Most Influential Books Since World War II


Numerous valuable works have appeared in the postwar period. They still have a significant effect on the society thanks to their actuality and deep analysis of various historical, political, social and psychological facts. They will always be attractive and full of useful information for any generation.

After World War II, the general picture of the literary process becomes extremely complicated. The foreign literature of the postwar period is not only the literature of the leading capitalist countries but also the nations of the socialist camp that have gotten free from colonial dependence. The representatives of new literature begin to capture attention, leaving the traditions of old European literature behind. There were two principal directions of the developing of the Literature: Realism and Modernism. Here is the list of books that have managed to leave a trace in history and have an influence on many generations of their readers:

Anarchy, State, and Utopia by Robert Nozick

It is a 1974 book by Robert Nozick who is an American political philosopher.The book won the U.S. National Book Award in 1975 for Philosophy and Religion category and had been translated into 11 languages. It was named one of the “most influential books since World War II” by the U.K. Times Literary Supplement.Nozick argues “limited to the narrow functions of protection against force, theft, fraud, enforcement of contracts, and so on.” When a state takes on more responsibilities, then the minimal human rights will be violated.

The Stranger by Albert Camus

A genuine example of Camus’s philosophy of the absurd and existentialism.This novel is a brilliant portrayal of the absurdness of the whole world.

The Idea of History by Robin George Collingwood

The best-known work of a famous historian Collingwood. It describes the process of the developing of world history from the Herodotus time till the 20th century and represents author’s original view on it.

1984 by George Orwell

A dystopian novel that tells the story about dictated political system called “English socialism” and controlled by the omnipresent government.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Another brilliant satire by Orwell about Stalin Era in the Soviet Union. It is an allegorical novella that reflects events that took place in 1917 in Russia.

The Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl Popper

A work on political philosophy, which indicts different totalitarian theories. Popper defends so-called the open society that accepts only democratic and humanitarian ideals.

Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy by Joseph Schumpeter

This book describes the basics of economics and explains its connection with other phenomena, such as sociology and history. It is precious regarding studying social theory.

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

A broad analysis of Stalinism, Nazism, and other significant totalitarian political movements, which influenced the historical process considerably.

The Second World War by Sir Winston Churchill

A book series on the period beginning from the end of the First World War. Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature thanks to his valuable contribution and hard work.

Mythologies by Roland Barthes

A collection of essays concerning the importance of contemporary social value systems in a creation of modern myths.

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman

Sociology book that portrays everyday human social interaction with the help of using the imagery of theater as the basis.

The Lonely Crowd by David Riesman

An identifying and analysis of main cultural types of personalities. The author makes detailed scanning of each type and its peculiarities.

Models of a Man by Herbert Simon

Simon tries to analyze the rational and spiritual aspects of human behaving under the social conditions.

The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy by Jacob Talmon

Talmon describes the problems of the so-called totalitarian democracy, referring to the system of the government that allows the citizens to vote, but they have little or no influence on the political life of a country.

A Study of History by Arnold Toynbee

This book attempts to trace the development of 19 different civilizations, applying to each one the same model of the historical process.

The End of Ideology by Daniel Bell

A collection of essays concerning the grand-humanistic ideologies, which are no longer actual for the modern realities.

Four Essays on Liberty by Isaiah Berlin

A ringing manifesto for individual freedom and pluralism intended for students.

Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman

A detailed discussion regarding the role industrial capitalism in liberal society. This famous book was translated into 18 languages.

The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious by Carl Jung

The basic principles of Jungian psychology which established Jung’s theories on human mental activity.

Gandhi’s Truth: On the origins of militant nonviolence by Erik Erikson

A book by American developmental psychologist Erikson; a study of legendary Mahatma Gandhi succeeded in mobilizing the Indian people and advocating the idea of non-violence.

The Foundations of Modern Political Thought by Quentin Skinner

A study of political thought which was developing during the critical period of transition from medieval to modern ideals.

Living in Truth by Vaclav Havel

A notable work by Czech dissident Havel on the main principles of democracy and its importance in the life of modern society.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

A popular-science book by famous physicist Hawking which tries to make such phenomena as the big bang, black holes and light cones understandable for an average reader.

Natural Right and History by Leo Strauss

In this classic work, the author examines the problem of natural right and points out different features between ethics and politics.

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy

An exploration of politics and economics of the Great Powers from 1500 to 1980 and the reasons of their declining.

The Managerial Revolution by James Burnham

This book has caused an extreme stir in the US and other countries, revealing realities of new society, neither capitalist nor socialist.

Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone

The story features an American journalist John Converse and his involvement in a heroin deal that gone bad. The book shared the 1975 U.S. National Book Award with “The Hair of Harold Roux” by Thomas Williams for fiction genre, and it was listed by TIME magazine as among the 100 best English-language novels since 1923 to 2005.


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