TLS The Hundred Most Influential Books Since the Second World War

The Hundred Most Influential Books Since the War

The following item originally appeared in the Times Literary Supplement (6 October 1995). Seventy of the books listed were written by sixty-one authors - some living, some deceased - who are or were members of the Academy.

Most people enjoy making lists. But who would produce a list of "a hundred books which have influenced Western public discourse since the Second World War"? A brief explanation is called for.

In 1986, a diverse group of writers and scholars came together to try to assist independent East European writers and publishers both at home and in exile. The Chairman was Lord Dahrendorf, Warden of St.Antony's College, Oxford. Other members were the French historian Francois Furet; Raymond Georis, Director of the European Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam; Laurens van Krevelen of the Dutch publishing house Meulenhoff; the Swedish writer Per Wastberg, at the time President of International PEN; the European correspondent of the New Yorker, Jane Kramer; and the historian and commentator Timothy Garton Ash. It was
envisaged that support would take two forms: first, to ensure publication in the original languages, and second, to encourage more translations.

One of the basic tenets of this initiative, which came to be known as the Central and East European Publishing Project (CEEPP), was that the geopolitical division of Europe - the Iron Curtain was then still very much a reality - had interrupted the normal and healthy flow not just of people but also of books and ideas. Its aim, in the words of Ralf Dahrendorf, was to foster a "common market of the mind" throughout the whole of Europe. After 1989, CEEPP was able to expand its activities and organize workshops and in-house training for those involved in publishing, but its main concern remained to facilitate the publication of worthwhile books and journals.

At Trustees' meetings, titles submitted by publishers for consideration were scrutinized for their quality and relevance. Not surprisingly, there were, among the Orwells, Poppers, and Hannah Arendts, some very odd works, and also some strange omissions. Inspired and provoked by the perusal of these lists over the years, the Trustees decided that in their final year of activity (the Project disbanded at the end of 1994) they would respond to the challenge of producing, as a jeu d'esprit, a consciously arbitrary list of the 100 books which have been most influential in the West since 1945.

An initial list was put together by a small panel consisting of Robert Cassen, Dahrendorf, Garton Ash, Michael Ignatieff, Leszek Kolakowski, and Bryan Magee. It was then revised, following an extensive discussion at the last meeting of CEEPP Trustees. Works of fiction were included only when they had a wider impact.
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flag this list (?)
117 books · 105 voters · list created June 5th, 2013 by Lazarus P Badpenny Esq (votes) .
172 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Lazarus 3573 books
416 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 3213 books
856 friends
Thom 6023 books
307 friends
Laura 11927 books
295 friends
Ellinor 7790 books
473 friends
Andrew 1705 books
34 friends
Hanneke 2312 books
267 friends
Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) 547 books
507 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Is this the whole list?

If it is, I'd think about adding a note to the subtitle about please not adding books to the list.


message 2: by Lazarus (new)

Lazarus P Badpenny Esq Susanna wrote: "Is this the whole list?

If it is, I'd think about adding a note to the subtitle about please not adding books to the list."


Good idea: I'm just the sort of person who usually goes blundering adding away willy-nilly without a second thought...

Meanwhile I'm trying to find a link to the original list...


message 4: by Lazarus (new)

Lazarus P Badpenny Esq "Certain seminal works which were published before the Second World War, but which have had a major influence since the war, were set aside. That list would certainly include:

Karl Barth: Credo
Marc Bloch: Feudal Society (La Societe feodale)
Martin Buber: I and Thou (Ich und Du)
Norbert Elias: The Civilizing Process (Uber den Prozess der Zivilisation)
Sigmund Freud: Civilization and Its Discontents (Das Unbehagen in der Kultur)
Elie Halevy: The Era of Tyrannies: Essays on Socialism and War (L'Ere des tyrannies: Etudes sur le socialisme et la guerre)
Martin Heidegger: Being and Time (Sein und Zeit)Johan Huizinga: The Waning of the Middle Ages (Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen)
Aldous Huxley: Brave New World
Franz Kafka: The Castle (Das Schloss)
John Maynard Keynes: The Economic Consequences of the Peace
John Maynard Keynes: The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money
Lewis Namier: The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III
Jose Ortega y Gasset: The Revolt of the Masses (La Rebelion de las masas)
Karl Popper: The Logic of Scientific Discovery (Logik der Forschung)
Ludwig Wittgenstein: Tractatus logicophilosophicus (Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung)"


message 5: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Are these the books which have BEEN most influential, or the books the committee thinks OUGHT TO BE most influential ?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Well, the subtitle says " a consciously arbitrary list of the 100 books which have been most influential in the West since 1945." (Emphasis added.)


message 7: by P.J. (new)

P.J. Sullivan Why isn't Michael Harrington's "The Other America" on this list?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You'd have to ask the editors of the TLS; they made the list.


message 9: by Rachel S (new)

Rachel S Was surprised to see Tony Judt's Postwar missing, but then realized this list was compiled in 1995, and his book was published in 1999. A valuable list--should create an updated version.


message 10: by Booklovinglady (last edited Mar 13, 2017 12:53AM) (new)

Booklovinglady According to the title of the Listopia, there are supposed to be a 100 books on this list, which means that at the moment there are 12 titles too many.... My guess is that the following books might not belong on this list?

On Human Nature (#65)
The Road to Serfdom (#63)
The V Girl (#62)
The God Delusion (#54)
The Selfish Gene (#42)
The Power of Myth (#24)
Our Revolution: A Future to Believe in (#22)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (#20)
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (#12)
The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision (#7)
The Ecological Rift (#4)
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (#3)

@Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
Let me know and I'll removed them.


message 11: by Lazarus (new)

Lazarus P Badpenny Esq Booklovinglady wrote: "According to the title of the Listopia, there are supposed to be a 100 books on this list, which means that at the moment there are 12 titles too many.... My guess is that the following books might..."

Thanks for your vigilance.

I should really add a link to the original list. That said, a cursory glance over my own 100 votes suggests you've correctly identified the cuckoos.


message 12: by Booklovinglady (new)

Booklovinglady Lazarus wrote: "That said, a cursory glance over my own 100 votes suggests you've correctly identified the cuckoos. ..."

That's how I found the ones not belonging :-) Would you like me to remove them for you? (I'm a librarian, so I can).


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