100 books like Oil, the State, and War

By Emma Ashford,

Here are 100 books that Oil, the State, and War fans have personally recommended if you like Oil, the State, and War. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Liar's Poker

Paddy Hirsch Author Of The Devil's Half Mile

From my list on glimpse into the dark heart of the financial markets (without being bored to tears).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a career financial and business journalist, only recently turned novelist. I’m obsessed with the way that history repeats itself in the financial markets and that we never seem to learn our lessons. Fear and greed have always driven the behavior of bankers, traders, and investors; and they still do today, only barely inhibited by our regulatory system. I want to help people understand how markets work, and I like combining fiction with fact to explain these systems and how they’re abused. With that in mind, I work during the day as a reporter at NPR and by night as a scribbler of historical fiction with a financial twist.

Paddy's book list on glimpse into the dark heart of the financial markets (without being bored to tears)

Paddy Hirsch Why did Paddy love this book?

I love this book because it reads like a fictional tale about the modern financial markets, and yet it’s all absolutely true!

I am still staggered by some of the stories that Lewis tells about the real-life characters who worked on Wall Street back in the 1980s. And I’m in awe of the colorful way he describes and explains the way the bond markets work—no easy task.

Not only did he bring the go-go days of the 80s to life for me, but he also gave me a solid grounding in the machinations of the financial markets, helping me in both my writing and journalism careers.

By Michael Lewis,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Liar's Poker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michael Lewis was fresh out of Princeton and the London School of Economics when he landed a job at Salomon Brothers, one of Wall Street's premier investment firms. During the next three years, Lewis rose from callow trainee to bond salesman, raking in millions for the firm and cashing in on a modern-day gold rush. Liar's Poker is the culmination of those heady, frenzied years-a behind-the-scenes look at a unique and turbulent time in American business. From the frat-boy camaraderie of the forty-first-floor trading room to the killer instinct that made ambitious young men gamble everything on a high-stakes game…


Book cover of Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism

Amy Myers Jaffe Author Of Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises: The Global Curse of Black Gold

From my list on why oil and global banking crises happen at the same time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career as a business journalist writing about Arab finance and oil at a time when few women were in that industry. Rather improbably, perhaps, I became well-known for correctly predicting trends – geopolitical and geo-economical. In my thirties, I shifted to the academy, becoming a director of energy research at Rice University in Houston and subsequently a sought-after advisor to government, corporations, and financial institutions. I wrote my first paper on oil crises while in high school (winning third prize in a state term paper contest) and have never left the subject. Now more than ever, the public needs to understand the real facts behind oil and financial crises. 

Amy's book list on why oil and global banking crises happen at the same time

Amy Myers Jaffe Why did Amy love this book?

One of the disadvantages to writing a book with any economics in it is just that, readers need to know a little economics to get the most out of your book.

But to grasp how oil and the dollar interact and why we wind up in repeating financial crises, you don’t have to go back and reread Keynes and Irving Fischer (on interest rates). In 2009, Nobel Prize-winning economists George Akerlof and Robert Shiller wrote this easy-to-read and easy-to-understand book that critiques traditional economics (e.g. it’s dependence on “rational” actors) and dissects the building blocks one needs to know to grasp the ins and outs of economic cycles.

Importantly, they explain why people continue to believe they can make a fortune by investing at the top of the market (the confidence multiplier and contagion). Their book leads the reader through the basics on how bubbles (irrational exuberance) and panics ensue…

By George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The global financial crisis has made it painfully clear that powerful psychological forces are imperiling the wealth of nations today. From blind faith in ever-rising housing prices to plummeting confidence in capital markets, "animal spirits" are driving financial events worldwide. In this book, acclaimed economists George Akerlof and Robert Shiller challenge the economic wisdom that got us into this mess, and put forward a bold new vision that will transform economics and restore prosperity. Akerlof and Shiller reassert the necessity of an active government role in economic policymaking by recovering the idea of animal spirits, a term John Maynard Keynes…


Book cover of Partial Hegemony: Oil Politics and International Order

Amy Myers Jaffe Author Of Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises: The Global Curse of Black Gold

From my list on why oil and global banking crises happen at the same time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career as a business journalist writing about Arab finance and oil at a time when few women were in that industry. Rather improbably, perhaps, I became well-known for correctly predicting trends – geopolitical and geo-economical. In my thirties, I shifted to the academy, becoming a director of energy research at Rice University in Houston and subsequently a sought-after advisor to government, corporations, and financial institutions. I wrote my first paper on oil crises while in high school (winning third prize in a state term paper contest) and have never left the subject. Now more than ever, the public needs to understand the real facts behind oil and financial crises. 

