The most recommended books about the economy

Who picked these books? Meet our 208 experts.

208 authors created a book list connected to the economy, and here are their favorite economy books.
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Heaven's Door

By George J. Borjas,

Book cover of Heaven's Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy

George Farkas Author Of Industries, Firms, and Jobs: Sociological and Economic Approaches

From the list on understanding American poverty and inequality.

Who am I?

I have an unusual personal history. I majored in math in college and aspired to a life as a scientist. However, the civil rights movement and other events of the 1960s and 1970s inspired me to switch and earn a doctorate in sociology. (Which considers itself a science.) My first faculty position, at Yale beginning in 1972, involved a joint appointment in the Sociology Department and the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, which focused on public policy. During the remainder of my career I have worked and published together with economists and sought to do research that uses the perspectives of both fields. 

George's book list on understanding American poverty and inequality

Why did George love this book?

How many, and which individuals should be allowed to immigrate to the U.S. is a long-standing policy dilemma that people feel strongly about yet appears to have no easy solution.

Economist Borjas shows us how economists think about the issues involved. Where are we in the history of immigration to the United States? Which American industries and individuals benefit from allowing more immigrants in, and which are harmed by such a policy?

What policies would be better for the U.S. economy and the U.S. population as a whole? How are regions, states, and cities differentially affected? What trade-offs are involved in the available policy choices in this area?

By George J. Borjas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heaven's Door as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The US took in more than a million immigrants per year in the late 1990s, more than at any other time in history. For humanitarian and many other reasons, this may be good news. But as George Borjas shows in this text, it's decidedly mixed news for the American economy - and positively bad news for the country's poorest citizens. Borjas reveals that the benefits of immigration have been greatly exaggerated and that, if we allow immigration to continue unabated and unmodified, we are supporting an astonishing transfer of wealth from the poorest people in the country, who are disproportionately…

Book cover of The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy

John Shovlin Author Of Trading with the Enemy: Britain, France, and the 18th-Century Quest for a Peaceful World Order

From the list on economics and geopolitics.

Who am I?

As a historian, I’ve always been fascinated by the mutual influence of power and economics. I’ve written about the political-economic origins of revolution, war, and the search for world peace. I believe that to understand the sweeping geopolitical transformations that have shaped recent centuries—imperialism, the world wars, decolonization, or the fall of the Soviet Union—we need to consider the deep pulse of economics. The books that really grab me open up the worldviews of people in the past, explain how they believed economics and geopolitics shaped one another, and show how these assumptions impelled their actions in the world.

John's book list on economics and geopolitics

Why did John love this book?

Tooze uses his mastery of economic sources to construct a brilliant, often startling, reinterpretation of Nazi geopolitics. He offers a comprehensive economic interpretation of the Nazi drive for expansionism in the 1930s, Hitler’s decision for war in 1939, and the timing and shape of the Barbarossa offensive against the Soviet Union in 1941. The Wages of Destruction also explores the economic dimensions of Hitler’s plans to liquidate the European Jews and other racial enemies. Perhaps his most arresting argument is that the rise of the United States as an economic superpower in the early twentieth century drove the politics of German ultranationalism between the wars.

By Adam Tooze,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Masterful . . . [A] painstakingly researched, astonishingly erudite study...Tooze has added his name to the roll call of top-class scholars of Nazism." -Financial Times

An extraordinary mythology has grown up around the Third Reich that hovers over political and moral debate even today. Adam Tooze's controversial book challenges the conventional economic interpretations of that period to explore how Hitler's surprisingly prescient vision--ultimately hindered by Germany's limited resources and his own racial ideology--was to create a German super-state to dominate Europe and compete with what he saw as America's overwhelming power in a soon-to- be globalized world. The Wages of…

Book cover of Entrepreneurship and Self-Help among Black Americans: A Reconsideration of Race and Economics

Robert E. Weems, Jr. Author Of Business in Black and White: American Presidents and Black Entrepreneurs in the Twentieth Century

From the list on African American business history.

Who am I?

