The most recommended socialism books

Who picked these books? Meet our 43 experts.

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

What type of socialism book?

Loading...
Loading...

Book cover of Stalked by Socialism: An Escapee from Communism Shows How We'Re Sliding into Socialism

Andrei Znamenski Author Of Socialism as a Secular Creed: A Modern Global History

From my list on the history of socialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Andrei Znamenski spent 35 years exploring religions, ideologies, and utopias. Formerly Associate Professor at Alabama State University, a resident scholar at the US Library of Congress, and then a visiting professor at Hokkaido University in Japan, he is currently Professor of History at the University of Memphis. Znamenski studied indigenous religions of Siberia and North America, including Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism. At some point, he became intrigued with Western idealization and romanticization of non-Western cultures and spiritualities, the topic that he covered in his The Beauty of the Primitive: Shamanism and Western Imagination. His Socialism as a Secular Creed, which is a logical follow-up to that project, is an attempt to examine the socialist phenomenon as a political religion of the modern age.

Andrei's book list on the history of socialism

Andrei Znamenski Why did Andrei love this book?

This is a captivating, personalized memoir that simultaneously explores the current ascent of socialism in the United States. The author escaped Eastern European communism in 1988, during its decaying stage, and moved to the United States in hope that she would enjoy freedom of speech and individual liberty in this country. Yet, to her surprise, she had to deal with the escalating rise of the left in the United States that has been recently seeking to curtail the freedom of speech and impose a greater regulation, trying to replace equality of opportunity with the equality of outcomes. Designed as a warning for Western audiences, Kandlove’s book samples the miseries of her daily life under socialism in Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and the 1980s. She also provides revealing anecdotes of her encounters with various Western “useful idiots” who peddle socialism and do not want to learn from history.

By Jana Kandlova,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1988, 19 year-old Jana Kandlova (aka Jane Benson) escaped from communist Czechoslovakia and came to the United States to live and thrive in a free country. Upon her arrival, her euphoria was so intense she could actually "smell the freedom." But, thirty years later, she has become alarmed and anxious as she witnesses the United States heading towards many of the same socialistic/communist ideals she fought so hard to get away from. In this fascinating story, she sounds a serious warning to all who believe in "free lunch."


Book cover of North of South

Riccardo Orizio Author Of Lost White Tribes, Journeys Among the Forgotten

From my list on post colonial life in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write about unusual places, unusual people, and unusual stories. Places, people, and stories that are rough, different, authentic, often forgotten, full of troubled history and a magical present. 

Riccardo's book list on post colonial life in Africa

Riccardo Orizio Why did Riccardo love this book?

The “other Naipaul”, the younger brother who died too young to compete with VS, managed to leave behind some extraordinary examples of his talent. North of South discovers what 'liberation', 'revolution,' and 'socialism' meant to the ordinary people of Africa and it is the book of a contrarian who, brutally honest to the point of being dismissive, travels across a continent on a brink of change, but instead of adopting the easy line of praising it explains why he is not impressed. If you like irony that verges into sarcasm, you can’t miss it.

By Shiva Naipaul,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the 1970s Shiva Naipaul travelled to Africa, visiting Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia for several months. Through his experiences, the places he visited and his various encounters, he aimed to discover what 'liberation', 'revolution' and 'socialism' meant to the ordinary people. His journey of discovery is brilliantly documented in this intimate, comic and controversial portrayal of a continent on the brink of change.


Book cover of After Capitalism

Tom Malleson Author Of Against Inequality: The Practical and Ethical Case for Abolishing the Superrich

From my list on economic inequality and how to fix it.

Why am I passionate about this?

There are many big problems in the world today–racism, war, climate change, unaccountable governments, exploitative corporations, and so on. But when you scratch the surface of almost any serious problem, what you find is that the root of the problem is inequality: a minority of people are rich and powerful, while those who suffer the most are typically poor and powerless. I’m so passionate about inequality because, in my eyes, it constitutes the heart and soul of what’s wrong with our world and the key to making things better.

Tom's book list on economic inequality and how to fix it

Tom Malleson Why did Tom love this book?

Margaret Thatcher famously argued that “there is no alternative;” this book is the ultimate rebuttal.

I read this for the first time as an undergrad, and it forever changed me. What’s so powerful about it is that Schweickart lays out a simple but powerful model for a fundamentally different kind of society–a democratic socialist society based on economic democracy. He then carefully demonstrates that this alternative is not only feasible but that it would work far better than capitalism in pretty well every regard.

