The most recommended international economics books

Who picked these books? Meet our 20 experts.

20 authors created a book list connected to international economics, and here are their favorite international economics books.
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What type of international economics book?


Book cover of A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World

Avinash Dixit Author Of The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life

From my list on economics and game theory.

Why am I passionate about this?

Avinash Dixit is an emeritus university professor of economics at Princeton. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was President of the American Economic Association for the year 2008.

Avinash's book list on economics and game theory

Avinash Dixit Why did Avinash love this book?

A brilliant sweep through the millennia of commerce around the world. If you think globalization happened over the last quarter-century, you are wrong by about 5000 years. Find out how and why.

By William J. Bernstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A sweeping narrative history of world trade—from Sumer in 3000 BC to the firestorm over globalization today—that brilliantly explores trade’s colorful and contentious past and provides fresh insights into social, political, cultural, and economic history, as well as a timely assessment of trade’s future.

Adam Smith wrote that man has an intrinsic “propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another.” But how did trade evolve to the point where we don’t think twice about biting into an apple from the other side of the world?

In A Splendid Exchange, William J. Bernstein tells the extraordinary story of global…

Book cover of Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Author Of The Longhouse of the Tarsier: Changing Landscapes, Gender and Well Being in Borneo

From my list on Indonesian life and policy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked in Indonesia much of the time between 1979 and 2009, with people living in forests. As an anthropologist, my work was initially ethnographic in nature, later linking such insights to policies relating to forests and people – as I worked at the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor (1995 – the present). Although later in my career, I worked in forests all over the tropics, my real love remains with Indonesia, where I worked the longest and learned the most. My most recent research was in 2019, when I returned to the first community I studied ethnographically in 1979-80.

Carol's book list on Indonesian life and policy

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Why did Carol love this book?

I love Tsing’s Friction, because of its focus on how policies play out in the real world. She is able, through her in-depth understanding of life in rural Central Kalimantan, to show us how Indonesian national policies are adapted, implemented, and perverted in the field. She talks about policy implementation as seeing ‘how the rubber hits the road,' and at the same time she provides the reader with a growing understanding of the lifeways of the people of that province.

By Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A wheel turns because of its encounter with the surface of the road; spinning in the air it goes nowhere. Rubbing two sticks together produces heat and light; one stick alone is just a stick. In both cases, it is friction that produces movement, action, effect. Challenging the widespread view that globalization invariably signifies a "clash" of cultures, anthropologist Anna Tsing here develops friction in its place as a metaphor for the diverse and conflicting social interactions that make up our contemporary world. She focuses on one particular "zone of awkward engagement"--the rainforests of Indonesia--where in the 1980s and the…

Book cover of World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability

John H. Sibley Author Of Being and Homelessness: notes from an underground artist

From my list on understanding homelessness and existentialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Chicago-based artist, author, veteran, and teacher. I studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago before enlisting in the United States Air Force in 1968 during the bloody Tet Offensive during the Vietnam era. Upon my discharge I got my BFA in 1994. I got convicted for a crime I did not commit, and I became a homeless-existential artist on Chicago’s mean streets for six months. I got hired by an Acoustic company, and I married and worked for twenty-seven years while raising a family. I now work as an art teacher. All my nonfiction books chronicle different episodes in my life. 

John's book list on understanding homelessness and existentialism

John H. Sibley Why did John love this book?

When I was a homeless artist, I stumbled across this brilliant book, and it validated my belief that contrary to what global capitalists believe, free markets outside the West do not spread wealth in the hands of an ‘outsider’ minority but instead generate ethnic envy and hatred among the frustrated, impoverished majorities.

Amy Chua states that billions of poor, exploited, and powerful people around the world (homeless and displaced) watch as the wealthy minority in the United States continues to amass more control, prestige, and tax breaks.

Ironically, Chua points out, although America is viewed “as arrogant, hegemonic and vapidly materialistic, most of the downtrodden would rather be in the U. S. than anywhere else. In 2023, close to 10 million illegal migrants have entered the U.S. via the porous Texas border.

