13 Best Political Science Books

The Best Political Science Books works of political thought, theory, political system, international relations, international politics, and comparative politics.

The Best Political Science Books works of political thought, theory, political system, international relations, international politics, and comparative politics. If you’re planning to study Politics at University, get a head start on these books now! You’ll need to be able to demonstrate your interest in your subject in order to put together a successful University application, and they’ll be required reading for any Politics-related undergraduate course. Also, help with this booklist if you are a political science researcher.

Best Political Science Books List:-

Every year, Thousand of Politics books published on the market, but only a select book is meaningful. This list of the books every Politics student and teacher should read covers everything from political science.

1. The Republic by Plato:-

The Republic by Plato
The Republic by Plato

Plato is the earliest Western philosopher from whose output complete works have been preserved. The Republic of Plato is a masterpiece of insight and feeling, the finest of the Socratic dialogues, and one of the great books of Western culture. At least twenty-five of his dialogues are extant, ranging from fewer than twenty to more than three hundred pages in length. For their combination of dramatic realism, poetic beauty, intellectual vitality, and emotional power they are unique in Western literature.

About the Translator 

Robin Waterfield is a distinguished translator and author. Previously a consultant editor for Collins-Harvill, his translations of Plato include Philebus (1982), Theatetus (1987), Early Socratic Dialogues (1987), and Symposium (WC, Jan 1994).

Key Features

  • Titles reaching across time and space, from the Pre-Socratic philosophers to Jane Austen
  • Valuable critical introductions were written by leading scholars to introduce the texts – perfect for first-time readers or seasoned veterans
  • Additional explanatory notes, chronologies, and bibliographies breathe new life into some of history’s greatest texts

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2. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill:-

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill is one of the few indisputably ‘classic’ authors in the history of political thought. On Liberty, first published in 1859, has become celebrated as the most powerful defense of the freedom of the individual, and it is now widely regarded as the most important theoretical foundation for Liberalism as a political creed. Similarly, his The Subjection of Women, a powerful indictment of the political, social, and economic position of women, has become one of the cardinal documents of modem feminism. This edition brings together these two classic texts, plus Mill’s posthumous Chapters on Socialism, his somewhat neglected examination of the strengths and weaknesses of various forms of Socialism. The Editor’s substantial Introduction places these three works in the context both of Mill’s life and of nineteenth-century intellectual and political history and assesses their continuing relevance. There is also a Chronology of Mill’s life, a Bibliographical Guide, and a Biographical Appendix of names cited in the texts.

As in On Liberty, the values of human dignity, freedom, and self-development provide the foundation for Mill’s attack on existing social arrangements, and it is these values which underlie his sympathetic but ultimately skeptical analysis of what has become the great rival political theory to liberalism in the modern world, namely socialism. Mill’s Chapters on Socialism constitute the first pan of a projected book on the subject which was left unfinished at his death. Partly for that reason, it has remained one of the less celebrated of Mill’s works, but it addresses from a different angle several of the issues raised by the other two books reprinted in this volume. The three taken together thus provide a particularly accessible and compact introduction to what remains distinctive and attractive about Mill as a political thinker.

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3.The Human Condition, by Hannah Arendt:-

The Human Condition, by Hannah Arendt
The Human Condition, by Hannah Arendt

This is a brilliant book that will change the way you think about the possibilities of politics and the potential for humans, acting together, to generate power and change their shared world. Writing in the depths of the Cold War, Arendt was prescient about the internal threats to the U.S. and also the potential that was realized thirty years later when the Iron Curtain crumbled.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) taught political science and philosophy at The New School for Social Research in New York and the University of Chicago. Widely acclaimed as a brilliant and original thinker, her works include Eichmann in Jerusalem and The Human Condition.

