100 books like A Brief History of Neoliberalism

By David Harvey,

Here are 100 books that A Brief History of Neoliberalism fans have personally recommended if you like A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time

Vinícius Guilherme Rodrigues Vieira Author Of Shaping Nations and Markets: Identity Capital, Trade, and the Populist Rage

From my list on understanding the transformation of capitalism and globalisation.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since 2008, I have conducted research on themes related to International Political Economy. I am currently the co-chair of the research committee on this topic at the International Political Science Association (IPSA) and am passionate about making sense of the interplay between material and symbolic factors that shape capitalism and globalisation. Being based in Brazil, I was stuck when the country—which did not have salient identity cleavages in politics—came to be, after 2008, a hotspot of religious-based right-wing populism associated with the defence of trade liberalisation as globalisation started to face meaningful backlash from White-majority constituencies who are relatively losers of the post-Cold War order in the advanced industrialised democracies.

Vinícius' book list on understanding the transformation of capitalism and globalisation

Vinícius Guilherme Rodrigues Vieira Why did Vinícius love this book?

As post-Cold War globalisation seems to face its fate, I always go back to this book as it offers lessons on the perils of taking for granted economic rationality. The 19th-century liberal order crumbled, and fascism emerged as a solution. In the same vein, is far-right populism a reaction against the consequences of neoliberalism?

Although he does not bring to the centre stage the impact of ethnic-religious cleavages, such a shortcoming only made me wonder whether his riveting account of modernity applies nowadays.

By Karl Polanyi,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Great Transformation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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.


Book cover of The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition

Adam Kotsko Author Of Neoliberalism's Demons: On the Political Theology of Late Capital

From my list on understanding neoliberalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up outside of Flint, Michigan, which during my lifetime went from being a pretty nice place to live to being a perpetual basket case that still doesn’t have clean water. I’ve always been very concerned with the question of what went wrong, and very early in my graduate education, it became clear to me that the neoliberal agenda that started under Reagan has been at the root of the economic rot and destruction that has afflicted Flint and so many other places. That personal connection, combined with my background in theology, makes me well-suited to talk about how political belief systems “hook” us, even when they hurt us.

Adam's book list on understanding neoliberalism

Adam Kotsko Why did Adam love this book?

Davies offers an exceptionally clear and useful definition of neoliberalism: “the disenchantment of politics by economics.” But what really makes this book valuable is the research he has conducted on the office culture of the government officials who are actually implementing neoliberal policy—how they think, what they believe they’re achieving, and how they sometimes deviate from the letter of neoliberal theory while remaining true to its spirit.

By William Davies,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Limits of Neoliberalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brilliant...explains how the rhetoric of competition has invaded almost every domain of our existence."
-Evgeny Morozov, author of To Save Everything, Click Here"

"In this fascinating book Davies inverts the conventional neoliberal practice of treating politics as if it were mere epiphenomenon of market theory, demonstrating that their version of economics is far better understood as the pursuit of politics by other means."
-Professor Philip Mirowski, University of Notre Dame

"A sparkling, original, and provocative analysis of neoliberalism. It offers a distinctive account of the diverse, sometimes contradictory, conventions and justifications that lend authority to the extension of the spirit…


Book cover of Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution

Adam Kotsko Author Of Neoliberalism's Demons: On the Political Theology of Late Capital

From my list on understanding neoliberalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up outside of Flint, Michigan, which during my lifetime went from being a pretty nice place to live to being a perpetual basket case that still doesn’t have clean water. I’ve always been very concerned with the question of what went wrong, and very early in my graduate education, it became clear to me that the neoliberal agenda that started under Reagan has been at the root of the economic rot and destruction that has afflicted Flint and so many other places. That personal connection, combined with my background in theology, makes me well-suited to talk about how political belief systems “hook” us, even when they hurt us.

Adam's book list on understanding neoliberalism

Adam Kotsko Why did Adam love this book?

More than most authors on neoliberalism, Brown takes it seriously as a philosophy and worldview that aims to reshape human society and our individual sense of self. Drawing on classic philosophers like Aristotle, Marx, and Arendt, she argues that neoliberalism is hollowing our sense of what it means to be human by turning us all into hyper-competitive, self-marketing, self-branding drones. I wind up arguing with her a lot in my book, but whether you wind up agreeing or disagreeing with her, she’s an essential point of reference.

