Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
The horror! The horror! Sure, Apocalypse Now may have overtaken Heart of Darkness when we think of "Kurtz," but Conrad's novella, which inspired Francis Ford Coppola's film, is worth a read. Commenting on colonialism and imperialism, it's the classic tale of a young, naive man coming to face with the wages of war — and, as embodied by corrupt ivory trader Kurtz, the most savage beast of all.