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4. Anarchy, State, and Utopia by Robert Nozick:-

Anarchy, State, and Utopia Reprint Edition by Robert NozickIn this brilliant and widely acclaimed book, winner of the 1975 National Book Award, Robert Nozick challenges the most commonly held political and social positions of our age — liberal, socialist, and conservative.

Best read in conjunction with John Rawls’ “A Theory of Justice,” Nozick’s book is a classic of political thought. He advances a simple, elegant, and difficult-to-argue-with libertarianism, one that forms a foundation for libertarian thinking today. Whether or not you agree with him, this is essential reading for anyone trying to understand libertarian philosophy today.

About the Author

Robert Nozick (1938-2002) was the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. The author of numerous books including The Examined Life and Philosophical Explanations, Nozick was the recipient of the National Book Award for Anarchy, State, and Utopia.

5.Law’s Empire by Ronald Dworkin.

Law's Empire by Ronald Dworkin
Law’s Empire by Ronald Dworkin

“Refreshing and rewarding… Law’s Empire is Dworkin’s framework for the analysis of critical issues in law; and such are the elegance and power of the book that one who has read it may find it hard to return patiently to the stale and shallow categories…in which so much argument about the role of judges is nowadays conducted.”Edwin M. Yoder, Jr.Washington Post Book World.

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The great book of legal philosophy in the 20th century was Hart’s “The Concept of Law,” but I would put this book at number two. It is beautifully written and meticulously worked out. There is much to learn from this book about the law and about how to think creatively about any subject!.

‘Ronald Dworkin is America’s leading legal philosopher . . . testimony to his eminence, evidencing his analytical ingenuity, powerful imagination, and elegant concepualization. No subject ever seems quite the same after one has read Dworkin’s treatment of it.’–London Review of Books

About the Author

Ronald Dworkin was Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law and Philosophy at New York University.

06.Democracy and Education by John Dewey (Author), Jo Ann Boydston (Editor), Dr. Sidney Hook Ph.D. (Introduction)

The Middle Works of John Dewey, Volume 9, 1899-1924: Democracy and Education by John Dewey (Author), Jo Ann Boydston (Editor), Dr. Sidney Hook Ph.D. (Introduction) John Dewey’s classic work Democracy and Education is presented here in an authoritative edition with an introduction by Sidney Hook. Although Dewey’s publishing agreement called for him to write a “Textbook on the Philosophy of Education,” he said not long after it appeared that “Democracy and Education, in spite of its title, is the closest attempt I have made to sum up my entire philosophical position.” The Collected Works of John Dewey, 1882-1953, thirty-seven volumes divided into early works, middle works, and later works, plus index, includes all the books and articles published during John Dewey’s intellectual career from 1882 to 1952 as well as selected personal correspondence and posthumous publications. This definitive series makes accessible the distinctive thought of America’s national philosopher.

No serious student of twentieth-century American intellectual, social, or political history can get along without The Collected Works of John Dewey? —Richard Rorty, professor emeritus of comparative literature and philosophy, Stanford University The Collected Works is the indispensable tool for the study of lohn Dewey’s thought? —Hilary Putnam, Cogan University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University ‘The Collected Works of john Dewey is the must-have resource for all serious students of education.” —Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, Charles Warren Professor of the History of American Education, Harvard University Jo Ann Boydston, director of the Center for Dewey Studies from 1966 through 1993, is the general editor of The Collected Works of John Dewey and the editor and author of several other works on Dewey.

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07.Man, the State, and War by Kenneth N. Waltz

Man, the State, and War by Kenneth N. WaltzIn this thoughtful inquiry into the views of classical political theory on the nature and causes of war, Professor Waltz follows three principal themes or images: war as a consequence of the nature and behavior of man, as an outcome of their internal organization of states, and as a product of international anarchy. ― Foreign Affairs

Despite the changes in the world, the text stands as a classic effort to explain why men and nations fight. ― Military Review

About the Author

Kenneth N. Waltz is a recipient of the James Madison Award for distinguished scholarly contributions to political science from the American Political Science Association. He is Ford Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, and is now at the Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. He is the author of Foreign Policy and Democratic Politics, Theory of International Politics, and coauthor of The Spread of Nuclear Weapons.