For anyone who has been searching for a clear and coherent alternative–this book is for you. 

By David Schweickart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since first published in 2002, After Capitalism has offered students and political activists alike a coherent vision of a viable and desirable alternative to capitalism. David Schweickart calls this system Economic Democracy, a successor-system to capitalism which preserves the efficiency strengths of a market economy while extending democracy to the workplace and to the structures of investment finance. In the second edition, Schweickart recognizes that increased globalization of companies has created greater than ever interdependent economies and the debate about the desirability of entrepreneurship is escalating. The new edition includes a new preface, completely updated data, reorganized chapters, and new…


Book cover of Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation

Dinesh C. Sharma Author Of The Outsourcer: The Story of India's IT Revolution

From my list on the history of modern India.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a journalist who has strayed into book writing with a particular interest in the history of post-independent and contemporary India. My interest in this subject developed as an offshoot of reporting on landmark changes during the period of economic liberalization in the 1990s. One of the astounding stories of this period was the rise of the technology industry and the outsourcing business. A deeper study of this took me back to the period of independence in 1947 and decades before it.  

Dinesh's book list on the history of modern India

Dinesh C. Sharma Why did Dinesh love this book?

It is a book on the history of modern India but told from the perspective of an entrepreneur and a business leader – and one of the architects of the IT revolution. It tells the story of ideas that dotted India’s transition from the era of socialism to that of liberalization and globalization, while highlighting successes and failures. It projects new ideas – technological as well as creative policy options - for meeting some of the pressing challenges of poverty, health, education, and economic growth. 

By Nandan Nilekani,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A visionary look at the evolution and future of India

In this momentous book, Nandan Nilekani traces the central ideas that shaped India's past and present and asks the key question of the future: How will India as a global power avoid the mistakes of earlier development models? As a co-founder of Infosys, a global leader in information technology, Nilekani has actively participated in the company's rise during the past twenty-seven years. In Imagining India, he uses his global experience and understanding to discuss the future of India and its role as a global citizen and emerging economic giant. Nilekani…


Book cover of Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy

Mark R. Reiff Author Of On Unemployment: A Micro-Theory of Economic Justice: Volume 1

From my list on what causes economic injustice.

Why am I passionate about this?

F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed, “there are no second acts in American lives.” But I am on my third. I started out in the theatre, then became a lawyer, and then a political philosopher. What drove each move is that I was always outraged by injustice and wanted to find a better way to fight against it. For me, reading, writing, and teaching political philosophy turned out to be that way. The books on this list provide important lessons on how certain economic policies can cause injustice while others can cure it. Each has been around for a long time, but they are as relevant today as when they were first written. 

Mark's book list on what causes economic injustice

Mark R. Reiff Why did Mark love this book?

A renowned economist and Harvard professor with a bit of a cult following, Schumpeter provides a realistic evaluation of what capitalism is and whether it can survive if it does not do more to help a wider range of people.

First published in 1942, Schumpeter’s fear was the rise of socialism, but what he had to say about the failings of capitalism back then applies with equal force today.

Schumpeter was the originator of the term “creative destruction” to describe how capitalism works, and Part II of the book was the inspiration for my paper, “Can Liberal Capitalism Survive?”

The book has never been out of print. 

By Joseph A Schumpeter,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Joseph Schumpeter’s classic Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy explains the process of capitalism’s 'creative destruction' — a key principle in understanding the logic of globalization." — Thomas L. Friedman, Foreign Policy

In this definitive third and final edition (1950) of his prophetic masterwork, Joseph A. Schumpeter introduced the world to the concept of “creative destruction,” which forever altered how global economics is approached and perceived. Now featuring a new introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning Schumpeter biographer Thomas K. McCraw, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy is essential read­ing for anyone who seeks to understand where the world economy is headed.

“If Keynes was the…


Book cover of Capital and Ideology

Tom Malleson Author Of Against Inequality: The Practical and Ethical Case for Abolishing the Superrich

From my list on economic inequality and how to fix it.

Why am I passionate about this?

There are many big problems in the world today–racism, war, climate change, unaccountable governments, exploitative corporations, and so on. But when you scratch the surface of almost any serious problem, what you find is that the root of the problem is inequality: a minority of people are rich and powerful, while those who suffer the most are typically poor and powerless. I’m so passionate about inequality because, in my eyes, it constitutes the heart and soul of what’s wrong with our world and the key to making things better.