My passion and expertise related to African American business history began years ago when I searched for a Ph.D. dissertation topic. After mulling over a variety of options, I ultimately decided to examine the history of an African American insurance company in my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. While working on this project, I began to formulate ideas for future research in the realm of African American business history. I subsequently developed into one of the acknowledged experts in this field. Based upon my track record, I served as a historical consultant and appeared in the documentary Boss: The Black Experience in Business which premiered on PBS in April 2019.

Robert's book list on African American business history

Why did Robert love this book?

Professor Butler’s classic book is a foundational work in the realm of African American business history.

Combining both sociological and historical analysis, Entrepreneurship and Self-Help Among Black Americans includes case studies of notable African American business districts.

For instance, years before recent interest in the horrific destruction of Tulsa’s “Black Wall Street” in 1921, Butler provided an in-depth examination of this phenomenon.

This book is also valuable because it provides an important comparative analysis of historic African American entrepreneurship with that of various nonwhite immigrant groups.  

By John Sibley Butler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Entrepreneurship and Self-Help among Black Americans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This long-awaited revision of a classic work traces the unique development of business enterprises and other community organizations among black Americans from before the Civil War to the present.

Undocumented Lives

By Ana Raquel Minian,

Book cover of Undocumented Lives: The Untold Story of Mexican Migration

Paul Spickard, Francisco Beltrán, and Laura Hooton Author Of Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity

From the list on the history of race, ethnicity, and colonialism in the US.

Who are we?

Paul Spickard wrote the first edition of Almost All Aliens. He invited Francisco Beltrán and Laura Hooton, who worked under Dr. Spickard at UC Santa Barbara, to co-author the second edition after working as research assistants and providing suggestions for the second edition. We are all historians of race, ethnicity, immigration, colonialism, and identity, and in our other works and teaching we each think about these topics in different ways. We did the same for this list—this is a list of five books that talk about topics that are important to Almost All Aliens and approaches that have been influential in how we think about the topic.  

Laura's book list on the history of race, ethnicity, and colonialism in the US

Why did Laura love this book?

For readers interested in undocumented immigration, especially from Mexico, Minian’s book provides important and necessary historical context for present-day issues. In particular, the book explains how undocumented immigrants were caught in the middle of economic and political policies in the United States and Mexico. As the title implies, the lives of these immigrants are at the heart of the story, including how these much broader systems impacted their individual lives.

By Ana Raquel Minian,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Frederick Jackson Turner Award Finalist
Winner of the David Montgomery Award
Winner of the Theodore Saloutos Book Award
Winner of the Betty and Alfred McClung Lee Book Award
Winner of the Frances Richardson Keller-Sierra Prize
Winner of the Americo Paredes Book Award

"A deeply humane book."
-Mae Ngai, author of Impossible Subjects

"Necessary and timely...A valuable text to consider alongside the current fight for DACA, the border concentration camps, and the unending rhetoric dehumanizing Mexican migrants."

"A deep dive into the history of Mexican migration to and from the United States."
-PRI's The World

In the 1970s, the Mexican…

Book cover of The Fabric of Resistance: Textile Workshops and the Rise of Rebellious Landscapes in Colonial Peru

Leo J. Garofalo Author Of Afro-Latino Voices: Translations of Early Modern Ibero-Atlantic Narratives

From the list on Afro-Latin American and Afro-Andean history.

Who am I?

History tells us who we are and what we can become. History in the Andes tells us that people of the African Diaspora have been a part of building that part of the world into what it is today for over 500 years. I have been fascinated by learning this history and inspired by leaders, writers, artists, and fellow historians who consider themselves Afro-Andean and are building the future. For 25 years now, I have been scouring historical archives in Peru, Spain, and the US to find more sources to help us recognize and understand that history as we use it to build a better, more just present and future. 

Leo's book list on Afro-Latin American and Afro-Andean history

Why did Leo love this book?

For thousands of years, right down to the present, textiles and weaving in the Andes has been some of the most exquisite and sophisticated in the world. It has been linked to the amazing cultural creativity of people in the Andes and the rise and fall of successive empires because controlling textile production is controlling power and wealth.

This book shows us something entirely new: how the weavers who made these amazing textiles experienced and often resisted that power and the exploitation of their labor. Even though this book is not explicitly about Afro-Andean people, they were an integral part of the Andean labor force, and they figure in histories of resistance and rebellion in the Andes.

