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Ranking Author Simon Winchester’s Best Books (A Bibliography Countdown)

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“What are Simon Winchester’s Best Books?” We looked at all of Winchester’s authored bibliography and ranked them against one another to answer that very question!

We took all of the books written by Simon Winchester and looked at their Goodreads, Amazon, and LibraryThing scores, ranking them against one another to see which books came out on top. The books are ranked in our list below based on which titles have the highest overall score between all 3 review sites in comparison with all of the other books by the same author. The process isn’t super scientific and in reality, most books aren’t “better” than other books as much as they are just different. That being said, we do enjoy seeing where our favorites landed, and if you aren’t familiar with the author at all, the rankings can help you see what books might be best to start with.

The full ranking chart is also included below the countdown on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



The Top Book’s Of Simon Winchester



23 ) Pacific Nightmare: How Japan Starts World War III : A Future History

 Pacific Nightmare: How Japan Starts World War III : A Future History Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 23
  • Amazon: 17
  • LibraryThing: 22

The world hurtles toward World War III with the collapse of Hong Kong, the Chinese civil war and attempt to reclaim Taiwan, the rise of a Korean dictator, and Japanese imperialist aggression

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21 ) The Alice Behind Wonderland — Alice Liddell

 The Alice Behind Wonderland — Alice Liddell Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 22
  • Amazon: 19
  • LibraryThing: 19

On a summer’s day in 1858, in a garden behind Christ Church College in Oxford, Charles Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics, photographed six-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of the college dean, with a Thomas Ottewill Registered Double Folding camera, recently purchased in London. Simon Winchester deftly uses the resulting image–as unsettling as it is famous, and the subject of bottomless speculation–as the vehicle for a brief excursion behind the lens, a focal point on the origins of a classic work of English literature. Dodgson’s love of photography framed his view of the world, and was partly responsible for transforming a shy and half-deaf mathematician into one of the world’s best-loved observers of childhood. Little wonder that there is more to “Alice Liddell as the Beggar Maid” than meets the eye. Using Dodgson’s published writings, private diaries, and of course his photographic portraits, Winchester gently exposes the development of Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice. Acclaim for Simon Winchester “An exceptionally engaging guide at home everywhere, ready for anything, full of gusto and seemingly omnivorous curiosity.

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21 ) Their Noble Lordships: Class and Power in Modern Britain

 Their Noble Lordships: Class and Power in Modern Britain Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 21
  • Amazon: 22
  • LibraryThing: 17

Winchester writes of the peculiarly English tradition of handing law-making ability to people who have had the simple good fortune of being born into the right family. He travels the height and breadth of British Isles in search of many of these Lords, Earls, Dukes, Viscounts, and other titled peers. Some are eccentric, many are generous, a few are resigned to their duties, while one was even helped by his fellow upper-class in the cover-up of murder. The book was actually challenged for publication by peers who did not want to be “exposed” while others championed the cause. Winchester deftly explores the subject mining anecdotes such as the necessity for the ultra-wealthy in Scotland to eat their porridge standing up and also to serve their cheese with a scoop rather than a knife.

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20 ) Korea: A Walk Through the Land of Miracles

 Korea: A Walk Through the Land of Miracles Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 20
  • Amazon: 21
  • LibraryThing: 18

In the late 1980s, author Simon Winchester set out on foot to discover the Republic of Korea – from its southern tip to the North Korean border – in order to set the record straight about this enigmatic and elusive land.” “Fascinating for its presentation of historical and geographic detail, Korea is a book that actually defines a nation and its people. Winchester captures and engages characters in true stories that provide us with a treasury of informed insight on the culture, language, history, and politics of this little-known corner of Asia.

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19 ) American Heartbeat

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 10
  • Amazon: 23
  • LibraryThing: 23

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18 ) Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories

 Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 16
  • Amazon: 17
  • LibraryThing: 14

Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, the author of Krakatoa tells the breathtaking saga of the magnificent Atlantic Ocean, setting it against the backdrop of mankind’s intellectual evolution. Until a thousand years ago, no humans ventured into the Atlantic or imagined traversing its vast infinity. But once the first daring mariners successfully navigated to far shores, whether it was the Vikings, the Irish, the Chinese, Christopher Columbus in the north, or the Portuguese and the Spanish in the south, the Atlantic evolved in the world’s growing consciousness of itself as an enclosed body of water bounded by the Americas to the West, and by Europe and Africa to the East. Atlantic is a biography of this immense space, of a sea which has defined and determined so much about the lives of the millions who live beside or near its tens of thousands of miles of coast. The Atlantic has been central to the ambitions of explorers, scientists and warriors, and it continues to affect our character, attitudes, and dreams. Poets to potentates, seers to sailors, fishermen to foresters, all have a relationship with this great body of blue-green sea and regard her as friend or foe, adversary or ally, depending on circumstance or fortune. The author chronicles that relationship, making the Atlantic come vividly alive. Spanning from the earth’s geological origins to the age of exploration, World War II battles to modern pollution, his narrative is epic and awe-inspiring

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17 ) The Fracture Zone: A Return to the Balkans

 The Fracture Zone: A Return to the Balkans Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 19
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 15

Award-winning journalist and author Simon Winchester takes readers on a personal tour of the Balkans. Combining history and interviews with the people who live there, Winchester offers a fascinating glimpse into the complex issues at work in this chaotic region.

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15 ) Simon Winchester’s Calcutta

 Simon Winchester's Calcutta Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 17
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 16

A unique personal view of Calcutta with a selection of the authors favourite writings.

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15 ) Prison Diary: Argentina

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 3
  • Amazon: 19
  • LibraryThing: 20

A British journalist recounts his experiences in an Argentinian jail during the Falklands War on suspicion of spying

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14 ) A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 — the 1906 San Francisco earthquake

 A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 — the 1906 San Francisco earthquake Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 14
  • Amazon: 15
  • LibraryThing: 12

Winchester brings his storytelling abilities, as well as his understanding of geology, to the extraordinary San Francisco Earthquake, exploring not only what happened in northern California in 1906 that leveled a city symbolic of America’s relentless western expansion, but what we have learned since about the geological underpinnings that caused the earthquake. He also positions the quake’s significance along the earth’s geological timeline and shows the effect it had on the rest of 20th-century California and American history.

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13 ) In Holy Terror

 In Holy Terror Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 1
  • Amazon: 15
  • LibraryThing: 20

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12 ) The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology

 The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 11
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 13

In 1815 an extraordinary hand-painted map was published in London. It presented England and Wales in a beguiling and unfamiliar mixture of lines and patches and stippled shapes. For nearly twenty years, William Smith journeyed across Britain investigating and naming the layers of rock beneath his feet. The map he produced was the first of its kind and transformed the way in which the world was understood.

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11 ) Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire

 Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 15
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 6

In 1985 Simon Winchester, struck by a sudden need to discover exactly what was left of the British Empire travelled 100,000 miles back and forth from Antarctica to the Caribbean to visit the far-flung islands that are all that remain of what once made Britain great. His adventures in these distant and forgotten ends of the earth make compelling and often funny reading. With a new introduction and additional material in many of the chapters, this revised edition tells us what has happened while the author’s been away.

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10 ) The Men Who United the States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible

 The Men Who United the States: America's Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 12
  • Amazon: 8
  • LibraryThing: 9

Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Winchester illuminates the men who toiled fearlessly to discover, connect, and bond the citizenry and geography of the U.S.A. from its beginnings and ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree.

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9 ) The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time

 The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 7
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 11

Rising in the mountains of the Tibetan border, the Yangtze River, the symbolic heart of China pierces 3,900 miles of rugged country before debouching into the oily swells of the East China Sea. Connecting China’s heartland cities with the volatile coastal giant, Shanghai, it has also historically connected China to the outside world through its nearly one thousand miles of navigable waters. To travel those waters is to travel back in history, to sense the soul of China, and Simon Winchester takes us along with him as he encounters the essence of China–its history and politics, its geography and climate as well as engage in its culture, and its people in remote and almost inaccessible places. The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time is travel writing at its best: lively, informative, and thoroughly enchanting.

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8 ) Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded

 Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 8
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 6

In August 1883, a catastrophic volcanic eruption off the coast of Java was followed by a tsunami that killed nearly 40,000 people. The author brings new perspective to this iconic event, showing how it marked a change in East-West relations.

