Read 12 Books That Changed the World by Melvyn Bragg Online


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 insWhen 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 instant information it is easy to underestimate the power of the printed word. In his fascinating new book accompanying the ITV series, Melvyn Bragg presents a vivid reminder of the book as agent of social, political and personal revolution. Twelve Books that Changed the World presents a rich variety of human endeavour and a great diversity of characters. There are also surprises. Here are famous books by Darwin, Newton and Shakespeare -- but we also discover the stories behind some less well-known works, such as Marie Stopes' Married Love, the original radical feminist Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman -- and even the rules to an obscure ball game that became the most popular sport in the world ......

Title : 12 Books That Changed the World
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780340839829
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 372 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

12 Books That Changed the World Reviews

  • umberto
    2019-06-11 20:46

    In fact, I had randomly read only 9 books out of its 12 since 2009 according to my preferences; my first three being The King James Bible (1611), Experimental Researches in Electricity (3 volumes, 1839, 1844, 1855), and Principia Mathematica (1687). My preferences for the first rely mainly on its literary credit, for the second on Michael Faraday whose fame has impressed me since my lower secondary school years, and for the third on my admiration of Sir Isaac Newton. Till a few days ago I found these 3 remained unread, probably due to my waning motive or the degree of consequential ground-breaking impact of each book on each field achieved to the world at large; the unread 3 books are as follows: The Rule Book of Association Football (1863), On the Abolition of the Slave Trade (1789), and Patent Specification for Arkwright's Spinning Machine (1769).Since some of my friends and book lovers have clicked 'Like' on my review, I think I would say something more on why this book is worth reading and spending our time: first, each book content has wisely been well-planned and long enough for one's sitting because it does not cover too many pages. As we can see from the first three books I read as examples (illustration pages excluded): The King James Bible (15 pages), Experimental Researches in Electricity (17 pages), and Principia Mathematica (18 pages). Second, each one is interestingly readable due to its related illustrations as follows: The King James Bible: 1611 book cover, The title page of the 1568 'Bishops' Bible', The title page of the 1535 Coverdale Bible, 'The martyrdome of Master William Tindall in Flanders', 'Explorer David Livingstone reads the Bible to his men' - an engraving from 1874.Experimental Researches in Electricity: 1839 book cover, The frontispiece for Davy's lectures at the Royal Institution, A page depicting experiments with magnets from Faraday's Experimental Researches in Electricity, A page from Faraday's diary recording his discovery of electromagnetic induction, 1831, Faraday lecturing on magnetism at the Royal Institution.Principia Mathematica: 1687 book cover, Newton's own corrections for the second edition of Principia, The frontispiece of Volume II of Principia, translated into English in 1729, A contemporary cartoon satirising Newton's theory of gravity, Newton's experiments into the nature of colour, from Opticks published in 1704.And third, for each book, there is a timeline depicting important events, discoveries, missions, etc. through the years since its first publication; only one to be cited from each book:The King James Bible: 1940 Winston Churchill draws on the King James Bible in his 'Finest Hour' speech inaugurating the Battle of Britain (p. 286)Experimental Researches in Electricity: 1864 James Clerk Maxwell describes electromagnetic field in four classic equations, which also allow calculation of the speed of light (p. 232)Principia Mathematica: 1992 The Vatican admits that the Catholic Church erred in condemning Galileo's work proving that the planets circle the Sun and not the Earth (p. 34)To continue . . .

  • Gary
    2019-06-12 21:43

    I'm sure many holes could be picked in his exact choice of books, but this really does make for an informative and fun read. His sympathetic attitude to Christians is most welcome, and his willingness to show the link between Darwinism and Eugenics was particularly brave. He was also just fabulous on Adam Smith.A good writer on some very good books.Liked it a lot.

  • Ste J
    2019-05-21 21:58

    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 introduction has gone on for far to long, So here we are looking at 12 books, not the 12 books – that is an important distinction – that changed the world. These are books that were gestated in and given as a gift to the world from the British Isles and for that reason can’t be a definitive list, indeed it is Lord Bragg’s own choice and a fine collection at that, the list being: Principia Mathematica – Isaac Newton Married Love – Marie Stopes Magna Carta – Members of the English ruling classes The Rule Book of Association Football – Group of former English public school men On the Origins of Species – Charles Darwin On the Abolition of the Slave Trade – William Wilberforce (speech in parliament immediately printed) A Vindication of the Rights of Women – Mary Wollstonecraft Experimental Researches on Electricity – Michael Faraday Patent Specifications for Arkwright’s Spinning Machine – Richard Arkwright The King James Bible – William Tyndale and fifty four scholars appointed by the king An enquiry into the Nature and the Causes of the Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith The First Folio – William ShakespearePage one of the introduction gives us the inalienable truth ‘for those of us who love to read, the idea that a book can have an influence is not news’ and it’s this concept of the power of words, that runs through the book. Create all the technology you want but it’s the humble book that has the power to tear apart ideas and societies and remake them into something remarkable – and sometimes not, to be fair.Scattered throughout the tome are some nice recreations of the original frontispieces as well as illustrations that give you a glimpse into how the book’s content would have looked. Although some of these books deal with technical subjects that aren’t particularly reader friendly to the lay person, the histories behind them and the applications they have given to the human race are fascinating. I should belatedly point out that some of these books depending on your given value of the word book. Nonetheless the well researched narratives of the author and the times they lived in give a succinct overview for further reading.Each part is separate allowing you to tackle the book over a long period with some well-timed delving if you wish. I read it straight through as is my way, I found each part focussed on a different time and/or aspect of society from leisure to faith and politics to morality. it wasn’t hard to read straight through this one with our knowledge of how the seismic changes are still turning out.This acknowledgement of the huge historical significance of each book is never overplayed, although perhaps slightly romanticised. That’s not to take anything away from the message that these were some of the most effective driving catalysts for innovation the world over, that history has recorded. Each one had the capacity to become explosive and that detonation of an idea is still rippling through our daily lives todayI love books that celebrate books, it’s great to learn more about concepts and real people whom I have heard of but not necessarily fully explored to this point. Looking at the list, for some the odd chapter could sound a little dull but for someone like me I find that inconceivable and it is worth reading every chapter just to see how the simplest of things we take for granted can come from the writing of a now immortal book.