By Di Hu,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Fabric of Resistance: Textile Workshops and the Rise of Rebellious Landscapes in Colonial Peru documents the impact of Spanish colonial institutions of labor on identity and social cohesion in Peru. Through archaeological and historical lines of evidence, Di Hu examines the long-term social conditions that enabled the large-scale rebellions in the late Spanish colonial period in Peru. Hu argues that ordinary people from different backgrounds pushed back against the top-down identity categories imposed by the Spanish colonial government and in the process created a cosmopolitan social landscape that later facilitated broader rebellion.

Hu's case study is Pomacocha, the site…

The Anarchy

By William Dalrymple,

Book cover of The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire

Murray Pittock Author Of Scotland: The Global History: 1603 to the Present

From Murray's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Professor Historian Strategic leader Policy adviser

Murray's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Murray love this book?

William Dalrymple and Anita Anand’s Empire podcast series has been transformative in the understanding it has generated and the audiences it has reached in the last year (1 million plus in January 2023 alone).

The Anarchy is one of the core books of Dalrymple’s extraordinary research and scholarship which has changed our understanding of the generation and development of the British Raj in India and which brings into view more clearly and accurately than ever before, the toxic legacy of the East India Company and its company state apparatus.

Yet unlike some other authors, Dalrymple is content to let the facts speak for themselves and does not idealise the world of the Mughals and native princes. In an era of propaganda and revisionism, The Anarchy utilises the empirical data of the Enlightenment at magnificent scale to expose some of the savagery—on all sides—of the Enlightenment era. 

By William Dalrymple,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Anarchy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE TOP 5 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2019 THE TIMES HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR FINALIST FOR THE CUNDILL HISTORY PRIZE 2020 LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 2019 A FINANCIAL TIMES, OBSERVER, DAILY TELEGRAPH, WALL STREET JOURNAL AND TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 'Dalrymple is a superb historian with a visceral understanding of India ... A book of beauty' - Gerard DeGroot, The Times In August 1765 the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and forced him to establish a new administration in his richest provinces. Run by English…

Liberty's Dawn

By Emma Griffin,

Book cover of Liberty's Dawn: A People's History of the Industrial Revolution

Henry C. Clark Author Of Compass of Society: Commerce and Absolutism in Old-Regime France

From the list on understanding where “capitalism” came from.

Who am I?

I have long found it mysterious how we can live in what is truly one interconnected global order. Traders, merchants, deal-makers have long been viewed with suspicion. I wrote Compass of Society to explore how one country, France, with its tradition of land-based elites, could contemplate remaking itself as a “commercial society.” Adam Smith said that even in his time, everyone “becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself... a commercial society.” Revisionists are finding high levels of commercialization even in premodern China and India. In this list, I picked five of my favorite books that reshaped our understanding of where European “capitalism” came from.

Henry's book list on understanding where “capitalism” came from

Why did Henry love this book?

At one point in her excellent study, the author writes, “Generations of historians have painted the industrial revolution in relentlessly dark colours: a force which was wholly destructive for the poor, remorseless, unforgiving in its grinding down of the independent labourer of old. This, clearly, is not the assessment of those who lived through it.” The basis of her claim is a survey of over three hundred autobiographies written by English laborers of the time. Though she expected her readers to be surprised, since workers are famously supposed to be the leading rebels against the onset of “capitalism,” those who have read the other titles on my list will be less surprised. Their messy and eclectic array of passions and interests will seem altogether familiar.

By Emma Griffin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Liberty's Dawn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This remarkable book looks at hundreds of autobiographies penned between 1760 and 1900 to offer an intimate firsthand account of how the Industrial Revolution was experienced by the working class. The Industrial Revolution brought not simply misery and poverty. On the contrary, Griffin shows how it raised incomes, improved literacy, and offered exciting opportunities for political action. For many, this was a period of new, and much valued, sexual and cultural freedom. This rich personal account focuses on the social impact of the Industrial Revolution, rather than its economic and political histories. In the tradition of best-selling books by Liza…

Book cover of Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida

Jason Vuic Author Of The Swamp Peddlers: How Lot Sellers, Land Scammers, and Retirees Built Modern Florida and Transformed the American Dream

From the list on modern Florida.

