BooksPolitical studies

Discover 15 Influential Political Science Books Everyone Should Read

From experts in their fields, these political science books cover global issues that are important for anyone wanting to stay on top of current issues.

War Against All Puerto Ricans

by Nelson A Denis

War Against All Puerto Ricans

The powerful, untold story of the 1950 revolution in Puerto Rico and the long history of U.S. intervention on the island, that the New York Times says “could not be more timely.”

In 1950, after over fifty years of military occupation and colonial rule, the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico staged an unsuccessful armed insurrection against the United States. Violence swept through the island: assassins were sent to kill President Harry Truman, gunfights roared in eight towns, police stations and post offices were burned down. In order to suppress this uprising, the US Army deployed thousands of troops and bombarded two towns, marking the first time in history that the US government bombed its own citizens.

Nelson A. Denis tells this powerful story through the controversial life of Pedro Albizu Campos, who served as the president of the Nationalist Party. A lawyer, chemical engineer, and the first Puerto Rican to graduate from Harvard Law School, Albizu Campos was imprisoned for twenty-five years and died under mysterious circumstances. By tracing his life and death, Denis shows how the journey of Albizu Campos is part of a larger story of Puerto Rico and US colonialism.

Through oral histories, personal interviews, eyewitness accounts, congressional testimony, and recently declassified FBI files, War Against All Puerto Ricans tells the story of a forgotten revolution and its context in Puerto Rico’s history, from the US invasion in 1898 to the modern-day struggle for self-determination. Denis provides an unflinching account of the gunfights, prison riots, political intrigue, FBI and CIA covert activity, and mass hysteria that accompanied this tumultuous period in Puerto Rican history.

An Unlikely Journey

by Julian Castro

Julian Castro, 2020 Presidential candidate, keynote speaker at the 2012 DNC, and former San Antonio mayor and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, tells his remarkable and inspiring life story.

In the spirit of a young Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father comes a candid and compelling memoir about race and poverty in America. In many ways, there was no reason Julian Castro would have been expected to be a success. Born to unmarried parents in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of a struggling city, his prospects of escaping his circumstance seemed bleak.

But he and his twin brother Joaquin had something going for them: their mother. A former political activist, she provided the launch pad for what would become an astonishing ascent. Julian and Joaquin would go on to attend Stanford and Harvard before entering politics at the ripe age of 26. Soon after, Joaquin become a state representative and Julian was elected mayor of San Antonio, a city he helped revitalize and transform into one of the country’s leading economies.

His success in Texas propelled him onto the national stage, where he was the keynote speaker at the 2012 DNC — the same spot President Obama held three conventions prior — and then to Washington D.C. where he served as the Obama Administration’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

After being shortlisted as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton, he became a 2020 Presidential candidate. Julian Castro’s story not only affirms the American dream, but also resonates with millions, who in an age of political cynicism and hardening hearts are searching for a new hero. No matter one’s politics, this book is the transcendent story of a resilient family and the unlikely journey of an emerging national icon.

Youth to Power

by Jamie Margolin

Foreword by Greta Thunberg

**Winner of the 2020 Nautilus GOLD Award for YA Nonfiction**

“Jamie Margolin is among the powerful and inspiring youth activists leading a movement to demand urgent action on the climate crisis. With determined purpose and moral clarity, Jamie is pushing political leaders to develop ambitious plans to confront this existential threat to humanity. Youth To Power is an essential how-to for anyone of any age who feels called to act to protect our planet for future generations.”
— Former Vice President Al Gore

Climate change activist and Zero Hour cofounder Jamie Margolin offers the essential guide to changemaking for young people.

The 1963 Children’s March. The 2016 Dakota Access Pipeline protests. March for Our Lives, and School Strike for Climate. What do all these social justice movements have in common?

They were led by passionate, informed, engaged young people.

Jamie Margolin has been organizing and protesting since she was fourteen years old. Now the co-leader of a global climate action movement, she knows better than most how powerful a young person can be. You don’t have to be able to vote or hold positions of power to change the world.