8.Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA (1835, 1840) has had the singular honor of being up to this very day the work to which political commentators and pundits of every stripe invariably refer when they seek to draw large conclusions about the society of the United States. In fact, so uncanny is Tocqueville’s insight, so accurate arc his predictions, that it often seems, as one reads his masterpiece, that this young French aristocrat is not merely describing the American identity, but actually helping to create it.

About the Author

Alexis de Tocqueville was born in 1805 to a noble French family that had survived the French Revolution. His father gained some political power under the reign of the Bourbons, and after the July Revolution of 1830, the family was exiled along with the king. Tocqueville, then twenty-five years old, stayed in France, swearing allegiance to the new government. Shortly thereafter he and a friend, Gustave de Beaumont, sought and received a government assignment to study the prison system of the United States. They arrived in America in 1831. After extensive travels across the young nation, Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America (published in two volumes in 1835 and 1840). The publication of the first volume made Tocqueville a well-known figure, but he led a quiet life, accepting modest governmental posts, traveling around Europe, and marrying an Englishwoman. In 1848, Tocqueville once again rose to political prominence after a prescient speech that foretold of revolution. After serving through the massive upheavals and overthrows of government, Tocqueville retired from political life in 1849. Always weak in health, his lung disease grew progressively worse from that period on. Moving south several times on doctor’s recommendations, Tocqueville succumbed to death in 1859, in Cannes.

9. The Marx-Engels Reader by Robert C. Tucker, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels

The Marx-Engels Reader by Robert C. Tucker, Karl Marx, Friedrich EngelsA great collection of some of the well known and even a few lesser known works of the intelligent Marx and Engels. An essential book for an introduction to Marxist philosophy and ideology. The range within the collection is impressive and gives a breadth of understanding.

About the Author

Friedrich Engels was born in 1820, in the German city of Barmen. He died in London in 1895 while editing the fourth volume of Capital.

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Karl Marx studied law and philosophy at the universities of Bonn and Berlin, completing his doctorate in 1841. Expelled from Prussia in 1844, he took up residence first in Paris and then in London where, in 1867, he published his magnum opus Capital. A co-founder of the International Workingmen’s Association in 1864, Marx died in London in 1883.

Robert C. Tucker is professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University and past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies.

10. Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age by Larry M. Bartels.

Unequal Democracy
Unequal Democracy

Unequal Democracy makes the choice voters face clear: Democratic policies spread the wealth and Republican policies protect the wealthy.”—Julian E. Zelizer, The Huffington Post

“I recommend Larry M. Bartels’s Unequal Democracy. Especially at this time every thoughtful American needs to learn as much as possible about the relationship of politics to economics.”—Bill Clinton, Daily Beast

Unequal Democracy is the sort of book to which every political scientist should aspire―it is methodologically rigorous, conceptually serious, and above all, it addresses urgent concerns of our fellow citizens. As Bartels shows, much of what we think we know about the politics of economic inequality is dead wrong. Bartels’s perplexing and often unexpected discoveries should help refocus the gathering public debate about inequality and what to do about it.”―Robert D. Putnam, author of Bowling Alone

“A short review cannot convey the rich variety of arguments and data Bartels deploys in making his case. Some of his analysis focuses on broadly characterized partisan differences, some on high profile examples such as the politics of the minimum wage and the estate tax. He will have done a considerable service if the next time we start thinking about economics we also think about politics. Bartels shows that social issues do not create as strong a headwind against class-based voting as is often assumed and that lower income voters do tend to vote Democratic while upper-income voters do tend to vote Republican. Unequal Democracy offers an important case for why this might be.”—Robert Grafstein, Science

