Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are.


Chuang Tzu - The Tao of NatureEpictetus - Of Human FreedomNicolo Machiavelli - On ConspiraciesRene Descartes - Meditations

Giacomo Leopardi - Dialogue Between Fashion and DeathJohn Stuart Mill - On LibertyCharles Darwin - Hosts of Living FormsCharles Dickens - Night Walks

Charles Mackay - Some Extraordinary Popular DelusionsJacob Burckhardt - The State as a Work of ArtGeorge Eliot - Silly Novels by Lady NovelistsCharles Baudelaire - The Painter of Modern Life

Sigmund Freud - The WolfmanTheodore Herzl - The Jewish StateRabindranath Tagore - NationalismVladimir Ilyich Lenin - Imperialism

Winston Churchill - We Will All Go Down Fighting to the EndJorge Luis Borges - The Perpetual Race of Achilles and the TortoiseGeorge Orwell - Some Thoughts on the Common ToadChinua Achebe - An Image of Africa

Great Ideas Series Five
Chuang Tzu - The Tao of Nature
Epictetus - Of Human Freedom
Niccolo Machiavelli - On Conspiracies
Rene Descartes - Meditations
Giacomo Leopardi - Dialogue Between Fashion and Death
John Stuart Mill - On Liberty
Charles Darwin - Hosts of Living Forms
Charles Dickens - Night Walks
Charles Mackay - Some Extraordinary Popular Delusions
Jacob Burckhardt - The State as a Work of Art
George Eliot - Silly Novels by Lady Novelists
Charles Baudelaire - The Painter of Modern Life
Sigmund Freud - The Wolfman
Theodore Herzl - The Jewish State
Rabindranath Tagore - Nationalism
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin - Imperialism
Winston Churchill - We Will All Go Down Fighting to the End
Jorge Luis Borges - The Perpetual Race of Achilles and the Tortoise
George Orwell - Some Thoughts on the Common Toad
Chinua Achebe - An Image of Africa

CChuang Tzu examines the nature of existence in these dialogues and essays, from the battle to grasp the purpose of life to the search for knowledge. A collection of some of the most absorbing and charming philosophy ever written, THE TAO OF NATURE is also about perfection, perception, the value of skills and the truth revealed by complete understanding.

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IIn this personal and practical guide to moral self-improvement and living a good life, the second-century philosopher Epictetus tackles questions of freedom and imprisonment, stubbornness and fear, family, friendship and love, and leaves an intriguing document of daily life in the classical world.

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MMachiavelli is one of the most famous strategists of all time. In this collection he discusses the dangers of conspiracies, and the component parts of an army, vital for gaining and holding power in his day. He also gives advice on tactics and discipline, and explains why promises made under force ought not to be kept.

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WWidely regarded as the father of modern Western philosophy, Descartes sought to look beyond established ideas and create a thought system based on reason. In this profound work he meditates on doubt, the human soul, God, truth and the nature of existence itself.

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LLeopardi, poet and philosopher, explores in humorous but savage dialogue the power of fashion and its strange irrationality. He also imagines conversations between Hercules and Atlas, Nature and an Icelander, and the Earth and the Moon, as well as producing a simple essay praising the humble bird.

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IIn one of the most influential philosophical works ever writer, John Stuart Mill explores the risks and responsibilities of liberty. Examining the tyranny that can come both from government and from the herd-like opinion of the majority, Mill proposes a freedom to think, unite, and pursue our pleasures as the most important freedoms, as long as we cause no harm to others.

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CCharles Darwin transformed our understanding of the world with the idea of natural selection, challenging the notion that species are fixed and unchanging. These writings from On the Origin of Species explain how different life forms appear all over the globe, evolve over millions of years, become extinct and are supplanted.

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CCharles Dickens describes in Night Walks his time as an insomniac, when he decided to cure himself by walking through London in the small hours, and discovered homelessness, drunkenness and vice on the streets. This collection of essays shows Dickens as one of the greatest visionaries of the city in all its variety and cruelty.

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DDescribing bizarrely popular Victorian street slang, the madness of crowds, stock market mania (from the South Sea Bubble to Tulip fever), popular fashions, fads, crazes, schemes and scams, this brilliantly entertaining and ever-more relevant study of human folly shows that we are always susceptible to hysteria and bamboozlement.

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Jacob Burckhardt - The State as a Work of Art


PPioneering art historian Jacob Burckhardt saw the Italian Renaissance as no less than the beginning of the modern world. In this hugely influential work he argues that the Renaissance's creativity, competitiveness, dynasties, great city-states and even its vicious rulers sowed the seeds of a new era.

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DDescribing the silliness and 'feminine fatuity' of many popular books by lady novelists, George Eliot perfectly skewers the formulaic yet bestselling works that dominated her time, with their loveably flawed heroines. She also examines the great women writers of France and their enrichment of the culture, and the varying qualities of literary translations.

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PPoet, aesthete and hedonist, Baudelaire was also one of the most groundbreaking art critics of his time. Here he explores beauty, fashion, dandyism, the purpose of art and the role of the artist, and describes the painter who, for him, expresses most fully the drama of modern life.

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TThis is Freud's groundbreaking study of a wealthy young Russian man, subject to psychotic episodes and neuroses. Through the patient's dream of childhood wolves, Freud was able to determine his real problem - that of infantile neurosis brought about by a sexual complex and an Oedipal fixation.

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WWe shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and die peacefully in our own homes' Theodor Herzl's passionate advocacy of the founding of a Jewish state grew out of his conviction that Jews would never be assimilated into the populations in which they lived. Herzl concluded that the only solution for the majority of Jews would be organised emigration to a state of their own.

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TTagore was a fierce opponent of British rule in India. In this work he discusses the resurgence of the East and the challenge it poses to Western supremacy, calling for a future beyond nationalism, based instead on cooperation and racial tolerance.

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Vladimir Ilyich Lenin - Imperialism


VVladimir Lenin created this hugely significant Marxist text to explain fully the inevitable flaws and destructive power of Capitalism: that it would lead unavoidably to imperialism, monopolies and colonialism. He prophesied that those third world countries used merely as capitalist labour would have no choice but to join the Communist revolution in Russia.

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TThis collection of speeches from one of the great modern orators includes Churchill's famous words on the declaration of war with Germany, as well as his rousing call to the British in June 1940 after Dunkirk, and his immortal tribute to the young men fighting in the Battle of Britain.

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I1n this collection of wise, witty and fascinating essays, Borges discusses the existence (or non-existence) of Hell, the flaws in English literary detectives, the philosophy of contradictions, and the many translators of 1001 Nights. Varied and enthralling, these pieces examine the very nature of our lives, from cinema and books to history and religion.

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IIn this collection of eight witty and sharply written essays, Orwell looks at, among others, the joys of spring (even in London), the picture of humanity painted by Gulliver and his travels, and the strange benefit of the doubt that the public permit Salvador Dali. Also included here are a mouth-watering essay on the delights of English Cooking and a shocking account of killing an elephant in Burma.

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BBeautifully written yet highly controversial, An Image of Africa asserts Achebe's belief in Joseph Conrad as a 'bloody racist' and his conviction that Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness only serves to perpetuate damaging stereotypes of black people, while The Trouble with Nigeria is a searing outpouring of Achebe's frustrations with his country.

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