10 Best Politics Books to Read in 2023
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Please note that the following list of books is recommended reading to broaden your knowledge and deepen your understanding of Politics. 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 Politics with us, you can apply to our Politics programme.
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1. "The Republic," by Plato
- "Injustice, when it comes upon a man, by degrees takes possession of him; he is not aware of it at first, but thinks that he is doing right."
- Written by Plato over two thousand years ago, "The Republic" remains a seminal work in political philosophy. In it, Plato explores the nature of justice, the ideal society, and the role of philosophers as rulers.
- Discussion: How do Plato's ideas about justice and governance in "The Republic" resonate with contemporary political thought?
2. "Animal Farm" by George Orwell
- "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
- George Orwell's "Animal Farm" is a classic allegorical novella that uses a group of farm animals to satirise the events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the early years of the Soviet Union. It's a powerful exploration of political corruption and the abuse of power.
- Discussion: How does George Orwell's portrayal of totalitarianism and political manipulation in "Animal Farm" resonate with contemporary political contexts?
3. "The Prince," by Niccolò Machiavelli
- "It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both."
- Published in 1532, "The Prince" by Niccolò Machiavelli is a political treatise that delves into the art of statecraft and leadership. Machiavelli's pragmatic approach to politics has sparked intense debate for centuries.
- Discussion: How do Machiavelli's political strategies in "The Prince" relate to modern-day political leadership?
4. "The Social Contract," by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
- "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains."
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "The Social Contract" is a foundational text in political philosophy. It explores the concept of the social contract, where individuals come together to form a just society.
- Discussion: How does Rousseau's idea of the social contract inform discussions about democracy and citizenship today?
5. "The Communist Manifesto," by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
- "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."
- "The Communist Manifesto" is a landmark text that laid the groundwork for modern communism. Marx and Engels analyse the class struggle and called for a revolutionary change in society.
- Discussion: How do the ideas of class struggle and communism in "The Communist Manifesto" relate to contemporary political and economic issues?
6. "The Road to Serfdom," by Friedrich Hayek
- "Emergencies have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have eroded."
- In "The Road to Serfdom," Friedrich Hayek argues against government intervention in economic and personal freedoms. He warns about the dangers of centralized planning.
- Discussion: How do Hayek's ideas on individual liberty and limited government in "The Road to Serfdom" apply to debates about government regulation today?
7. "The Second Sex," by Simone de Beauvoir
- "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman."
- Simone de Beauvoir's "The Second Sex" is a foundational work of feminist philosophy. It examines the role of women in society and their struggle for liberation.
- Discussion: How do de Beauvoir's ideas about gender and liberation in "The Second Sex" inform contemporary feminist movements?
8. "The End of History and the Last Man," by Francis Fukuyama
- "What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such."
- Francis Fukuyama's provocative thesis in "The End of History and the Last Man" suggests that liberal democracy may represent the endpoint of mankind's ideological evolution.
- Discussion: How does Fukuyama's idea of the "end of history" relate to current debates about the future of democracy and global politics?
9. "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," by Thomas Piketty
- "The primary reason for the historical decrease in inequality has been the diffusion of knowledge and skills."
- Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" explores the dynamics of wealth and inequality in capitalist societies. He offers insights into the challenges of economic inequality.
- Discussion: How do Piketty's analyses of wealth inequality in "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" relate to contemporary discussions about economic justice and taxation?
10. "The Populist's Guide to 2020," by Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti
- "Politics should not be an insular game played only by the elites. It should be a way for the people to chart a course for their own destiny."
- "The Populist's Guide to 2020" offers a fresh perspective on British politics. Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti argue for a more inclusive and people-centred approach to politics.
- Discussion: How do Ball and Enjeti's ideas in "The Populist's Guide to 2020" contribute to the ongoing debate about populism and political representation?
Oxford Summer Courses invites you to immerse yourself in the thought-provoking world of political literature. In this blog post, we present a meticulously curated list of 10 classic and contemporary books that will ignite your political imagination and deepen your understanding of the political landscape. From Plato's "The Republic" to Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti's "The Populist's Guide to 2020," these political works will transport you to different political ideologies and immerse you in diverse political debates. Join us on this political journey and embark on a transformative experience that will shape your understanding of the world.
Apply now to study Politics at Oxford Summer Courses and elevate your political education to new heights. Join a community of motivated learners from around the world and engage in thought-provoking discussions that can inform and inspire your political future. Apply here.
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Ignite your passion for politics at Oxford Summer Courses. Immerse yourself in a carefully selected list of books that delve into political theories, governance, and the complex landscape of global and domestic politics. Gain valuable insights from experts in the field and embark on a transformative journey to enhance your knowledge of politics.