Who am I?

Originally from Punta Gorda, Florida, I am an exiled Florida Man, living in Texas, and specialize in creative nonfiction. I love the absurd, the unusual, and enjoy finding ways to examine and teach history through unexpected topics and sometimes maligned or ridiculed things. My first book, for example, was on the infamous Yugo car. I then wrote a history of the ill-starred Sarajevo Olympics and the oh-for-twenty-six 1976-1977 Tampa Bay Bucs, and most recently a book on the wild heydays of Florida land development in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. I have a PhD in history from Indiana University Bloomington and have appeared on NPR’s "Weekend Edition," APM’s "Marketplace," and C-SPAN’S "Book TV."

Jason's book list on modern Florida

Why did Jason love this book?

Gary Mormino ranges far and wide across the landscape and boundaries of a place that is at once America's southernmost state and the northernmost outpost of the Caribbean. From the capital, Tallahassee--a day's walk from the Georgia border--to Miami--a city distant but tantalizingly close to Cuba and Haiti--Mormino traces the themes of Florida's transformation: the echoes of old Dixie and a vanishing Florida; land booms and tourist empires; revolutions in agriculture, technology, and demographics; the seductions of the beach and the dynamics of a graying population; and the enduring but changing meanings of a dream state.

By Gary R. Mormino,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Florida is a story of astonishing growth, a state swelling from 500,000 residents at the outset of the 20th century to some 16 million at the end. As recently as mid-century, on the eve of Pearl Harbor, Florida was the smallest state in the South. At the dawn of the millennium, it is the fourth largest in the country, a megastate, inspiring the invention of new words and expressions: space coast, climate control, growth management, retirement community, theme park, edge cities, shopping mall, boomburbs, beach renourishment, Interstate, and Internet. Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams attempts to understand the firestorm…

Counting for Nothing

By Marilyn Waring,

Book cover of Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women Are Worth

Valerie M. Hudson Author Of The First Political Order: How Sex Shapes Governance and National Security Worldwide

From the list on feminist international relations.

Who am I?

Valerie M. Hudson is a University Distinguished Professor and holds the George H.W. Bush Chair in the Department of International Affairs at The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, where she directs the Program on Women, Peace, and Security. Hudson was named to the list of Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers, and was recognized as Distinguished Scholar of Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA/ISA) and awarded an inaugural Andrew Carnegie Fellowship as well as an inaugural Fulbright Distinguished Chair in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Australian National University. She has been selected as the Distinguished Scholar Award recipient for 2022 by the Political Demography and Geography Section (PDG/ISA) of the International Studies Association. 

Valerie's book list on feminist international relations

Why did Valerie love this book?

Waring, a former MP for New Zealand, wrote what I consider the foundational book in feminist political economy. Removing the scales from our eyes in this book, she questions how it is that when an oil tanker spills, that event adds to the GDP of a nation, but when a woman gives birth to a baby, that event adds nothing to the GDP. She was the first to note that the “production boundary” stipulated by the male-created GDP indicator completely invisibilizes—even erases—the enormous contribution of women, simply because it is unpaid and performed for members of the same household. Waring then goes further and asks how this gendered approach to understanding economic success actually destroys our goal of sustainable, functional societies.

By Marilyn Waring,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Counting for Nothing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Safe drinking water counts for nothing. A pollution-free environment counts for nothing. Even some people - namely women - count for nothing. This is the case, at least, according to the United Nations System of National Accounts. Author Marilyn Waring, former New Zealand M.P., now professor, development consultant, writer, and goat farmer, isolates the gender bias that exists in the current system of calculating national wealth.As Waring observes, in this accounting system women are considered 'non-producers' and as such they cannot expect to gain from the distribution of benefits that flow from production. Issues like nuclear warfare, environmental conservation, and…

Dead Aid

By Dambisa Moyo,

Book cover of Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa

Bann Seng Tan Author Of International Aid and Democracy Promotion: Liberalization at the Margins

From the list on using foreign aid to do good in a realistic way.

Who am I?