Tom's book list on economic inequality and how to fix it

Tom Malleson Why did Tom love this book?

Thomas Piketty rose to international fame for his 2014 Capital in the Twenty-First Century. But this book is even better. At a whopping 1000 pages, it’s a magnum opus. A phenomenally interesting panoramic of inequality across human history.

With intricate detail and voluminous evidence, Piketty documents the rise and fall of inequality throughout the ages, depicting the ways in which ideologies have worked to bolster or undermine it. Anyone who reads this book will walk away with a far richer understanding of some of the core dynamics underlying human history.  

By Thomas Piketty, Arthur Goldhammer (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller
An NPR Best Book of the Year

The epic successor to one of the most important books of the century: at once a retelling of global history, a scathing critique of contemporary politics, and a bold proposal for a new and fairer economic system.

Thomas Piketty's bestselling Capital in the Twenty-First Century galvanized global debate about inequality. In this audacious follow-up, Piketty challenges us to revolutionize how we think about politics, ideology, and history. He exposes the ideas that have sustained inequality for the past millennium, reveals why the shallow politics of right and left…


Book cover of People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of American Civilization

Alex Krieger Author Of City on a Hill: Urban Idealism in America from the Puritans to the Present

From my list on aspirations and unfulfilled promises in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in the topic of these books has grown across four decades of teaching about cities and urban planning at Harvard, and in active practice as an architect and urban designer. At any moment a city’s very physicality reflects both a culture’s aspirations and the limitations of that culture to achieve those aspirations. Cities are, in a way, compromises in time: among efforts to preserve a past, overcome the challenges of the present, and pursuit of plans for the future. My book focuses on the role of American ideals especially in city and community building, while the five I recommend offer crucial counterpoints about the difficulties and setbacks encountered in reaching for national ideals.  

Alex's book list on aspirations and unfulfilled promises in America

Alex Krieger Why did Alex love this book?

For starters an absolutely brilliant book title: beautifully capturing the complexities of American culture, at once compelled by soaring social aspirations while tending to act out of pure individualism often with disdain for social impact. The narrative abounds in identifying seemingly contradictory national impulses – imported vs. Indigenous traditions, socialism vs. libertarianism, utopian vs. prosaic undertakings, the welcoming of and resisting of others – with the author arguing that through the interaction of such opposite impulses over time the particular genius of American society evolved. Kammen delights in reminding Americans of our “unstable pluralism,” and supports William James’ conclusion that “Americanism” continues to be a “volatile mixture of hopeful good and curable bad.”  Overall impressive scholarship and a delightful read.   

By Michael Kammen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the beginning, what has given our culture its distinctive texture, pattern, and thrust, according to Michael Kammen, is the dynamic interaction of the imported and the indigenous. He shows how, during the years of colonization, some ideas and institutions were transferred virtually intact from Britain, while, simultaneously, others were being transformed in the New World. As he unravels the tangled origins of our culture, he makes us see that unresolved contradictions in the American experience have created our national style. Puritanical and hedonistic, idealistic and materialistic, peace-loving and war-mongering: these opposing strands go back to the genesis of our…


Book cover of Mao's China and After: A History of the People's Republic

Mobo C.F. Gao Author Of Constructing China: Clashing Views of the People's Republic

From my list on understanding modern China.

Why am I passionate about this?

I currently teach Chinese studies at the Department of Asian Studies of the University of Adelaide. My publications include several books, and over a hundred book chapters/articles. My book Mandarin Chinese: An Introduction is a standard reference for learners of modern Chinese in English-speaking countries. Two of my books Gao Village: A Portrait of Modern Life in Rural China and Gao Village Revisited: Life of the Rural People in Contemporary China are case studies of Gao Village where I came from. Other books include the Battle of China's Past: Mao and the Cultural Revolution and Remembering Socialist China 1949 – 1976 which are reassessments of the Mao era and the Cultural Revolution. 

Mobo's book list on understanding modern China

Mobo C.F. Gao Why did Mobo love this book?

Generally speaking, there is a tendency both in China and the West to view the rise of China as the result of post-Mao reform. Mao is either perceived as a monster at worst or hopeless in economies at best. Deng Xiaoping takes the largest credit for China’s spectacular economic takeoff. Meisner is one of the first who presents a balanced view of China’s contemporary development, presenting convincing evidence to show that China’s industrialization and modernization started in the era of Mao.