“This is a fantastic book, a real tour de force. It is a hugely important study of increasing economic inequality in America and the failure of the political system to mitigate its effects on poor citizens. It is the best work that has been done on the political economy of income inequality.”―Thomas Mann, Brookings Institution

“For a book targeted at both academic and nonacademic audiences, Bartels strikes a nice balance between exhaustive empirical rigor and accessibility. . . . Bartels gives us a wide-ranging framework for thinking about the ways that citizens interact with the political system, and in so doing maps an agenda for the next generation of research on American democracy in action.”—Nicholas J. G. Winter, Public Opinion Quarterly

“Winner of the 2009 Gladys M. Kammerer Award, American Political Science Association”

“Extraordinarily insightful.”—Bob Braun, Newark Star-Ledger

“Larry Bartels’s Unequal Democracy is a major landmark in political scientists’ efforts to grapple with inequality. . . . Bartels has done so much, and has done it so well, that anyone who quibbles with his interpretations or suggests that he has left important questions unanswered is likely to seem ungenerous, even churlish. . . . Unequal Democracy should be taken as a major contribution and as a touchstone for further research.”—Benjamin I. Page, Perspectives on Politics

“Bartel is correct in drawing attention to the tension between the egalitarian values that Americans hold and their apparent toleration for growing economic inequality. And at every step of the argument, he defines and analyzes interesting and relevant evidence.”—Richard R. John, Forum

From the Back Cover

Unequal Democracy is the sort of book to which every political scientist should aspire–it is methodologically rigorous, conceptually serious, and above all, it addresses urgent concerns of our fellow citizens. As Bartels shows, much of what we think we know about the politics of economic inequality is dead wrong. Bartels’s perplexing and often unexpected discoveries should help refocus the gathering public debate about inequality and what to do about it.”–Robert D. Putnam, author ofBowling Alone

“This is a fantastic book, a real tour de force. It is a hugely important study of increasing economic inequality in America and the failure of the political system to mitigate its effects on poor citizens. It is the best work that has been done on the political economy of income inequality.”–Thomas Mann, Brookings Institution

Unequal Democracy completes the story of why America’s wealthy have become superrich. As Larry Bartels, one of the nation’s top political scientists, convincingly demonstrates, the rich get richer when the Republicans are in power and when the less affluent fail to vote. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants answers to why so many of America’s working- and middle-class families are struggling to get by.”–Thomas E. Patterson, Harvard University

“Economists tend to see economic inequality as the unhappy but unavoidable result of markets–working-class people have to become relatively poorer because they are competing in a globalized world. This book suggests that economists are wrong and that the growing inequality in America is not the product of world forces but of Republican administrations during which income grows more slowly, inequality soars, and no one notices because they pump up the economy during election years. Low-income people have very little influence but which party is in power makes a vast difference for their fate. If you care about economic justice, you need to seriously examine the powerful data in this book and recognize that we can choose a better, fairer society.”–Gary Orfield, University of California, Los Angeles

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“No political scientist is more widely or rightly respected than Larry Bartels, andUnequal Democracy is a brilliant book that only he could have written. The book proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the main fault for sizable socioeconomic inequalities in America lies not in our economy but in our increasingly polarized and partisan politics. With intellectual force, Unequal Democracy pulls back the sheets on Washington’s pamper-the-rich policy process and offers ideas about how we can do better by average citizens and the poor. It is Bartels at his very best, and his very best is the best there is.”–John J. DiIulio, Jr., University of Pennsylvania, former director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

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11. A Theory of Justice by John Rawls.

A Theory of Justice by John Rawls
A Theory of Justice by John Rawls

John Rawls aims to express an essential part of the common core of the democratic tradition―justice as fairness―and to provide an alternative to utilitarianism, which had dominated the Anglo-Saxon tradition of political thought since the nineteenth century. Rawls substitutes the ideal of the social contract as a more satisfactory account of the basic rights and liberties of citizens as free and equal persons. “Each person,” writes Rawls, “possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override.” Advancing the ideas of Rousseau, Kant, Emerson, and Lincoln, Rawls’s theory is as powerful today as it was when first published.