Bann Seng Tan is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Ashoka University. His research interests are on the causes and effects of democratization, the politics of foreign aid, the political economy of natural disasters, aid in decentralization, resurgent authoritarianism, and the democratic peace. His policy proclivities revolve around the defence of the liberal world order. Democracy promotion is but one way to push against authoritarianism. 

Bann's book list on using foreign aid to do good in a realistic way

Why did Bann love this book?

Development aid is a type of foreign aid that is directed at the economic development of recipient countries. The failures of government-to-government development aid in Africa are Moyo’s focus. She notes that Africa is the only region that is regressing in major socio-economic indicators. She argues such aid distorts African economies, enables corruption, and incubates a culture of aid dependency. African governments can afford not to provide public goods because their revenue is guaranteed by development aid. To remedy such externalities, Moyo wants to end development aid to Africa. Instead of aid, she prefers free trade with the West and foreign investment from China. This book is remarkable for its willingness to challenge the conventions in development aid. Sometimes, we need to call a spade a spade. 

By Dambisa Moyo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse.

In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo describes the state of postwar development policy in Africa today and unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth. In…

Book cover of Slavery and American Economic Development

Joshua L. Rosenbloom Author Of Quantitative Economic History: The Good of Counting

From the list on understanding the modern capitalist economy.

Who am I?

I have been studying, writing, and teaching economic history for nearly four decades. I was drawn to the field because it let me combine my passion for understanding how the past and present are connected with my fascination with the insights derived from the natural sciences. When I started studying economic history, the discipline was still relatively new, having grown out of pioneering research in the 1950s and 1960s by a small band of innovative scholars. During my career, I have met many of these intellectual giants personally, and I have watched the discipline of economic history mature and grow in both its methods and intellectual scope.

Joshua's book list on understanding the modern capitalist economy

Why did Joshua love this book?

If you read one book about the history of slavery, this should be it. This brief volume sums up decades of Wright’s scholarship about how the institution of slavery shaped virtually every aspect of American economic development and left a lasting imprint long after Emancipation. It is concise, eye-opening, and insightful. It also offers a broader lesson in the ways in which economic institutions affect aspects of behavior in unanticipated ways.

By Gavin Wright,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Through an analysis of slavery as an economic institution, Gavin Wright presents an innovative look at the economic divergence between North and South in the antebellum era. He draws a distinction between slavery as a form of work organisation, the aspect that has dominated historical debates, and slavery as a set of property rights. Slave-based commerce remained central to the eighteenth-century rise of the Atlantic economy, not because slave plantations were superior as a method of organizing production, but because slaves could be put to work on sugar plantations that could not have attracted free labor on economically viable terms.

Evil Geniuses

By Kurt Andersen,

Book cover of Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History

Bill Kuhn Author Of Facts & Fury: An Unapologetic Primer on How the GOP Has Destroyed American Democracy

From the list on to understand the American political system.

Who am I?

I write about politics. I grew up in a political household. My mother was a key fundraiser for the Democratic Party and my stepfather served as a White House counsel to President Clinton. Politics and the Washington experience were the air I breathed during my formative years. I followed in their footsteps and co-founded Fight for a Better America, an organization that invests in key battleground districts and states throughout the US, with the goal of either flipping them blue or maintaining a Democratic incumbent. Through my travels with the organization, I have made hundreds of contacts with folks in local civic clubs and organized hundreds of volunteers on the ground. 

Bill's book list on to understand the American political system

Why did Bill love this book?

In his characteristically funny and sardonic style, Andersen guides us through the historical connection between corporate America and the Republican Party. Needless to say, the relationship has been strong and fruitful (Democrats are guilty as well, but it’s hardly a comparison). He reports on the key conservative figures in both the private and public spheres who have funded and enabled the transformation of our laws and society. It is a remarkable story of power and greed written in concise witty prose. Highly recommend!

