The most recommended political books

Who picked these books? Meet our 2,453 experts.

2,453 authors created a book list connected to political, and here are their favorite political books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of political book?

Loading...
Loading...

Book cover of Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being

Kevin B. Anderson Author Of Lenin, Hegel, and Western Marxism: A Critical Study

From my list on philosophy and social theory.

Who am I?

All of the books I recommend offer both a very deep reading of our socio-economic situation in all its oppressiveness and alienation, and the possibility of an alternative. Only with such philosophical digging and reappropriation of dialectical thinkers of the past, beginning with Hegel and Marx, can we construct a humanist future. These books speak to my own life as a 1960s activist in the USA who has yearned ever since for a real, humanist social transformation in the face of so many setbacks for our cause, some of them self-inflicted.

Kevin's book list on philosophy and social theory

Kevin B. Anderson Why did Kevin love this book?

Paul Mason’s Clear Bright Future (the title is drawn from a declaration by Leon Trotsky), stands out as a manifesto of socialist humanism that takes on neoliberal ideology and the cyberworld of contemporary capitalism. The book also delivers a withering critique not only of their basic anti-humanism but also the anti-humanism of the academic left, still too much in the shadow of postmodernism, which Mason charges with helping to open the road toward the present state of affairs.

By Paul Mason,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Thrilling, brilliant, radical ... an admirable defence of humans against machines' Guardian

A passionate defence of humanity and a work of radical optimism from the international bestselling author of Postcapitalism

How do we preserve what makes us human in an age of uncertainty? Are we now just consumers shaped by market forces? A sequence of DNA? A collection of base instincts? Or will we soon be supplanted by algorithms and A.I. anyway?

In Clear Bright Future, Paul Mason calls for a radical, impassioned defence of the human being, our universal rights and freedoms and our power to change the world…


Book cover of Our Time Is Now

Pat Libby Author Of The Empowered Citizens Guide: 10 Steps to Passing a Law that Matters to You

From my list on inspiring you to make a difference.

Who am I?

I’ve dedicated my life to repairing the world. This work has taken on many forms – helping low-income people grow community gardens for food and beauty, providing fuel subsidies that helped people combat frigid New England winters, and working on building affordable housing and economic development programs in rural and urban communities. Ultimately, these experiences brought me to create graduate programs where students could learn how to lead healthy nonprofit organizations. Part of their education involved learning how to pass laws based on my own successful experience. I realized then that I had a passion for providing everyday citizens with simple tools they too could use to make a difference.    

Pat's book list on inspiring you to make a difference

Pat Libby Why did Pat love this book?

Stacey Abrams writes in a style that is so personal and compelling, you feel as if she is nestled in a nearby chair talking directly to you. If you live in a part of the country where voting is easy as pie, this book will give you a front-row seat into some of the incredible hurdles that untold numbers of Americans endure to exercise that right. But Abrams doesn’t just focus on the “woe is me” unfairness of it all. She provides insights on why we should and how we can fix this broken system. The book makes you want to leap off your seat and do something. Don’t let the fact that Abrams lost her most recent election deter you from reaping these valuable lessons.    

By Stacey Abrams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Time Is Now as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times bestselling author of Lead From The Outside and political leader Stacey Abrams, a blueprint to end voter suppression, empower our citizens, and take back our country.

"With each page, she inspires and empowers us to create systems that reflect a world in which all voices are heard and all people believe and feel that they matter." —Kerry Washington

A recognized expert on fair voting and civic engagement, Abrams chronicles a chilling account of how the right to vote and the principle of democracy have been and continue to be under attack. Abrams would have been the…


Book cover of The Cold War: A World History

Robert D. Kaplan Author Of In Europe's Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond

From my list on the Cold War from a journalist who lived it.

Who am I?

I began my career as a foreign correspondent in Cold War Eastern Europe, under communist domination. I lived in Greece, a Cold War battleground, in the 1980s, from where I made regular forays into the Balkans and Central Europe. Those journeys left a vivid, lifelong impression on me.

Robert's book list on the Cold War from a journalist who lived it

Robert D. Kaplan Why did Robert love this book?

This is a thick history of the Cold War that breaks new ground in that it shifts the emphasis from Europe, where the Cold War started and ended, to the Third World where it was actually fought in a bloody manner through a series of proxy wars, large and small.