By Wendy Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Undoing the Demos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Neoliberal rationality ― ubiquitous today in statecraft and the workplace, in jurisprudence, education, and culture ― remakes everything and everyone in the image of homo oeconomicus. What happens when this rationality transposes the constituent elements of democracy into an economic register? In vivid detail, Wendy Brown explains how democracy itself is imperiled.

The demos disintegrates into bits of human capital; concerns with justice cede to the mandates of growth rates, credit ratings, and investment climates; liberty submits to the imperative of human capital appreciation; equality dissolves into market competition; and popular sovereignty grows incoherent. Liberal democratic practices may not survive…


Book cover of Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism

Adam Kotsko Author Of Neoliberalism's Demons: On the Political Theology of Late Capital

From my list on understanding neoliberalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up outside of Flint, Michigan, which during my lifetime went from being a pretty nice place to live to being a perpetual basket case that still doesn’t have clean water. I’ve always been very concerned with the question of what went wrong, and very early in my graduate education, it became clear to me that the neoliberal agenda that started under Reagan has been at the root of the economic rot and destruction that has afflicted Flint and so many other places. That personal connection, combined with my background in theology, makes me well-suited to talk about how political belief systems “hook” us, even when they hurt us.

Adam's book list on understanding neoliberalism

Adam Kotsko Why did Adam love this book?

Most commentators see neoliberalism as primarily an economic project that tries to overcome old cultural prejudices and divisions. Cooper shows us that beneath this cosmopolitan façade, neoliberalism has always been about reinforcing traditional hierarchies of race, gender, and sexuality. Through a painstaking review of the actual roll-out of neoliberal policy from Reagan to Obama, she shows that racism, sexism, homophobia, and nationalism are not outdated “leftovers” from a previous era but an essential part of the neoliberal order.

By Melinda Cooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Family Values as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An investigation of the roots of the alliance between free-market neoliberals and social conservatives.

Why was the discourse of family values so pivotal to the conservative and free-market revolution of the 1980s and why has it continued to exert such a profound influence on American political life? Why have free-market neoliberals so often made common cause with social conservatives on the question of family, despite their differences on all other issues? In this book, Melinda Cooper challenges the idea that neoliberalism privileges atomized individualism over familial solidarities, and contractual freedom over inherited status. Delving into the history of the American…


Book cover of Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism

Jeremy Appel Author Of Kenneyism: Jason Kenney's Pursuit of Power

From my list on understanding the political moment we’re in.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist in Edmonton, Canada, who covered former premier Jason Kenney’s rise through Alberta politics, in which he tapped into the populist zeitgeist of Donald Trump and Brexit, and his eventual implosion. I have a newsletter on Substack, "The Orchard," where I cover the intersection of politics, the media, and corporate power. Through my journalism, I’ve developed a keen interest in this age of mass discontent we find ourselves in, with right-wing political and economic elites promising to blow up the entire system they embody while feckless liberal politicians seek to tinker around the edges to make the established order more palatable. 

Jeremy's book list on understanding the political moment we’re in

Jeremy Appel Why did Jeremy love this book?

Borders are far more than mere demarcations of territory, argues Canadian academic and activist Harsha Walia in a book I greatly appreciated for connecting seemingly disparate phenomena into a cohesive takedown of the modern state and its service of corporate power.

The conventional wisdom that corporate globalization eliminates national boundaries is only true, Walia explains, for an increasingly mobile global ruling class. For a global underclass of migrant labourers and asylum seekers, borders are increasingly entrenched, segregating newcomers as a source of cheap labour from the working class and fuelling the exploitation of both.

Walia describes how this segmentation undermines labour standards for all and fuels a xenophobic backlash against the depredations of global capitalism. 

By Harsha Walia,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Border and Rule as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Border and Rule, one of North America's foremost thinkers and immigrant rights organizers delivers an unflinching examination of migration as a pillar of global governance and gendered racial class formation.

Harsha Walia disrupts easy explanations for the migrant and refugee crises, instead showing them to be the inevitable outcomes of conquest, capitalist globalization, and climate change generating mass dispossession worldwide. Border and Rule explores a number of seemingly disparate global geographies with shared logics of border rule that displace, immobilize, criminalize, exploit, and expel migrants and refugees. With her keen ability to connect the dots, Walia demonstrates how borders…


Book cover of The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump

Jeremy Appel Author Of Kenneyism: Jason Kenney's Pursuit of Power

From my list on understanding the political moment we’re in.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist in Edmonton, Canada, who covered former premier Jason Kenney’s rise through Alberta politics, in which he tapped into the populist zeitgeist of Donald Trump and Brexit, and his eventual implosion. I have a newsletter on Substack, "The Orchard," where I cover the intersection of politics, the media, and corporate power. Through my journalism, I’ve developed a keen interest in this age of mass discontent we find ourselves in, with right-wing political and economic elites promising to blow up the entire system they embody while feckless liberal politicians seek to tinker around the edges to make the established order more palatable. 