By Kurt Andersen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • When did America give up on fairness? The author of Fantasyland tells the epic history of how America decided that big business gets whatever it wants, only the rich get richer, and nothing should ever change—and charts a way back to the future.
“Essential, absorbing . . . a graceful, authoritative guide . . . a radicalized moderate’s moderate case for radical change.”—The New York Times Book Review

During the twentieth century, America managed to make its economic and social systems both more and more fair and more and more prosperous. A huge, secure, and…

Jamaica Ladies

By Christine Walker,

Book cover of Jamaica Ladies: Female Slaveholders and the Creation of Britain's Atlantic Empire

Trevor Burnard Author Of Jamaica in the Age of Revolution

From the list on Jamaica during the period of slavery.

Who am I?

Trevor Burnard is Wilberforce Professor of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull and author of four books and many articles on eighteenth-century Jamaica. He has recently reviewed 34 books just published on Jamaica in “`Wi Lickle but Wi Tallawah’: Writing Jamaica into the Atlantic World, 1655-1834 Reviews in American History 49 (2021), 168-86.

Trevor's book list on Jamaica during the period of slavery

Why did Trevor love this book?

We tend to think of social relationships in societies like early eighteenth-century Jamaica in male terms – masters and enslaved men. Jamaica was a very masculine place with a distinct masculine culture based around sexual access to women and a vibrant economy. But white women were also there and tended to flourish – working with the slave system rather than against it. This book is testimony to gender history and to the diversity of experiences in colonial Jamaica.

By Christine Walker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jamaica Ladies is the first systematic study of the free and freed women of European, Euro-African, and African descent who perpetuated chattel slavery and reaped its profits in the British Empire. Their actions helped transform Jamaica into the wealthiest slaveholding colony in the Anglo-Atlantic world. Starting in the 1670s, a surprisingly large and diverse group of women helped secure English control of Jamaica and, crucially, aided its developing and expanding slave labor regime by acquiring enslaved men, women, and children to protect their own tenuous claims to status and independence.

Female colonists employed slaveholding as a means of advancing themselves…

The Shanghai Free Taxi

By Frank Langfitt,

Book cover of The Shanghai Free Taxi: Journeys with the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China

Dori Jones Yang Author Of When the Red Gates Opened: A Memoir of China's Reawakening

From the list on China today.

Who am I?

A Seattle-based author, I have written eight books, including When the Red Gates Opened: A Memoir of China’s Reawakening, about the eight years I spent as Business Week’s reporter covering China, 1982-1990. In it, I give readers an inside look at China’s transformation from Maoism to modernity. A fluent speaker of Mandarin, I have traveled widely in China for over forty years and befriended Chinese people at many levels of society, leading me to a strong belief in the importance of direct cross-cultural communication and deepened mutual understanding.

Dori's book list on China today

Why did Dori love this book?

By offering free taxi rides in Shanghai, long-time NPR correspondent Frank Langfitt opened his ears to a wide variety of ordinary Chinese from all walks of life. Due to the pandemic, Americans haven’t been able to travel in China lately, so this is the closest a reader can get to actual conversations with Chinese people about life in China today. Most do not seem oppressed!

By Frank Langfitt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A unique, kaleidoscopic view of Chinese society ... A must read' Qiu Xiaolong, author of Shanghai Redemption

As any traveller knows, the best and most honest conversations take place during car rides. So when journalist Frank Langfitt wanted to learn more about the real China, he started driving a cab - and discovered a country amid seismic political and economic change.

The Chinese economic boom, with its impact on the environment, global trade, and the tech industry, has been one of the most important stories of the twenty-first century. Yet few realise that the boom is largely over, and that…

Border Patrol Nation

By Todd Miller,

Book cover of Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security

Michael Blake Author Of Justice, Migration, and Mercy

From the list on understanding what’s happening at the border.

Who am I?

I’m a political philosopher who lives in Seattle. I teach and write about political ethics, and the ways in which moral concepts change when they get applied to the relationships between states—and to the complicated borders that define where states end. I tend to write about what puzzles me, and many of these puzzles come from my personal life; I’m a migrant myself, and the experience of migrating to the United States led me to write about what sorts of values a country can rightly pursue through migration policyand what sorts of things, more generally, it can and can’t do to migrants themselves.  

Michael's book list on understanding what’s happening at the border

Why did Michael love this book?