In Youth to Power, Jamie presents the essential guide to changemaking, with advice on writing and pitching op-eds, organizing successful events and peaceful protests, time management as a student activist, utilizing social and traditional media to spread a message, and sustaining long-term action. She features interviews with prominent young activists including Tokata Iron Eyes of the #NoDAPL movement and Nupol Kiazolu of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, who give guidance on handling backlash, keeping your mental health a priority, and how to avoid getting taken advantage of.

Jamie walks readers through every step of what effective, healthy, intersectional activism looks like. Young people have a lot to say, and Youth to Power will give you the tools to raise your voice.

The Good Immigrant

Edited by Nikesh Shukla

Edited by Chimene Suleyman

By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, troubling and uplifting, these “electric” essays come together to create a provocative, conversation-sparking, multivocal portrait of modern America (The Washington Post).

From Trump’s proposed border wall and travel ban to the marching of white supremacists in Charlottesville, America is consumed by tensions over immigration and the question of which bodies are welcome. In this much-anticipated follow-up to the bestselling UK edition, hailed by Zadie Smith as “lively and vital,” editors Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman hand the microphone to an incredible range of writers whose humanity and right to be here is under attack.

  • Chigozie Obioma unpacks an Igbo proverb that helped him navigate his journey to America from Nigeria.
  • Jenny Zhang analyzes cultural appropriation in 90s fashion, recalling her own pain and confusion as a teenager trying to fit in.
  • Fatimah Asghar describes the flood of memory and emotion triggered by an encounter with an Uber driver from Kashmir.
  • Alexander Chee writes of a visit to Korea that changed his relationship to his heritage.

These writers, and the many others in this urgent collection, share powerful personal stories of living between cultures and languages while struggling to figure out who they are and where they belong.

Has China Won?

by Kishore Mahbubani

The defining geopolitical contest of the twenty-first century is between China and the US. But is it avoidable? And if it happens, is the outcome already inevitable?

China and America are world powers without serious rivals. They eye each other warily across the Pacific; they communicate poorly; there seems little natural empathy. A massive geopolitical contest has begun.

America prizes freedom; China values freedom from chaos.

America values strategic decisiveness; China values patience.

America is becoming society of lasting inequality; China a meritocracy.

America has abandoned multilateralism; China welcomes it.

Kishore Mahbubani, a diplomat and scholar with unrivalled access to policymakers in Beijing and Washington, has written the definitive guide to the deep fault lines in the relationship, a clear-eyed assessment of the risk of any confrontation, and a bracingly honest appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses, and superpower eccentricities, of the US and China.

The New Age of Empire

by Kehinde Andrews

A damning exploration of the many ways in which the effects and logic of anti-black colonialism continue to inform our modern world.

Colonialism and imperialism are often thought to be distant memories, whether they’re glorified in Britain’s collective nostalgia or taught as a sin of the past in history classes. This idea is bolstered by the emergence of India, China, Argentina and other non-western nations as leading world powers. Multiculturalism, immigration and globalization have led traditionalists to fear that the west is in decline and that white people are rapidly being left behind; progressives and reactionaries alike espouse the belief that we live in a post-racial society.

But imperialism, as Kehinde Andrews argues, is alive and well. It’s just taken a new form: one in which the U.S. and not Europe is at the center of Western dominion, and imperial power looks more like racial capitalism than the expansion of colonial holdings. The International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization and even the United Nations are only some of these modern mechanisms of Western imperialism. Yet these imperialist logics and tactics are not limited to just the west or to white people, as in the neocolonial relationship between China and Africa. Diving deep into the concepts of racial capitalism and racial patriarchy, Andrews adds nuance and context to these often over-simplified narratives, challenging the right and the left in equal measure.

Andrews takes the reader from genocide to slavery to colonialism, deftly explaining the histories of these phenomena, how their justifications are linked, and how they continue to shape our world to this day. The New Age of Empire is a damning indictment of white-centered ideologies from Marxism to neoliberalism, and a reminder that our histories are never really over.

A More Perfect Reunion

by Calvin Baker

A provocative case for integration as the single most radical, discomfiting idea in America, yet the only enduring solution to the racism that threatens our democracy.

Americans have prided ourselves on how far we’ve come from slavery, lynching, and legal segregation-measuring ourselves by incremental progress instead of by how far we have to go. But fifty years after the last meaningful effort toward civil rights, the US remains overwhelmingly segregated and unjust. Our current solutions — diversity, representation, and desegregation — are not enough.

