14 books directly related to geopolitics 📚

All 14 geopolitics books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Book cover of The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History

The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History

By Alexander Mikaberidze

Why this book?

Although the Napoleonic Wars are most commonly discussed from a French perspective, with their roots in ideology and the Wars of the French Revolution, they are increasingly being understood as the climax of conflicts over power and colonial possessions that had raged between the major European powers across the long eighteenth century. In this hugely ambitious and highly readable book, Alex Mikaberidze considers the Napoleonic Wars as part of a wider global conflict in which France and Britain struggled for dominance, a conflict that extended to the Americas, Egypt, Iran, the Indian Ocean, even to China and Japan, and assesses…

From the list:

The best books on the global history of the French Revolution and Empire

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of China and Africa: The New Era

China and Africa: The New Era

By Daniel Large

Why this book?

The ascent to power of Xi Jinxing in China in 2013 heralded a new era in China’s overseas engagements and in its domestic politics and economic policy; what Elizabeth Economy has called the “third revolution.” This fascinating book by Large brings the story of China’s engagements in Africa up to date. It is packed with fascinating details and analysis and shows how China’s interests on the continent are shifting from being primarily economic to being more geopolitical. It is a detailed and nuanced analysis of the changed nature of relations. 

From the list:

The best books on China’s global and African strategies

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The World According to China

The World According to China

By Elizabeth C. Economy

Why this book?

Liz Economy’s grasp of international relations is compelling and insightful as she sets out to explain how China sees itself in the world, especially in the light of the pandemic. Looking to recover its past glory and status, China under Xi Jinping has seized both on what he sees as the West’s economic and political failings, and China’s own accomplishments and size to advance new agendas. At home, a leftward lurch resembles a throwback to the Mao era. In the world, China wants to reshape global institutions to reflect better its interests and to get others, for example in The…

From the list:

The best books on understanding modern China

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate

Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate

By M. E. Sarotte

Why this book?

Not One Inch is the perfect book to understand the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Sarotte brilliantly describes the collapse of the Soviet Union, the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the origins of the existing tensions between the United States and Russia. Sarotte especially explains the original misunderstanding over the expansion of NATO that has beguiled European relations since 1990. This book is the perfect choice for a father who is interested in learning more about current global affairs.

From the list:

The best history books for Father’s Day

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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

Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century

By Helen Thompson

Why 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…

From the list:

The best books to understand the rise and fall of liberal international order in the 21st century

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Soulstealers: The Chinese Sorcery Scare of 1768

Soulstealers: The Chinese Sorcery Scare of 1768

By Philip A. Kuhn

Why this book?

Set in the heyday of Qing glory—or some might say at the beginning of its decline—Philip Kuhn traces a panic that swept through rural China in which commoners feared for the safety of their children’s lives at the hands of imagined bands of “soulstealers.” Alternately tracing allegations of incidents and the imperial response, which the reader gradually comes to understand is fueled by its own brand of paranoia, the author describes the intricate workings of bureaucratic procedure and justice in Qing China in which the emperor sometimes felt foiled by his own ‘deep state.’

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

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Thongchai: Siam Mapped Paper

Thongchai: Siam Mapped Paper

By Thongchai Winichakul

Why this book?

Tracing the emergence of the modern nation of Thailand from the Kingdom of Siam, Thongchai Winichakul demonstrates that the rulers of the emergent nation gradually adopted the same logic of national sovereignty and geopolitics as its colonial neighbors in the region, France and Britain. The implication is that in modernizing and reconfiguring what constitutes sovereignty Asian nations are not necessarily more benign than their western counterparts in extending their rule’ victims of western colonial aggression are not exempt from exercising similar forms of coercion against their own inner others. 

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

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of 'Merely for Money'?: Business Culture in the British Atlantic, 1750-1815

'Merely for Money'?: Business Culture in the British Atlantic, 1750-1815

By Sheryllynne Haggerty

Why this book?

Sheryllynne Haggerty is not the first to consider the issues of risk, obligation, and reputation in early-modern business – I might have chosen Craig Muldrew’s earlier The Economy of Obligation, for instance – but what marks this book apart is its interdisciplinary approach to business culture. Throughout, Haggerty skillfully interweaves the broad range of primary material she uses – including merchants’ letters, accounts, state papers, newspapers, and trade directories – with a theoretical framework drawing explicitly on socio-economic theory. The use of fascinating case studies and an engaging writing style makes this, despite being an excellent example of a…
From the list:

The best books on early-modern business history

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Atlas of the Invisible: Maps and Graphics That Will Change How You See the World

Atlas of the Invisible: Maps and Graphics That Will Change How You See the World

By James Cheshire, Oliver Uberti

Why this book?

Sometimes we need much more than words. Maps, diagrams, and artistic illustrations often provide a comprehensive view. Over the last few years there’s been a conceptual transformation in the graphic arts, culminating in wonderful portfolios of visual illustrations depicting global environmental change. This new project, Atlas of the Invisible, is among the best. The title is crucial as so often the most important trends and patterns of our times are hard to ascertain, and even more difficult to synthesize and interpret. It is hard to perceive environmental change because of the scale at which it takes place. Atlas of…

From the list:

The best books for deep environmental learning

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence

Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence

By Karen Armstrong

Why this book?

Armstrong, a former nun and author of many widely-read and well-reviewed books on the history of religion, takes the challenge of many critics who contend that violence is caused by religion. In a well-researched rebuttal, she chronicles the history of wars and attacks related to religion and finds that invariably they are caused by social and political conflict. Religion is just the vehicle through which they are expressed. Though she lets religion off too easily—she doesn’t explore why religion is so often associated with violence—her main point is on target. Religion doesn’t do anything by itself; we humans do.  

From the list:

The best books on religious violence

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.