By Odd Arne Westad,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Cold War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Odd Arne Westad's daring ambition, supra-nationalist intellect, polyglot sources, masterly scholarship and trenchant analysis make The Cold War a book ofresounding importance for appraising our global future as well as understanding our past' Richard Davenport-Hines, TLS, Books of the Year

As Germany and then Japan surrendered in 1945 there was a tremendous hope that a new and much better world could be created from the moral and physical ruins of the conflict. Instead, the combination of the huge power of the USA and USSR and the near-total collapse of most of their rivals created a unique, grim new environment: the…


Why We Hate: Understanding the Roots of Human Conflict

By Michael Ruse,

Book cover of Why We Hate: Understanding the Roots of Human Conflict

Michael Ruse Author Of Why We Hate: Understanding the Roots of Human Conflict

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Teacher (professor) Author Darwin specialist Charles Dickens fanatic

Michael's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Why We Hate asks why a social animal like Homo sapiens shows such hostility to fellow species members. The invasion of the Ukraine by Russia? The antisemitism found on US campuses in the last year? The answer and solution lies in the Darwinian theory of evolution through natural selection.

Being social is biology’s way of ensuring survival and reproduction. With the coming of agriculture 10,000 years ago, new conditions – primarily much-increased population numbers – meant that sociality broke down as we battled for our share of much-reduced resources. But, as cultural change brought about our troubles, so culture offers prospects of a future where our social natures can emerge and thrive again.

Why We Hate: Understanding the Roots of Human Conflict

By Michael Ruse,

What is this book about?

An insightful and probing exploration of the contradiction between humans' enormous capacity for hatred and their evolutionary development as a social species

Why We Hate tackles a pressing issue of both longstanding interest and fresh relevance: why a social species like Homo sapiens should nevertheless be so hateful to itself. We go to war and are prejudiced against our fellow human beings. We discriminate on the basis of nationality, class, race, sexual orientation, religion, and gender. Why are humans at once so social and so hateful to each other? In this book, prominent philosopher Michael Ruse looks at scientific
understandings…


Genres
  • Coming soon!

Book cover of An American Tune

Rita Dragonette Author Of The Fourteenth of September

From my list on the Vietnam War era by women writers.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by the role of women in war: men may be on the front lines, but women deal with its impact and often struggle to have equal standing. I was inspired by stories told by my mother who was a nurse in World War II and participated in surgery under gunfire and helped liberate a POW camp in Germany. Yet, no one wanted to hear from her because she was “just a nurse.” Fast forward to Vietnam where women were still being marginalized. I wrote The Fourteenth of September to even the playing field by telling a story that was largely based upon my own experience in college during l969-1970.

Rita's book list on the Vietnam War era by women writers

Rita Dragonette Why did Rita love this book?

A great story about the dark side of trying to do the right thing:

A radical, anti-Vietnam War protestor is involved in an incident where someone is inadvertently killed and is forced to go underground, where she builds a new identity and law-abiding life. Thirty years later she is recognized by a former classmate and, facing a long-delayed jail sentence, must find a way to explain it all to her family, friends, and above all, her daughter.

By Barbara Shoup,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

While reluctantly accompanying her husband and daughter to freshman orientation at Indiana University, Nora Quillen hears someone call her name, a name she has not heard in more than 25 years. Not even her husband knows that back in the '60s she was Jane Barth, a student deeply involved in the antiwar movement. An American Tune moves back and forth in time, telling the story of Jane, a girl from a working-class family who fled town after she was complicit in a deadly bombing, and Nora, the woman she became, a wife and mother living a quiet life in northern…


Book cover of The Radetzky March

Yiannis Gabriel Author Of Music and Story: A Two-Part Invention

From Yiannis' 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Storyteller Psychologist Classical music lover Myth lover Professor

Yiannis' 3 favorite reads in 2023

Yiannis Gabriel Why did Yiannis love this book?

This book offers a panorama of the Austro-Hungarian empire from the mid-nineteenth century to its collapse in the aftermath of World War I through the lives of three generations of minor provincial nobility. With the possible exception of War and Peace, there are few better examples of the intertwining of personal lives with world events.

