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Undergraduate Political Science Resources

Undergraduate Political Science Resources

Undergraduate Political Science Resources

This resource is maintained by Joe Braunwarth at Grossmont College.  All rights reserved.  He may be contacted at

Classic Readings in Political Science

The following are readings in which political science majors, or potential majors, may be interested.  They are divided into the primary political science subfields: 

Political Theory and Philosophy

Comparative Politics

International Politics

Political Economy

Political Psychology

American Politics


Political Theory and Philosophy


Arendt, Hannah.  The Origins of Totalitarianism.  Harcourt, 1973 (first published 1951).

        The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.


Aristotle, Politics.  Dover Publications, 2000 (first published -352)

        What is the relationship of the individual to the state? What is the ideal state, and how can it bring about the most desirable life for its citizens? What sort of education should it provide? What is the purpose of amassing wealth? These are some of the questions Aristotle attempts to answer in this intellectually stimulating work.


Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine), City of God.  Penguin Classics, 2004 (first published 314)

        Written as an eloquent defense of the faith at a time when the Roman Empire was on the brink of collapse, it examines the ancient pagan religions of Rome, the arguments of the Greek philosophers and the revelations of the Bible. Pointing the way forward to a citizenship that transcends the best political experiences of the world and offers citizenship that will last for eternity, City of God is one of the most influential documents in the development of Christianity.  Most contemporary readers find this to be a daunting read.


Barber, Benjamin, Strong Democracy.  University of California Press, 2004 (first published 1983)

        Defined as the participation of all of the people in at least some aspects of self-government at least some of the time, Strong Democracy offers liberal society a new way of thinking about and of practicing democracy. Contrary to the commonly held view that an excess of democracy can undo liberal institutions, Barber argues that an excess of liberalism has undermined our democratic institutions and brought about the set of crises we still find ourselves struggling against: cynicism about voting, alienation, privatization, and the growing paralysis of public institutions.


Bell, Daniel, The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties.  Harvard University Press, 2000 (originally published 1962)

        Daniel Bell postulated that the older humanistic ideologies derived from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were exhausted, and that new parochial ideologies would arise. In a new introduction to the year 2000 edition, he argues that with the end of communism, we are seeing a resumption of history, a lifting of the heavy ideological blanket and the return of traditional ethnic and religious conflicts in the many regions of the former socialist states and elsewhere.


Burke, Edmund. Reflections on the Revolution in France.  Burke Press, 2013 (first published 1790)

        Edmund Burke was a statesman and philosopher who favored gradual reform over revolution. Arguing that the ideology behind the French Revolution was too ephemeral, he predicted a disastrous outcome. Well regarded by the liberals of his day for his support of constitutional limitations on sovereign authority, his condemnation of religious persecution, and his sympathy for the grievances of the American colonists, Burke also gained the respect of conservatives when he published his “Reflections on the Revolution in France” in 1790.


Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punishment.  Vintage Books, 1995 (originally published 1975)

        In this brilliant work, the most influential philosopher since Sartre suggests that such vaunted reforms as the abolition of torture and the emergence of the modern penitentiary have merely shifted the focus of punishment from the prisoner's body to his soul.  This book is essentially about the power of normalization in western society and how prisoners, an by extension all of us, exist in a network of interlocking disciplinary mechanisms.


Freud. Civilization and Its Discontents.  Rough Draft Printing, 2013 (originally published 1930)

        Written in the decade before Freud’s death, Civilization and Its Discontents may be his most famous and most brilliant work. It has been praised, dissected, lambasted, interpreted, and reinterpreted. Originally published in 1930, it seeks to answer several questions fundamental to human society and its organization: What influences led to the creation of civilization? Why and how did it come to be? What determines civilization’s trajectory? Freud’s theories on the effect of the knowledge of death on human existence and the birth of art are central to his work.


Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity.  Stanford University Press, 1991.

        In this major theoretical statement, the author offers a new and provocative interpretation of institutional transformations associated with modernity. In developing a fresh characterization of the nature of modernity, the author concentrates on the themes of security versus danger and trust versus risk. Modernity is a double-edged phenomenon. The development of modern social institutions has created vastly greater opportunities for human beings to enjoy a secure and rewarding existence than in any type of pre-modern system. But modernity also has a somber side that has become very important in the present century, such as the frequently degrading nature of modern industrial work, the growth of totalitarianism, the threat of environmental destruction, and the alarming development of military power and weaponry.


Habermas. Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. MIT Press, 1991. (first published 1962).

        The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, examines the creation, brief flourishing, and demise of a public sphere based in rational-critical debate and discussion. The feasibility of a true public sphere, which is inclusive of anyone who would participate, is for Habermas of utmost importance. Habermas follows a methodology similar to the one Michel Foucault takes in "Discipline and Punish," which analyzes the abolition of public displays of power, and the process by which the structures of power are inculcated in the individual from the 17th through the 20th centuries. Habermas analyzes historical, economic, and political conditions from classical antiquity through his own historical moment, tracing the circumstances in which the public sphere arises, how it functions, and ceases to function over time.


Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan, first published 1651.

        Leviathan remains among the greatest works in the history of ideas. Written during a moment in English history when the political and social structures as well as methods of science were in flux and open to interpretation, Leviathan played an essential role in the development of the modern world.


Hume, David, Essays, Moral, Political and Literary. 

        David Hume was a Scottish historian, philosopher, and economist in the row with the greatest thinkers Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, John Keynes, John Locke, and Alfred Marshall. Their thoughts had strong influence on building the foundation of the United States and its endeavor of open society. David Hume in Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary gave a powerful discussion across the important subjects from political, economic, and aesthetic issues to the roles of a government and balance of government power.  Hume’s works also produced great influence on utilitarianism, logical positivism, the philosophy of science, early analytic philosophy, and cognitive philosophy.  David Hume’ influence has been felt in nearly every field of the humanities and social sciences.  The reasoning by David Hume still remains as relevant today as it was then. This book is one of the most important ones about the deepest thoughts of political economics, power balance, and government roles by David Hume, one of the greatest thinkers of modern economics and logic on the planet.


Kolakowski, Leszek.  The Main Currents of Marxism.  W.W. Norton & Co., 2008.

        Leszek Kolakowski reveals both the shortcomings and the dangers posed by communist regimes. According to the Library of Congress, this is a “a prophetic work,” that provides “the most lucid and comprehensive history of the origins, structure, and posthumous development of the system of thought that had the greatest impact on the 20th century.”


Lenin, Vladimir. Imperialism, the State and Revolution.

        Marx and Engels presented an analytical approach to the class struggle and the problems of capitalism in the book, The Communist Manifesto. The book also contains their ideas for how the capitalist society of the time would be replaced by socialism, and then eventually communism. However, the book is lack of detailed potential future forms of communism. It is Lenin who took the theories of The Communist Manifest to the next level for delivery and implementation of a truly socialistic country. The State and Revolution is one of the most important books written by Lenin to lay out a theoretical foundation for building a socialistic country.  Lenin wrote The State and Revolution in August and September of 1917 and detailed the Marxist attitude to the state in the book, when he was in hiding from persecution of the Provisional Government.  The State and Revolution enriches and materialize Communist Manifest and is a must-read book for people to understand the nature of a socialistic country.


Locke, John. Second Treatise of Government, Prentice Hall, 1952.  (first published 1689).

        Locke’s book is in many ways the founding document of modern liberal democracy and was very influential for the framers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution.


Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince, first published 1513

        The Prince explores the attainment, maintenance, and utilization of political power in the western world. Machiavelli wrote The Prince to demonstrate his skill in the art of the state, presenting advice on how a prince might acquire and hold power. Machiavelli defended the notion of rule by force rather than by law. Accordingly, The Prince seems to rationalize a number of actions done solely to perpetuate power. It is an examination of power-its attainment, development, and successful use.


MacKennon. Feminism Unmodified.  Harvard University Press, 1988. 

        Through these engaged works on issues such as rape, abortion, athletics, sexual harassment, and pornography, MacKinnon seeks feminism on its own terms, unconstrained by the limits of prior traditions. She argues that viewing gender as a matter of sameness and difference--as virtually all existing theory and law have done--covers up the reality of gender, which is a system of social hierarchy, an imposed inequality of power. She reveals a political system of male dominance and female subordination that sexualizes power for men and powerlessness for women. She analyzes the failure of organized feminism, particularly legal feminism, to alter this condition, exposing the way male supremacy gives women a survival stake in the system that destroys them.


Marshall, Peter.  Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism.  PM Press, 2007.

        Lively and authoritative, this study of a widely misunderstood subject skillfully navigates the rough waters of anarchistic concepts—from Taoism to Situationism, ranters to punk rockers, individualists to communists, and anarcho-syndicalists to anarcha-feminists. Exploring key anarchist ideas of society and the state, freedom and equality, authority and power, Marshall investigates the successes and failures of anarchist movements throughout the world. Presenting a balanced and critical survey, the detailed document covers not only classic anarchist thinkers—such as Godwin, Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Reclus, and Emma Goldman—but also other libertarian figures, such as Nietzsche, Camus, Gandhi, Foucault, and Chomsky. This is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand what anarchists stand for and what they have achieved.  The new edition also includes an epilogue that examines the most recent developments, including post-anarchism and anarcho-primitivism as well as the anarchist contributions to the peace, green, and global justice movements of the 21st century.


Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto, first published 1847

        The Communist Manifesto is a condensed and incisive account of the worldview developed by Marx and Engels.  They believed that labor creates wealth; hence capitalism is exploitive and antithetical to freedom.


Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Marx-Engels Reader, W. W. Norton and Company, 1978.

        This anthology includes the essential writings of Marx and Engels necessary for an introduction to Marxist thought and ideology.


Mill, John Stuart.  On Liberty. Penguin Classics, 1985 (first published 1859)

        On Liberty presented one of the most eloquent defenses of individual freedom in nineteenth-century social and political philosophy and is today perhaps the most widely read liberal argument in support of the value of liberty. Mill s passionate advocacy of spontaneity, individuality, and diversity, along with his contempt for compulsory uniformity and the despotism of popular opinion, has attracted both admiration and condemnation.


Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws.  Cosimo Classics, 2011 (first published 1750)

        Among its comparisons of different forms of governments, such as monarchies, despotic regimes, and republics, is the now-famous section on Montesquieu's concept of the separation of powers, dividing the ruling body into legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Also included is the author's thinking on slavery, religion in government, families and censuses, the influence of climate on politics and culture, and the making of laws. A powerful influence on the framers of the U.S. Constitution, this classic work will appeal to history buffs and anyone interested in the roots of modern political theory and government.


More, Thomas.  Utopia.  Penguin Classics, 2003 (first published 1516).

        Thomas More's Utopia is one of the most important works of European humanism. Through the voice of the mysterious traveler Raphael Hythloday, More describes a pagan, communist city-state governed by reason. Addressing such issues as religious pluralism, women's rights, state-sponsored education, colonialism, and justified warfare, Utopia seems remarkably contemporary nearly five centuries after it was written, and it remains a foundational text in philosophy and political theory.


Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals.  Dover Publications, 2003.

        The three essays comprising The Genealogy of Morals — all three advancing the critique of Christian morality set forth in Beyond Good and Evil — are among Nietzsche's most sustained and cohesive work.  In the first essay — starting from a linguistic analysis of words such as "good," "bad," and "evil" — Nietzsche sets up a contrast between what he calls "master" morality and "slave" morality and shows how strength and action have often been replaced by passivity and nihilism. The next essay, looking into the origins of guilt and punishment, shows how the concept of justice was born — and how internalization of this concept led to the development of what people called "the soul." In the third essay, Nietzsche dissects the meaning of ascetic ideals.  It is not Nietzsche's intention to reject ascetic ideals, "slave" morality, or internalized values out of hand; his main concern is to show that culture and morality, rather than being eternal verities, are human-made.


Orwell, George.  Animal Farm.  Plume, 2003 (first published 1945)

        Tired of their servitude to man, a group of farm animals revolt and establish their own society, only to be betrayed into worse servitude by their leaders, the pigs, whose slogan becomes: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." This 1945 satire addresses the socialist/ communist philosophy of Stalin in the Soviet Union.


Orwell, George.  1984.  Signet, 1950 (first published 1949)

        1984 presents a "negative utopia", that is at once a startling and haunting vision of the world.  No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of entire generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions; a legacy that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.


Pateman, Carole. Participation and Democratic Theory.  Cambridge University Press, 1976.

        Participation and Democratic Theory shows that current elitist theories are based on an inadequate understanding of the early writings of democratic theory and that much sociological evidence has been ignored


Plato. The Republic. Hackett, 1992.  (First published -380).

        Presented in the form of a dialogue between Socrates and three different interlocutors, this classic text is an enquiry into the notion of a perfect community and the ideal individual within it. During the conversation, other questions are raised: what is goodness?; what is reality?; and what is knowledge? The Republic also addresses the purpose of education and the role of both women and men as guardians of the people. With remarkable lucidity and deft use of allegory, Plato arrives at a depiction of a state bound by harmony and ruled by philosopher kings.  Of particular importance is the “Allegory of the Cave” which can be read on its own.


Pufendorf, Samuel, On the Duty of Man and Citizen.  Cambridge University Press, 1991 (first published 1682)

        Samuel Pufendorf is one of the most important moral and political philosophers of the seventeenth century. His theory, which builds on Grotius and Hobbes, was immediately recognized as a classic and taken up by writers as diverse as Locke, Hume, Rousseau, and Smith. Over the past twenty years there has been a renaissance of Pufendorf scholarship. On the Duty of Man and Citizen is Pufendorf's own epitome of his monumental On the Law of Nature and of Nations.


Rawls. A Theory of Justice.  Belinda Press, 1999 (first published 1971)

        Rawls aims to express an essential part of the common core of the democratic tradition--justice as fairness--and to provide an alternative to utilitarianism, which had dominated the Anglo-Saxon tradition of political thought since the nineteenth century. Rawls substitutes the ideal of the social contract as a more satisfactory account of the basic rights and liberties of citizens as free and equal persons. "Each person," writes Rawls, "possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override." Advancing the ideas of Rousseau, Kant, Emerson, and Lincoln, Rawls's theory is as powerful today as it was when first published.


Rousseau, Jean-Jacques.  The Social Contract. Penguin Classics, 2006. (first published 1762).

        "Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains." The cry for human liberty sparked the French Revolution and questions the role of government in democracy. Includes two discourses. Origin of Inequality that inequality is the natural result of civilization. Political Economy examines how politics affects people.


Simpson, Peter, ed. The Politics of Aristotle. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.


Voegelin, Eric.  The New Science of Politics: An Introduction.  University of Chicago Press, 1987 (first published 1952).

        The New Science of Politics, composed of six lectures, is a complete theory of man, society, and history, presented at the most profound and intellectual level.


Weber, Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.  Routledge, 2001 (first published 1904)

        The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism contends that the Protestant ethic made possible and encouraged the development of capitalism in the West. Widely considered one of the most informed works ever written on the social effects of advanced capitalism, this esteemed classic of twentieth-century social science examines the deep cultural "frame of mind" that existed at the birth of modern capitalism and to this day influences attitudes toward work in northern America and Western Europe.


Wollstonecraft. A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Dover, 1996 (first published 1792)

        A Vindication of the Rights of Woman created a scandal in its day, largely, perhaps, because of the unconventional lifestyle of its creator. Today, it is considered the first great manifesto of women’s rights, arguing passionately for the education of women: "Tyrants and sensualists are in the right when they endeavor to keep women in the dark, because the former want only slaves, and the later a plaything."  No narrow-minded zealot, Wollstonecraft balanced passionate advocacy with a sympathetic warmth — a characteristic that helped her ideas achieve widespread influence. Anyone interested in the history of the women’s rights movement will welcome this inexpensive edition of one of the landmark documents in the struggle for human dignity, freedom and equality.



Comparative Politics


Alexander, KC and Kumeran KP. Culture and Development. Sage Publications, 1992.

        This pioneering study makes an important practical contribution to the field of designing effective development programs. The authors argue that cultural values form an important component of any development strategy. To demonstrate this, their study investigates cultural patterns in regions that have experienced different degrees of development. From the data collected the authors reach the conclusion that, while injecting capital and encouraging industrial growth are certainly important, investing in cultural change will make the development process faster and smoother.


Almond, Gabriel and Sidney Verba. The Civic Culture.  Sage Publications, 1989 (originally published 1963)

        This classic text is a comparative political study, based on extensive survey data that defined and analyzed the Greek concept of civic culture: the political and social attitudes that are crucial to the success of modern democracy in Western nations. Cited extensively, the book was originally published in 1963.


Anderson, Benedict.  Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism.  Verso, 1991 (first published 1983).

        Benedict Anderson examines the creation and global spread of the ‘imagined communities’ of nationality: the territorialization of religious faiths, the decline of antique kingship, the interaction between capitalism and print, the development of vernacular languages-of-state, and changing conceptions of time. He shows how a nationalism born in the Americas was modularly adopted by popular movements in Europe, by the imperialist powers, and by the anti-imperialist resistances in Asia and Africa.


Barnes, Samuel H. and Max Kasse.  Political Action: Mass Participation in Five Western Democracies.  Sage, 1979.

        Political Action is an innovative study of conventional and unconventional political behavior in five developed nations. How and why do people engage in the various forms of political action and protest? What differences do age, education, and degree of deprivation make? An unusual example of cross-national collaboration that is a treasure-trove of data, a source of provocative explanations, and an exemplar of sophisticated research strategies. 'The whole of this book will be read only by specialists; it is an important book all the same. Drawing on survey data from Britain, Holland, West Germany, the United States and Austria, the authors seek to explain the waves of political protest that swept through the advanced industrial democracies in the late 1960's' - "The Economist", February 23, 1980.


Bayart, Jean Francois. The State in Africa.  Polity, 2009.

        The State in Africa rejects the assumption of African 'otherness' based on stereotyped images of famine, corruption and civil war. Instead he invites the reader to see that African politics is like politics anywhere else in the world, not an exotic aberration.  While acknowledging the insights of Western social scientists from Weber to Foucault, Bayart never loses sight of the realities of African politics and social life.  This book has established itself as an indispensable text on the state and politics in Africa. It also provides a nuanced reading of what we have come to call 'development' and opens the way for a more general reflection on the invention of politics in African and Asian societies.