Amy's book list on why oil and global banking crises happen at the same time

Amy Myers Jaffe Why did Amy love this book?

Most international relations scholars see oil as a side show that doesn’t fit into their big picture balance of power paradigms.

Colgan breaks the mold to narrate how the history of oil crises reveals core truths about international relations and how different-sized countries can use coercion within a subsystem to assert influence over larger powers.

Colgan attacks his field’s Mearsheimerisque, longstanding premise that military security and strategic considerations exclusively drive geopolitical relations. Instead, he utilizes oil geopolitics as a subsystem to show how countries coerce each other through a larger variety of means (military, economic, and leadership selection, to name three) with a wider variety of goals.

In my view, Colgan’s subsystem model allows for a deeper understanding of what motivates countries and what tools they have to influence each other to gain strategic benefits.   

By Jeff D. Colgan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The global history of oil politics, from World War I to the present, can teach us much about world politics, climate change, and international order in the twenty-first century.

When and why does international order change? The largest peaceful transfer of wealth across borders in all of human history began with the oil crisis of 1973. OPEC countries turned the tables on the most powerful businesses on the planet, quadrupling the price of oil and shifting the global distribution of profits. It represented a huge shift in international order. Yet, the textbook explanation for how world politics works-that the most…


Book cover of Market Madness: A Century of Oil Panics, Crises, and Crashes

Amy Myers Jaffe Author Of Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises: The Global Curse of Black Gold

From my list on why oil and global banking crises happen at the same time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career as a business journalist writing about Arab finance and oil at a time when few women were in that industry. Rather improbably, perhaps, I became well-known for correctly predicting trends – geopolitical and geo-economical. In my thirties, I shifted to the academy, becoming a director of energy research at Rice University in Houston and subsequently a sought-after advisor to government, corporations, and financial institutions. I wrote my first paper on oil crises while in high school (winning third prize in a state term paper contest) and have never left the subject. Now more than ever, the public needs to understand the real facts behind oil and financial crises. 

Amy's book list on why oil and global banking crises happen at the same time

Amy Myers Jaffe Why did Amy love this book?

For as long as I can remember, the oil industry has been saying oil is a finite resource and we are only a few years away from running dry.

It may be confusing to fathom how an industry can keep repeating that meme and have it continue to be believable. The key is understanding the cyclical nature of oil exploration and development and how the long lead time it takes to drill for new oil can lag behind a sudden burst of economic prosperity that creates more demand for energy virtually overnight. In essence, every oil shortage will eventually be temporary.

Market Madness is one of the few oil books that gets that right and uses history to prove its point. The book takes you back to the time of Andrew Carnegie and doesn’t get sucked into the idea that “easy to find” oil will eventually run out, empowering the…

By Blake C. Clayton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stock market booms are cause for celebration. But when oil prices soar because supplies are failing to keep up with demand, the response is nearly always apocalyptic. Predictions of the end of oil can create anxiety on Wall Street and in Washington, stoking fears that production has hit a ceiling and prices will rise in perpetuity. Yet these dire visions have always proven wrong.

Market Madness is the story of four waves of American anxiety over the last 100 years about a looming end to oil reserves. Their sweeping pattern-as large price increases lead to widespread shortage fears that eventually…


Book cover of Globalization and War

Gregory A. Daddis Author Of Pulp Vietnam: War and Gender in Cold War Men's Adventure Magazines

From my list on war and society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the USS Midway Chair in Modern US Military History at San Diego State University. I’ve been teaching courses on the relationships between war and society for years and am fascinated not just by the causes and conduct of war, but, more importantly, by the costs of war. To me, Americans have a rather peculiar connection with war. In many ways, war has become an integral part of American conduct overseas—and our very identity. And yet we often don’t study it to question some of our basic assumptions about what war can do, what it means, and what the consequences are for wielding armed force so readily overseas.

Gregory's book list on war and society

Gregory A. Daddis Why did Gregory love this book?

Barkawi speaks of war as a form of “interconnection” among peoples and wisely reasons that we have to talk about war from a global perspective if we are truly to understand it. War may be an extension of politics, to quote a certain Prussian, but it’s also a social activity. And that activity has been globalized for far longer than many of us might think.

