At Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen points to a USA Today story about Penguin Books’ new Great Ideas series. The books offer extracts, the USA Today story called them “samplings”, from great non-fiction. The first twenty books include work by Seneca, Machiavelli, Rousseau, Schopenhauer, and Orwell.
The Penguin website invites visitors to vote on which of the twenty books “you feel has had the most impact on the world.” As of my visit, the voting was close between Darwin/On Natural Selection and Marx and Engels/The Communist Manifesto, each receiving around 20 percent of the vote with a slight edge to Marx and Engels.
Of course, I have no idea which of the twenty books you feel has most affected the world, but on the narrower question of which book has most affected the world the nod would have to go to Darwin’s On Natural Selection.