Berlin, Isaiah.  Russian Thinkers.  Penguin Classics, 2008.

        Isaiah Berlin witnessed the excesses of the Russian Revolution as a child, and in becoming one of the key liberal intellects of the last century some of his most important contributions were on the subject of Russia and the concept of freedom. In the ten essays gathered here, Berlin addresses the great Russian minds of the nineteenth century: Herzen, Bakunin, Turgenev, Belinsky and Tolstoy, as well as exploring the political and social revolutions they inspired and responded to.


Creel, H.G.  Chinese Thought, from Confucius to Mao Tse Tung.  University of Chicago Press, 19721.

        Chinese philosophy before our Christian era is emphasized in this nontechnical summary of Chinese thought. Professor Creel also deals with Confucianism, the ideas of Mo-tsu and Mencius, Taoism, Legalism, and their variations and adaptations.


Dahl, Robert A, Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition.  Yale University Press, 1972.

        Dahl's work, which has been cited by countless political scientists since it was first published, provides a useful framework for the examination of democracy The book is particularly concerned with the two main variables of political orders: 'competition' and 'participation.'  Dahl believes that all political systems should strive towards the ideal balance between these two variables which he calls polyarchy. Dahl goes on to outline the benefits of a polyarchal system and the various ways in which such a system can be achieved. Yet, Dahl also recognizes that the transition to polyarchy is neither inevitable nor invariably desirable. Certain conditions are needed in order for the full benefits of a polyarchy to be realized. Thus, the minimal nature of Dahl's conception allows flexibility in its application. This is why his notion of democracy, as defined through polyarchy, has been adopted time again by those engaging in the debate over democracy, including such luminaries as Samuel P. Huntington and Larry Diamond.


Diamond, Larry.  The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World.  St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009.

        In 1974, nearly three-quarters of all countries were dictatorships; today, more than half are democracies. Yet recent efforts to promote democracy have stumbled, and many democratic governments are faltering.  In this sweeping vision for advancing freedom around the world, renowned social scientist Larry Diamond examines how and why democracy progresses. He demonstrates that the desire for democracy runs deep, even in very poor countries, and that seemingly entrenched regimes like Iran and China could become democracies within a generation. He also dissects the causes of the "democratic recession" in critical states, including the crime-infested oligarchy in Russia and the strong-armed populism of Venezuela. To spur a renewed democratic boom Diamond urges the United States to vigorously support good governance and free civic organizations. Only then will the spirit of democracy be secured.


Di Palma, Giuseppe.  The Modern State Subverted: Risk and the Deconstruction of Solidarity.  ECPR Press, 2013.

        Until recently, liberalism was, according to Karl Polanyi, embedded within civil society, working closely with the democratic state, which was intent on addressing, in solidarity, the social risks associated with modern capitalism. Modern relations between society and the state have been, at their best, ones of shared language and goals rather than necessary conflict. Already under the polizeistaat, absolutist rulers took, in their own way, the care of their population as central to their rule. The welfare state was only the most innovative embodiment of such collective concerns. Today's neoliberalism is, to the contrary, a subversion of liberal embeddedness. It is the utopia of market fundamentalism intent, by the power of its perversity narrative of the past, on replacing socially embedded market and government with a dispiriting, socially isolating Malthusian project.


Dogan, Mattei and Dominique Pelassey. How to Compare Nations: Strategies in Comparative Politics. CQ Press,1990.

        "In How to Compare Nations, Dogan and Pelassy have constructed a succinct and unconventional guide to the conduct of comparative analysis and the construction of social science theory. It should be required reading for all first-year graduate students; its use at the undergraduate level would be a sign of educational professionalism." (American Political Science Review).


Downs, Anthony. An Economic Theory of Democracy.  Harper and Row, 1957.

        An Economic Theory of Democracy is an easily accessible introduction to the basics of voting theory.  It sets forth a model under which economic theory could be applied to political decision-making.  Downs’ most famous innovation is the median voter theorem which argues that two party competition leads to both parties offering a similar platform in order to maximize votes.


Evans. Embedded Autonomy.  Princeton Paperbacks, 1995.

        In recent years, debate on the state's economic role has too often devolved into diatribes against intervention. Peter Evans questions such simplistic views, offering a new vision of why state involvement works in some cases and produces disasters in others. To illustrate, he looks at how state agencies, local entrepreneurs, and transnational corporations shaped the emergence of computer industries in Brazil, India, and Korea during the seventies and eighties.  Evans starts with the idea that states vary in the way they are organized and tied to society. In some nations, like Zaire, the state is predatory, ruthlessly extracting and providing nothing of value in return. In others, like Korea, it is developmental, promoting industrial transformation. In still others, like Brazil and India, it is in between, sometimes helping, sometimes hindering. Evans's years of comparative research on the successes and failures of state involvement in the process of industrialization have here been crafted into a persuasive and entertaining work, which demonstrates that successful state action requires an understanding of its own limits, a realistic relationship to the global economy, and the combination of coherent internal organization and close links to society that Evans called "embedded autonomy."


Fukuyama, Francis.  The Origins of Political Order.  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011.

        Virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions which included a central state that could keep the peace and uniform laws that applied to all citizens. Some went on to create governments that were accountable to their constituents. We take these institutions for granted, but they are absent or are unable to perform in many of today’s developing countries—with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world.


Goldstone, Jack A. Revolutions: Theoretical, Comparative, and Historical Studies.  Cengage Learning, 2002.

        From the American Revolution to the conflicts in Afghanistan, revolutions have played a critical role in the course of history. Insight into the causes of revolutions and the factors that shape their outcomes is critical to understanding politics and world history-and REVOLUTIONS is a reader designed to address this need. Part One offers a combination of classic treatises and late-breaking scholarship that develops students' theoretical understanding of revolutionary movements. Part Two shows students how these theories play out in real life through rich, accessible accounts of major revolutionary episodes in modern history.


Grofman , Bernard and Arend Lijphart,eds., Electoral Laws and Their Political Consequences.  Agathon Press, 1986.

        The aim of this book is to provide an overview of recent research on electoral laws and their political consequences by scholars who have helped shape the field.  Election rules not only have important effects on other elements of the political system, especially the party system, but also offer a practical instrument for political engineers who want to make changes in the political system. Indeed, Sartori aptly characterizes electoral systems as the most specific manipulative instrument of politics.


Haggard and Kaufman. The Political Economy of Democratic Transitions.  Princeton Paperbacks, 1995.

        In recent decades, there has been a widespread movement from authoritarian to democratic rule among developing countries, often occurring against a backdrop of severe economic crises and the adoption of market-oriented reforms. The coincidence of these events raises long-standing questions about the relationship between economic and political change. In this book, Stephan Haggard and Robert Kaufman explore this relationship, addressing a variety of questions: What role have economic crises played in the current wave of political liberalization and democratization? Can new democracies manage the daunting political challenges posed by economic reform? Under what economic and institutional conditions is democracy most likely to be consolidated? Drawing on contemporary political economy and the experiences of twelve Latin American and Asian countries, they develop a new approach to understanding democratic transitions.


Huntington, Samuel. The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late 20th Century. University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.

        Between 1974 and 1990 more than thirty countries in southern Europe, Latin America, East Asia, and Eastern Europe shifted from authoritarian to democratic systems of government. This global democratic revolution is probably the most important political trend in the late twentieth century. In The Third Wave, Samuel P. Huntington analyzes the causes and nature of these democratic transitions, evaluates the prospects for stability of the new democracies, and explores the possibility of more countries becoming democratic. The recent transitions, he argues, are the third major wave of democratization in the modem world. Each of the two previous waves was followed by a reverse wave in which some countries shifted back to authoritarian government. Using concrete examples, empirical evidence, and insightful analysis, Huntington provides neither a theory nor a history of the third wave, but an explanation of why and how it occurred.


Inglehart, Ronald and Christian Welzel.  Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence.  Cambridge University Press, 2005.

        This book demonstrates that people's basic values and beliefs are changing, in ways that affect their political, sexual, economic, and religious behavior. These changes are roughly predictable because they can be interpreted on the basis of a revised version of modernization theory presented here. Drawing on a massive body of evidence from societies containing 85% of the world's population, the authors demonstrate that modernization is a process of human development, in which economic development triggers cultural changes that make individual autonomy, gender equality, and democracy increasingly likely.


Lijphart, Arend.  Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries.  Yale University Press, 2012.

        In this updated and expanded edition of his classic text, Arend Lijphart offers a broader and deeper analysis of worldwide democratic institutions than ever before. Examining thirty-six democracies during the period from 1945 to 2010, Lijphart arrives at important—and unexpected—conclusions about what type of democracy works best.


Moore, Barrington, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World.

