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The 100 Best English-Language Nonfiction Books of the 20th Century

The Board of the Modern Library, a division of Random House, published its selections in April 1999.

  1. The Education of Henry Adams,
    Henry Adams (1906)
  2. The Varieties of Religious Experience,
    William James (1902)
  3. Up from Slavery, Booker T. Washington (1901)
  4. A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf (1929)
  5. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson (1962)
  6. Selected Essays, 1917–1932, T. S. Eliot (1932)
  7. The Double Helix, James D. Watson (1968)
  8. Speak, Memory, Vladimir Nabokov (1967)
  9. The American Language, H. L. Mencken (1919)
  10. The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, John Maynard Keynes (1935–1936)
  11. The Lives of a Cell, Lewis Thomas (1974)
  12. The Frontier in American History,
    Frederick Jackson Turner (1920)
  13. Black Boy, Richard Wright (1945)
  14. Aspects of the Novel, E. M. Forster (1927)
  15. The Civil War, Shelby Foote (1958–1974)
  16. The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman (1962)
  17. The Proper Study of Mankind, Isaiah Berlin (1997)
  18. The Nature and Destiny of Man, Reinhold Niebuhr (1941–1943)
  19. Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin (1955)
  20. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein (1933)
  21. The Elements of Style, William Strunk and E. B. White (1959)
  22. An American Dilemma, Gunnar Myrdal (1944)
  23. Principia Mathematica, Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell (1910–1913)
  24. The Mismeasure of Man, Stephen Jay Gould (1981)
  25. The Mirror and the Lamp, Meyer Howard Abrams (1953)
  26. The Art of the Soluble, Peter B. Medawar (1967)
  27. The Ants, Bert Hoelldobler and Edward O. Wilson (1990)
  28. A Theory of Justice, John Rawls (1971)
  29. Art and Illusion, Ernest H. Gombrich (1961)
  30. The Making of the English Working Class, E. P. Thompson (1963)
  31. The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois (1903)
  32. Principia Ethica, G. E. Moore (1903)
  33. Philosophy and Civilization, John Dewey (1927)
  34. On Growth and Form, D'Arcy Thompson (1917)
  35. Ideas and Opinions, Albert Einstein (1954)
  36. The Age of Jackson, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (1945)
  37. The Making of the Atomic Bomb,
    Richard Rhodes (1986)
  38. Black Lamb and Grey Falcon,
    Rebecca West (1942)
  39. Autobiographies, W. B. Yeats (1926)
  40. Science and Civilization in China,
    Joseph Needham (1954–)
  41. Goodbye to All That, Robert Graves (1929)
  42. Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell (1938)
  43. The Autobiography of Mark Twain,
    Mark Twain (1924)
  44. Children of Crisis, Robert Coles (1967)
  45. A Study of History, Arnold J. Toynbee (1934–1961)
  46. The Affluent Society, John Kenneth Galbraith (1958)
  47. Present at the Creation, Dean Acheson (1969)
  48. The Great Bridge, David McCullough (1972)
  49. Patriotic Gore, Edmund Wilson (1962)
  50. Samuel Johnson, Walter Jackson Bate (1977)
  51. The Autobiography of Malcolm X,
    Alex Haley and Malcolm X (1965)
  52. The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe (1979)
  53. Eminent Victorians, Lytton Strachey (1918)
  54. Working, Studs Terkel (1974)
  55. Darkness Visible, William Styron (1990)
  56. The Liberal Imagination, Lionel Trilling (1950)
  57. The Second World War, Winston Churchill (1948–1953)
  58. Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen (1937)
  59. Jefferson and His Time, Dumas Malone (1948–1981)
  60. In the American Grain, William Carlos Williams (1925)
  61. Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner (1986)
  62. The House of Morgan, Ron Chernow (1990)
  63. The Sweet Science, A. J. Liebling (1956)
  64. The Open Society and Its Enemies, Karl Popper (1945)
  65. The Art of Memory, Frances A. Yates (1966)
  66. Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, R. H. Tawney (1926)
  67. A Preface to Morals, Walter Lippmann (1929)
  68. The Gate of Heavenly Peace,
    Jonathan D. Spence (1981)
  69. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas S. Kuhn (1962)
  70. The Strange Career of Jim Crow,
    C. Vann Woodward (1955)
  71. The Rise of the West, William H. McNeill (1963)
  72. The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels (1979)
  73. James Joyce, Richard Ellmann (1959)
  74. Florence Nightingale, Cecil Woodham-Smith (1950)
  75. The Great War and Modern Memory,
    Paul Fussell (1975)
  76. The City in History, Lewis Mumford (1961)
  77. Battle Cry of Freedom, James M. McPherson (1988)
  78. Why We Can't Wait, Martin Luther King, Jr. (1964)
  79. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt,
    Edmund Morris (1979)
  80. Studies in Iconology, Erwin Panofsky (1939)
  81. The Face of Battle, John Keegan (1976)
  82. The Strange Death of Liberal England,
    George Dangerfield (1935)
  83. Vermeer, Lawrence Gowing (1952)
  84. A Bright Shining Lie, Neil Sheehan (1988)
  85. West with the Night, Beryl Markham (1942)
  86. This Boy's Life, Tobias Wolff (1989)
  87. A Mathematician's Apology, G. H. Hardy (1940)
  88. Six Easy Pieces, Richard P. Feynman (1963)
  89. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard (1974)
  90. The Golden Bough, James George Frazer (1922) (1 vol. ed.)
  91. Shadow and Act, Ralph Ellison (1964)
  92. The Power Broker, Robert A. Caro (1974)
  93. The American Political Tradition,
    Richard Hofstadter (1948)
  94. The Contours of American History,
    William Appleman Williams (1966)
  95. The Promise of American Life,
    Herbert Croly (1909)
  96. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote (1965)
  97. The Journalist and the Murderer,
    Janet Malcolm (1990)
  98. The Taming of Chance, Ian Hacking (1990)
  99. Operating Instructions, Anne Lamott (1994)
  100. Melbourne, Lord David Cecil (1939 & 1954)

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