  • Jane White
    2019-05-24 21:05

    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 Bragg's commentary and have learned a lot about Isac Newton and feminist Marie Stopes.Other texts in this eclectic book include the Magna Carta, the rule book of association football, On the abolition of the slave trade, A vindication of the rights of women, experimental resaear4ch on electricity, the King James Bible and Shakespeare's The first folio.

  • Catherine
    2019-06-18 19:45

    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 makes me question the title.

  • Frank Cardenas
    2019-06-11 02:08

    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.

  • Michael
    2019-06-10 01:46

    2½ 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.

  • carynn
    2019-06-16 00:58

    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
    2019-06-03 03:09

    It was alright. But mostly - it was awful.

  • Shiloah
    2019-06-15 22:01

    A quick read. I learned much!

  • Phil Whittall
    2019-06-19 00:54

    I love books. I think the gift of reading was one of the best things my parents ever did for me. Melvyn Bragg is another bibliophile and this book is above all else a testament to the enduring power of the written word.It's well written and fascinating stuff start to finish. He stretches the idea of 'book' here and there but he makes a convincing case for the 12 books from this island that have indeed changed the world. They are:Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton'Married Love by Marie StopesMagna Carta by Assorted English BaronsThe Rule Book of Association Football by some English toffsOn the Origin of Species by Charles DarwinOn the Abolition of the Slave Trade by William WilberforceA Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary WoolstonecraftExperimental Researches on Electricity by Michael FaradayPatent Specification for Arkwright's Spinning Machine by Richard ArkwrightThe King James Bible by William Tyndale and 54 scholarsWealth of Nations by Adam SmithThe First Folio by William ShakespeareI think the case is weakest for no9 but other than that they all have a bearing on our lives today. The words I use (Shakespeare, Tyndale), the sport I love (FA), the freedoms I enjoy (Magna Carta), the technology I use (Newton, Faraday), the mortgage and products I use (Arkwright, Smith), the freedoms my wife has (Woolstonecraft, Stopes), the freedoms Barack Obama has (Wilberforce) and even my understanding of the world I live (Newton, Darwin, Faraday).What was interesting to me is the portrayal of Christians in the book, the respect for God that the deist Newton had to the deep powerful faith of Tyndale, Wilberforce and Faraday. What struck me the most though was the contrast of two consecutive chapters from Darwin to Wilberforce. In the first chapter Christians who opposed and continue to oppose the understanding of evolution come out in a very poor light and we see religion at some of its worst, to seeing faith at its world changing best in the following chapter on William Wilberforce.What sort of faith do I have? One that resists new information, new understanding, rigid in my thinking and unbending in my attitudes or one that sees a better world, has vision and power to persevere for justice. I imagine the difference between perseverance and unbending rigidity is slim indeed.Lastly, I've been trying to think of other books that could justifiably claim to have changed the world in which we live and have few others to add - any thoughts?

  • Jon
    2019-05-22 23:59

    This is the book of the TV series, and as one might expect, is therefore shallow, trite, and dull. It contains information, but you already know it all.

  • Graham
    2019-06-14 21:50

    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 which I wouldn't have thought worthy of inclusion are easily justified. His selection ranges from Newton's 'Principia Mathematica' to 'The rule book of Association Football', and from Darwin's 'Origin of the Species' to 'The King James Bible'. A real mixture of things and fascinating to read, whether all in one go or just to dip into when the spirit moves.

  • John Grinstead
    2019-06-08 00:09

    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 little dry and will not appeal to everyone but perserverance brings its rewards and he makes some otherwise fairly obscure books accessible to many.

  • Girts Gailans
    2019-06-17 03:10

    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 changing opinions, attitudes, knowledge, appreciation.Excellent! One to treasure and read again.

  • Caleb Liu
    2019-06-16 00:09

    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.

  • Julie
    2019-06-05 22:03

    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.

  • Nadine
    2019-06-02 20:55

    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.

  • Lucy
    2019-05-22 21:00

    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
    2019-05-30 20:45

    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.

  • Peter
    2019-06-10 19:53

    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.

  • Saranga
    2019-06-02 22:09

    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.

  • Jack Fleming
    2019-06-07 21:01

    Interesting selection of books!