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12 Books That Changed The World Paperback – 8 Feb 2007

3.3 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; New Ed edition (8 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340839821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340839829
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 361,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Bragg writes with passion...and once again, shows his capacity to make science and technology both exciting and accessible. (Independent)

'Bragg has established himself over the past decades as a fearlessly dedicated, popular educator . . . a highly and easily readable book.' (John Sutherland, The Sunday Times)

'It can charm almost anyone of any age . . . yet again Bragg has displayed his extraordinary and unique gifts as a communicator' (Christena Appleyard, Daily Mail)

'This is an inspiring, fascinating and stimulating book with marvellous illustrations' (Niall MacMonagle, Irish Times)

Book Description

Melvyn Bragg explores a controversial selection of British books and their huge impact on history

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Bought this a few weeks ago, the title being sufficiently persuasive to cause me to ignore my misgivings about reading something authored by Mr Bragg (sorry, I can't take the Lord thing seriously) and ploughed through it on the train to work over a fortnight.

While interesting generally, I found it a bit annoying in places. Some chapters I raced through: Wilberforce, Smith, Stopes, Newton, Darwin and Faraday in particular were quite fascinating.

Others however were hard going. The Rules of Association Football left me surprisingly cold, I wanted more from Arkwright and the King James Bible was a real struggle, though this may be due to the fact that Mr Bragg kept getting in the way with his views on word usage.

All in all money well spent and I'll probably dip into it again from time to time. In other words it will go into the bookcase, not under the corner of the sofa that has a leg missing.
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Format: Paperback
I like this book, but I've only rated it 3. If I could I'd rate half of it 5 and half of it 1. Its not all great but you don't have to read the bits you don't like. Each chapter stands apart, giving an overview, context and commentary on one of Bragg's chosen 12 most important pieces of English Literature.

If they made history and literature this accessible and interesting at school then our society would be better for it. I wasn't on the planet while the women's rights movement was in full swing and it was too recent history for me to learn at school - so Bragg's inclusion of Mary Wollstonecraft's 'A Vindication of the Rights of Woman' was welcome and interesting.

The Magna Carta is more relevant today than ever since the Human Rights Act entered English law and we unquestioningly use its fundamental principles in our judgement of contemporary issues like Guantanamo Bay and house-bound Chinese activists. Yet who would get a copy out of the local library?

Dip in and out of this book at will, you'll be better for it and don't feel guilty about skipping chapters.
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By RR Waller TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 Aug. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Although it may be too late, an interesting exercise before reading this book is to select your own list of twelve books; if it isn't too late and you don't know his list, look away now and get writing. (Bragg's list is at the bottom of the page; scroll down to find it.)
I made my personal list and there was little correlation. Therein lies the interest and the problem many have had with this book. They expected their twelve and were disappointed not to find them; Bragg never claims it to be other than his personal list and does not claim it is THE twelve, a comprehensive list or the list others would choose.

However, it is worth reading just to consider another's view, especially one so well read. If readers don't like one of his choices, it does not have to be read.

MELVYN BRAGG'S LIST

"Principia Mathematica"
"Married Love"
"Magna Carta"
Rule Book of Association Football"
"On the Origins of Species"
"On the Abolition of Slavery"
A Vindication of the Rights of Women"
"Experimental Research in Electricity"
"Patent Specification for Arkwright's Spinning Machine"
"The King James Bible"
"An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations"
"The First Folio"
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an unusual book, a book about books. That said, some of the 'books' chosen by the author are not books in the usual sense but scientific papers. That technicality does not detract from the well researched and written volume. A different sort of read and very enlightening.
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By Davywavy2 VINE VOICE on 5 Sept. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm not a fan of Melvin Bragg. I've always found his TV presenting on the South Bank show to be offputtingly smug and more suited to Pseuds Corner than my living room. So it was that I came to this book with a certain amount of trepidation. I'd seen one episode of the TV series (about the football rules) and was sufficiently surprised that I enjoyed it to be prepared to give the book a go - and I'm glad I did.
It's a personal list of a dozen books that Bragg feels changed the world. He says in the introduction that he's tried to avoid just covering the obvious choices like religion (so we only get the King James Bible, and not the Ko'ran as well, for instance) and instead tried to find a dozen books which cover many different aspects of contemporary society - from football to economics to sexual equality and so on - and then to illustrate how they helped create that society. It's a good list, and is sufficiently broad a topic that it can lead to ' I wouldn't put that book in, I'd've had this book instead' debates, which is always fun.
Bragg shows himself an incisive reviewer of books, offering both an illuminating precis of the content of each, how they came to be written and his judgement on the effects they had. I still don't like his TV persona, but Twelve Books that Changed the World, for it's length, is highly informative and accessible, and may well have inspired me to read more of the list it offers.
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Format: Paperback
Previous reviewers having been so negative thought it worth pointing out the Bragg doesn't pretend this selection is anything other that a personal choice. I think he justifies the "books" fairly well and I enjoyed the snapshot way they were presented. I am unlikely to ever read all of them in full, in the original, so enjoyed the chance to skim through some Newton, Faraday and Stopes inter alia.
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