        Democratic and totalitarian states might differ on key variables, but both are modern - resting on industrial civilization & the commercialization of agriculture. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy seeks to explain differing national paths towards this modernity. More specifically, Moore seeks to analyze the evolution of modern political systems through their social, economic and institutional bases. Even more specifically, he posits a bold thesis that the particular relationship between peasants and landowners in a given country, more than any other factor, determines whether that country will eventually become democratic, communist, or fascist.


O'Donnell, Guillermo and Philippe Schmitter. Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies.  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.

        Transitions from Authoritarian Rule was the first book in any language to systematically compare the process of transition from authoritarianism across a broad range of countries. Political democracy is not the only possible outcome. Guillermo O’Donnell, Philippe C. Schmitter, and Laurence Whitehead emphasize that it's not the revolution but the transition that is critical to the growth of a democratic state.


Pye, Lucian W. and Mary W. Pye. Asian Power and Politics.  Harvard University Press, 2009.

        Lucian Pye reconceptualizes Asian political development as a product of cultural attitudes about power and authority. He contrasts the great traditions of Confucian East Asia with the Southeast Asian cultures and the South Asian traditions of Hinduism and Islam, and explores the national differences within these larger civilizations.


Skocpol, Theda. States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China.  Cambridge University Press, 1979.

        State structures, international forces, and class relations: Theda Skocpol shows how all three combine to explain the origins and accomplishments of social-revolutionary transformations. States and Social Revolutions provides a new frame of reference for analyzing the causes, the conflicts, and the outcomes of such revolutions. It develops in depth a rigorous, comparative historical analysis of three major cases: the French Revolution of 1787 through the early 1800s, the Russian Revolution of 1917 through the 1930s, and the Chinese Revolution of 1911 through the 1960s. Believing that existing theories of revolution, both Marxist and non-Marxist, are inadequate to explain the actual historical patterns of revolutions, the author urges us to adopt fresh perspectives. Above all, she maintains that states conceived as administrative and coercive organizations potentially autonomous from class controls and interests must be made central to explanations of revolutions.


Tarrow, Sidney, Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

        Social movements have an elusive power but one that is altogether real. From the French and American revolutions to the post-Soviet, ethnic, and terrorist movements of today, contentious politics exercises a fleeting but powerful influence on politics, society, and international relations. This study surveys the modern history of the modern social movements in the West and their diffusion to the global South through war, colonialism, and diffusion, and it puts forward a theory to explain its cyclical surges and declines. It offers an interpretation of the power of movements that emphasizes effects on the lives of militants, policy reforms, political institutions, and cultural change. The book focuses on the rise and fall of social movements as part of contentious politics in general and as the outcome of changes in political opportunities and constraints, state strategy, the new media of communication, and transnational diffusion.




International Politics



Barber, Benjamin R.  Jihad v. McWorld.  Ballantine Books, 1995.

        This book is about how Globalism & Tribalism Are Reshaping the World.  As soon as you hear the conceit of this book--that there are two great opposing forces at work in the world today, border-crossing capitalism and splintering factionalism, and that they are the two biggest threats to democracy--you know it rings true enough to be worth reading. Although capitalism could have only grown to current levels in the soil of democracies, Benjamin Barber argues that global capitalism now tends to work against the very concept of citizenship, of people thinking for themselves and with their neighbors. Too often now, how we think is the product of a transnational corporation (increasingly, a media corporation) with headquarters elsewhere. And although self-determination is one of the most fundamental of democratic principles, unchecked it has lead to a tribalism (think Bosnia, think Rwanda) in which virtually no one besides the local power elite gets a fair shake. The antidote, Barber concludes, is to work everywhere to resuscitate the non-governmental, non-business spaces in life--he calls them "civic spaces" (such as the village green, voluntary associations of every sort, churches, community schools)--where true citizenship thrives.


Blainey, Geoffrey.  The Causes of War.  Free Press, 1988.

        Based on a survey of international wars fought since 1700 and updated in this edition to include the nuclear era, this work examines the causes of war, arguing that the causes of war and peace are closely related and emphasizing factors such as our understanding of why wars begin and end.


Bull, Hedley and Stanley Hoffman.  The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics.  Columbia University Press, 2002 (first published 1977)

        The Anarchical Society is one of the masterworks of political science and the classic text on the nature of order in world politics. Originally published in 1977, it continues to define and shape the discipline of international relations. Bull explores three fundamental questions: What is order in world politics? How is order maintained in the contemporary states system? What alternative paths to world order are desirable and feasible? Laws and institutions, Bull points out, shift and change over time. "The Anarchical Society" addresses the unwritten rules which have allowed international order to exist across the ages.


von Clausewitz, Carl.  On War.  Princeton University Press, 1989 (first published 1832)

        Carl von Clausewitz's On War has been called, "not simply the greatest, but the only truly great book on war." It is an extraordinary attempt to construct an all-embracing theory of how war works. Its coherence and ambition are unmatched by other military literature. On War is full of sharp observation, biting irony, and memorable phrases, the most famous being, "War is a continuation of politics by other means."


Diamond, Jared.  Guns, Germs, and Steel.  W. W. Norton and Company, 1999.

        Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion --as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war --and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth club of California's Gold Medal.


Ferguson, Niall.  Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire.  Penguin Books, 2005. 

        In Colossus Ferguson argues that in both military and economic terms America is nothing less than the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. Just like the British Empire a century ago, the United States aspires to globalize free markets, the rule of law, and representative government. In theory it’s a good project, says Ferguson. Yet Americans shy away from the long-term commitments of manpower and money that are indispensable if rogue regimes and failed states really are to be changed for the better. Ours, he argues, is an empire with an attention deficit disorder, imposing ever more unrealistic timescales on its overseas interventions. Worse, it’s an empire in denial—a hyperpower that simply refuses to admit the scale of its global responsibilities. And the negative consequences will be felt at home as well as abroad. In an alarmingly persuasive final chapter Ferguson warns that this chronic myopia also applies to our domestic responsibilities. When overstretch comes, he warns, it will come from within—and it will reveal that more than just the feet of the American colossus is made of clay.


Friedman, Thomas L.  The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization.  Picador 2012 (first published 1997)

        In this vivid portrait of the new business world, Thomas L. Friedman shows how technology, capital, and information are transforming the global marketplace, leveling old geographic and geopolitical boundaries. With bold reporting and acute analysis, Friedman dramatizes the conflict between globalizing forces and local cultures, and he shows why a balance between progress and the preservation of ancient traditions will ensure a better future for all.


Fukuyama, Francis.  The End of History and the Last Man.  Free Press, 2006 (first published 1992).

        Francis Fukuyama's prescient analysis of religious fundamentalism, politics, scientific progress, ethical codes, and war is as essential for a world fighting fundamentalist terrorists as it was for the end of the Cold War.


Gellner, Ernst.  Nations and Nationalism, Second Edition.  Cornell University Press, 2009.

        The state is the dominant political form in the world today, and nationalism remains a powerful political force. This book will help you understand where it came from and why it endures.


Halberstam, David.  The Best and the Brightest.  Ballantine Books, 1993 (originally published 1972).

        "For anyone who aspires to a position of national leadership, no matter the circumstances of his or her birth, this book should be mandatory reading. And anyone who feels a need, as a confused former prisoner of war once felt the need, for insights into how a great and good nation can lose a war and see its worthy purposes and principles destroyed by self-delusion can do no better than to read and reread David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest."

        --from the Foreword by Senator John McCain


Huntington, Samuel P.  The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Touchstone (Simon & Schuster), 1998.

        The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order is a provocative and prescient analysis of the state of world politics after the fall of communism. In this incisive work, the renowned political scientist explains how "civilizations" have replaced nations and ideologies as the driving force in global politics today and offers a brilliant analysis of the current climate and future possibilities of our world's volatile political culture.


Jervis, Robert.  Perception and Misperception in International Politics.  Princeton University Press, 1976.

        This study of perception and misperception in foreign policy was a landmark in the application of cognitive psychology to political decision making.  Jervis begins by describing the process of perception (for example, how decision makers learn from history) and then explores common forms of misperception (such as overestimating one's influence). Finally, he tests his ideas through a number of important events in international relations from nineteenth- and twentieth-century European history.


Johnson, Chalmers.  Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire.  Holt Paperbacks, 2004 (first published 2000)

        The term “blowback,” invented by the CIA, refers to the unintended results of American actions abroad. In this incisive and controversial book, Chalmers Johnson lays out in vivid detail the dangers faced by our overextended empire, which insists on projecting its military power to every corner of the earth and using American capital and markets to force global economic integration on its own terms. From a case of rape by U.S. servicemen in Okinawa to our role in Asia’s financial crisis, from our early support for Saddam Hussein to our conduct in the Balkans, Johnson reveals the ways in which our misguided policies are planting the seeds of future disaster.  In a new edition that addresses recent international events from September 11 to the war in Iraq, this now classic book remains as prescient and powerful as ever.


Lagan, Robert.  Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order.  Vintage, 2003.

        At a time when relations between the United States and Europe are at their lowest ebb since World War II, this brief but cogent book is essential reading. Robert Lagan, a leading scholar of American foreign policy, forces both sides to see themselves through the eyes of the other. Europe, he argues, has moved beyond power into a self-contained world of laws, rules, and negotiation, while America operates in a “Hobbesian” world where rules and laws are unreliable and military force is often necessary.  Tracing how this state of affairs came into being over the past fifty years and fearlessly exploring its ramifications for the future, Lagan reveals the shape of the new transatlantic relationship.


