Darwin's 'Origin' voted Most Influential Academic Book

Darwin's 'Origin' voted Most Influential Academic Book

Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species has been voted the most influential academic book in history, in a public vote held to mark Academic Book Week.

Darwin's 1859 study, which founded evolutionary biology, was the overwhelming favourite, taking 26% of the 900-plus vote.

The runner-up was The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels, with Shakespeare's Compete Works, Plato's The Republic and Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant also well-supported.

The list of 20 Top Academic Books That Changed the World was compiled to mark Academic Book Week, the brainchild of the Academic Book of the Future project. The bookseller-friendly list caused controversy, with some academics objecting that it was not a list of academic-authored titles.

Samantha Rayner, who leads the Academic Book of the Future project, commented on the winner: "As we investigate what an 'academic book of the future' might be in this AHRC/British Library project, this list reminds us of the part evolution, reason, politics and creativity have always played in these discussions. Academic books are ideas captured in text that connect people to each other - and this campaign proves, by the responses it has had, that though definitions of 'academic' may vary wildly, the right of these shortlisted titles to be considered as books that have changed the world is easier to agree with."  

Meanwhile Alan Staton, head of marketing at the Booksellers Association, which thought up the idea of the list, added: "It's not in the least surprising, and completely right, that On the Origin of Species won. No work has so fundamentally changed the way we think about our very being and the world around us." He added: "I'm personally very hearted to see Critique of Pure Reason in the top five. We seem to be governed by expediency and doublethink and it's reassuring to know that Kant's Categorical Imperatives are known and thought important."