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4.6 out of 5 stars27
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VINE VOICEon 11 December 2006
It is difficult to over estimate the beneficial effects that the books of Tom Butler-Bowdon have had on my life. This is his fourth in the series, though you can read it without having read 50 Self Help Classics, 50 Success Classics and 50 Spirituality Classics - though I would recommend them all.

50 Psychology Classics contains 50 gateways into books you might never otherwise read. Butler-Bowdon describes the key texts by each author in a style that is calm, yet never dry. He does not shy away from telling you which books are easy reads and which ones will tax you. There are many books that I want to investigate having read about them in 50 Psychology Classics. There's much more to psychology than Freud and Jung, though this book taught me a thing or two about them too.

In some instances I am just grateful for the deepening of my knowledge. Most people know about the experiments that Pavlov conducted with dogs and bell ringing. But having read Chapter 37: Ivan Pavlov's Conditional Reflexes: An Investigation of the Physiological Activity of the Cerebal Cortex, I know about the experiments in greater - and at one point gruesome - detail. It never occurred to me to ask, for example, how Pavlov measured the saliva created by the ringing of the bell.

Having had an interest in psychology for many years I realise that I have absorbed many of the ideas described, yet Butler-Bowdon does a sterling job of putting each of these ideas into context. I have a greater understanding of where these theories came from - and how they are related. There is such a wealth of information contained in this book I know that I will return to it again and again. It particularly rewards re-reading when you've read the classic book described. I also know that I'll end up buying extra copies of these to give to friends who want to think a little deeper about life, but who might be unsure which books to read next.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 January 2009
I think this is probably the best of the fifty samples books and a good source for people interested in psychology in mainly a popular or literary sense.

It's a sampling of a range of authors (some further recommended reads and authors are included at the finish which arent included in the main of the text) there's a sample, a summary and some quotes from each of them.

A great place to begin if all you need is a sort of overview or if you're interested in the topic of psychology but unsure where to begin reading, I say its mainly a literary sense because its essentially a literature review and collection of recommended reads like all the fifty books series. It's not a psychology text book.
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on 24 March 2010
Like a lot of people, I've had a passing interest in all aspects of lay-psychology for a long time. Whether it's "body language" or "how to win friends and influence people", it always seemed to me that there was something deeper underpinning it all. So far as possible, I've avoided self-help books, which I tend to see as band-aid solutions or quackery.

This book is serious but accessible, and very well presented - it is structured logically a as reference text (I guess most people wouldn't read it cover to cover) and gives a very concise summary of each of the 50 selected books, followed by a little more detail about the style and scope of the contents.

There are two issue with the book, though. The first is that it is quite expensive for its stated aim, which is only to direct the reader to other, more substantial texts; however, this is definitely a book to be shared with like-minded friends, so this might not be a problem. Also, this book may be best read in conjunction with "50 self-help classics" by those more focussed on practical applications rather than general interest (although there is some cross-over).

Overall, this is an useful starting point for anyone trying to see the big picture of current psychological understanding. I bought 10 of the recommended books, and so far I'm very happy with my experience.
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on 21 November 2010
With 50 classics to pack in, this is a quick, lightweight reference to the main points of a personality or concept from the history of psychology in the west. Nearly all of the examples are from the Twentieth Century and the western hemisphere. There are bound to be some differences of opinion over what should have been kept in and what left out. It condenses the key points into a few pages that can be read quickly - from there it's up to the reader, if they really want to know more, to underpin it with further study. For what it is, it does its job pretty well.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 17 October 2007
Previously, I read and reviewed Tom Butler-Bowdon's 50 Self-Help Classics and 50 Success Classics and was not surprised to find that his most recently published volume in the "50 Classics" series is their equal in terms of the quality and value of the material provided. Butler-Bowdon employs essentially the same format for the three volumes: brief background on each source, major insights, final comments, and mini-bio of author. The "great thinkers" he discusses in 50 Psychology Classics are also organized in alphabetical order, although I would have preferred (one man's opinion) that they had been organized within discrete thematic clusters, and not in alphabetical order but in terms of sequence of influence. Sigmund Freud followed by Carl Jung and Alfred Adler and then Anna Freud followed by B.F. Skinner, for example. Frankly, as I checked out the table of contents, I was initially surprised to see Edward de Bono, Howard Gardner, Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Goleman, Steven Pinker, Gail Sheehy, and William Styron among the "iconic figures" listed so I read their segments first and, sure enough, Butler-Bowdon explains the inclusion of each.

In the Introduction, he provides an overview on the development of modern psychology as a field of study, once "early titans" (e.g. Williams James, Sigmund Freud, Jung, and Adler) had written books that the general public could understand. Within the Introduction, he also suggests seven themes that offer different perspectives on "who we are, how we think, and what we do" and assigns to each a cluster of relevant commentaries. Readers can then decide which themes are of greatest interest to them, and, on which selections to focus. For example, five sources are suggested for "Tapping the unconscious mind: Wisdom of a different kind." They are:

The Gift of Fear (Gavin de Becker)
My Voice Will Go With You (Milton Erickson by Sidney Rosen)
The Interpretation of Dreams (Sigmund Freud)
Blink (Malcolm Gladwell)
The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (Carl Jung)

I read some books cover-to-cover sequentially; with others, I hop around back and forth in random fashion; with still others, I read strategically after checking out the table of contents, as I did with this one. My guess (only a guess) is the latter approach will work best for most readers and many may decide what to read and in what order after reviewing the seven thematic clusters in the Introduction. For those who feel overwhelmed by the number of books in print and need help selecting what will be of greatest interest to them, the volumes in the "50 Classics" series will be especially valuable.