Kaplan, Robert D.  Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power.  Random House, 2010.

        With Kaplan’s incisive mix of policy analysis, travel reportage, sharp historical perspective, and fluid writing, Monsoon offers a thought-provoking exploration of the Indian Ocean as a strategic and demographic hub and an in-depth look at the issues that are most pressing for American interests both at home and abroad. Exposing the effects of explosive population growth, climate change, and extremist politics on this unstable region—and how they will affect our own interests—Monsoon is a brilliant, important work about an area of the world Americans can no longer afford to ignore.


Kennedy, Paul F. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000.  Vintage, 1989.

        The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers  is about national and international power in the "modern" or Post Renaissance period. Kennedy seeks to explain how the various powers have risen and fallen over the five centuries since the formation of the "new monarchies" in Western Europe.


Keohane, Robert O.  After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy.  Princeton University Press, 2005 (first published 1984).

        This book is a comprehensive study of cooperation among the advanced capitalist countries. Can cooperation persist without the dominance of a single power, such as the United States after World War II? To answer this pressing question, Robert Keohane analyzes the institutions, or "international regimes," through which cooperation has taken place in the world political economy and describes the evolution of these regimes as American hegemony has eroded. Refuting the idea that the decline of hegemony makes cooperation impossible, he views international regimes not as weak substitutes for world government but as devices for facilitating decentralized cooperation among egoistic actors. In the preface the author addresses the issue of cooperation after the end of the Soviet empire and with the renewed dominance of the United States, in security matters, as well as recent scholarship on cooperation.


Kissinger, Henry.  World Order.  Penguin Press, 2014.

        Henry Kissinger offers in World Order a deep meditation on the roots of international harmony and global disorder. Drawing on his experience as one of the foremost statesmen of the modern era—advising presidents, traveling the world, observing and shaping the central foreign policy events of recent decades—Kissinger now reveals his analysis of the ultimate challenge for the twenty-first century: how to build a shared international order in a world of divergent historical perspectives, violent conflict, proliferating technology, and ideological extremism.


Mearsheimer, John J.  The Tragedy of Great Power Politics.  W.W. Norton & Co., 2014.

        Mearsheimer argues that in a post-Cold War world in which no international authority reigns, hegemony is the only insurance of security. Of little consequence are trade, treaties or the bonds of international organizations; because even an ally's intentions are uncertain, states must be ready to strike first when danger lurks.  The updated edition takes a penetrating look at the question likely to dominate international relations in the twenty-first century: Can China rise peacefully? Mearsheimer explains why the answer is no: a rising China will seek to dominate Asia, while the United States, determined to remain the world's sole regional hegemon, will go to great lengths to prevent that from happening. The tragedy of great power politics is inescapable.


Morgenthau, Hans J., et al.  Politics Among Nations.  McGraw-Hill, 2005 (first published 1956).

        Hans Morgenthau's classic text established realism as the fundamental way of thinking about international relations.  After 50 years, the dialogue between Morgenthau and scholars from around the world continues more or less as in the past something with more intensity even in an "age of terror." The new edition preserves intact Morgenthau's original work while adding a 40 page introduction by the editors who explore its relevance for a new era. What follows the introduction are the perspectives of a dozen statesmen, scholars, and observers each offering insights on Morgenthau's concepts and ideas as they relate to current crises on every continent. They bring up to date the dialogue that began in 1948. 


Nye, Joseph S. and Stanley Hoffmann.  Understanding International Conflicts: An Introduction to Theory and History.  Longman Publishing, 2004 (first published 1993)

        Written by renowned international relations expert Joseph S. Nye, this lively book gives readers the background in history and political concepts they need to understand the issues facing our world today: the war in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran, and much more. Origins of the Great Twentieth-Century Conflicts; Balance of Power and World War I; The Failure of Collective Security and World War II; The Cold War; Intervention, Institutions, and Regional Conflicts; Interdependence and Globalization; The Information Age; and A New World Order. For anyone interested in understanding international relations today


Scott, James C.  Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed.  Yale University Press, 1999.

        In this wide-ranging and original book, James C. Scott analyzes failed cases of large-scale authoritarian plans in a variety of fields. He argues that centrally managed social plans derail when they impose schematic visions that do violence to complex interdependencies that are not -- and cannot be -- fully understood. Further the success of designs for social organization depends on the recognition that local, practical knowledge is as important as formal, epistemic knowledge. The author builds a persuasive case against "development theory" and imperialistic state planning that disregards the values, desires, and objections of its subjects. And in discussing these planning disasters, he identifies four conditions common to them all: the state's attempt to impose administrative order on nature and society; a high-modernist ideology that believes scientific intervention can improve every aspect of human life; a willingness to use authoritarian state power to effect large-scale innovations; and a prostrate civil society that cannot effectively resist such plans.


Sun Tzu, Shambhala Publications, 2005 (originally published -512).

        Conflict is an inevitable part of life, according to this ancient Chinese classic on strategy, but everything necessary to deal with conflict wisely, honorably, victoriously, is already present within us.  As a study of the anatomy of organizations in conflict, The Art of War applies to competition and conflict in general, on every level from the interpersonal to the international. Its aim is invincibility, victory without battle, and unassailable strength through understanding the physics, politics, and psychology of conflict.


Stoessinger, John G.  Why Nations Go to War.  Cengage Learning, 2010.

        Why Nations Go to War is unique. The reflections of author John G. Stoessinger are built around ten case studies and provide a deep analysis of the root causes of modern war, from World War I to the modern day. The author's main emphasis is on the pivotal role of the personalities of leaders who take their nations, or their following, across the threshold into war. Students are sure to remember Stoessinger's thoughts on war long after their completion of his book. The new 11th edition is completely updated, including references to the recent elections in Afghanistan.


Van Evera, Stephen.  Causes of War: Power and The Roots of Conflict.  Cornell University Press, 2013.

        What causes war? How can military conflicts best be prevented? In this book, Stephen Van Evera frames five conditions that increase the risk of interstate war: false optimism about the likely outcome of a war, a first-strike advantage, fluctuation in the relative power of states, circumstances that allow nations to parlay one conquest into another, and circumstances that make conquest easy.  According to Van Evera, all but one of these conditions-false optimism-rarely occur today, but policymakers often erroneously believe in their existence. He argues that these misperceptions are responsible for many modern wars, and explores both World Wars, the Korean War, and the 1967 Mideast War as test cases. Finally, he assesses the possibility of nuclear war by applying all five hypotheses to its potential onset. Van Evera's book demonstrates that ideas from the Realist paradigm can offer strong explanations for international conflict and valuable prescriptions for its control.


Waltz, Kenneth. 2000. Man, the State, and War.  Columbia University Press, 2001.

        What are the causes of war? To answer this question, Professor Waltz examines the ideas of major thinkers throughout the history of Western civilization. He explores works both by classic political philosophers, such as St. Augustine, Hobbes, Kant, and Rousseau, and by modern psychologists and anthropologists to discover ideas intended to explain war among states and related prescriptions for peace.  Man, the State, and War provides an enduring typology of different theories of war (i.e., locating them either in the nature of man, the characteristics of states, or the anarchic international system) and Waltz offers incisive critiques of these three "images" (aka "levels of analysis.")


Walzer, Michael.  Just and Unjust Wars.  Basic Books, 2006 (first published 19767).

        From the Athenian attack on Melos to the My Lai Massacre, from the wars in the Balkans through the first war in Iraq, Michael Walzer examines the moral issues surrounding military theory, war crimes, and the spoils of war. He studies a variety of conflicts over the course of history, as well as the testimony of those who have been most directly involved--participants, decision makers, and victims. In his introduction to this new edition, Walzer specifically addresses the moral issues surrounding the war in and occupation of Iraq, reminding us once again that "the argument about war and justice is still a political and moral necessity."


Wendt, Alexander.  Social Theory of International Politics.  Cambridge University Press, 1999.

        Drawing on philosophy and social theory, Social Theory of International Politics develops a cultural theory of international politics that contrasts with the realist mainstream. Wendt argues that states can view each other as enemies, rivals, or friends. He characterizes these roles as "cultures of anarchy," which are shared ideas that help shape states' interests and capabilities. These cultures can change over time as ideas change. Wendt thus argues that the nature of international politics is not fixed, and that the international system is not condemned to conflict and war.


Zakaria, Fareed.  The Post-American World.  W. W. Norton & Company, 2008.

        "This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else." So begins Fareed Zakaria's important new work on the era we are now entering. Following on the success of his best-selling The Future of Freedom, Zakaria describes with equal prescience a world in which the United States will no longer dominate the global economy, orchestrate geopolitics, or overwhelm cultures. He sees the "rise of the rest"—the growth of countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia, and many others—as the great story of our time, and one that will reshape the world. The tallest buildings, biggest dams, largest-selling movies, and most advanced cell phones are all being built outside the United States. This economic growth is producing political confidence, national pride, and potentially international problems. How should the United States understand and thrive in this rapidly changing international climate? What does it mean to live in a truly global era? Zakaria answers these questions with his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination.