By Amy Chua,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The reigning consensus holds that the combination of free markets and democracy would transform the third world and sweep away the ethnic hatred and religious zealotry associated with underdevelopment. In this revelatory investigation of the true impact of globalization, Yale Law School professor Amy Chua explains why many developing countries are in fact consumed by ethnic violence after adopting free market democracy.

Chua shows how in non-Western countries around the globe, free markets have concentrated starkly disproportionate wealth in the hands of a resented ethnic minority. These “market-dominant minorities” – Chinese in Southeast Asia, Croatians in the former Yugoslavia, whites…

Book cover of The Economy: Economics for a Changing World

Ana Espinola-Arredondo Author Of Intermediate Microeconomic Theory: Tools and Step-by-Step Examples

From my list on getting into microeconomics.

Why am I passionate about this?

When understanding the interactions in our economy, it is critical to recognize all participants in this complex system. I’m passionate about microeconomics because it provides me with a different perspective to examine the world around me. I use my microeconomic glasses and I enjoy rationalizing the daily interactions and predicting the potential outcomes.

Ana's book list on getting into microeconomics

Ana Espinola-Arredondo Why did Ana love this book?

This eBook, developed by faculty members from top institutions, is available for free from the developers’ website, offers several online resources, it's frequently updated, translated to several languages, and has been widely adopted in several countries.

The book includes both the usual topics for courses on introduction to microeconomics and introduction to macroeconomics, using a similar writing style as other introductory textbooks (assumes no mathematical background), thus being accessible to a wide range of students.

Unlike similar books, however, it structures topics differently: instead of presenting chapters according to the main tool or concept being introduced, chapters are presented according to real-world problems.

While this can help motivate each chapter, it may require some adapting from the instructor’s teaching style.

By The CORE Team,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The only introductory economics text to equip students to address today's pressing problems by mastering the conceptual and quantitative tools of contemporary economics.

OUP has partnered with the international collaborative project of CORE researchers and teachers to bring students a book and learning system that complements and enhances CORE's open-access online e-book.

The Economy:
- is a new approach that integrates recent developments in economics including contract theory, strategic interaction, behavioural economics and financial instability
- Engages with issues students of economics care about, exploring inequality, climate change, economic instability, wealth creation and innovation, among other issues.
- provides a…

Book cover of ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age

Yasuhiro Makimura Author Of Yokohama and the Silk Trade: How Eastern Japan Became the Primary Economic Region of Japan, 1843-1893

From my list on cities, their trades, and world trade.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the oldest questions is: why are some countries rich and some countries poor? Adam Smith famously answered that it was the division of labor (specialization) and trade in his book The Wealth of Nations. The more you study trade, however, the more complicated the answer becomes. I have been grappling with this question since the 1990s, as a student, and I still do not have a simple answer like Adam Smith. However, I think I have come up with a framework to understand how the economic history of the world developed and I have been teaching that global history in college as a professor since the 2010s.

Yasuhiro's book list on cities, their trades, and world trade

Yasuhiro Makimura Why did Yasuhiro love this book?

In ReOrient, A.G. Frank argues that this current situation in which the West is at the center of the world is a mere blip in terms of global history. Historically Asia was always the richer part of the globe and once again, in the near future, Asia will be the richest part of the globe again.