As acclaimed writer Calvin Baker argues in this bracing, necessary book, we first need to envision a society no longer defined by the structures of race in order to create one. The only meaningful remedy is integration: the full self-determination and participation of all African-Americans, and all other oppressed groups, in every facet of national life. This is the deepest threat to the racial order and the real goal of civil rights.

At once a profound, masterful reading of US history from the colonial era forward and a trenchant critique of the obstacles in our current political and cultural moment, A More Perfect Reunion is also a call to action. As Baker reminds us, we live in a revolutionary democracy. We are one of the best-positioned generations in history to finish that revolution.

Opportunity Knocks

by Senator Tim Scott

In this memoir about overcoming adversity in America, the U. S. Senator responsible for creating “opportunity zones” explains how hard work and community growth can drive businesses and end poverty.

Senator Tim Scott knows adversity. As the son of a single mother from North Charleston, South Carolina, he struggled to get through school and had his dreams of a college football career shattered by a car wreck. But thanks to his mother and a few mentors along the way, he learned that “failure isn’t failure unless you quit.” He also learned that it’s hard work and perseverance, not a government handout, that will get you ahead in life.

Today, Senator Scott is the only black Republican in the Senate, and he believes that investment and commerce are the best ways to rebuild our most impoverished communities. This is the idea behind his signature piece of legislation, the “opportunity zones” program, which President Trump has strongly endorsed. The program provides tax incentives for businesses that invest in low-income urban areas, seeking to replace things like welfare and government assistance.

In Opportunity Knocks, Senator Scott will tell his life story with a focus on adversity and opportunity. He will teach readers about the principles of hard work and hope while addressing the dangers of veering too far toward socialist policies. The book will also not shy away from discussions of racism and racial inequality in the United States and will recount some of Senator Scott’s own brushes with racism as well as the many discussions he’s had with people who want to help, including President Trump.

Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain

by Kathy Barnette

Conservative political commentator Kathy Barnette shares how liberal leadership has failed the black community and how being a democrat is not synonymous with your skin color.

During his first historic run for the presidency in 2016, Donald Trump made an impassioned plea to the black community. “Give me a chance,” he said. “What the hell do you have to lose?”

According to Kathy Barnette, black Americans have nothing to lose, except for crime ridden communities, neighborhoods that have become shooting galleries, more social welfare programs, and the mocking indifference of the Democrat party. Barnette argues that even a cursory look into the black community reveals the destabilizing effect liberal policies have had on the black family.

There was a time when Barnette bought into the same lie as everyone else-that if you’re black, you must be a democrat. In fact, she was born into the Democrat party just as much as she was born into brown skin. There was no point of separation. Until she began to understand what it truly means to be black in America. Barnette contends that being black is more than just the color of her skin. It’s a culture and a consciousness, too.

In NOTHING TO LOSE, EVERYTHING TO GAIN, Barnette writes about why liberal policies have failed the black community time and time again – and will fail the larger American community as Democrats rush to the hard Left of the party. From the “Great Society” to Kanye West’s ongoing war with the liberal establishment, this book provides sharp, eloquent commentary on the most pressing issues facing black Americans today: broken family structure, loss of identity, the legacy of slavery, and more.

Barnette argues that President Trump has not been willing to presume that the “black vote” is a foregone conclusion resting comfortably in the back pockets of Democrats. With his plainspoken style and willingness to face harsh truths, the president has done more for the black community than any president since Abraham Lincoln. Barnette insists the time is now to get back what has been lost, to fix the brokenness, and to recognize and support those who are actually working in our favor.

We have nothing to lose, and even more to gain.

This Is the Fire

by Don Lemon

In this “vital book for these times” (Kirkus Reviews), Don Lemon brings his vast audience and experience as a reporter and a Black man to today’s most urgent question: How can we end racism in America in our lifetimes? The host of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon is more popular than ever. As America’s only Black prime-time anchor, Lemon and his daily monologues on racism and antiracism, on the failures of the Trump administration and of so many of our leaders, and on America’s systemic flaws speak for his millions of fans. Now, in an urgent, deeply personal, riveting plea, he shows us all how deep our problems lie, and what we can do to begin to fix them.