Political Economy


Acemoglu, Daron and James Robinson.  Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty.

       Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it).  Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, contemporary North and South Korea, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today.


Backhouse, Roger. The Penguin History Of Economics.  Penguin, 2002

       Nobody can ignore economics. There are never enough resources to go round, so human beings have always wrestled with the crucial issues of money, markets, bargaining, prices and production. In this new and authoritative history, Roger Backhouse takes the story of economics from the Greeks to the dawn of the 21st century.


Chang, Ha-Joon.  Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism.  Bloomsbury Press, 2007.

       Unlike typical economists who construct models of how the marketplace should work, Chang examines the past: what has actually happened. His pungently contrarian history demolishes one pillar after another of free-market mythology. We treat patents and copyrights as sacrosanct—but developed our own industries by studiously copying others’ technologies. We insist that centrally planned economies stifle growth—but many developing countries had higher GDP growth before they were pressured into deregulating their economies. Both justice and common sense, Chang argues, demand that we reevaluate the policies we force on nations that are struggling to follow in our footsteps.


Chomsky, Noam and Robert W. McChesney.  Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order.  Seven Stories Press, 2011 (first published 1998)

       In Profit Over People, Noam Chomsky takes on neoliberalism: the pro-corporate system of economic and political policies presently waging a form of class war worldwide. By examining the contradictions between the democratic and market principles proclaimed by those in power and those actually practiced, Chomsky critiques the tyranny of the few that restricts the public arena and enacts policies that vastly increase private wealth, often with complete disregard for social and ecological consequences. Combining detailed historical examples and uncompromising criticism, Chomsky offers a profound sense of hope that social activism can reclaim people's rights as citizens rather than as consumers, redefining democracy as a global movement, not a global market.


Friedman, Milton.  Capitalism and Freedom.  University of Chicago Press, 2002 (first published 1962).

       How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat it poses to individual freedom? In this classic book, Milton Friedman provides the definitive statement of his immensely influential economic philosophy—one in which competitive capitalism serves as both a device for achieving economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom.


Galbraith, John Kenneth.  The Affluent Society.  Mariner Books, 1998.

       Why worship work and productivity if many of the goods we produce are superfluous - artificial 'needs' created by high-pressure advertising? Why begrudge expenditure on vital public works while ignoring waste and extravagance in the private sector of the economy? This title deals with these questions.  The Affluent Society looms large in American economic thought of the 20th century. The book itself is dedicated primarily to re-assessing the role of production in an economy of increasing affluence. Economics long ago acquired the unhappy designation as "the dismal science." This was derived from the observation by all famous early economists that economic life for the masses was inevitably harsh. Ricardo, Smith, and Marx all agreed that while a minority might enjoy abundance the majority were doomed to struggle for their very economic survival. As early as the 1950s Galbraith made the very simple point that the economic prospects of the masses are no longer dark. The average worker could (and still does) expect reasonable wages, a constant supply of luxury goods, and free time to enjoy these things. The modern economy is no longer a battle for simple survival but rather one over what an individual's share of excess production should be.


Gilpin, Robert and Jean M. Gilbert.  Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order.  Princeton University Press, 2001.

       Gilpin focuses on the powerful economic, political, and technological forces that have transformed the world. He gives particular attention to economic globalization, its real and alleged implications for economic affairs, and the degree to which its nature, extent, and significance have been exaggerated and misunderstood. Moreover, he demonstrates that national policies and domestic economies remain the most critical determinants of economic affairs. The book also stresses the importance of economic regionalism, multinational corporations, and financial upheavals.


Gourevitch, Peter A. and James Shinn.  Political Power and Corporate Control: The New Global Politics of Corporate Governance.  Princeton University Press, 2005.

       Why does corporate governance vary so dramatically around the world? This book explains how politics shapes corporate governance--how managers, shareholders, and workers jockey for advantage in setting the rules by which companies are run, and for whom they are run. It combines a clear theoretical model on this political interaction, with statistical evidence from thirty-nine countries of Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America and detailed narratives of country cases.


Harvey, David.  The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism.  Profile Books, 2010.

       Taking a long view of the current economic crisis, eminent academic David Harvey explains how capitalism came to dominate the world and why it resulted in the current financial crisis. For three centuries, the capitalist system has shaped western society, informed its rulers, and conditioned the lives of its people. Using his unrivalled knowledge of the subject, Harvey lays bare the follies of the international financial system, looking closely at the nature of capitalism, how it works and why sometimes it doesn't. He examines the vast flows of money that surge round the world in daily volumes well in excess of the sum of all its economies. He looks at the cycles of boom and bust in the world's housing and stock markets and shows that periodic episodes of meltdown are not only inevitable in the capitalist system but essential to its survival. The essence of capitalism is its amorality and lawlessness and to talk of a regulated, ethical capitalism is to make an error of reasoning of the most fundamental kind. The Enigma of Capital considers how crises of the current sort can best be contained within the constraints of capitalism, and makes the case for a social order that would allow us to live within a system that really could be responsible, just, and humane.


Hayek, Freidrich.  The Road to Serfdom.  University of Chicago Press, 1994 (first published 1944).

       A classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. Originally published in England in the spring of 1944, The Road to Serfdom was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would inevitably lead not to a utopia but to the horrors of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.


Heilbronner, Robert L. and James K. Galbraith.  The Nature and Logic of Capitalism.  W. W. Norton & Company, 1985.

       In search of an answer, The Nature and Logic of Capitalism takes us on a far-ranging exploration to the unconscious levels of the human psyche and the roots of domination and submission; to the organization of primitive society and the origins of wealth; to the sources of profit and the conception of a "regime" of capital; to the interplay of relatively slow-changing institutions and the powerful force of the accumulation of wealth. By the end of this tour we have grappled not only with ideas of Adam Smith and Karl Marx but with Freud and modern anthropologists as well. And we are far closer to understanding capitalism in our time, its possibilities and limits.


Keynes, John Maynard.  The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money.  Prometheus Books, 1997 (first published 1935)

       Distinguished British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) set off a series of movements that drastically altered the ways in which economists view the world. In his most important work, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936), Keynes critiqued the laissez-faire policies of his day, particularly the proposition that a normally functioning market economy would bring full employment. Keynes's forward-looking work transformed economics from merely a descriptive and analytic discipline into one that is policy oriented. For Keynes, enlightened government intervention in a nation's economic life was essential to curbing what he saw as the inherent inequalities and instabilities of unregulated capitalism.


Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels, Serge L. Levitsky (introduction).  Das Kapital.  Gateway editions, 1996 (first published 1867)

       At the heart of Sen's argument is a respect for reasoned differences in our understanding of what a "just society" really is. People of different persuasions--for example, utilitarians, economic egalitarians, labor right theorists, no--nonsense libertarians--might each reasonably see a clear and straightforward resolution to questions of justice; and yet, these clear and straightforward resolutions would be completely different. In light of this, Sen argues for a comparative perspective on justice that can guide us in the choice between alternatives that we inevitably face.  Here then is a fresh and highly readable version of a work whose ideas provided inspiration for communist regimes' ideological war against capitalism, a struggle that helped to shape the world today.


Mill, John Stuart.  Principles of Political Economy.  Prometheus Books, 2004 (first published 1848)

       Heavily influenced by the work of David Ricardo, and also taking ideas from Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus, Mill systematically demonstrated how important economic concepts could be applied to real-world situations. In his emphasis on realism, Mill thus took economics out of the realm of the abstract and placed it squarely within the context of society.  For instance, he made a convincing case that wages, rent, and profit are not necessarily the expression of immutable laws that are independent of society. Rather, they are in actuality the results of social institutions and as such can be changed if the members of a society move to break traditional institutional habits. Reflecting his utilitarian social philosophy, Mill suggested that social improvements are always possible. He thus proposed modifying a purely laissez faire system, advocating trade protectionism and regulation of employees’ work hours for the benefit of domestic industries and workers’ well-being. In such features he displayed a leaning toward socialism.  In summing up his objective for this massive work, Mill said later in his Autobiography (1873) that he wished "to unite the greatest individual liberty of action, with a common ownership in the raw material of the globe, and an equal participation of all in the benefits of combined labour." For anyone with an interest in the history of economics or the history of ideas, this landmark work of classical economics makes for stimulating and in many respects still very relevant reading.


North, Douglass C.  Structure and Change in Economic History.  W. W. Norton & Company, 1982.

       At the core of Professor North's investigation is the question of property rights, the arrangements individuals and groups have made through history to deal with the fundamental economic problem of scarce resources.  In six theoretical chapters, Professor North examines the structure of economic systems, outlines an economic theory of the state and the ideologies that undergird various modes of economic organization, and then explores the dynamic forces such as new technologies that cause institutions to adapt in order to survive. With this analytical framework in place, major phases in Western history come under careful reappraisal, from the origins of agriculture and the neolithic revolution through the political economy of the ancient and medieval worlds to the industrial revolution and the economic transformations of the twentieth century.


Olson, Mancur.  The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups.  Harvard University Press, 1974 (first published 1965).