The book offers a striking account of the inner life of a ruler, Emperor Franz-Josef, and a deeply felt account of the decay and collapse of an empire.

By Joseph Roth, Joachim Neugroschel (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Radetzky March as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE RADETSKY MARCH is subtle and touching study of family life at the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Writing in the traditional form of the family saga, Roth nevertheless manages to bring to his story a completely individual manner which gives at the same time the detailed and intimate portrait of a life and the wider panorama of a failing dynasty. Not yet well known in English-speaking countries, Joseph Roth is one of the most distinguished Austrian writers of our century, worthy to be bracketed with Musil and Kraus.


Book cover of Abraham Lincoln, His Speeches and Writings

Dennis E. Shasha Author Of The Puzzling Adventures of Dr. Ecco

From my list on to help you to think logically.

Who am I?

I became a scientist because I enjoyed the puzzles in Scientific American. I loved the notion that through mere thought, one could solve a question that at first glance seemed impossible to solve. When I had to design methods to detect ephemeral failures in electronic circuits underlying a mainframe computer, I created a puzzle having occasional liars. When I thought about ways to understand global wars, I constructed a puzzle about bullies in a playground. Some of my puzzles have been very computational, some purely paper and pencil. Over the years, my puzzles have appeared in Scientific American, Dr. Dobb’s Journal, and the Communications of the ACM.

Dennis' book list on to help you to think logically

Dennis E. Shasha Why did Dennis love this book?

Abraham Lincoln famously had little formal education but was capable of sophisticated logical thinking in his arguments. He credits his ability to form his arguments to his encounter with Euclid’s writings about geometry. He felt in awe by the notion of “demonstration” and went on to apply that notion to his compelling arguments about the injustice and hypocrisy of slavery. 

By Roy Basler, Carl Sandburg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Abraham Lincoln, His Speeches and Writings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume presents nearly 250 of Lincoln's most important speeches, state papers, and letters in their entirety. Here are not only the masterpieces,the Gettysburg Address, the Inaugural Addresses, the 1858 Republican Convention Speech, the Emancipation Proclamation,but hundreds of lesser-known gems. Alfred Kazin has written that Lincoln was "not just the greatest writer among our Presidents . . . but the most telling and unforgettable of all American'public' writer-speakers," and it's never been cleaner than in this comprehensive edition.


Book cover of Noble House

Stephen Allten Brown Author Of Stealing Picasso

From my list on taking you to unexpected places.

Who am I?

I have always loved history and art. Combining the two makes perfect sense and provides the inspiration to keep writing. I can spend hours in a museum, just soaking up the magic in Impressionist paintings. I never get tired of researching the artists or their paintings, and I relish the unexpected discoveries. 

Stephen's book list on taking you to unexpected places

Stephen Allten Brown Why did Stephen love this book?

Incredible character development, fascinating history, and a story that takes place in one week, yet has enough action and details to fill several years. [This book is what inspired me to incorporate dates and/or times/locations in my chapter headings.] The story is set in Hong Kong in the early 1960s and the author’s understanding of the culture clash between the British who think they are in control and the Chinese who are using them, while making plans for their inevitable exit.

By James Clavell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Taking place over the course of an eventful week in 1963 Hong Kong, James Clavell’s Noble House is a masterfully woven novel of true suspense.

Ian Dunross, the current tai-pan of the illustrious yet financially troubled Struan empire, is racing to undo the damage his predecessor left behind and to once again stand on stable ground. And he’ll do whatever it takes—including striking a hard-fought deal with an American millionaire. But his rival, Quillan Gornt, has other plans. Suddenly caught in a dubious plot involving Soviet spies, Hong Kong’s criminal underground, and the hostile takeover of his company, Dunross holds…


Book cover of Making History/Making Blintzes: How Two Red Diaper Babies Found Each Other and Discovered America

Paul Lauter Author Of Our Sixties: An Activist's History

From my list on how we made change in the 1960's.

Who am I?

Over the past 50 years, I've been one of those “tenured radicals” the right-wing loved to bash. But before that, during the 1960s, I worked, often full-time, in the social movements that did change America: civil rights, anti-war, feminism. I was older, so I became a “professor-activist.” As a teacher, I applied what I had learned in the movements to reconstruct ideas about which writers mattered—women as well as men, minorities as well as whites: Zora Neale Hurston, Frederick Douglass, Adrienne Rich as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway. Using that principle, I led a team that created a very successful collection, The Heath Anthology of American Literature.     