The insistence that migration is a ‘crisis’ has led to a greater willingness to take enforcement as more urgent than human rights. Todd Miller’s book is a moral argument about the costs of that bargain. He argues that the powers given to those who enforce borders have led to abusive and violent practices at the border—and, increasingly, within the United States itself. The book is sobering, but important—and it should worry all of us, citizen and migrant alike.

By Todd Miller,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Border Patrol Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"In his scathing and deeply reported examination of the U.S. Border Patrol, Todd Miller argues that the agency has gone rogue since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, trampling on the dignity and rights of the undocumented with military-style tactics...Miller's book arrives at a moment when it appears that part of the Homeland Security apparatus is backpedaling by promising to tone down its tactics, maybe prodded by investigative journalism, maybe by the revelations of NSA leaker Edward Snowden...Border Patrol is quite possibly the right book at the right time ..."--Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times "At the start of his unsettling and…


By Helen Thompson,

Book cover of Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century

Philip Cunliffe Author Of The New Twenty Years’ Crisis 1919-2019: A Critique of International Relations

From the list on liberal international order in the 21st century.

Who am I?

Having come of age at the End of History in the late 1990s, it seemed to me back then that the only big political questions left were international ones. Everything in domestic politics appeared to be settled. As I pursued this interest through my scholarly work as an academic, I came to understand how questions of international and domestic order were intertwined – and that one could not be understood without the other. As we’re now living through the end of the End of History, unsurprisingly we’re seeing tremendous strain on political systems at both the national and international level. These books will provide, I hope, some signposts as to what comes next.  

Philip's book list on liberal international order in the 21st century

Why did Philip love this book?

The book that has come closest to making me think it may really all be about oil after all! Or energy at least. Although written before the all-out Russian invasion of Ukraine, Thompson shows that the origins of the war go back far beyond 2014 or even 1991, but rather lie in the 1950s – when Anglo-French power in the MENA region was broken, first by the 1956 Suez War and then by Algeria’s secession from France in 1962, which in turn would lead to West Germany becoming dependent on the USSR for energy – a dependence that lasts to this day. Her account of the geopolitical consequences of the US fracking revolution is superb – prompting me to think that the Ukraine war can be seen as a battle over who will supply the European energy market. Once the LNG terminals in northern Europe are built, the US has…

By Helen Thompson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Getting to grips with the overlapping geopolitical, economic, and political crises faced by Western democratic societies in the 2020s.

The 21st century has brought a powerful tide of geopolitical, economic, and democratic shocks. Their fallout has led central banks to create over $25 trillion of new money, brought about a new age of geopolitical competition, destabilised the Middle East, ruptured the European Union, and exposed old political fault lines in the United States.

Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century is a long history of this present political moment. It recounts three histories - one about geopolitics, one about the…

The End of Loyalty

By Rick Wartzman,

Book cover of The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America

Benjamin C. Waterhouse Author Of Lobbying America: The Politics of Business from Nixon to NAFTA

From the list on why corporations are powerful but economy stinks.

Who am I?

I’m a professor of modern U.S. History and have written books explaining the political and cultural power of corporations, lobbyists, and business people in American life. To me, the signal event of recent history was when the rapid economic growth that followed WWII ended in the 1970s. From globalization and deindustrialization to the rise of authoritarianism under the guise of populism, from systemic racism and the rise of the carceral state to the proliferation of bad jobs and the gig economy—the effects of that historic change shape every aspect of modern life. But this topic can sometimes seem a little dry, so I’m always looking for books that help make sense of it.

Benjamin's book list on why corporations are powerful but economy stinks

Why did Benjamin love this book?

This book captures the decline of the traditional job—stable, well-paid, with a good chance of moving up—between World War II and the end of the 20th century. Wartzman is a clear, engaging writer who tells gripping stories about workers, bosses, chief executives, and politicians to explain what the old “social contract” between big companies and American society was, and why it disappeared. But he’s also particularly good at not overly romanticizing the earlier era, when huge swaths of people—like women, people of color, immigrants, the disabled, and others—were cut out of the workforce by prejudice and racism. This book makes business and labor history engaging and entertaining, even while it will make you mad about how bad things have become.

