The best geopolitics books 📚

Browse the best books on geopolitics as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Prisoners of Geography, 1: Ten Maps That Explain Everything about the World

Prisoners of Geography, 1: Ten Maps That Explain Everything about the World

By Tim Marshall

Why this book?

Tim Marshall has had a long and illustrious career in journalism as a foreign correspondent and Prisoners of Geography absolutely sparkles with his fascinating insights and clarity of thought. How have the development and fate of modern nations been defined by their locale? This is Big History lapping right up to the newspaper headlines of today.

From the list:

The best books on big history

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Book cover of Outsourcing Empire: How Company-States Made the Modern World

Outsourcing Empire: How Company-States Made the Modern World

By Andrew Phillips, J.C. Sharman

Why this book?

The “company-states” of the book’s title include the East India companies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and their peers in other regions, like the Hudson’s Bay Company. These corporations enjoyed many of the powers of states: they hired troops, armed ships, waged war, and signed treaties with foreign rulers. Some came to govern empires. The authors explain how these hybrid geopolitical actors—part capitalist businesses, part polities—came to acquire a key role in global politics, and why they subsequently lost it. Modern multinationals can be geopolitical actors too, we imagine, but Phillips and Sharman show how different the capitalist order…

From the list:

The best books on economics and geopolitics

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Book cover of Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism

Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism

By Quinn Slobodian

Why this book?

Globalists is the best book I’ve read on neoliberalism. It explores the character and context of neoliberalism’s geopolitical project. Neoliberals believed that markets could function effectively only if “encased” by the right political institutions—legal or political frameworks that would protect them from the forces of economic nationalism, Keynesian planning, socialism, or the democratic aspirations of postcolonial states. Neoliberalism emerged in the decades after WWI as a strategy to restore what its proponents saw as the best features of the nineteenth-century world order: free trade, hard money, and a laissez-faire state. It acquired new urgency as a reaction against the economic…

From the list:

The best books on economics and geopolitics

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Book cover of Learning Empire: Globalization and the German Quest for World Status, 1875-1919

Learning Empire: Globalization and the German Quest for World Status, 1875-1919

By Erik Grimmer-Solem

Why this book?

I appreciate books that challenge my preconceptions. Grimmer-Solem does that by insisting that we understand German Weltpolitik before WWI not as an aberrant or markedly aggressive outlook, but as a normal response to the pressures and opportunities of turn-of-the-century world politics. The German search for colonies, spheres of influence, and a large navy were comparable to other nations—notably the United States. Such policies are unsurprising in a world where globalization has made developed nations dependent on intercontinental trade but where possibilities for future commerce and investment seemed to be closed off by the imperial scrambles of the late nineteenth century,…

From the list:

The best books on economics and geopolitics

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Book cover of Worldmaking After Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination

Worldmaking After Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination

By Adom Getachew

Why this book?

Getachew brings to life the geoeconomics of the postwar world from the point of view of decolonized nations. The international system into which they were admitted in the 1950s and 1960s was rigged to continue imperial relationships by a different name. “Worldmaking” refers to postcolonial states’ drive to transform the international system and make true self-determination possible. Leaders launched federation projects to reorient trade to other postcolonial nations and away from dependency on former imperial masters. In the 1970s they pressed for a New International Economic Order to change the terms of trade between North and South and unlock economic…

From the list:

The best books on economics and geopolitics

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Book cover of The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography

The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography

By Kären Wigen, Martin W. Lewis

Why this book?

In this fascinating and highly readable account of how we have come to think of the globe, Martin and Lewis (a geographer and historian respectively) introduce their reader to the historical construction, contingencies, and inconsistencies of our basic geographical building blocks. On what basis has the world been divided up into “east,” and “west,” and how, for example, did Japan come to be considered part of the “West?” Why do we think of continents as fixed entities rather than as conceptual categories for thinking about both space and culture? How do these categories shape our continuing perception of geographic space…

From the list:

The best reads for understanding geo-politics and the rise of the nation state in China from the late Ming - 20th century

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