have changed the world. But Bragg gently analyses and explains the background to the book and its author; their life, their world and what was happening in it. He goes on to justify the inclusion of the book thoroughly and convincingly, without resorting to hyperbole, by demonstrating the effect that the book has had, not just in its own sphere, but in the wider world by changin
Caleb Liu
Mar 15, 2007 Caleb Liu rated it liked it
This being Bragg, the choices are utterly Anglocentric. The book was wonderfully readable, but could have done with a little more depth - it served more to whet the appetite than fully satisfy it. In particular, more sources could have been examined, but this never claimed to be an authoritative work of scholarship more a piece of good entertaining fun, to which it succeeds quite well.
Oct 20, 2009 umberto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read 9 Books and found them readable, informative and logical in terms of how each Book did change the world. I may read the other three whenever I find motivation.

1. The Rule Book of Association Football (1863)
2. On the Abolition of the Slave Trade (1789)
3. Patent Specification for Arkwright's Spinning Machine (1769)
Aug 12, 2007 Nadine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
What I learned from this book is that the twelve books that changed the world are more interesting than reading about the twelve books that changed the world. Still it's fun to haul out TBTCtW during parties and ask guests to try and guess all twelve tomes.

Okay, it's fun if you're a nerd. Which I am. So there.
Sep 07, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The inclusion of each book is justified as part of Bragg's essay on the significance of the book to our culture. He writes with a real love for the works. I particularly liked how he made the case for the influence of more obscure works. Enjoyed reading it all the way through but one could dip in and out.
Jun 14, 2010 Lucy rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2007
This was a really interesting and educational insight into many well-known and (obviously) important books that probably noone normal ever reads.

I recommend it highly for a wider education not only on the books themselves but the effect of books on society in general.
Drini Cami
This was an okay book. The writing didn't really pull you in, and by the end it felt like Bragg was just forcing himself to finish the book. Interesting to read though, and it's nice to see the cause and effect chain from just a single article of writing.
Sep 03, 2012 Peter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history

A great idea but full of over long quotations of the work of others, and unsupported assertions of the author. I assume he was in a rush to finish.
Jack Fleming
Oct 29, 2013 Jack Fleming rated it really liked it
Interesting selection of books!
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Melvyn Bragg, Baron Bragg, FRSL, FRTS (born 6 October 1939) is an English author, broadcaster and media personality who, aside from his many literary endeavours, is perhaps most recognised for his work on The South Bank Show.

Bragg is a prolific novelist and writer of non-fiction, and has written a number of television and film screenplays. Some of his early television work was in collaboration wit
More about Melvyn Bragg...

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