Beginning with a letter to one of his Black nephews, he proceeds with reporting and reflections on his slave ancestors, his upbringing in the shadows of segregation, and his adult confrontations with politicians, activists, and scholars. In doing so, Lemon offers a searing and poetic ultimatum to America. He visits the slave port where a direct ancestor was shackled and shipped to America. He recalls a slave uprising in Louisiana, just a few miles from his birthplace. And he takes us to the heart of the 2020 protests in New York City. As he writes to his young nephew: We must resist racism every single day. We must resist it with love.

How We Show Up

by Mia Birdsong

An Invitation to Community and Models for Connection

After almost every presentation activist and writer Mia Birdsong gives to executives, think tanks, and policy makers, one of those leaders quietly confesses how much they long for the profound community she describes. They have family, friends, and colleagues, yet they still feel like they’re standing alone. They’re “winning” at the American Dream, but they’re lonely, disconnected, and unsatisfied.

It seems counterintuitive that living the “good life”–the well-paying job, the nuclear family, the upward mobility–can make us feel isolated and unhappy. But in a divided America, where only a quarter of us know our neighbors and everyone is either a winner or a loser, we’ve forgotten the key element that helped us make progress in the first place: community. In this provocative, groundbreaking work, Mia Birdsong shows that what separates us isn’t only the ever-present injustices built around race, class, gender, values, and beliefs, but also our denial of our interdependence and need for belonging. In response to the fear and discomfort we feel, we’ve built walls, and instead of leaning on each other, we find ourselves leaning on concrete.

Through research, interviews, and stories of lived experience, How We Show Up returns us to our inherent connectedness where we find strength, safety, and support in vulnerability and generosity, in asking for help, and in being accountable. Showing up–literally and figuratively–points us toward the promise of our collective vitality and leads us to the liberated well-being we all want.

The End of White Politics

by Zerlina Maxwell

An MSNBC political analyst and former Hillary Clinton staffer examines the past and present problems of the Left—and makes a compelling case for how to take back our government and secure a better future for America.In the entire history of the United States of America, we’ve never elected a woman as our president. And we’ve only had one president who was not a white man.

After working on two presidential campaigns (for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton), MSNBC political analyst and SiriusXM host Zerlina Maxwell gained first-hand knowledge of everything liberals have been doing right over the past few elections-and everything they are still doing wrong. Ultimately, these errors worked in President Donald Trump’s favor in 2016; he effectively ran a campaign on white identity politics, successfully tapping into white male angst and resistance. In 2020, after the Democratic Party’s most historically diverse pool of presidential candidates finally dwindled down to Joe Biden, once again an older white man, Maxwell has posed the ultimate question: what now, liberals?

Fueled by Maxwell’s trademark wit and candor, The End of White Politics dismantles the past and present problems of the Left, challenging everyone from scrappy, young “Bernie Bros” to seasoned power players in the “Billionaire Boys’ Club.” No topic is taboo; whether tackling the white privilege that enabled Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential run, the controversial #HashtagActivism of the Millennial generation, the massive individual donations that sway politicians toward maintaining the status quo of income inequality, or the lingering racism that debilitated some Democratic presidential contenders and cut their promising campaigns short, Maxwell pulls no punches in her fierce critique. However, underlying all of these individual issues, Maxwell argues that it’s the “liberal-minded” party’s struggle to engage women and communities of color-and its preoccupation with catering to the white, male working class—that threatens to be its most lethal shortfall.

The times—and the demographics—are changing, and in order for progressive politics to prevail, we must acknowledge our shortcomings, take ownership of our flaws, and do everything in our power to level the playing field for all Americans. The End of White Politics shows exactly how and why progressives can lean into identity politics, empowering marginalized groups, and uniting under a common vision that will benefit us all.

Going to the Mountain

by Ndaba Mandela

The first-ever book to tell Nelson Mandela’s life through the eyes of the grandson who was raised by him, chronicling Ndaba Mandela’s life living with, and learning from, one of the greatest leaders and humanitarians the world has ever known.