By Andre Gunder Frank,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Andre Gunder Frank asks us to re-orient our views away from Eurocentrism - to see the rise of the West as a mere blip in what was, and is again becoming, an Asia-centered world. In a bold challenge to received historiography and social theory he turns on its head the world according to Marx, Weber, and other theorists, including Polanyi, Rostow, Braudel, and Wallerstein. Frank explains the Rise of the West in world economic and demographic terms that relate it in a single historical sweep to the decline of the East around 1800. European states, he says, used the silver…

Book cover of National Power and the Structure of Foreign Trade

Stephen C. Nelson Author Of The Currency of Confidence: How Economic Beliefs Shape the IMF's Relationship with Its Borrowers

From my list on politics that shaped international economic order.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in North Dakota and raised outside of Minneapolis in the 1980s and 1990s, a period marked by the ascendance of global trade and finance. I got hooked on reading, thinking, and talking about the politics of international economic relations in college. Sufficiently hooked, I guess, that I applied to graduate school to try and make it my vocation. My research and teaching to this point have focused on how key political and ideational forces in domestic and world politics – namely, international organizations, shared economic beliefs, social conventions, and material interests – shape the governance of globalized markets and the crafting of countries’ foreign economic policies.

Stephen's book list on politics that shaped international economic order

Stephen C. Nelson Why did Stephen love this book?

Reading this book in graduate school was revelatory. It was mostly ignored upon publication. But in the subsequent eighty years Hirschman’s insights have become part of the bedrock of my field of international political economy.

The key idea is that countries seeking to enhance and expand their power can use “liberal” commercial strategies to induce economic and political dependency in smaller, weaker partners. It’s dangerous, in other words, to simply assume that more extensive trade and investment flows between countries will engender a more stable, peaceful international system.

Uncontrolled trade can aggravate tensions and facilitate international disorder. Hirschman arrives at a bold idea: surrendering national authority to follow global rules and institutions is the only way to counteract the harmful effects of massive power and wealth inequalities in world politics.

By Albert O. Hirschman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked National Power and the Structure of Foreign Trade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This study begins with a brief survey of economic thought on the relationship between foreign trade and national power, from the Mercantilists on. Chapter II attempts a systematic theoretical approach to the subject. It first makes clear the fundamental basis of the possible use of foreign trade as an instrument of national power policy. Using well-known concepts of economic analysis, it proceeds to show under what conditions and by means of what policies this instrument is likely to attain its highest efficiency. The principles of power policy thus deduced theoretically are then compared with the actual practices followed by German…

Book cover of The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization

Scott Waalkes Author Of The Fullness of Time in a Flat World

From my list on the religious ethics of globalization.

Why am I passionate about this?

My plan to write my book clicked after I bought an apple grown in New Zealand, 10,000 miles away from my home in Ohio. How did it make sense that we could buy apples so cheaply from so far away? What was the carbon footprint of that one transaction? Growing up in Michigan in the 1970s and 1980s, I had seen our industrial cities decay as trade globalized. Later I watched with horror as global financial markets crashed in 2008. With these experiences in mind, I wanted to write about both the benefits and the costs of globalization—and about its ethicsfor religious communities like mine. So I did.  

Scott's book list on the religious ethics of globalization

Scott Waalkes Why did Scott love this book?

Friedman, a longtime New York Times foreign affairs columnist, was one of the first to show me what I should love and hate about globalization, circa 1999, at the peak of Western support for neoliberal globalization.

Although his gee-whiz, gung-ho enthusiasm for the world of the Lexus (high-tech globalization with global supply chains and integrated financial markets) sometimes wears thin, he also covers the problems caused by globalization. He even appeals to the need for the “olive trees” of community, family, and religion to make globalization ethical.

Even when the breezy tone annoys me, this book is still my go-to guide for mapping the effects of globalization on business, economics, politics, culture, and the environment.

By Thomas L. Friedman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Lexus and the Olive Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brilliant investigation of globalization, the most significant socioeconomic trend in the world today, and how it is affecting everything we do-economically, politically, and culturally-abroad and at home.

As foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman crisscrosses the globe talking with the world's economic and political leaders, and reporting, as only he can, on what he sees. Now he has used his years of experience as a reporter and columnist to produce a pithy, trenchant, riveting look at the worldwide market forces that are driving today's economies and how they are playing out both internationally and…

Book cover of Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future

Sean Michael Wilson Author Of Clear Away the Clichés: A Guide Book for Students about Communism, Capitalism, Anarchism and Post-Capitalism

From Sean's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Graphic novel writer Journalist Political commentator SDG campaigner

Sean's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Sean Michael Wilson Why did Sean love this book?

