2021 Most Influential Academic Books

Whether new or old, these are the law, economics, mathematics, biology, and criminal justice books that are influencing their fields of study today

AcademicInfluence.com’s Inflection Reveals Today’s Most Influential Books in Law, Economics, Mathematics, Biology, and Criminal Justice

Truly revolutionary ideas can alter the course of thinking for an entire generation of artists, scientists, or academics. And often, those ideas see their first public exposure in a book.

Inflection, the opinion, editorial, and news analysis journal of AcademicInfluence.com, selects the law, economics, mathematics, biology, and criminal justice books that matter most. Whether released 300 years ago or in just the last decade, these books continue to have a profound impact on their respective fields of study, even today:

We measured the influence of these books using ranking analysis powered by machine learning and collected from a comprehensive online data repository. Each book was assigned an objective measure of influence within its subfield based on the number of references it has received in both the academic literature and the popular media. The result is a more unbiased, manipulation-resistant, and usable ranking.

“We’ve moved beyond impact conjecture to a more objective, data-driven view of books that are changing the world,” says Dr. Jed Macosko, academic director of AcademicInfluence.com and professor of physics at Wake Forest University.

A sampling of top titles selected:

  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of ColorblindnessMichelle Alexander, 2010
  • Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police ForcesRadley Balko, 2013
  • Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create DifferenceCordelia Fine, 2010
  • On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for LifeCharles Darwin, 1859
  • Commentaries on the Laws of EnglandWilliam Blackstone, 1765–1770
  • Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide BombingsMuhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, 2010
  • Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global PovertyAbhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo, 2011
  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty, 2014
  • Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality, Max Tegmark, 2014
  • The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-But Some Don’tNate Silver, 2012

Visit the links above to view the final ranking order.

“The books that made it into these lists aren’t just influential. They are, in many cases, the very fabric of their respective disciplines,” says Macosko. “If you were to invest yourself in the 25 books listed for each topic, you’d be on your way to a robust understanding of the field in question.”



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