Berger, Said and Greer on ABW's 'books that shaped Britain' list

Berger, Said and Greer on ABW's 'books that shaped Britain' list

The late art critic John Berger's Ways of Seeing (Penguin Modern Classics), first published in 1972, Edward Said’s 1978 study Orientalism (also Penguin Modern Classics) and Germaine Greer’s 1970 feminist study The Female Eunuch (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) are among the list of the 20 “academic books that shaped modern Britain” unveiled for Academic Book Week next week (23rd to 28th January).   

The list, chosen by academics, aims to highlight books that have changed academic and popular thinking across art, science, politics, gender, cultural identity and law, and will feature in various bookshop promotions during ABW.

Politics and history feature heavily on the list, which includes a book said to be a vital reference point in the Brexit debate, A V Dicey’s Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (Palgrave), which dates right back to 1885, as well as Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain by Matthew J Goodwin and Robert Ford, published in 2013 (Routledge).  

The Making of the English Working Class (1963) by E P Thompson (Penguin Modern Classics) is joined by other Penguin titles Poverty in the United Kingdom (1979) by Peter Townsend, Modern Ireland 1600 – 1972 by R F Foster (1990), The English and their History (2014) by Robert Tombs, and The Scottish Nation (1999) by Tom Devine, as well as Pluto book Staying Power, Peter Fryer’s definitive history of black people in Britain, first published in 1984.

Also included are The Road to Serfdom (1994) by economist and philosopher Friedrich Hayek (Routledge Classics), The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936) by John Maynard Keynes (various publishers), Eric Hobsbawm’s The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge University Press), dating from 1983, Richard Hoggart’s 1957 book The Uses of Literacy (Penguin Modern Classics).

Purity and Danger (1966) by anthropologist Mary Douglas and US philosopher Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble (1990) also feature, both Routledge Classics.

In science, the list features Stephen Hawking’s 1988 title A Brief History of Time (Bantam),  Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene (Oxford University Press), and from Weidenfeld & Nicolson The Double Helix, on the discovery of the structure of DNA, by James Watson (1968).

 The list is now open for public vote to find the single most influential title, with the result to be unveiled in ABW.

James Rivington, head of academic publications and events at The British Academy, and a member of the ABW steering committee, said: “The purpose of this list is to raise awareness – and provoke discussion – of how academic research and thought have helped shape and define British society and culture.” He predicted: "The list will stimulate, educate – and irritate.”

Individual promotions for ABW include Blackwell’s at Sheffield University and the University of Liverpool running money-off offers for books by authors at their institution in conjunction with Routledge and Taylor & Francis, Cambridge University Press offering 25% off in the CUP Bookshop throughout the week, and Lawrence & Wishart offering a 10% off promotion on selected academic titles throughout January.  

Event marking the week include an interactive workshop around BOOC (Books as Open Online Content) hosted by UCL Press and the Academic Book of the Future project, an event exploring the opportunities for booksellers and publishers in the world of the Teaching Excellence Framework, and talks and exhibitions at the University of Edinburgh, University of Birmingham, Bangor University Library, branches of Blackwell’s, and hosted by Palgrave Macmillan, Emerald Publishing, The London Book Fair and Altmetric. Details can be found at