Paul's book list on how we made change in the 1960's

Paul Lauter Why did Paul love this book?

Mickey and Dick Flacks enjoyed a 60-year marital and political partnership that featured blintzes along with activism. Their joint memoir traces a century of American left history as they and their families created and lived it. Raised in the rich but insulated culture of the communist “old left” in the Bronx and Brooklyn, these founding figures of the "new left,” helped construct a post-sixties progressive movement in a once-conservative region of California. They have been trailblazers in the struggles for affordable housing, and leaders and mentors—including mein the on-going efforts to democratize higher education. Their activist left perspective on American possibilityunimaginable for too many Americansbelongs on our bookshelves. 

By Mickey Flacks, Dick Flacks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making History/Making Blintzes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Making History/Making Blintzes is a chronicle of the political and personal lives of progressive activists Richard (Dick) and Miriam (Mickey) Flacks, two of the founders of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). As active members of the Civil Rights movement and the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s, and leaders in today's social movements, their stories are a first-hand account of progressive American activism from the 1960s to the present.

Throughout this memoir, the couple demonstrates that their lifelong commitment to making history through social activism cannot be understood without returning to the deeply personal context of their family history-of…


Book cover of The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini

Peter Elbling Author Of The Food Taster

From my list on the brilliance of the Italian Renaissance.

Who am I?

Folk-singing was my first vocation, but I made a sudden left turn into comedy, becoming one-half of The Times Square Two. After a few years touring the world, I settled in Hollywood and became an actor, writer, and director. I was inspired to write The Food Taster by the maître d’ of a famous restaurant in Los Angeles. When I complained that my meal had made me ill, he smiled and said I should get myself a food taster.

Peter's book list on the brilliance of the Italian Renaissance

Peter Elbling Why did Peter love this book?

I appreciate people who don’t shrink from celebrating their own genius, and Benvenuto Cellini was indeed a genius at it. Still, I didn’t mind his boasting, whether it was about his intricate works as a goldsmith or his killing of a rival, for his sense of humor about himself more than made up for his monstrous ego. And even if he had left us nothing else but his autobiography, he bequeathed to us a brilliant record of the Renaissance.

By Benvenuto Cellini,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Benvenuto Cellini was a celebrated Renaissance sculptor and goldsmith - a passionate craftsman who was admired and resented by the most powerful political and artistic personalities in sixteenth-century Florence, Rome and Paris. He was also a murderer and a braggart, a shameless adventurer who at different times experienced both papal persecution and imprisonment, and the adulation of the royal court. Inn-keepers and prostitutes, kings and cardinals, artists and soldiers rub shoulders in the pages of his notorious autobiography: a vivid portrait of the manners and morals of both the rulers of the day and of their subjects. Written with supreme…


Book cover of Politics On the Edge

Andrew Crofts Author Of Confessions of a Ghostwriter

From Andrew's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Ghostwriter

Andrew's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Andrew Crofts Why did Andrew love this book?

Rory Stewart was a British politician with a wide experience of the world, who worked in a variety of Ministerial jobs and ran for the leadership against Boris Johnson.

His honesty about his own failings and the failings of the political system that we currently have, make him an endearing guide to life at the top of the political tree. He is a brilliant writer and a decent man, which makes him a rarity in today’s political landscape.

The reality of ministerial life and the helplessness of conviction politicians which he reveals is truly shocking.

By Rory Stewart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Politics On the Edge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A searing insider's account of ten extraordinary years in Parliament from Rory Stewart, former Cabinet minister and co-presenter of breakout hit podcast The Rest Is Politics

'An instant classic' MARINA HYDE
'At last a politician who can write' SEBASTIAN FAULKS
'Candid, angry, funny, and self-revelatory' JONATHAN DIMBLEBY
'Exceptional' RAFAEL BEHR

The Times pick for *The Biggest Books of the Autumn*

Over the course of a decade from 2010, Rory Stewart went from being a political outsider to standing for prime minister - before being sacked from a Conservative Party that he had come to barely recognise.

Tackling ministerial briefs on…