This is a book on one of the 2 or 3 most important issues affecting the world: how we organize our society.

It’s a book looking at what is wrong with the present capitalist economic system and then suggesting what a better POST-capitalist economy and society might be. A massively important issue that people sometimes dismiss by saying ‘I’m not interested in politics’.

The book shows that attitude to be a big mistake because of all the ways that political and economic policies affect our lives. So, we better be involved and play our part in making things better. Also, the writer, Paul Mason, loves northern soul music which I’m also a big fan of! 

By Paul Mason,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The most important book about our economy and society to be published in my lifetime' Irvine Welsh

From Paul Mason, the award-winning Channel 4 presenter, Postcapitalism is a guide to our era of seismic economic change, and how we can build a more equal society.

Over the past two centuries or so, capitalism has undergone continual change - economic cycles that lurch from boom to bust - and has always emerged transformed and strengthened. Surveying this turbulent history, Paul Mason wonders whether today we are on the brink of a change so big, so profound, that this time capitalism itself,…

Book cover of Sterling-Dollar Diplomacy in Current Perspective: The Origins and the Prospects of Our International Economic Order

Francine McKenzie Author Of GATT and Global Order in the Postwar Era

From my list on why international trade is all about politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of history at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. I have written about the history of international organizations, international trade, the British Commonwealth, and Canada in the world. Although these topics have taken me in different directions, I have always examined the political currents that run through them. Politics emerge in relation to ideology, policymaking, leadership, norms, values, interests, identity, international relations, and global governance. I have been especially interested in connecting economics and politics. Many scholars write about trade policies, organizations, and negotiations as though they are technical and narrowly economic when they are agents, instruments, and expressions of international politics. 

Francine's book list on why international trade is all about politics

Francine McKenzie Why did Francine love this book?

If you can get past the title, this book is a model for how to write about international economic diplomacy.

Gardner connects technical matters like tariffs, exchange rates, quantitative restrictions, and loans to ideology, the status of nations, and relations between states. Set in the 1940s, it follows American and British efforts to set up the IMF, World Bank, and GATT.

Although officials believed that the highest political stakes were connected to trade – the peace and security of the world were at issue – they fought constantly about trade. 

Book cover of India Transformed: Twenty-Five Years of Economic Reforms

Thomas A. Timberg Author Of The Marwaris: From Jagat Seth to the Birlas

From my list on India now.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been trying to understand India’s evolution especially its economic path for the last half-century— by reading, traveling, and writing on aspects of that evolution. Originally this started with the Cold War concern about how a democracy would navigate using a democratic political system. So I took appropriate courses in college and graduate school, worked in India in the Peace Corps, and then spent a little under a decade teaching about it a doing research. For the following five decades I have continued my interest and publishing and studying. Whether I have understood much is for others to determine but these are my five book nominees.

Thomas' book list on India now

Thomas A. Timberg Why did Thomas love this book?

A summary of the dramatic economic transformation of India since 1991 by one of its key economic policymakers. Though abstracting from some of the debate about details, this is a readable presentation especially from the point of view of policymakers. What all of this meant for the general public can be seen in the next volume. Both but especially this volume are one of competing accounts of how it happened.   Success has many fathers.

By Rakesh Mohan (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this commemorative volume, India's top business leaders and economic luminaries come together to provide a balanced picture of the consequences of the country's economic reforms, which were initiated in 1991. What were the reforms? What were they intended for? How have they affected the overall functioning of the economy?

With contributions from Mukesh Ambani, Narayana Murthy, Sunil Mittal, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Shivshankar Menon, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, T.N. Ninan, Sanjaya Baru, Naushad Forbes, Omkar Goswami and R. Gopalakrishnan, India Transformed delves deep into the life of an economically liberalized India through the eyes of the people who helped transform it.