       Mr. Olson examines the extent to which the individuals that share a common interest find it in their individual interest to bear the costs of the organizational effort.  The theory indicates that, though small groups can act to further their interest much more easily than large ones, they will tend to devote too few resources to the satisfaction of their common interests, and that there is a surprising tendency for the "lesser" members of the small group to exploit the "greater" members by making them bear a disproportionate share of the burden of any group action.


Picketty, Thomas.  Capital in the Twenty-First Century.  Belinda Press, 2014.

Piety analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. He shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality—the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth—today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piety says, and may do so again.


Polanyi, Karl.  The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time.  Beacon Press, 2001.

        In this classic work of economic history and social theory, Karl Polanyi analyzes the economic and social changes brought about by the "great transformation" of the Industrial Revolution. His analysis explains not only the deficiencies of the self-regulating market, but the potentially dire social consequences of untempered market capitalism. New introductory material reveals the renewed importance of Polanyi's seminal analysis in an era of globalization and free trade.


Sachs, Jeffrey D.  The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity.  Random House, 2010.

        Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities.  Yet Sachs goes deeper than an economic diagnosis. By taking a broad, holistic approach—looking at domestic politics, geopolitics, social psychology, and the natural environment as well—Sachs reveals the larger fissures underlying our country’s current crisis. He shows how Washington has consistently failed to address America’s economic needs. He describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. He also looks at the crisis in our culture, in which an overstimulated and consumption-driven populace in a ferocious quest for wealth now suffers shortfalls of social trust, honesty, and compassion.


Schumpeter. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy.  Harper Publishing, 2008 (first published 1950)

       Joseph A. Schumpeter introduced the world to the concept of “creative destruction,” which forever altered how global economics is approached and perceived. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy is essential read­ing for anyone who seeks to understand where the world economy is headed.


Sen, Amartya.  The Idea of Justice.  Belinda Press, 2009.

       The transcendental theory of justice, the subject of Sen's analysis, flourished in the Enlightenment and has proponents among some of the most distinguished philosophers of our day; it is concerned with identifying perfectly just social arrangements, defining the nature of the perfectly just society. The approach Sen favors, on the other hand, focuses on the comparative judgments of what is "more" or "less" just, and on the comparative merits of the different societies that actually emerge from certain institutions and social interactions.  At the heart of Sen's argument is a respect for reasoned differences in our understanding of what a "just society" really is. People of different persuasions--for example, utilitarians, economic egalitarians, labor right theorists, no--nonsense libertarians--might each reasonably see a clear and straightforward resolution to questions of justice; and yet, these clear and straightforward resolutions would be completely different. In light of this, Sen argues for a comparative perspective on justice that can guide us in the choice between alternatives that we inevitably face.


Smith, Adam.  The Wealth of Nations.  Bantam Classics, 2003 (first published 1776).

       An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations influenced a broad range of thinkers from David Ricardo to Karl Marx. Smith stresses the importance of the division of labor to economic progress. Opposing mercantilist monopolism, he offers a theoretical & historical case for free trade.


Stiglitz, Joseph E.  Globalization and Its Discontents.  W. W. Norton & Company, 2002.

       When it was first published, this national bestseller quickly became a touchstone in the globalization debate. Renowned economist and Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz had a ringside seat for most of the major economic events of the last decade, including stints as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and chief economist at the World Bank. Particularly concerned with the plight of the developing nations, he became increasingly disillusioned as he saw the International Monetary Fund and other major institutions put the interests of Wall Street and the financial community ahead of the poorer nations. Those seeking to understand why globalization has engendered the hostility of protesters in Seattle and Genoa will find the reasons here. While this book includes no simple formula on how to make globalization work, Stiglitz provides a reform agenda that will provoke debate for years to come.


Varoufakis, Yanis and Joseph Halevi and Nicholas J. Theocarakis. 

       Modern Political Economics has a single aim: To help readers make sense of how 2008 came about and what the post-2008 world has in store. The book is divided into two parts. The first part delves into every major economic theory, from Aristotle to the present, with a determination to discover clues of what went wrong in 2008. The main finding is that all economic theory is inherently flawed. Any system of ideas whose purpose is to describe capitalism in mathematical or engineering terms leads to inevitable logical inconsistency; an inherent error that stands between us and a decent grasp of capitalist reality. The only scientific truth about capitalism is its radical indeterminacy, a condition which makes it impossible to use science's tools (e.g. calculus and statistics) to second-guess it. The second part casts an attentive eye on the post-war era; on the breeding ground of the Crash of 2008. It distinguishes between two major post-war phases: The Global Plan (1947-1971) and the Global Minotaur (1971-2008). This dynamic new book delves into every major economic theory and maps out meticulously the trajectory that global capitalism followed from post-war almost centrally planned stability, to designed disintegration in the 1970s, to an intentional magnification of unsustainable imbalances in the 1980s and, finally, to the most spectacular privatization of money in the 1990s and beyond. Modern Political Economics is essential reading for Economics students and anyone seeking a better understanding of Political Economy.


Wilkinson, Richard G. and Kate E. Pickett.  The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better.  Allen Lane, 2009.

       A groundbreaking work on the root cause of our ills, which is changing the way politicians think. Why do we mistrust people more in the UK than in Japan? Why do Americans have higher rates of teenage pregnancy than the French? What makes the Swedish thinner than the Greeks? The answer: inequality. This groundbreaking book, based on years of research, provides hard evidence to show how almost everything—-from life expectancy to depression levels, violence to illiteracy-—is affected not by how wealthy a society is, but how equal it is. Urgent, provocative and genuinely uplifting, The Spirit Level has been heralded as providing a new way of thinking about ourselves and our communities, and could change the way you see the world.



Political Psychology


Camus, Albert.  The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt.  Vintage, 1992 (first published 1951)

The Rebel is a classic essay on revolution. For Albert Camus, the urge to revolt is one of the "essential dimensions" of human nature, manifested in man's timeless Promethean struggle against the conditions of his existence, as well as the popular uprisings against established orders throughout history. And yet, with an eye toward the French Revolution and its regicides and decides, he shows how inevitably the course of revolution leads to tyranny. As old regimes throughout the world collapse, The Rebel resonates as an ardent, eloquent, and supremely rational voice of conscience for our tumultuous times.


Freud, Sigmund.  Civilization and Its Discontents.  Norton and Co.,  2010 (first published 1928.

Sigmund Freud, whatever the variations in his posthumous reputation, remains the most compelling, daring, and persuasive analyst of the human condition we have. His psychoanalytic theories of sexuality, sublimation, repression, etc., offer original insights that profoundly influenced the course of Western consciousness in the 20th century. "Civilization and Its Discontents," one of Freud's last works, remains one of his most vital and important. Although relatively brief, this is a deeply complex and wide-ranging examination of Western civilization and its tensions. Freud speculates about the origins of our modern societies, the difficulties of assimilating ourselves to them given our own individual psyches, and ends the book with a rather pessimistic look forward.


Fromm, Erich.  Escape From Freedom.  Holt Paperbacks, 1994 (first published 1941)

        If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism. This is the central idea of Escape from Freedom, a landmark work by one of the most distinguished thinkers of our time, and a book that is as timely now as when first published in 1941. Few books have thrown such light upon the forces that shape modern society or penetrated so deeply into the causes of authoritarian systems. If the rise of democracy set some people free, at the same time it gave birth to a society in which the individual feels alienated and dehumanized. Using the insights of psychoanalysis as probing agents, Fromm’s work analyzes the illness of contemporary civilization as witnessed by its willingness to submit to totalitarian rule.


Glassner, Barry.  The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things.  Basic Books, 2000

        In this eye-opening examination of a pathology that has swept the country, the noted sociologist Barry Glassner reveals why Americans are burdened with overblown fears. He exposes the people and organizations that manipulate our perceptions and profit from our anxieties: politicians who win elections by heightening concerns about crime and drug use even as both are declining; advocacy groups that raise money by exaggerating the prevalence of particular diseases; TV news-magazines that monger a new scare every week to garner ratings.


Haidt, Johnathan.  The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.  Pantheon, 2012.

        An investigation into the moral bases of religion and politics; Haidt demonstrates how gut moral feelings both allow for human cooperation and create eternal divisions and conflicts.  He shows how liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have different, but also largely correct, intuitions about right and wrong.


Huddy, Leonie and David Sears (eds.).  The Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology.  Oxford University Press, 2013. 

        Political psychology applies what is known about human psychology to the study of politics. It examines how people reach political decisions on topics such as voting, party identification, and political attitudes as well as how leaders mediate political conflicts and make foreign policy decisions. The Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology gathers together a distinguished group of scholars from around the world to shed light on these vital questions. Focusing first on political psychology at the individual level (attitudes, values, decision-making, ideology, personality) and then moving to the collective (group identity, mass mobilization, political violence), this fully interdisciplinary volume covers models of the mass public and political elites and addresses both domestic issues and foreign policy.


Iyangar, Shanto and Donald Kinder.  News That Matters: Television and American Opinion.  University of Chicago Press, 1989.