To the rest of the world, Nelson Mandela was a giant: an anti-apartheid revolutionary, a world-renowned humanitarian, and South Africa’s first black president. To Ndaba Mandela, he was simply “Granddad.” In Going to the Mountain, Ndaba tells how he came to live with Mandela shortly after he turned eleven–having met each other only once, years before, when Mandela was imprisoned at Victor Verster Prison — and how the two of them slowly, cautiously built a relationship that would affect both their lives in extraordinary ways.

It wasn’t an easy transition. Mandela had high expectations for those around him, especially his family, and Ndaba chafed at the strict rules and exacting guidelines in his grandfather’s home. But at the same time — through overheard calls from foreign dignitaries as well as the Xhosa folk wisdom that his grandfather shared with him at every opportunity — Ndaba was learning how to be a man. On a scale both personal and epic, Ndaba’s extraordinary journey mirrors that of South Africa’s coming of age — from the segregated Soweto ghettos into which he was born to the privileged life in which he grew up and the turbulent yet exciting times in which he carries on his grandfather’s legacy.

Going to the Mountain is, in the end, a story about unlocking the power within each of us. It’s a cautionary tale about how a child’s life can go one way or the other, depending upon the intervention of a caring soul–and about the awesome power of love to serve as a catalyst for change.

Across That Bridge

by John Lewis

Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work/Biography.

In turbulent times Americans look to the Civil Rights Movement as the apotheosis of political expression. As we confront a startling rise in racism and hate speech and remain a culture scarred by social inequality, there’s no better time to revisit the lessons of the ’60s and no better leader to learn from than the late Representative John Lewis.
 
In the final book published before his passing, Across That Bridge, Congressman John Lewis draws from his experience as a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement to offer timeless wisdom, poignant recollections, and powerful principles for anyone interested in challenging injustices and inspiring real change toward a freer, more peaceful society.

The Civil Rights Movement gave rise to the protest culture we know today, and the experiences of leaders like Congressman Lewis, a close confidant to Martin Luther King, Jr., have never been more relevant. Despite more than forty arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the discipline and philosophy of nonviolence. Now, in an era in which the protest culture he helped forge has resurfaced as a force for change, Lewis’ insights have never been more relevant. In this heartfelt book, Lewis explores the contributions that each generation must make to achieve change.
 
Now featuring an updated introduction from the author addressing the Trump administration, Across that Bridge offers a strong and moral voice to guide our nation through an era of great uncertainty.

The Black and the Blue

by Matthew Horace – by Ron Harris

During his 28-year career, Matthew Horace rose through the ranks from a police officer working the beat to a federal agent working criminal cases in some of the toughest communities in America to a highly decorated federal law enforcement executive managing high-profile investigations nationwide. Yet it was not until seven years into his service- when Horace found himself face down on the ground with a gun pointed at his head by a white fellow officer-that he fully understood the racism seething within America’s police departments.

Through gut-wrenching reportage, on-the-ground research, and personal accounts from interviews with police and government officials around the country, Horace presents an insider’s examination of archaic police tactics. He dissects some of the nation’s most highly publicized police shootings and communities to explain how these systems and tactics have hurt the people they serve, revealing the mistakes that have stoked racist policing, sky-high incarceration rates, and an epidemic of violence.

“Horace’s authority as an experienced officer, as well as his obvious integrity and courage, provides the book with a gravitas.” — The Washington Post

“The Black and the Blue is an affirmation of the critical need for criminal justice reform, all the more urgent because it

comes from an insider who respects his profession yet is willing to reveal its flaws.” — USA Today

Bending the Arc

by Keeda J. Haynes

A searing exposé of the profound failures in our justice system, told by a woman who has journeyed from wrongfully accused prisoner to acclaimed public defender

Keeda Haynes was a Girl Scout and a churchgoer, but after college graduation, she was imprisoned for a crime she didn’t commit. Her boyfriend had asked her to sign for some packages—packages she did not know were filled with marijuana. As a young Black woman falsely accused, prosecuted, and ultimately imprisoned, Haynes suffered the abuses of our racist and sexist justice system. But rather than give in to despair, she decided to fight for change. After her release, she attended law school at night, became a public defender, and ultimately staged a highly publicized campaign for Congress. At every turn of her unlikely story, she gives unique insights into the inequities built into our institutions. In the end, despite the injustice she endured, she emerges convinced that ours can become a true second-chance culture.

5/5 - (71 votes)

SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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