Considered the oldest known treatise on war, this living heirloom is composed of thirteen chapters that each address different features of armed conflict. Since its first Western translation in the 18th century, the book’s lessons have also been applied to the fields of business, law, politics, and sports.
Set within the upper-class society of pre-World War I New York, Edith Wharton’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic tells of a soon-to-be-wed man who becomes enraptured by his bride-to-be’s cousin. The result exemplifies the eternal human struggle between personal desire and social expectations.
A renowned thinker who achieved great influence during the American and French Revolutions, Thomas Paine is best known for his pamphlet Common Sense. This collection includes that composition, along with two others that advocated universal human rights, a republican form of government, and truth and reason in politics.
A fictional work based on actual events, Moby-Dick follows maniacal Captain Ahab as he leads a quest to exact revenge on the great white sperm whale that took his leg.
A slave who escaped and became a leading voice for abolition and women’s suffrage, Frederick Douglass’ struggles and views are forever preserved in this collection of writings and speeches.
Notorious for his phrase, “the end justifies the means,” Niccolo Machiavelli was intent on providing practical advice to Italian rulers and politicians in the 16th century. It has remained a flashpoint in Western political philosophy ever since, spawning use of the term “Machiavellian” as a form of criticism.
The sins of the flesh are at the forefront of this novel, which takes place among puritans during colonial times. Wearing a scarlet “A” on her chest for committing adultery, Hester Prynne’s story is a meditation on the power and value of social norms.
Using 17th century France as a backdrop for tales of honor and swashbuckling, The Three Musketeers chronicles the adventures of three loyal friends whose motto is “all for one, one for all.”
Combining two of Henry David Thoreau’s best known works, Walden and Civil Disobedience have inspired counter-cultural thinkers for years. From Gandhi to figures of the American civil rights movement, Thoreau has inspired many with the belief that the moral conduct of the state is only assured when its members act according to their consciences.
A harrowing account of human emotion in the midst of battle, The Red Badge of Courage follows Henry Fleming during the American Civil War. In the heat of combat, Fleming must figure out who he is, as he wrestles with dueling desires to be both brave and flee to safety in “cowardice.”