        News That Matters demonstrates conclusively that television newscasts powerfully affect opinion.  This relatively brief but seminal work is an excellent introduction to the study of the media, communication, and politics. Experimental design demonstrates the media has the ability to set the national agenda, prime what people think is important within issues, and frame the way we think about the world.


Janis, Irving L.  Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes.  Cengage Learning, 1982.

        This classic of social psychology is based on the idea that people in groups might think differently and by implication less well than they would have thought as individuals on the same issue at the same time. That is probably true for some groups at some times just as it is also probably true that some groups at some times might actually think better than any individual member of that group. In fact, most of the evidence cited in this book supports the idea that group thinking, like thinking in general, goes awry when there is a failure to evaluate all the available evidence for relevance and sufficiency in quality, quantity, and weight. When a group or an individual fails to evaluate the evidence, then the group or the individual reaches a decision not justified by the data and vice versa. Failure to perceive the reality, as demonstrated by evidence, has tremendous adverse consequences as is so well illustrated by Janis' detailed account of the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Correct evaluation of the data, as demonstrated by evidence, has tremendous beneficial consequences as is so well illustrated by Janis' detailed account of the Cuban Misssile crisis.


Kinder, Donald and Cindy Kam.  Us Against Them: Ethnocentric Foundation of American Opinion.  University of Chicago Press, 20.

        Ethnocentrism, our tendency to partition the human world into in-groups and out-groups, pervades societies around the world.  Arguing that humans are broadly predisposed to ethnocentrism, Kinder and Kam explore its impact on our attitudes toward an array of issues, including the war on terror, humanitarian assistance, immigration, the sanctity of marriage, and the reform of social programs. The authors ground their study in previous theories from a wide range of disciplines, establishing a new framework for understanding what ethnocentrism is and how it becomes politically consequential. They also marshal a vast trove of survey evidence to identify the conditions under which ethnocentrism shapes public opinion. While ethnocentrism is widespread in the United States, the authors demonstrate that its political relevance depends on circumstance.  Exploring the implications of these findings for political knowledge, cosmopolitanism, and societies outside the United States, Kinder and Kam add a new dimension to our understanding of how democracy functions.


Lakoff, George.  The Political Mind: Why You Can’t Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain.  Viking, 2008.

        In What's the Matter with Kansas?, Thomas Frank pointed out that a great number of Americans actually vote against their own interests. In The Political Mind, George Lakoff explains why. As it turns out, human beings are not the rational creatures we've so long imagined ourselves to be. Ideas, morals, and values do not exist somewhere outside the body, ready to be examined and put to use. Instead, they exist quite literally inside the brain and they take physical shape there. For example, we form particular kinds of narratives in our minds just like we form specific muscle memories such as typing or dancing, and then we fit new information into those narratives. Getting that information out of one narrative type and into another or building a whole new narrative altogether can be as hard as learning to play the banjo. Changing your mind isn't like changing your body it's the same thing. But as long as progressive politicians and activists persist in believing that people use an objective system of reasoning to decide on their politics, the Democrats will continue to lose elections. They must wrest control of the terms of the debate from their opponents rather than accepting their frame and trying to argue within it. This passionate, erudite, and groundbreaking book will appeal to readers of Steven Pinker and Thomas Frank. It is a fascinating read for anyone interested in how the mind works, how society works, and how they work together.


Lodge, Milton and Charles S. Taber.  The Rationalizing Voter.  Cambridge University Press, 2013.

        Political behavior is the result of innumerable unnoticed forces and conscious deliberation is often a rationalization of automatically triggered feelings and thoughts. Citizens are very sensitive to environmental contextual factors such as the title President preceding Obama in a newspaper headline, upbeat music or patriotic symbols accompanying a campaign ad, or question wording and order in a survey, all of which have their greatest influence when citizens are unaware. This book develops and tests a dual-process theory of political beliefs, attitudes, and behavior, claiming that all thinking, feeling, reasoning, and doing have an automatic component as well as a conscious deliberative component. The authors are especially interested in the impact of automatic feelings on political judgments and evaluations. This research is based on laboratory experiments, which allow the testing of five basic hypotheses: hot cognition, automaticity, affect transfer, affect contagion, and motivated reasoning."


Pratkanis, Anthony and Elliot Aronson.  Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion.  Holt Paperbacks, 2001 (first published 1991)

        Persuasion has always been integral to the democratic process, but increasingly, thoughtful discussion is being replaced with simplistic soundbites and manipulative messages.  Drawing on the history of propaganda as well as on contemporary research in social psychology, Age of Propaganda shows how the tactics used by political campaigners, sales agents, advertisers, televangelists, demagogues, and others often take advantage of our emotions by appealing to our deepest fears and most irrational hopes, creating a distorted vision of the world we live in.


Sniderman, Brody, and Tetlock.  Reasoning and Choice: Explorations in Political Psychology.  Cambridge University Press, 1993. 

        Drawing on a multitude of data sets and building on analyses carried out over more than a decade, Reasoning and Choice offers a major new theoretical explanation of how ordinary citizens figure out what they favor and oppose politically. Reacting against the conventional wisdom, which stresses how little attention the general public pays to political issues and the lack of consistency in their political opinions, the studies presented in this book redirect attention to the processes of reasoning that can be discerned when people are confronted with choices about political issues. These studies demonstrate that ordinary people are in fact capable of reasoning dependably about political issues by the use of judgmental heuristics, even if they have only a limited knowledge of politics and of specific issues. An important point is that both the well-educated and the less-educated use heuristics in political reasoning, but that the well-educated tend to employ different heuristics and take into account more factors in their consideration of issues.


Tetlock, Philip E.  Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It?  How Can We Know?,  Princeton University Press, 2005.

        The intelligence failures surrounding the invasion of Iraq dramatically illustrate the necessity of developing standards for evaluating expert opinion. This book fills that need. Here, Philip E. Tetlock explores what constitutes good judgment in predicting future events, and looks at why experts are often wrong in their forecasts.  Tetlock first discusses arguments about whether the world is too complex for people to find the tools to understand political phenomena, let alone predict the future. He evaluates predictions from experts in different fields, comparing them to predictions by well-informed laity or those based on simple extrapolation from current trends. He goes on to analyze which styles of thinking are more successful in forecasting. Classifying thinking styles using Isaiah Berlin's prototypes of the fox and the hedgehog, Tetlock contends that the fox--the thinker who knows many little things, draws from an eclectic array of traditions, and is better able to improvise in response to changing events--is more successful in predicting the future than the hedgehog, who knows one big thing, toils devotedly within one tradition, and imposes formulaic solutions on ill-defined problems. He notes a perversely inverse relationship between the best scientific indicators of good judgment and the qualities that the media most prizes in pundits--the single-minded determination required to prevail in ideological combat.


Tuschman, Avi.  Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us.  Prometheus Books, 2013.

Our Political Nature is the first book to reveal the hidden roots of our most deeply held moral values. It shows how political orientations across space and time arise from three clusters of measurable personality traits. These clusters entail opposing attitudes toward tribalism, inequality, and differing perceptions of human nature. Together, these traits are by far the most powerful cause of left-right voting, even leading people to regularly vote against their economic interests. As this book explains, our political personalities also influence our likely choice of a mate, and shape society's larger reproductive patterns. Most importantly of all, it tells the evolutionary stories of these crucial personality traits, which stem from epic biological conflicts.  By blending serious research with relevant contemporary examples, Our Political Nature casts important light onto the ideological clashes that so dangerously divide and imperil our world today.



Wallas, Graham.  Human Nature in Politics.  Timeless Classic Books, 2010 (first published 1920).

       Wallas argues that a social-psychological analysis could explain the problems created by the impact of the industrial revolution on modern society. He contrasts the role of nature and nurture in modern society, concluding that humanity must depend largely on the improvements in nurture, and put his faith in the development of stronger international operation.


Westen, Drew.  The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation.  Public Affairs, 2007.

       The Political Brain is a groundbreaking investigation into the role of emotion in determining the political life of the nation. Westen shows, through a whistle-stop journey through the evolution of the passionate brain and a bravura tour through fifty years of American presidential and national elections, why campaigns succeed and fail. The evidence is overwhelming that three things determine how people vote, in this order: their feelings toward the parties and their principles, their feelings toward the candidates, and, if they haven't decided by then, their feelings toward the candidates' policy positions.


Winter, Nicholas.  Dangerous Frames: How Ideas About Race and Gender Shape Public Opinion.  University of Chicago Press, 2008.

       In addition to their obvious roles in American politics, race and gender also work in hidden ways to profoundly influence the way we think—and vote—about a vast array of issues that don’t seem related to either category. As Nicholas Winter reveals in Dangerous Frames, politicians and leaders often frame these seemingly unrelated issues in ways that prime audiences to respond not to the policy at hand but instead to the way its presentation resonates with their deeply held beliefs about race and gender. Winter shows, for example, how official rhetoric about welfare and Social Security has tapped into white Americans’ racial biases to shape their opinions on both issues for the past two decades. Similarly, the way politicians presented health care reform in the 1990s divided Americans along the lines of their attitudes toward gender. Combining cognitive and political psychology with innovative empirical research, Dangerous Frames ultimately illuminates the emotional underpinnings of American politics.






Last Updated: 06/16/2015
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