Top 10 Books that Shaped History

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Imagine a world free of books or any other type of manuscripts. And think of all those ignorant sapiens that are no less than our ancestor-the ape. We live in a world where although technology has surpassed the traditional form of learning but it will never be able to replace the authenticity of a book. After all history stands evidence to some of the most amazing and eye-opening books for the generations to come. There have been scrolls and tablets, manuscripts and woodblocks; and thanks to these preservation we have a much simpler and organized way of living unlike the other living beings on earth. Undoubtedly we are the ruling race and what makes us different is our ability to read and write our thoughts. At times publication of these items caused a seismic shift in the norms and society was forever changed. The topic is a subjective one, for all of us have our favorites  Here I present you my list of books that changed the course of history.

10. The war of the worlds- H.G. Wells(1898)


If you are thinking of Tom Cruise, you are in the right direction. H. G. wells wrote this novel about 100 years ago. Marvel the genius of the man who at a time when authors were busy with waist coated pansies and romanticism came up with first of its kind a book on conflict between mankind and extra-terrestrial race. The novel is one of the most commented-on in the category of science fiction. It literally invented the genre of science fiction, stimulating the minds of countless children who would grow up to become scientists, physicists and researchers. The book has been both popular and influential, marking itself in films, radios, a record album, comic books, a TV series and sequels.

9. Plato’s The Republic-380 BC


Our rule-abiding society based on a book written in around 380 BC-unimaginable, is it? The republic is a book by Plato defining justice and the order and the character of a just city and its just men. It is a Socratic dialogue which has been much debated due to its contents. The book features Socrates and various Athenians and foreigners who discuss the justice and monitor the lives of people. They also discuss the theory of forms, the immortality of the soul, and the roles of a philosopher and a poet in society. Guess what, it will be “just” to call it Plato’s best known work, as it has proven to be one of the most intellectual and influential works on philosophy and politics.

8. Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica- Sir Issac Newton(1687)


Writing down the mere name of the book made me do huff and puff, imagine reading it. Don’t worry because we don’t have to read it, as if we would even understand it anyway. The book’s name is Latin for mathematical principles of natural science. There are no prizes for guessing the writer. We read his name almost everywhere, at least the science students do. Sir Issac Newton states his laws of motion, forming the foundation of classical mechanics, gravitational laws and Kepler laws of planetary motion. Science remained in the darkness of hypotheses and arguments until Newton spread the light of mathematics over it. The Principia, as is often called is regarded as the most important work in the history of science. What did it influence- your maths homework.

7. The rights of man- Thomas Paine(1791)


Thomas Paine, an English writer argues the interests of monarchy and his people in this book. He was the man behind the writings of the American democracy. He resisted the nobility and the military establishment and called for their closing down. Paine, ignorant of the French language, went to France at the time of revolution and was elected to the national convention. However, his absence from his country proved to be fortunate as he was put on trial and convicted for the publication of his book. He caused a furor in his country.

6. On the origin of species- Charles Darwin(1859)


Charles Darwin, the father of evolution penned down this book for his foundation theory on evolutionary biology. Similar to what we read at the high-school level, the book proposes the time consuming process of evolution and natural selection. The book was a scientific work and was a highly controversial one, contradicting many religious views on biology. The book was written in a way that even the non-specialist could read and comprehend it. Due to which, it attracted widespread readership on its publication.

5. A vindication of the rights of woman- Mary Wollstonecraft(1792)


Written by the 18th century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, this book is the first of its kind-feminist philosophy. At those times, the educational and political theorists believed that women should not be educated. This brave woman claimed that women were not properties, they were the companions of their husbands, an integral part of family educating their children and in fact human beings. They deserved to read and write just like the other sex. The book changed the structured patriarchal society. To all those women out there, cheers!

4. Atlas Shrugged- Ayn Rand(1957)


A book ahead of its time, Ayn Rand’s last and the longest work “atlas shrugged” is considered to be her magnum opus in the field of fiction writing. The book contains objectivism at its peak along with elements of romance, mystery and science fiction. It failed to impress the critics, but was a huge hit among the masses. Today the objectivistic philosophy enjoys great popularity around the world.

3. The communist manifesto- Karl Marx and Frederick Engels(1848)


The communist theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote the most influential political tract of history-the communist manifesto. In Marx’s and Engels’ own words, “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” The book gives a detailed account of the class struggles and problems of capitalism. It also features the rough transition of the capitalistic society to socialism and eventually to communism. A famous quote from the work read as, ‘the communists refuse to conceal their views and aims. We declare that our ends can be met only by the overthrow of the existing conditions of society. The ruling class will fear us. We have a world to win. Working men of the nations, unite!

2. Experimental research in electricity- Michael Faraday(1914)


Now, there is a reason behind mentioning this book in the number 2 category, the mere significance of the word-electricity. Who will deny Michael Faraday’s contributions to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry? Surprisingly, Faraday received little formal education and did not study calculus. It was solely on the basis of his experiments that he could write an entire book on the theory. The lack of education did not stop him from becoming one of the most influential scientists of the history. If Benjamin Franklin invented electricity, Faraday actually brought it to our lives. Think of a world without his discovery, you would not find induction motors, transformers, computers, televisions, doorbells, many mobile phones, generators, cars, CAT scanners, earphones, loudspeakers and the list goes on! Basically modern society would not have dared to exist without Faraday and his research.

1. The Bible-4000 BC


What is life without the inspiration of the holy almighty resting above all of us.  A believer or not, everyone follows a set of norms in his life. In fact religion is all about leading our lives in a prescribed manner. The holy Bible, no doubt has done more to change the face of the world than any other text. The entire Roman Empire was converted from paganism to Christianity, after about 200 years of creation of this book. Since then Christianity has become the largest followed religion. The bible comprises two books- the Old Testament and the New Testament. When Gutenberg invented the printing press, the bible was the first book ever published. The sacred text is the most translated and the most purchased book in the world.

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  • Noah’s Ark

    great article… and u have covered books from all different fields and most importantly the ones that have not only affected book making but also the very roots of mankind.. awesome article, nicely elaborated…

  • zola

    i doubt that your view is holistic since you didn’t includes holy Quaran