Jeremy's book list on understanding the political moment we’re in

Jeremy Appel Why did Jeremy love this book?

Corey Robin takes the long view on the history of modern conservatism in this book. Outlining conservatism has constantly adapted in reaction to social progress since its inception in the wake of the French Revolution in the late-18th century, Robin identifies the goal of conservative politics as salvaging whatever it can of the old social order.

I found this book particularly useful in identifying how seemingly contradictory trends—such as a focus on reducing government spending while ramping up militarism abroad—can co-exist in conservative thought. This inherent flexibility reveals Donald Trump to be less an aberration than the next evolutionary phase for conservative politics.  

By Corey Robin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Reactionary Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Late in life, William F. Buckley made a confession to Corey Robin. Capitalism is "boring," said the founding father of the American right. "Devoting your life to it," as conservatives do, "is horrifying if only because it's so repetitious. It's like sex." With this unlikely conversation began Robin's decade-long foray into the conservative mind. What is conservatism, and what's truly at stake for its proponents? If capitalism bores them, what excites them?

Tracing conservatism back to its roots in the reaction against the French Revolution, Robin argues that the right is fundamentally inspired by a hostility to emancipating the lower…


Book cover of Age of Anger: A History of the Present

Jeremy Appel Author Of Kenneyism: Jason Kenney's Pursuit of Power

From my list on understanding the political moment we’re in.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist in Edmonton, Canada, who covered former premier Jason Kenney’s rise through Alberta politics, in which he tapped into the populist zeitgeist of Donald Trump and Brexit, and his eventual implosion. I have a newsletter on Substack, "The Orchard," where I cover the intersection of politics, the media, and corporate power. Through my journalism, I’ve developed a keen interest in this age of mass discontent we find ourselves in, with right-wing political and economic elites promising to blow up the entire system they embody while feckless liberal politicians seek to tinker around the edges to make the established order more palatable. 

Jeremy's book list on understanding the political moment we’re in

Jeremy Appel Why did Jeremy love this book?

In this book, Pankaj Mishraj describes how the failures of secular modernity led to the rise of revanchist movements seeking to provide those left behind with a common sense of purpose.

I greatly appreciated the international scope of Mishraj’s analysis, with which he reveals how the growth of reactionary, theocratic, and xenophobic populist politics across the globe are manifestations of the same sense of malaise.

He convincingly argues that these tensions are as old as modernity itself. Rather than engaging strictly with the same old historical and sociological sources to make his case, the author refreshingly engages the poets and novelists of the era he describes.

By Pankaj Mishra,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Age of Anger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE 2018

NEW STATESMAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2017

'The kind of vision the world needs right now...Pankaj Mishra shouldn't stop thinking' Christopher de Bellaigue, Financial Times

'This is the most astonishing, convincing, and disturbing book I've read in years' Joe Sacco

'Urgent, profound and extraordinarily timely' John Banville

How can we explain the origins of the great wave of paranoid hatreds that seem inescapable in our close-knit world - from American 'shooters' and ISIS to Trump, from a rise in vengeful nationalism across the world to racism and misogyny on social media? In Age of…


Book cover of The Trudeau Formula: Seduction and Betrayal in an Age of Discontent

Jeremy Appel Author Of Kenneyism: Jason Kenney's Pursuit of Power

From my list on understanding the political moment we’re in.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist in Edmonton, Canada, who covered former premier Jason Kenney’s rise through Alberta politics, in which he tapped into the populist zeitgeist of Donald Trump and Brexit, and his eventual implosion. I have a newsletter on Substack, "The Orchard," where I cover the intersection of politics, the media, and corporate power. Through my journalism, I’ve developed a keen interest in this age of mass discontent we find ourselves in, with right-wing political and economic elites promising to blow up the entire system they embody while feckless liberal politicians seek to tinker around the edges to make the established order more palatable. 

Jeremy's book list on understanding the political moment we’re in

Jeremy Appel Why did Jeremy love this book?

I regard Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the embodiment of an empty progressive politics that is far more concerned with style over substance.

Martin Lukacs does a great job in The Trudeau Formula of outlining how Trudeau’s combination of soaring rhetoric and tepid reform on issues like economic inequality, Indigenous reconciliation, and the climate crisis works to stave off the more systemic changes needed to address these concerns in a substantive way.

Lukacs aptly demonstrates how Trudeau serves to uphold the status quo while presenting himself as an agent of transformative change. 

By Martin Lukacs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Trudeau Formula as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The book is not a biography of Justin Trudeau, nor is it a treatment of the minutiae and manoeuvres of party politics. It is an investigation into how the Liberal government governs in the shadow of a silent, multi-decade corporate coup in Ottawa that dares not speak its name. It tells the hidden history of how the Liberal party has served as the most effective vehicle for implementing deeply unpopular neoliberal policies--and how Justin Trudeau continues this agenda today."--


Book cover of Living a Feminist Life

Dawn Woolley Author Of Consuming the Body: Capitalism, Social Media and Commodification

From my list on consumer culture and tearing it down.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a feminist for as long as I can remember. I recall seeing a billboard featuring Sophie Dahl sprawling on a sofa, completely naked. I recognized that I had no control over the images that dominate the visual landscape I inhabit, and I wanted to change this. These books might seem varied, but they all critique aspects of contemporary culture and offer ways to change things. In my academic writing and artwork, I examine these issues through a queer, feminist, and anti-capitalist lens, and these books offer a glimpse into the struggles that I think are important and the methods for change that I think could work.

Dawn's book list on consumer culture and tearing it down

Dawn Woolley Why did Dawn love this book?

I love this book because it is written in a poetic and accessible way to talk about a subject that I am really passionate about. It is genuinely a joy to read, and I couldn’t put it down. It also helped me when I was writing the conclusion of my book. I wanted to end on positive actions rather than a summary of everything that is wrong with the world.

Ahmed’s book is an instruction book and a call to arms. The conclusion is in two parts, and the first part, A Killjoy Survival Kit, contains a list of things that will make the feminist struggle easier to handleincluding books by your favorite feminist. This one is definitely in my survival kit. 

By Sara Ahmed,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Living a Feminist Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Living a Feminist Life Sara Ahmed shows how feminist theory is generated from everyday life and the ordinary experiences of being a feminist at home and at work. Building on legacies of feminist of color scholarship in particular, Ahmed offers a poetic and personal meditation on how feminists become estranged from worlds they critique-often by naming and calling attention to problems-and how feminists learn about worlds from their efforts to transform them. Ahmed also provides her most sustained commentary on the figure of the feminist killjoy introduced in her earlier work while showing how feminists create inventive solutions-such as…


Book cover of Advertising Shits In Your Head: Strategies for Resistance

Dawn Woolley Author Of Consuming the Body: Capitalism, Social Media and Commodification

From my list on consumer culture and tearing it down.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a feminist for as long as I can remember. I recall seeing a billboard featuring Sophie Dahl sprawling on a sofa, completely naked. I recognized that I had no control over the images that dominate the visual landscape I inhabit, and I wanted to change this. These books might seem varied, but they all critique aspects of contemporary culture and offer ways to change things. In my academic writing and artwork, I examine these issues through a queer, feminist, and anti-capitalist lens, and these books offer a glimpse into the struggles that I think are important and the methods for change that I think could work.

Dawn's book list on consumer culture and tearing it down

Dawn Woolley Why did Dawn love this book?

This book appeals to me as both an academic and an artist. In my art practice, I critique gender stereotypes in commercial and commodity culture, and this book provides a brief history of advertising and why it is bad for societies, followed by brilliant creative case studies of activist artists and artworks.

It contains lots of images of poster campaigns and graphic designs that uncover the ways that adverts play with our fears and desires–a subject that I talk about in relation to body and beauty ideals in my book. The artists in this book are very clever and hugely talented, so the book is a constant source of inspiration.

By Vyvian Raoul, Matt Bonner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Advertising Shits In Your Head as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Advertising Shits in Your Head calls adverts what they are—a powerful means of control through manipulation—and highlights how people across the world are fighting back. It diagnoses the problem and offers practical tips for a DIY remedy. Faced with an ad-saturated world, activists are fighting back, equipped with stencils, printers, high-visibility vests, and utility tools. Their aim is to subvert the adverts that control us.

With case studies from both sides of the Atlantic, this book showcases the ways in which small groups of activists are taking on corporations and states at their own game: propaganda. This international edition includes…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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