I view Butler-Bowdon is an erudite "travel agent" for readers, but also as an enthusiastic "tour guide" who then accompanies them from one "landmark" to the next. One of this book's several value-added benefits is that Butler-Bowdon discusses several authors and works of which many (if not most) of his readers may have been previously unaware. He also does a skillful job of comparing and contrasting perspectives on a specific subject as in this volume, for example, when noting that a "central idea in Adlerian psychology is that individuals are always striving toward a goal. Whereas Freud saw us as driven by what was in our past, Adler had a teleological view - they we are driven by our goals, whether they are conscious or not."

Those who share my regard for this book are urged to check out the other volumes in the "50 Classics" series. To those in business, I also highly recommend several volumes in the Capstone reference series written by Des Dearlove, notably The Ultimate Book of Business Thinking.
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on 26 December 2006
Following on from Tom Butler-Bowdon's previous volumes in the "50 Classics" series, this first class collection of summaries of key psychology books and authors continues in the same broad, accessible, but also in-depth, style.

As the sub-title says, psychology is all about who we are, how we think, what we do. In other words, what it means to be human. Topics covered include the unconscious mind, happiness and mental health, the study of personality, motivation, love, creativity and relationships.

With key "in a nutshell" comments, the author cuts to the essential message of each writer, while addressing more complex subtleties in the accompanying text. As with Tom's other books, there is a very wide range of carefully chosen authors. I had come across several here in an academic context, but in general the emphasis is on popular psychology, "Psychology for nonpsychologists" as the jacket puts it. The range includes RD Laing, Oliver Sacks, Fritz Perls, Ivan Pavlov, Eric Berne, to pick a few random names. The founding fathers such as William James and Sigmund Freud are covered, alongside over a century's worth of contributions right up to Malcolm Gladwell with his 2005 bestseller on the importance of first impressions and split-second judgment.

There is a huge amount of psychological and self-development literature available these days. It can be difficult to know where to begin but each volume in the "50 Classics" is an excellent starting point. "50 Psychology Classics" is another winner in the series and I wholeheartedly recommend it!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 June 2012
This is an inspiring, intellectually stimulating and accessible guide to 50 of the most influential books on psychology. The works discussed span the period from 1890(William James) to 2006(Daniel Gilbert) and can be divided into seven categories: 'A science of the brain'; 'Wisdom of a different kind'; 'Happiness and mental health'; 'The study of personality and the self'; 'Great thinkers on human motivation'; 'The dynamics of relationships'; and 'Creative power and communication skills'. At the end of the book there are brief summaries of an alternative list of '50 More Classics'.
'50 Psychology Classics' is an enlightening survey of a fascinating subject and should appeal to the general reader as well as students of psychology.
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on 9 January 2007
Remarkable! Tom's previous books in this series -on self-help, personal success literature, and spiritual classics- deserve to be considered classics in their own right. This latest volume expands the concept to encompass the field of psychology in a way that I'm sure will be indispensable not only to those with an amateur interest but to students of psychology, therapy, and the human sciences in general. It takes tremendous skill to encapsulate the essence of a whole genre in a bite-sized format of this kind but Tom has succeeded admirably and in a way that re-invigorates the source material.

I can't recommend this book highly enough to anyone with an interest in the study of psychology; there seems no better way of gaining an introduction to the wealth of literature available in the field. I'm sure any serious student will find this becomes a well-thumbed and lasting reference, an invaluable starting point for their forays into research.

Donald Robertson, author of,
The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy
The Discovery of Hypnosis: The Complete Writings of James Braid the Father of Hypnotherapy
The Practice of Cognitive-Behavioural Hypnotherapy
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on 19 August 2010

I wanted just this sort of summarised essential psychology.

The summaries of proven work are excellent, with guidance on further reading.

Coverage is wide so specialist areas are covered.

My only reservation is that it has a very N american orientation.
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on 11 February 2011
What can one say about this book without it sounding over-the-top and far fetched? For me, personally, 50 Psychology Classics ranks among a few books that I can undoubtedly say changed my life and direction at crucial times in my career. The author, Tom Butler-Bowdon, has this enviable skill of grasping the content of the books he reviews and relating their essence in two or three pages with impressive effect.

He reviews 50, known and unknown, psychology classics and also suggests another 50 at the back of the book, 100 in all, for the reader's benefit. His crisp, concise, often humorous, and interesting summaries are very engaging. In most cases, they save the reader having to go and buy individual copies, especially if one has heard of a book being reviewed and wanted to check its content before buying. It is also perfect for the reader who is interested in psychology, or allied fields, and wants an introduction to the key authors and pioneers within it.

Thanks to this book, I learnt which area of psychology I was most interested in, which authors I found most appealing and how I could direct my own life to develop my interests further. I remember reading a couple of psychology books at the time and wondered which ones I could read next. Quite surprisingly, I came across 50 classics a few days later and my question was answered much more than I imagined. This is a remarkable reference book with a difference, easy to read and full of little gems, deserving of a space on any intelligent shelf.
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