Cover Story

The century's top 100 books

On July 3, WORLD offered a list of what were, from our perspective, the top 40 books of the century. Having a top 40, though, smacks too much of pop-radio play lists. A hundred years deserves a hundred books. Responding to reader suggestions, we now include living authors, including some nominated by readers. From our perspective, with our bias toward English-language books, represented here are 100 of the top books of the century. Authors are listed in alphabetical order, and only one title per author is listed, though the author's other books may be equally worthy of inclusion. Readers, of course, will note gaping holes and flaming omissions.

Issue: "Top 100 Books 1999," Dec. 4, 1999

Henry Adams - The Education of Henry Adams (1918)
This book offered a fine contrast between the pre-modern mind (symbolized by the "Virgin" of the great cathedrals) and the just-emerging modern century (symbolized by the industrial "dynamo"). Buy it today!

Hannah Arendt - The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951)
What she describes about the dynamics of fascism and communism needs to be heeded today. Buy it today!

Edward C. Banfield - The Unheavenly City (1950)
Father of the books critiquing dire public policy consequences of utopian liberalism.

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P. T. Bauer - Equality, the Third World, and Economic Delusion (1983)
Presented an important new way of looking at Third World economic development. Buy it today!

Michael Behe - Darwin's Black Box (1996)
Biochemist proves, with hard science, that on the smallest, most irreducible scale, life is not random. Buy it today!

William Bennett, editor - The Book of Virtues (1993)
Good reading for children and adults about values underemphasized in schools. Buy it today!

Louis Berkhof - Systematic Theology (1941)
Tightly-woven account of Reformed understanding. Buy it today!

Allan Bloom - The Closing of the American Mind (1988)
A devastating account of how today's moral and intellectual relativism is stifling American education. Buy it today!

James M. Boice - Romans: An Expositional Commentary (1995)
One of the best expository preachers opens up Paul's great epistle.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - The Cost of Discipleship (1937)
Grace may be free, but it isn't cheap, as this young theologian showed both in his words and in his martyr's death at the hands of the Nazis. Buy it today!

Jorge Borges - Labyrinths (1984)
Curious, mind-teasing short stories from the blind Argentinean librarian who was one of the century's most intriguing writers. Buy it today!

Robert Bork - Slouching Towards Gomorrah (1996)
A thundering moral critique of contemporary culture. Buy it today!

William F. Buckley Jr. - God & Man at Yale (1951)
Detailed how a once conservative college had headed left theologically and politically. Buy it today!

Oswald Chambers - My Utmost for His Highest (1937)
A devotional classic. Buy it today!

Whittaker Chambers - Witness (1952)
The moving autobiography and reflective meditation of a communist spy who became a Christian and, to the scorn of the intellectual establishment, witnessed to God's grace. Buy it today!

G. K. Chesterton - Orthodoxy (1908)
This exuberant, joyous, humorous journalist defended the faith with a razor logic and a razor wit. Buy it today!

Winston Churchill - The Second World War (1948-1953)
An eloquently written six-volume history, by the man who made it. Buy it today!

Charles Colson - Born Again (1977)
The testimony of a Watergate politician who was turned to Christ and to Christian activism in the world. Buy it today!

Robert Conquest - The Great Terror (1968)
Thoroughly researched account of the horrors of Stalinism in the Soviet Union. Buy it today!

Richard Crossman, editor - The God That Failed (1949)
A collection of essays by ex-communists who woke up to the true nature of their false religion. Buy it today!

William Dembski - The Design Inference (1998)
This book does the hard-core mathematical, philosophical, and scientific spade-work for proving that the universe did not "just evolve" but was designed. Buy it today!

Hernando De Soto - The Other Path (1989)
Shows how Third World countries can achieve economic progress by embracing free enterprise. Buy it today!

Annie Dillard - Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974)
Sharply observed and luminously expressed meditations on nature, from a writer at home in both science and theology. Buy it today!

T. S. Eliot - The Collected Poems (1963)
The poet who charted the spiritual wasteland of the 20th century, in the process becoming a conservative Christian. Buy it today!

Ralph Ellison - Invisible Man (1952)
A powerful psychological novel about race and alienation, from the century's greatest black American author. Buy it today!

Jacques Ellul - The Humiliation of the Word (1981)
He defended language and the Word of God against the image-worshippers of modern technological culture. Buy it today!

Shusako Endo - Silence (1969)
A disturbing, evocative novel about the persecutions of Christians in old Japan, from a talented Christian novelist from Japan. Buy it today!

Stanton Evans - The Theme Is Freedom (1994)
For many on the left, history is the progressive liberation of human beings from the chains of tradition. But this book documents how it has been humanism that has bred tyranny, while Christianity, from the very beginning, has promoted freedom. Buy it today!

William Faulkner - The Collected Stories (1950)
With his long, convoluted sentences mirroring the convolutions of the mind, and his Southern gothic characters, Faulkner has to be considered America's greatest fiction writer of the century. Buy it today!

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