By Rick Wartzman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this richly detailed and eye-opening book, Rick Wartzman chronicles the erosion of the relationship between American companies and their workers. Through the stories of four major employers--General Motors, General Electric, Kodak, and Coca-Cola--he shows how big businesses once took responsibility for providing their workers and retirees with an array of social benefits. At the height of the post-World War II economy, these companies also believed that worker pay needed to be kept high in order to preserve morale and keep the economy humming. Productivity boomed.

But the corporate social contract didn't last. By tracing the ups and downs of…

A Most Enterprising Country

By Justin V. Hastings,

Book cover of A Most Enterprising Country: North Korea in the Global Economy

Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland Author Of Witness to Transformation: Refugee Insights Into North Korea

From the list on the North Korean economy.

Who are we?

We teamed up about fifteen years ago around a common interest in the political economy of North Korea; Haggard is a political scientist, Noland an economist. Both of us had spent our careers focused on Asia but looking largely at the capitalist successes: Japan and the newly industrializing countries of Korea, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. But what about the anomalous cases in the region that did not get on the growth train? The “Asian miracle” was hardly ubiquitous…what had gone wrong? North Korea was clearly the biggest puzzle, and we ended up researching and writing on the famine, refugees, and the complexities of international sanctions. 

Stephan and Marcus' book list on the North Korean economy

Why did Stephan and Marcus love this book?

The title of this book is doubly surprising. Is North Korea enterprising? And North Korea “in the world economy”? Isn’t it the hermit kingdom? Hastings picks up a theme that was central to our work on the famine: that the socialist sector in North Korea has undergone a secular decline while households and entrepreneurs have constructed a complex market economy that is partially above ground, partly below it. But Hastings goes further, showing how that market economy is integrally tied to China. And the book has the added attraction of focusing attention on lucrative black markets that range from amphetamine to counterfeited one hundred dollar bills. 

By Justin V. Hastings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Most Enterprising Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

North Korea has survived the end of the Cold War, massive famine, numerous regional crises, punishing sanctions, and international stigma. In A Most Enterprising Country, Justin V. Hastings explores the puzzle of how the most politically isolated state in the world nonetheless sustains itself in large part by international trade and integration into the global economy. The world's last Stalinist state is also one of the most enterprising, as Hastings shows through in-depth examinations of North Korea's import and export efforts, with a particular focus on restaurants, the weapons trade, and drug trafficking. Tracing the development of trade networks inside…

The Fate of Africa

By Martin Meredith,

Book cover of The Fate of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Author Of The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

From the list on rulers behaving badly in Africa.

Who am I?

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith are professors of politics at New York University. They use the mathematical approach of game theory to understand the incentives of leaders in different settings. The Dictator’s Handbook distills decades of academic work into a few essential rules that encapsulate how leaders come to power and remain there.

Bruce's book list on rulers behaving badly in Africa

Why did Bruce love this book?

The breadth of Meredith’s book makes it a true masterpiece. He covers the political history of virtually every African state from independence through the end of the century. Each chapter is as compelling as it is brutal.

By Martin Meredith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in 2005, The Fate of Africa was hailed by reviewers as "A masterpiece....The nonfiction book of the year" ( The New York Post ) "a magnificent achievement" ( Weekly Standard ) "a joy," ( Wall Street Journal ) and "one of the decade's most important works on Africa" ( Publishers Weekly , starred review). Now Martin Meredith has revised this classic history to incorporate important recent developments, including the Darfur crisis in Sudan, Robert Mugabe's continued destructive rule in Zimbabwe, controversies over Western aid and exploitation of Africa's resources, the growing importance and influence of China, and the…

A Theory of Economic History

By Sir John R. Hicks,

Book cover of A Theory of Economic History

Peter Temin Author Of The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy

From the list on racial and economic inequality in the USA.

Who am I?

Peter Temin is an economist and economic historian, currently a professor at MIT and the former head of the Economics Department. His research interests include macroeconomic history, the Great Depression, industry studies in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and ancient Rome. 

Peter's book list on racial and economic inequality in the USA

Why did Peter love this book?

I love this book for two reasons. It condenses a massive amount of economic history into a small book, and it shows how our unequal societies are backtracking to older models of the economy.

By Sir John R. Hicks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Theory of Economic History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Theory of Economic History