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6 ) The Man Who Loved China

 The Man Who Loved China Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 13
  • Amazon: 3
  • LibraryThing: 6

The extraordinary story of Joseph Needham, the brilliant Cambridge scientist who unlocked the most closely held secrets of China–long the world’s most technologically advanced country. This married Englishman, a freethinking intellectual, while working at Cambridge University in 1937, fell in love with a visiting Chinese student, with whom he began a lifelong affair. He became fascinated with China, and embarked on a series of extraordinary expeditions to the farthest frontiers of this ancient empire. He searched everywhere for evidence to bolster his conviction that the Chinese were responsible for hundreds of mankind’s most familiar innovations–including printing, the compass, explosives, suspension bridges, even toilet paper–often centuries before the rest of the world. His dangerous journeys took him across war-torn China to far-flung outposts, consolidating his deep admiration for the Chinese people. After the war, Needham began writing what became a seventeen-volume encyclopedia, Science and Civilisation in China.–From publisher description.

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6 ) When the Earth Shakes: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis

 When the Earth Shakes: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 18
  • Amazon: 3
  • LibraryThing: 1

New York Times bestselling author, explorer, journalist, and geologist Simon Winchester—who’s been shaken by earthquakes in New Zealand, skied through Greenland to help prove the theory of plate tectonics, and even charred the soles of his boots climbing a volcano—looks at the science, technology, and societal impact of these inter-connected natural phenomena.

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5 ) The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (P.S.)

 The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (P.S.) Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 9
  • Amazon: 6
  • LibraryThing: 4

Looks at the making of the Oxford English dictionary.

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4 ) Pacific Rising: The Emergence of a New World Culture

 Pacific Rising: The Emergence of a New World Culture Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 3
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 10

Portrays the human side of the Pacific–its people, culture, history, and politics–and examines why the Pacific has reached preeminence

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3 ) Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers

 Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 5
  • Amazon: 6
  • LibraryThing: 2

The New York Times best-selling author of The Men Who United the States traces the geological history of the Pacific Ocean to assess its relationship with humans and indelible role in the modern world.

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2 ) The Meaning of Everything

 The Meaning of Everything Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 5
  • Amazon: 3
  • LibraryThing: 3

The Map That Changed the World, and Krakatoa comes a truly wonderful celebration of the English language and of its unrivaled treasure house, the Oxford English Dictionary. Writing with marvelous brio, Winchester first serves up a lightning history of the English language–“so vast, so sprawling, so wonderfully unwieldy”–and pays homage to the great dictionary makers, from “the irredeemably famous” Samuel Johnson to the “short, pale, smug and boastful” schoolmaster from New Hartford, Noah Webster. He then turns his unmatched talent for story-telling to the making of this most venerable of dictionaries. In this fast-paced narrative, the reader will discover lively portraits of such key figures as the brilliant but tubercular first editor Herbert Coleridge (grandson of the poet), the colorful, boisterous Frederick Furnivall (who left the project in a shambles), and James Augustus Henry Murray, who spent a half-century bringing the project to fruition.

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1 ) The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

 The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 2
  • Amazon: 2
  • LibraryThing: 4

The rise of manufacturing could not have happened without an attention to precision. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in eighteenth-century England, standards of measurement were established, giving way to the development of machine tools—machines that make machines. Eventually, the application of precision tools and methods resulted in the creation and mass production of items from guns and glass to mirrors, lenses, and cameras—and eventually gave way to further breakthroughs, including gene splicing, microchips, and the Hadron Collider. Simon Winchester takes us back to origins of the Industrial Age, to England where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth.

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Simon Winchester’s Best Books



Simon Winchester Review Website Bibliography Rankings

BookGoodreadsAmazonLibraryThingOveral Rank
The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World 224 1
The Meaning of Everything 533 2
Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers 562 3
Pacific Rising: The Emergence of a New World Culture 3110 4
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (P.S.) 964 5
The Man Who Loved China 1336 6
When the Earth Shakes: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis 1831 6
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded 896 8
The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time 7911 9
The Men Who United the States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible 1289 10
Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire 1596 11
The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology 11913 12
In Holy Terror 11520 13
A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 — the 1906 San Francisco earthquake 141512 14
Simon Winchester’s Calcutta 17916 15
Prison Diary: Argentina 31920 15
The Fracture Zone: A Return to the Balkans 19915 17
Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories 161714 18
American Heartbeat 102323 19
Korea: A Walk Through the Land of Miracles 202118 20
The Alice Behind Wonderland — Alice Liddell 221919 21
Their Noble Lordships: Class and Power in Modern Britain 212217 21
Pacific Nightmare: How Japan Starts World War III : A Future History 231722 23