I really enjoy the way Barkawi weaves together a global story of war, culture, and identity. His case study on the Indian Army—he argues it was at “once a tool and an object of imperial control”—is superbly fascinating and highlights how localities can be affected by martial activities from faraway, distant places.

By Tarak Barkawi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

War doesn't just tear nations apart-it brings peoples and places closer together, providing a new lens on globalization. This book offers a fresh perspective on globalization and war, topics rarely considered together. It conceives war as a form of interconnection between home and abroad, and as an occasion for circulation and interchange. It identifies the political and military work required to create and maintain a free-trading world, while critiquing liberal and neoliberal conceptions of the pacific benefits of economic globalization. Speaking from the heart of old and new imperial orders, Tarak Barkawi exposes the Eurocentric limitations of military history and…


Book cover of The American Revolution: A World War

Ray Raphael Author Of Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past

From my list on deepening your view of the American Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

When writing my first of my ten books on the Founding Era, A People’s History of the American Revolution, I came across an amazing uprising not celebrated in the traditional saga of our nation’s birth: the people of Massachusetts, everywhere outside of Boston, actually cast off British authority in 1774, the year before Lexington and Concord. How could this critical episode have been so neglected? Who’s the gatekeeper here, anyway? That’s when I began to explore how events of those times morphed into stories, and how those stories mask what actually happened—the theme of Founding Myths.  

Ray's book list on deepening your view of the American Revolution

Ray Raphael Why did Ray love this book?

This book is a game changer. In the traditional telling of the American Revolution, rebellious colonists were the sole agents, save for a bit of help from France. Here, scholars from Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and India, as well as the United States, broaden our perspective. The volume is lavishly produced with historical artwork by the Smithsonian, but this is no ordinary coffee table book. In vivid detail, you will learn that from its very outset, our nation was not a world unto itself. From the nearby Caribbean to Europe to far-away India, the American Revolution played out on a global stage. 

By David K. Allison (editor), Larrie D. Ferreiro (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An illustrated collection of essays that explores the international dimensions of the American Revolution and its legacies in both America and around the world

The American Revolution: A World War argues that contrary to popular opinion, the American Revolution was not just a simple battle for independence in which the American colonists waged a "David versus Goliath" fight to overthrow their British rulers. Instead, the essays in the book illustrate how the American Revolution was a much more complicated and interesting conflict. It was an extension of larger skirmishes among the global superpowers in Europe, chiefly Britain, Spain, France, and…


Book cover of The Italian Wars 1494-1559: War, State and Society in Early Modern Europe

Sean McFate Author Of The New Rules of War: How America Can Win--Against Russia, China, and Other Threats

From my list on mercenaries from a former military contractor.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dr. Sean McFate is an expert on international relations and a former military contractor. He is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington DC think tank, and a professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, Syracuse University's Maxwell School, and the National Defense University. He began his career as a paratrooper and officer in the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division. 

Sean's book list on mercenaries from a former military contractor

Sean McFate Why did Sean love this book?

What would a world awash in mercenaries look like? Like medieval northern Italy, which was the Afghanistan of its day. Back then, mercenaries were how you fought wars, and anyone who could swipe a check could wage war no matter how absurd or petty. Aristocrats, city-states, and popes routinely hired mercenaries. When I wrote The New Rules of War, I spent three months digging through the archives in Florence, Bologna, and other city-states to understand how the dynamics of private warfare worked. For those who want a feel of the times, try this rare book by famed historian Mallett. It was his last book, finished by Shaw after he died.

By Christine Shaw, Michael Mallett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Italian Wars 1494-1559 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Italian Wars 1494-1559 outlines the major impact that these wars had, not just on the history of Italy, but on the history of Europe as a whole. It provides the first detailed account of the entire course of the wars, covering all the campaigns and placing the military conflicts in their political, diplomatic, social and economic contexts.

Throughout the book, new developments in military tactics, the composition of armies, the balance between infantry and cavalry, and the use of firearms are described and analysed. How Italians of all sectors of society reacted to the wars and the inevitable political…


Book cover of The Stupidity of War: American Foreign Policy and the Case for Complacency

Christopher J. Fettweis Author Of The Pursuit of Dominance: 2000 Years of Superpower Grand Strategy

From my list on unconventional stories on US national security.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a political scientist who specializes in US foreign policy. I’ve been interested in war and peace – and avoiding the former – for as long as I can remember. More than anything else, I wish I could convince Americans of how safe they are, relatively speaking, and how safe they can remain if only we make wise decisions moving forward. The future is brighter than we think.

Christopher's book list on unconventional stories on US national security

Christopher J. Fettweis Why did Christopher love this book?

In this book, the closest thing we have to a traditional work of national security on this list, the brilliant (and funny) iconoclast John Mueller asks a simple question: Why don’t more people realize just how stupid war is?

Why, for instance, as Greek soldiers loaded into boats to attack Troy because of a kidnapping, did no one comment on the sheer stupidity of the whole operation? Mueller reviews the history of this stupidity and recommends that his country give more consideration to steering clear of them in the future.

All wars the United States fights are, to use the common parlance, “wars of choice.” We always have the option to not engage, a choice that would usually leave us better off.

By John Mueller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It could be said that American foreign policy since 1945 has been one long miscue; most international threats - including during the Cold War - have been substantially exaggerated. The result has been agony and bloviation, unnecessary and costly military interventions that have mostly failed. A policy of complacency and appeasement likely would have worked better. In this highly readable book, John Mueller argues with wisdom and wit rather than ideology and hyperbole that aversion to international war has had considerable consequences. There has seldom been significant danger of major war. Nuclear weapons, international institutions, and America's super power role…


Book cover of The Mouse That Roared

Eric Sporer Author Of A Man Eating Chicken

From my list on to laugh in the face of insanity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a joker at heart and was always the class clown. I currently write on my own humor website, A Man Eating Chicken. I started drawing comics in grade school and grew into writing comedic prose in high school. There was never a goal for any of this; it was all pre-internet, so I didn’t realize that humor could be published anywhere. As I got older, I was able to find some books that really spoke to my sensibilities. The books on this list really showed me the power and possibilities of humor and influenced my own writing.

Eric's book list on to laugh in the face of insanity

Eric Sporer Why did Eric love this book?

While I grew up at the tail end of the Cold War, there was something in The Mouse that Roared that really spoke to me. The way that it takes an already absurd reality to an extreme really spoke to my own sensibilities and humor. History books tell the facts, but stories like this reflect how absurd the geopolitical culture must have felt to most people. It’s akin to Dr. Strangelove, not only in being a Cold War satire, but in the absurd and extreme nature of the farce. It influenced my own political satire heavily.

By Leonard Wibberley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Leonard Wibberley's classic political satire, a tiny backwards country decides the only way to survive a sudden economic downturn is to declare war on the United States and lose to get foreign aid - but things don't go according to plan.

The Mouse That Roared was made into a successful feature film starring Peter Sellers.

Books in The Grand Fenwick Series:

Books 2 through 5 are best read after The Mouse That Roared, but all of the books can be read and enjoyed at any point in the series.

Book 1: The Mouse That Roared
Book 2: The Mouse…


Book cover of World Ethics: The New Agenda

Robin Attfield and Barry Wilkins Author Of International Justice and the Third World: Studies in the Philosophy of Development

From my list on development economics and ethics are intertwined.

Why are we passionate about this?

Robin Attfield and Barry Wilkins are retired members of the Philosophy staff of Cardiff University, where they individually and jointly taught undergraduate courses in Philosophy and History of Ideas, and magistral courses in Social Ethics. They also supervised doctoral students in fields including development ethics; former students of theirs hold professorships in places ranging from Los Angeles to Addis Ababa and to Jahangirnagar (Bangladesh). Robin Attfield is currently completing his twentieth published book; several of his books have concerned our international responsibilities. From 1990 they became aware of a serious gap in the philosophical literature with regard to international development, and managed through their joint book to begin plugging it.

Robin's book list on development economics and ethics are intertwined

Robin Attfield and Barry Wilkins Why did Robin love this book?

This work, from a former President of the International Development Ethics Association (IDEA), illuminatingly sifts the major theories of international relations, of development and of related theories of ethics.

Readers will value, as Robin does, seeing how all these theories interrelate and support development that recognises human needs. This is a work at the interface of Applied Philosophy and International Relations, and embodies an insightful analysis of connections between these fields. 

By Nigel Dower,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

World Ethics: The New Agenda identifies different ways of thinking about ethics, and of thinking ethically about international and global relations. It also considers several theories of world ethics in the context of issues such as war and peace, world poverty, the environment and the United Nations. Key Features: * Rejects the idea of international scepticism and the 'morality of states' * Demonstrates the distinction between a global ethic as a theory and as social reality * Defends the claim that we are world citizens with global duties The second edition has been substantially revised to take account of recent…


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