100 Letters That Changed the World by Colin Salter

The first question regarding 100 Letters That Changed the World by Colin Salter might be why I finished it when I gave it only 1 star? Because I was curious what he selected as primary sources. The book is so badly written that I wouldn’t recommend it.

I got this book from a museum gift shop, hoping it will be interesting. I had some reservations because its title is “changed the world”, which as a theme is more suitable for a “click-bait” post on a tabloid newspaper than a basic historical analysis in a non-fiction book. There isn’t a prearranged timeline and something happens that changes. If the author would have wrote “shaped” the world, it would have been very different indeed. Unfortunately that was not the only thing that was wrong with the book.

100 Letters That Changed the World by Colin Salter

So, the letters are not all relevant to the wider world. I will give 2 examples of the things that I find particularly interesting but that I don’t think are as important to be in a book of this kind. First one was Michael Schumacher’s contract, which is fascinating of course (instead of agreeing to sign “the” contract, he agreed to signing “a” contract, meaning that he was free to join another team with which he won 2 world titles). Outside of F1, not many people know about this, so it’s hardly “world changing”.
Secondly, the exquisite letter sent by Bobby Henderson, in his role of Prophet of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The founder of Pastafarianism wrote to Kansas State Board of Education asking for this particular religion to be included in their plans to show intelligent design as being scientific. While I am familiar with the religion, with The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I don’t think it has a huge impact on the world stage, at least not yet. Until more people are touched by his noodly appendages, we can’t say this is as widely known as it should, despite there being Pastafarians all over the world.

Having some interesting but less important letters included was not a huge issue, of course. The main problems were: not all the letters were reproduced at least in part; there is a clear bias in some of the descriptions; the collection is largely US orientated, followed by a western approach. I would have liked a less sensationalistic interpretation, a better analysis. For example, Salter said that Yeltsin was popular with the Muscovites because he got 92% of votes in 1989. In Soviet Russia there were no real elections, so Salter is either badly prepared or incredibly naive. Sadly this book is a missed opportunity.

100 Letters That Changed the World by Colin Salter

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 1/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: not really
Published by: Batsford
Year it was published: 2019
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History – Broad subject
Pages: 224

About the author: Edinburgh-based writer Colin Salter is the author of 100 Letters That Changed The World, 100 Speeches That Changed The World, and the co-author with Scott Christianson of 100 Books That Changed The World.
Website & Social Media Links: –

4 thoughts on “100 Letters That Changed the World by Colin Salter”

  • I quite often find that this style of books can be rather random, and are either extremely well put together and meaningful, or are only good to dip in and out of picking out the best quotes or letters, whichever they be. Dave went through a spell of collecting books of motivational quotes for his mentoring and business coaching work, but at the end of the day, there are only so many quotes which are really unique and inspiring, so just about every book featured the same words. I have to say that the letters you picked out from this particular book, really do sound rather random. Definitely a book I shall be avoiding, especially as I have shelves full of similar material already! Better luck with your next book 🙂

    • I showed those 2 letters because they are so random. I was a huge Schumacher fan, so loved to see that document, while Pastafarianism is so cleverly made. You are right that usually in this kind of books some details are more interesting than others, but this was not even properly researched, so I can’t give it more than 1 star.

    • It is such a shame. I have some 100-stuff kind of books and those were very interesting. It was a missed opportunity.

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