Though the revised edition of A Theory of Justice, published in 1999, is the definitive statement of Rawls’s view, much of the extensive literature on his theory refers to the original. This first edition is available for scholars and serious students of Rawls’s work.

Review

“John Rawls draws on the most subtle techniques of contemporary analytic philosophy to provide the social contract tradition with what is, from a philosophical point of view at least, the most formidable defense it has yet received…[and] makes available the powerful intellectual resources and the comprehensive approach that have so far eluded antiutilitarians.”Marshall CohenNew York Times Book Review

“The most substantial and interesting contribution to moral philosophy since the war.”Stuart HampshireNew York Review of Books

“I mean…to press my recommendation of [this book] to non-philosophers, especially those holding positions of responsibility in law and government. For the topic with which it deals is central to this country’s purposes, and the misunderstanding of that topic is central to its difficulties.”Peter CawsNew Republic

About the Author

John Rawls was James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University. He was recipient of the 1999 National Humanities Medal.
12. The Rational Public by Benjamin I. Page, Robert Y. Shapiro
The Rational Public by Benjamin I. Page, Robert Y. ShapiroDrawing on an enormous body of research, Benjamin I. Page and Robert Y. Shapiro provide the richest available portrait of the political views of Americans, from the 1930s to 1990. Their comprehensive critical survey of the policy preferences of the American public covers all types of domestic and foreign policy issues, and considers how opinions vary by age. gender. race. region. and other factors.
“The Rational Public seeks definitive answers to questions which have troubled a genera-tion of scholars concerning the rationality of the American electorate. This substantial volume, the work of years of research and reflection, offers the most persuasive resolu-tion to the controversy that we are likely to see in our time. In the process, Page and Shapiro provide a detailed, carefully charted, and elegantly executed history of American public opinion over more than half a century.
There is a longstanding argument that it is rational for individuals to invest little time in acquiring political knowledge; Page and Shapiro nevertheless overwhelmingly demonstrate that at the collective level, public opinion displays impressive characteristics of stability, rational responsiveness to concrete political situations, and the capacity to adapt as new issues become available and change the contours of these situations.
“The Rational Republic is required reading for any scholar or journalist who deals with American public opinion.” —Walter Dean Burnham, University of Texas, Austin
“The Rational Public is especially noteworthy in its efforts to link the opinions of the citi-zenry with the real world of politics that acts upon and is acted upon by those opinions. This book will rank with The American Voter and The Changing American Voter as mile-stones in the study of American public opinion.” —Morris Fiorina, Harvard University
Benjamin I. Page is the Gordon Scott Fulcher Professor of Decision Making in the Department of Political Science at Northwestern University. He is the author of Who Deliberates? and the coauthor of What Government Can Do and Class War?, all published by the University of Chicago Press. Robert Y. Shapiro is professor of political science at Columbia University and the coauthor of Politicians Don’t Pander, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

13. Political Institutions under Dictatorship by Jennifer Gandhi:-

Political Institutions under Dictatorship
Political Institutions under Dictatorship

Often dismissed as window-dressing, nominally democratic institutions, such as legislatures and political parties, play an important role in non-democratic regimes. In a comprehensive cross-national study of all non-democratic states from 1946 to 2002 that examines the political uses of these institutions by dictators, Gandhi finds that legislative and partisan institutions are an important component in the operation and survival of authoritarian regimes. She examines how and why these institutions are useful to dictatorships in maintaining power, analyzing the way dictators utilize institutions as a forum in which to organize political concessions to potential opposition in an effort to neutralize threats to their power and to solicit cooperation from groups outside of the ruling elite. The use of legislatures and parties to co-opt opposition results in significant institutional effects on policies and outcomes under dictatorship.

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