By Maurice Meisner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When MAO'S CHINA first appeared in 1977, it was hailed as the single most useful general volume on recent Chinese history, covering every important question of the time with clarity and amazing insight. Now, Meisner brings the third edition of his definitive work, with new information provided throughout the classic study. Including a whole new section in Part Six, 'Deng Xiaoping and the Origins of Chinese Capitalism: 1976-1998', Meisner assesses the country's uneasy relationship with democracy, socialism and capitalism. Retaining the elegance, lucidity and comprehensiveness he is known for, Meisner moves far beyond his previous work to paint a never-before-seen…


Book cover of Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies

Andrei Znamenski Author Of Socialism as a Secular Creed: A Modern Global History

From my list on the history of socialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Andrei Znamenski spent 35 years exploring religions, ideologies, and utopias. Formerly Associate Professor at Alabama State University, a resident scholar at the US Library of Congress, and then a visiting professor at Hokkaido University in Japan, he is currently Professor of History at the University of Memphis. Znamenski studied indigenous religions of Siberia and North America, including Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism. At some point, he became intrigued with Western idealization and romanticization of non-Western cultures and spiritualities, the topic that he covered in his The Beauty of the Primitive: Shamanism and Western Imagination. His Socialism as a Secular Creed, which is a logical follow-up to that project, is an attempt to examine the socialist phenomenon as a political religion of the modern age.

Andrei's book list on the history of socialism

Andrei Znamenski Why did Andrei love this book?

This volume complements well the Muravchik book. Written in an easy user-friendly language, the text represents a set of short essays that deal with socialist construction in various countries (Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Kim Il Sung North Korea, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Castor’s Cuba, Chavez Venezuela). Besides these well-known cases of socialism, Niemietz, a libertarian scholar of a German extract, gives an excellent succinct analysis of the Eastern German communist regime from 1945 to its collapse in 1989.  The reader should also benefit from reading his comprehensive introductory chapter on the enduring appeal of socialism. Both high and home school and college instructors, who want to challenge the dominant socialism-friendly educational mainstream, may want to use Muravchik’s book and this one as textbooks.

By Christian Niemietz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Socialism is strangely impervious to refutation by real-world experience.
Over the past hundred years, there have been more than two dozen attempts to build a socialist society, from the Soviet Union to Maoist China to Venezuela. All of them have ended in varying degrees of failure.
But, according to socialism's adherents, that is only because none of these experiments were "real socialism".
This book documents the history of this, by now, standard response.
It shows how the claim of fake socialism is only ever made after the event. As long as a socialist project is in its prime, almost nobody…


Book cover of Communities of Resistance: Writings on Black Struggles for Socialism

Arun Kundnani Author Of The Muslims Are Coming: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror

From my list on racism in Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

Kundnani writes about racial capitalism and Islamophobia, surveillance and political violence, and Black radical movements. He is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, extremism, and the domestic War on Terror and The End of Tolerance: racism in 21st century Britain, which was selected as a New Statesman book of the year. He has written for the Nation, the Guardian, the Washington Post, Vice, and The Intercept. Born in London, he moved to New York in 2010. A former editor of the journal Race & Class, he was miseducated at Cambridge University, and holds a PhD from London Metropolitan University. He has been an Open Society fellow and a scholar-in-residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.

Arun's book list on racism in Britain

Arun Kundnani Why did Arun love this book?

A. Sivanandan was a key intellectual of the Asian and African-Caribbean working-class movements in Britain during their insurgent heyday from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. The essays collected in this volume, written between 1982 and 1990, are about how those movements were disaggregated and undermined – laying the ground for today’s racist Britain. The son of a rural postal clerk from the hinterland of a minor colonial territory, Sivanandan fled Sri Lanka after the anti-Tamil pogroms of 1958 and arrived in London as a refugee. The socialism the book advocates is poetic, loving, joyful, and centered upon the experiences of Third World peoples. Not a single sentence of Communities of Resistance is clunky or lacking in feeling.

By A. Sivanandan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ambalavaner Sivanandan was one of Britain's most influential radical thinkers. As Director of the Institute of Race Relations for forty years, his work changed the way that we think about race, racism, globalisation and resistance. Communities of Resistance collects together some of his most famous essays, including his excoriating polemic on Thatcherism and the left "The Hokum of New Times".

This updated edition contains a new preface by Gary Younge and an introduction by Arun Kundnani.