Wednesday, June 17, 2009

15 Books in 15 Minute

Okay, I'll bite:
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
George Eliot, Middlemarch
Bertram Wolfe, Three Who Made a Revolution
James Boswell, Life of Johnson
Leon Tolstoi, War and Peace
Bertram de Jouvenal, On Power
Stendahl, Charterhouse of Parma
Homer, Iliad
Gilmore, Security Interests in Personal Property
Philip Reiff, Freud:Mind of the Moralist
Balzac, Lost Illusions
Viking Portable Faulkner
Primo Levi, If This is a Man
Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure
Leon Trotsky, My Autobiography
Some afterthoughts: Wolfe was the first "adult" history book I ever read (I was about 23, a late starter). Thucydides was actually the second. Trotsky came in soon after--an evil man but still a seductive writer. Tolstoi, Stendahl and Eliot were "favorite novels" at various times in my life (these days I'd say Proust, not on the list).

Update: I keep thinking of others that should have been on the list. How could I have forgotten Arthur Schlesinger, Crisis of the Old Order, the prehistory of the New Deal? Or Bruce Catton's three-volume history of the Civil War, long before Shelby Foote? Or de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, in the two-volume Viking paperback edition? Or Ed Banfield's Moral Basis of a Backward Society?

I'm really not sure what Phillip Reiff is doing there, except that I read it once with avidity when I should have been studying law.

Update II: I should have reported that I was inspired to this exercise by Jim Chen, and reminded to post it by Terry Teachout. For DG Myers' list, go here. For Patrick Kurp's, here. Another good one is here.


D. G. Myers said...


Great list! I especially like the inclusion of The Portable Faulkner, a book that did more than any volume that Faulkner himself published to establish the writer’s reputation. As readers, we probably don’t give enough credit to anthologies of various kinds, which introduce us to individual writers whom we then seek out on their own. As we reconstruct our intellectual autobiography, we remember the writers and forget the anthologies.

Buce said...

Thanks, always good to hear from a satisfied customer. The Portable Faulkner wsa indeed a very big deal for me. See: