100 books like Ours

By Peter Barnes,

Here are 100 books that Ours fans have personally recommended if you like Ours. 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 Dumping In Dixie: Race, Class, And Environmental Quality

James Tabery Author Of Tyranny of the Gene: Personalized Medicine and Its Threat to Public Health

From my list on the environment and health.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a philosopher fascinated by science and its relationship to society, who science benefits and who it harms; why scientists get some things right and some things wrong; and which scientific results make their way into the physician’s office, the courtroom, and the school textbook. Science impacts all facets of our lives: our health, our relationships with others, and our understanding of our place in our community and in the universe. I’ve spent decades investigating this relationship between science and society; these are some of the books I’ve found most influential in thinking about how we, as humans, impact the environment around us, which in turn circles back and impacts us.  

James' book list on the environment and health

James Tabery Why did James love this book?

This is it. The book that launched the environmental justice movement.

Scientists today frequently talk about environmental racism, about the way that harmful substances in our environments are not distributed randomly but instead disproportionately on communities of color, which in turn takes an enormous toll on the health of people living in those communities.

It was this book that forcefully made the case for seeing this phenomenon through the lens of civil rights. It exposed the widespread and systemic nature of environmental racism and made the case for responding to it with all the concepts, collective action, and policy strategies of the civil rights movement.  

By Robert Bullard,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dumping In Dixie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To be poor, working-class, or a person of colour in the United States often means bearing a disproportionate share of the country's environmental problems. Starting with the premise that all Americans have a basic right to live in a healthy environment, Dumping in Dixie chronicles the efforts of five African American communities, empowered by the civil rights movement, to link environmentalism with issues of social justice. In the third edition, Bullard speaks to us from the front lines of the environmental justice movement about new developments in environmental racism, different organizing strategies, and success stories in the struggle for environmental…


Book cover of A Field of One's Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia

James K. Boyce Author Of Economics for People and the Planet: Inequality in the Era of Climate Change

From my list on the political economy of the environment.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I started teaching a course on the Political Economy of the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, little had been written that made the connection between environmental quality and economic inequality. Happily, this has changed over the years. The books recommended here mark the rise of a new environmentalism founded upon recognition that our impact on nature is interwoven closely with the nature of our relationships with each other.

James' book list on the political economy of the environment

James K. Boyce Why did James love this book?

Gender is a major axis of disparities in power and wealth.

In this pioneering book, Indian economist Bina Agarwal mapped women’s access to land in South Asia, lifting up the key role of rights to natural resources in human well-being.

Her account of the Bodhgaya movement, a struggle by peasant women against inequity and patriarchy in the 1970s and 1980s, has special resonance for me because I Iived there and saw firsthand the cruelties of semi-feudal landlord rule.

By Bina Agarwal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Field of One's Own as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the first major study of gender and property in South Asia. In a pioneering and comprehensive analysis Bina Agarwal argues that the single most important economic factor affecting women's situation is the gender gap in command over property. In rural South Asia, the most significant form of property is arable land, a critical determinant of economic well-being, social status, and empowerment. But few women own land; fewer control it. Drawing on a vast range of interdisciplinary sources and her own field research, and tracing regional variations across five countries, the author investigates the complex barriers to women's land…


Book cover of Alligators in the Arctic and How to Avoid Them: Science, Economics and the Challenge of Catastrophic Climate Change

James K. Boyce Author Of Economics for People and the Planet: Inequality in the Era of Climate Change

From my list on the political economy of the environment.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I started teaching a course on the Political Economy of the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, little had been written that made the connection between environmental quality and economic inequality. Happily, this has changed over the years. The books recommended here mark the rise of a new environmentalism founded upon recognition that our impact on nature is interwoven closely with the nature of our relationships with each other.

James' book list on the political economy of the environment

James K. Boyce Why did James love this book?

Fifty million years ago, alligators lived north of the Arctic Circle.

We humans evolved in a much cooler world. Today Earth’s climate is changing radically, to our own peril, as we spew long-buried carbon into the sky by burning fossil fuels.

In this sophisticated yet readable book, Peter Dorman lays out the political economy of climate change, explaining why to address this unprecedented threat we must redress the inequalities of wealth and power that plague modern society.

The bad news is that this will be hard work; the good news is that it is possible. Dorman’s book is a tour de force, a sobering call to action graced with rays of hope.

By Peter Dorman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alligators in the Arctic and How to Avoid Them as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Climate change is a matter of extreme urgency. Integrating science and economics, this book demonstrates the need for measures to put a strict lid on cumulative carbon emissions and shows how to implement them. Using the carbon budget framework, it reveals the shortcomings of current policies and the debates around them, such as the popular enthusiasm for individual solutions and the fruitless search for 'optimal' regulation by economists and other specialists. On the political front, it explains why business opposition to the policies we need goes well beyond the fossil fuel industry, requiring a more radical rebalancing of power. This…


Book cover of The New Environmental Economics: Sustainability and Justice

James K. Boyce Author Of Economics for People and the Planet: Inequality in the Era of Climate Change

From my list on the political economy of the environment.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I started teaching a course on the Political Economy of the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, little had been written that made the connection between environmental quality and economic inequality. Happily, this has changed over the years. The books recommended here mark the rise of a new environmentalism founded upon recognition that our impact on nature is interwoven closely with the nature of our relationships with each other.

James' book list on the political economy of the environment

James K. Boyce Why did James love this book?

Economist Eloi Laurent’s book is a long-overdue introduction to the political economy of the environment.

In contrast to standard environmental economics textbooks that disregard interpersonal conflict by analyzing aggregate costs and benefits – disembodied from those who experience them – Laurent embeds our treatment and maltreatment of nature in our treatment and maltreatment of other people.

This book puts sustainability across generations and justice within them at center stage, where they belong.

By Eloi Laurent,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Too often, economics disassociates humans from nature, the economy from the biosphere that contains it, and sustainability from fairness. When economists do engage with environmental issues, they typically reduce their analysis to a science of efficiency that leaves aside issues of distributional analysis and justice.

The aim of this lucid textbook is to provide a framework that prioritizes human well-being within the limits of the biosphere, and to rethink economic analysis and policy in the light of not just efficiency but equity. Leading economist Eloi Laurent systematically ties together sustainability and justice issues in covering a wide range of topics,…


Book cover of Capital and Ideology

Tom Malleson Author Of Against Inequality: The Practical and Ethical Case for Abolishing the Superrich

From my list on economic inequality and how to fix it.

Why am I passionate about this?

There are many big problems in the world today–racism, war, climate change, unaccountable governments, exploitative corporations, and so on. But when you scratch the surface of almost any serious problem, what you find is that the root of the problem is inequality: a minority of people are rich and powerful, while those who suffer the most are typically poor and powerless. I’m so passionate about inequality because, in my eyes, it constitutes the heart and soul of what’s wrong with our world and the key to making things better.

Tom's book list on economic inequality and how to fix it

Tom Malleson Why did Tom love this book?

Thomas Piketty rose to international fame for his 2014 Capital in the Twenty-First Century. But this book is even better. At a whopping 1000 pages, it’s a magnum opus. A phenomenally interesting panoramic of inequality across human history.

With intricate detail and voluminous evidence, Piketty documents the rise and fall of inequality throughout the ages, depicting the ways in which ideologies have worked to bolster or undermine it. Anyone who reads this book will walk away with a far richer understanding of some of the core dynamics underlying human history.  

By Thomas Piketty, Arthur Goldhammer (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller
An NPR Best Book of the Year

The epic successor to one of the most important books of the century: at once a retelling of global history, a scathing critique of contemporary politics, and a bold proposal for a new and fairer economic system.

Thomas Piketty's bestselling Capital in the Twenty-First Century galvanized global debate about inequality. In this audacious follow-up, Piketty challenges us to revolutionize how we think about politics, ideology, and history. He exposes the ideas that have sustained inequality for the past millennium, reveals why the shallow politics of right and left…


Book cover of The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism

Peter T. Leeson Author Of WTF?! An Economic Tour of the Weird

From my list on economics and political economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Peter T. Leeson is the author of the award-winning The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates and Anarchy Unbound: Why Self-Governance Works Better than You Think. He is the Duncan Black Professor of Economics and Law at George Mason University. Big Think counted Peter among “Eight of the World’s Top Young Economists.”

Peter's book list on economics and political economy

Peter T. Leeson Why did Peter love this book?

A key insight of economics is the power of markets to organize human affairs. The Machinery of Freedom takes that insight to the limit. How might society work if even governmental functions were organized using markets? Friedman’s answer will surprise and challenge you. And whether you come away convinced or not, you will come away with a better understanding of markets.

By David Friedman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book argues for a society organized by voluntary cooperation under institutions of private property and exchange with little, ultimately no, government. It describes how the most fundamental functions of government might be replaced by private institutions, with services such as protecting individual rights and settling disputes provided by private firms in a competitive market. It goes on to use the tools of economic analysis to attempt to show how such institutions could be expected to work, what sort of legal rules they would generate, and under what circumstances they would or would not be stable. The approach is consequentialist.…


Book cover of Economic Analysis of Property Rights

David Emanuel Andersson Author Of Property Rights, Consumption and the Market Process

From my list on understanding how societies develop.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been curious about why societies develop, which is why I was drawn to the social sciences as a student. I first encountered attempts to explain development in economics, but found that mainstream models were too neat and abstract to account for my everyday observations. Why are there no entrepreneurs in the models, and why do most economists assume that property rights are unambiguous? I eventually discovered that non-mainstream economic theories and some of the other social sciences are more concerned with reality. Eventually I developed an eclectic framework with a focus on entrepreneurship, institutions, and spatial agglomerations as factors that shape socio-economic development. 

David's book list on understanding how societies develop

David Emanuel Andersson Why did David love this book?

I make use of the basic concepts that Barzel introduced in this book, but deviate more from conventional neoclassical economics.

Economic property rights are about effective control over resources, and not necessarily about legal rights. A key insight is that a resource consists of an open-ended number of attributes and therefore that control over a resource can become more complex as the number of attributes increases.

There is also a tendency for control to change hands as market participants discover more valuable uses of resources. 

By Yoram Barzel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Economic Analysis of Property Rights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a study of the way individuals organise the use of resources in order to maximise the value of their economic rights over these resources. Property rights and all forms of organisation result from people's deliberate actions. In the tradition of Coase, this study offers a unified theoretical structure to deal with exchange, rights formation and organisation which traditional economic theory assumes away. A person's economic property rights over an asset are defined here as the person's ability to gain from the asset by direct consumption or by exchange. It is prohibitively costly to measure accurately all assets' attributes;…


Book cover of The Great Demarcation: The French Revolution and the Invention of Modern Property

Wim Klooster Author Of Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History

From my list on the Age of Revolutions.

Why am I passionate about this?

To an Atlantic historian like me, the era of revolutions is one of the most dramatic historical periods, which erased many of the structures on which the Atlantic world had been built for centuries. It raised many hopes, which were often defeated, but lasting advances were made nonetheless.  

Wim's book list on the Age of Revolutions

Wim Klooster Why did Wim love this book?

The French revolutionaries not only transformed property, they disentangled it from public power, creating a distinction between a private realm and a public one and between state and society. Blaufarb shows that at stake was much more and much more complex than historians have thought. He argues that without this multiple demarcation, free elections would have been impossible and universal human rights could not have been defined.    

