Animal Farm

Animal Farm & 1984

George Orwell

Fiction / Politics / Journalism

As ferociously fresh as it was more than a half century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals, and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published. As we witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, we begin to recognize the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organization; and in our most charismatic leaders, the souls of our cruelest oppressors.
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The Art of War

The Art of War

Sun Tzu

Military / Philosophy / Politics

Written in China more than 2,000 years ago, Sun Tzu's classic The Art of War is the first known study of the planning and conduct of military operations. These terse, aphoristic essays are unsurpassed in comprehensiveness and depth of understanding, examining not only battlefield maneuvers, but also relevant economic, political, and psychological factors. Indeed, the precepts outlined by Sun Tzu can be applied outside the realm of military theory. It is read avidly by Japanese businessmen and in fact was touted in the movie Wall Street as the corporate raider's bible. In addition to an excellent translation of Sun Tzu's text, Samuel Griffith also provides commentaries written by Chinese strategists, plus several thought-provoking essays on topics such as the influence of Sun Tzu on Mao Tse-tung and on Japanese military thought, the nature of warfare in Sun Tzu's time, and the life of Sun Tzu and other important commentators. Remarkable for its clear organization, lucid prose, and the acuity of its intellectual and moral insights, The Art of War is the definitive study of combat. **
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The Reader

The Reader

Bernhard Schlink

Literature & Fiction / Philosophy / Politics

Originally published in Switzerland and gracefully translated into English by Carol Brown Janeway, The Reader is a brief tale about sex, love, reading and shame in post-war Germany. Michael Berg is 15 when he begins a long, obsessive affair with Hanna, an enigmatic older woman. He never learns very much about her and when she disappears one day, he expects never to see her again. But, to his horror, he does. Hanna is a defendant in a trial related to Germany's Nazi past and it soon becomes clear that she is guilty of an unspeakable crime. As Michael follows the trial, he struggles with an overwhelming question: what should his generation do with its knowledge of the Holocaust? "We should not believe we can comprehend the incomprehensible, we may not compare the incomparable... Should we only fall silent in revulsion, shame, and guilt? To what purpose?" The Reader, which won the Boston Book Review's Fisk Fiction Prize, wrestles with many more demons in its few, remarkably lucid pages. What does it mean to love those people--parents, grandparents, even lovers--who committed the worst atrocities the world has ever known? And is any atonement possible through literature? Schlink's prose is clean and pared down, stripped of unnecessary imagery, dialogue and excess in any form. What remains is an austerely beautiful narrative of the attempt to breach the gap between Germany's pre and post-war generations, between the guilty and the innocent and between words and silence. --R Ellis, Amazon.com
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The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things

Arundhati Roy

Literature & Fiction / Politics

The international publishing sensation of 1997 -- translated into 18 languages -- a magical, sophisticated tour de force. The God of Small Things heralds a voice so powerful and original that it burns itself into the reader's memory. Set mainly in Kerala, India, in 1969, it is the story of Rahel and her twin brother Estha, who learn that their whole world can change in a single day, that love and life can be lost in a moment. Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they seek to craft a childhood for themselves amid the wreckage that constitutes their family. Sweet and heartbreaking, ribald and profound, this is a novel to set beside those of Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
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Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost

John Milton

Poetry / Politics

This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. **Review [A]n exemplary job both of presenting the major topics of Paradise Lost and of entering the selva oscura of Milton criticism. . . . Students and scholars alike will appreciate the balanced approach to the complexities, difficulties, and conundrums of Milton's poem and the criticism on it. Kastan's prose is not just lively but chiseled, and it is destined to affect students. --Patrick Cheney, Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 Kastan is an exemplary editor, attuned to emerging critical currents, yet steeped in the scholarship of an earlier tradition, aware of the text's provenance and reception, alert to its topicality. His introduction, a model of theoretically informed, politically committed, historically grounded criticism, makes this edition of Paradise Lost all you would expect from one of the most erudite and perceptive figures in the field. --Willy Maley, Modern Language Review This is a superb edition, a model of careful editing and judicious annotation. --Leslie Brisman, Department of English, Yale University Review "Barbara Lewalski is the doyenne of the community of Milton scholars, but she also remains committed to the enterprise of teaching. In this exemplary edition of Paradise Lost both qualities are in evidence: the text is scrupulous and the scholarship rigorous, but both the introduction and the notes are accommodated to the needs of students who will be coming to the poem for the first time. This is an edition that will please students and professors alike, and its sheer quality is a tribute to Barbara Lewalski's passion to provide readers with all the help they need to understand the greatest of all English poems." –Gordon Campbell, University of Leicester "Teachers and scholars will welcome Barbara Lewalski’s Blackwell edition of Paradise Lost, one not only informed by the erudition of a prominent and highly respected Miltonist but advantaged by her sound decision to reproduce the original language, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and italics of the 1674 text." –Edward Jones, Editor, Milton Quarterly "For the student or general reader, looking for an old-spelling edition that is faithful to the original punctuation, this edition has much to recommend it. Its annotation is crisp, purposeful and well-judged." –Thomas N. Corns, University of Wales, Bangor "A superb teaching text. Lewalski’s edition respects Milton’s original poem and offers supremely clear introductions, bibliography and special material to guide the student reader and educated lay person alike to new discoveries in a work that, quite simply, has it all: good, evil, God, Satan, humans, angels, love, despair, war, politics, sex, duty, and sublime poetry—set in a cosmic landscape that inspires wonder and seduces new readers in every generation." –Sharon Achinstein, Oxford University
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The Prince

The Prince

Niccolo Machiavelli

Politics / History / Nonfiction

Here is the world's most famous master plan for seizing and holding power. Astonishing in its candor The Prince even today remains a disturbingly realistic and prophetic work on what it takes to be a prince . . . a king . . . a president. When, in 1512, Machiavelli was removed from his post in his beloved Florence, he resolved to set down a treatise on leadership that was practical, not idealistic. In The Prince he envisioned would be unencumbered by ordinary ethical and moral values; his prince would be man and beast, fox and lion. Today, this small sixteenth-century masterpiece has become essential reading for every student of government, and is the ultimate book on power politics.
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Invisible Man

Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison

Literature & Fiction / Politics / Nonfiction

Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky. From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Native Son

Native Son

Richard Wright

Fiction / Short Stories / Politics

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.
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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America

Barbara Ehrenreich

Nonfiction / Sociology / Politics

The bestselling, landmark work of undercover reportage, now updated Acclaimed as an instant classic upon publication, Nickel and Dimed has sold more than 1.5 million copies and become a staple of classroom reading. Chosen for “one book” initiatives across the country, it has fueled nationwide campaigns for a living wage. Funny, poignant, and passionate, this revelatory firsthand account of life in low-wage America—the story of Barbara Ehrenreich’s attempts to eke out a living while working as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and Wal-Mart associate—has become an essential part of the nation’s political discourse. Now, in a new afterword, Ehrenreich shows that the plight of the underpaid has in no way eased: with fewer jobs available, deteriorating work conditions, and no pay increase in sight, Nickel and Dimed is more relevant than ever.
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Black Boy

Black Boy

Richard Wright

Fiction / Short Stories / Politics

Black Boy is a classic of American autobiography, a subtly crafted narrative of Richard Wright's journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. An enduring story of one young man's coming of age during a particular time and place, Black Boy remains a seminal text in our history about what it means to be a man, black, and Southern in America.
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The Pathfinder; Or, The Inland Sea

The Pathfinder; Or, The Inland Sea

James Fenimore Cooper

Fiction / Historical Fiction / Politics

The Leatherstocking Tales is a collection of five historical novels written by James Fenimore Cooper. The Pathfinder, or The Inland Sea is chronologically the third book. The action continues to center around Natty Bumppo as he guides women through some dangerous woods. The book is also notable for being the only one in the series that features a love interest for Natty. James Fenimore Cooper was one of the most popular American authors in the early 19th century. Cooper wrote many historical romances that depicted frontier and Indian life. Cooper also served in the U.S. Navy and many of his books were based off his experiences. Cooper's most famous books are the five novels that form The Leatherstocking Tales, especially The Last of the Mohicans which is considered to be his masterpiece.
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