Contact usCareers
Set of books

10 Best International Development Books to Read in 2023


International Development is a field that endeavors to create positive change in the world, addressing global challenges such as poverty, inequality, and sustainability. If you're passionate about understanding the complex issues facing our world today and aspire to be part of the solution, Oxford Summer Courses invites you to embark on a transformative journey through our International Development program. Explore the pressing global challenges, innovative solutions, and the role you can play in shaping a better future.


Please note that the following list of books is recommended reading to broaden your knowledge and deepen your understanding of international development. While some of these books may be included in the Oxford Summer Courses curriculum, the specific content of the summer school can vary. If you wish to study international development with us, you can apply to our International Development programme.


Stay informed and inspired in your pursuit of international development by subscribing to our newsletter. Receive valuable tips, tutorials, and thought-provoking articles. Sign up here.

1. "The End of Poverty" by Jeffrey D. Sachs

  • "In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticising anyone,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’”
  • Published in 2005, "The End of Poverty" by Jeffrey D. Sachs is a seminal work that explores strategies to eradicate extreme poverty on a global scale.
  • Discussion: How can Sachs' ideas in "The End of Poverty" inform contemporary efforts to combat poverty worldwide?

2. "Dead Aid" by Dambisa Moyo

  • "Aid has been, and continues to be, an unmitigated political, economic, and humanitarian disaster for most parts of the developing world."
  • In "Dead Aid," Dambisa Moyo challenges the conventional wisdom around foreign aid and argues for alternative approaches to development.
  • Discussion: What are the implications of Moyo's critique of traditional aid for the future of international development?

3. "The Bottom Billion" by Paul Collier

  • "The countries at the bottom coexist with the 21st century, but their reality is the 14th century: civil war, plague, ignorance."
  • Paul Collier's "The Bottom Billion" identifies the challenges faced by the world's poorest countries and proposes solutions to lift them out of poverty.
  • Discussion: How can Collier's insights help us address the unique development needs of the world's most vulnerable nations?

4. "The White Man's Burden" by William Easterly

  • "It is past time to end poverty, not to deliver 'development.'"
  • William Easterly's book challenges the idea that foreign aid and development interventions can solve the problems of the developing world.
  • Discussion: What are the ethical and practical implications of Easterly's argument in "The White Man's Burden"?

5. "Poor Economics" by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo

  • "Development is not about the transformation of societies; it is about the transformation of lives."
  • "Poor Economics" by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo offers a data-driven exploration of what works and what doesn't in the fight against global poverty.
  • Discussion: How can the principles of randomised control trials and evidence-based policy be applied in international development?

6. "Mountains Beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder

  • "The world is full of miserable places. One way of living comfortably is not to think about them or, when you do, to send money."
  • "Mountains Beyond Mountains" tells the inspiring story of Dr. Paul Farmer's dedication to providing healthcare to some of the world's poorest communities.
  • Discussion: What can we learn from Dr. Farmer's approach to delivering healthcare in resource-constrained settings?

7. "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein

  • "In moments of crisis, people are willing to hand over a great deal of power to anyone who claims to have a magic cure."
  • "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein explores the impact of economic and political ideologies on the developing world, particularly in times of crisis.
  • Discussion: How do Klein's insights in "The Shock Doctrine" inform our understanding of global economic systems?

8. "The River of Lost Footsteps" by Thant Myint-U

  • "The past is never dead. It's not even past."
  • Thant Myint-U's "The River of Lost Footsteps" provides a historical perspective on Myanmar and its complex journey toward development and democracy.
  • Discussion: How can Myanmar's history inform our approach to supporting democratic transitions in other countries?

9. "Pathologies of Power" by Paul Farmer

  • "Healthcare is an essential human right."
  • In "Pathologies of Power," Paul Farmer addresses the structural injustices that affect access to healthcare in impoverished regions.
  • Discussion: How can Farmer's advocacy for the right to health guide our efforts in global health equity?

10. "The Idealist" by Nina Munk

  • "Where aid flows, money flows. And where money flows, politics gushes forth."
  • "The Idealist" tells the story of economist Jeffrey Sachs' ambitious efforts to transform a Millennium Village in Africa and the challenges he encountered.
  • Discussion: What lessons can be learned from Sachs' experiences in "The Idealist" about the complexities of international development?


Oxford Summer Courses invites you to immerse yourself in the world of international development. In this blog post, we've presented a curated list of 10 essential books that will expand your understanding of global challenges and development opportunities. From Jeffrey D. Sachs' vision of ending poverty to Paul Farmer's advocacy for healthcare as a human right, these books offer diverse perspectives on the field of international development. Join us in exploring these transformative ideas and embark on a journey that may shape your passion for international development and create lasting memories.


Apply now to study International Development at Oxford Summer Courses and become part of a dynamic community of learners from around the world. Elevate your knowledge and engage with the pressing issues of our time. Apply here.

Share this article


Ignite your passion for international development at Oxford Summer Courses. Immerse yourself in a carefully selected list of books that delve into global development theories, policies, and the pressing challenges facing our world. Gain valuable insights from experts in the field and embark on a transformative journey to enhance your expertise in international development.

Get Our Newsletter

We deliver helpful tips, tutorials and thought-provoking articles to inform and inspire your professional development.

Our privacy policy states Oxford Summer Courses will use this information to contact you.

Oxford Summer Courses LTD

18 Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2NA, United Kingdom

+44 01865 818403

B Corp Logo

Juniors 9-12


Oxford Summer Courses is an organisation which contracts with the colleges of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London for the use of facilities, but which has no formal connection with the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London.
Oxford Summer Courses © 2024
Oxford Summer Courses is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 08011543