By Rafe Blaufarb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What does it mean to own something? What sorts of things can be owned, and what cannot? How does one relinquish ownership? What are the boundaries between private and public property? Over the course of a decade, the French Revolution grappled with these questions. Punctuated by false starts, contingencies, and unexpected results, this process laid the foundations of the Napoleonic Code and modern notions of property.

As Rafe Blaufarb demonstrates in this ambitious work, the French Revolution remade the system of property-holding that had existed in France before 1789. The revolutionary changes aimed at two fundamental goals: the removal of…


Book cover of Wealth, Land, and Property in Angola: A History of Dispossession, Slavery, and Inequality

Ana Lucia Araujo Author Of The Gift: How Objects of Prestige Shaped the Atlantic Slave Trade and Colonialism

From my list on the material culture of the Atlantic slave trade and colonialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a historian of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade who was trained with a PhD in History and a PhD in Art History, and who's interested in how slavery is memorialized in the public space as well as in the visual and material culture of slavery. I was born and raised in Brazil, the country where the largest number of enslaved Africans were introduced in the era of the Atlantic slave trade and that still today is the country with the largest Black population after Nigeria, the most populous African country. I believe that studying the history of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery helps us to remedy the legacies of anti-Black racism today.

Ana's book list on the material culture of the Atlantic slave trade and colonialism

Ana Lucia Araujo Why did Ana love this book?

Mariana Candido’s book brings to light the importance of land ownership among West Central Africans, by contesting the work of historians who up to here have basically agreed with the claims of European conquerors and colonizers who stated that West Central African land was plentiful and empty, therefore available to be occupied by the newcomers.

Drawing on detailed archival research, the book also us how West Central African men and women acquired and owned land and movable property. Candido brings to light how West Central African communities were consumers of European and Asian goods, and therefore connected to other parts of the world.

The book shows how men and women in Angola accumulated wealth, and also how during the rise of colonialism they were deprived of this wealth.  

By Mariana P. Candido,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wealth, Land, and Property in Angola as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Exploring the multifaceted history of dispossession, consumption, and inequality in West Central Africa, Mariana P. Candido presents a bold revisionist history of Angola from the sixteenth century until the Berlin Conference of 1884-5. Synthesising disparate strands of scholarship, including the histories of slavery, land tenure, and gender in West Central Africa, Candido makes a significant contribution to ongoing historical debates. She demonstrates how ideas about dominion and land rights eventually came to inform the appropriation and enslavement of free people and their labour. By centring the experiences of West Central Africans, and especially African women, this book challenges dominant historical…


Book cover of The Rise and Fall of Economic Justice and Other Essays

Mark R. Reiff Author Of On Unemployment: A Micro-Theory of Economic Justice: Volume 1

From my list on what causes economic injustice.

Why am I passionate about this?

F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed, “there are no second acts in American lives.” But I am on my third. I started out in the theatre, then became a lawyer, and then a political philosopher. What drove each move is that I was always outraged by injustice and wanted to find a better way to fight against it. For me, reading, writing, and teaching political philosophy turned out to be that way. The books on this list provide important lessons on how certain economic policies can cause injustice while others can cure it. Each has been around for a long time, but they are as relevant today as when they were first written. 

Mark's book list on what causes economic injustice

Mark R. Reiff Why did Mark love this book?

A series of essays by one of the most respected Canadian political philosophers of the twentieth century.

I have recommended this book for the title essay, which provides a particularly insightful account of how people have thought about economic justice (or haven’t) over time.

But all the essays are worth reading.

By C. B. Macpherson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rise and Fall of Economic Justice and Other Essays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his final book, one of the giants of twentieth-century political philosophy returns to his key themes of state, class, and property as well as such contemporary questions as economic justice, human rights, and the nature of industrial democracy. Macpherson not only re-examines historical issues dealt with in his earlier works, such as the impact of Hobbes's economic assumptions on his political theories, but assesses the problematic future of democracy in a market
society. This new edition includes an introduction by Frank Cunningham that places the book in the broader context of Macpherson's work.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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