Brave New World (1932) is a dystopian novel set in a world where citizens are socially engineered to be complacent and pleasure-seeking. It’s a world that worships Henry Ford – a scaled-up version of an assembly line that’s mass produced, homogenous, and ultimately consumable.
Nineteen Eighty-Four, also published as 1984, is a dystopian novel from 1949 that deals with the perils of totalitarianism. It’s set in an imagined future in a superstate called Oceania, which is ruled by an authoritarian government that maintains power through constant surveillance and other insidious means.
Macbeth (1606) is the Shakespearean tragedy of Scottish general Macbeth and his doomed attempt to seize his country’s throne. His ambitions ignited by a prophecy spoken to him by three witches, Macbeth’s path to power begins with anxiety and reticence and ends with callousness and cruelty. His story is a timeless exploration of guilt, paranoia, madness, prophecy, and the evils of ambition.
On War (1832) is widely considered to be a landmark book on the subject of war. In its serious and thoughtful consideration of why and how states engage in warfare, it continues to be an influential piece of writing centuries later.
Economic Facts and Fallacies (2008) takes some common assumptions about economics and politics and reveals them as fallacies. It’s only by facing uncomfortable truths, the book argues, that we can begin to solve the problems in front of us.
Crashed (2018) unpacks the metaphorical seismograph to take the measure of an economic earthquake whose tremors can still be felt today – the 2008 financial crisis. Written with an eye to the global effects of what’s now known as the “Great Recession,” Adam Tooze traces the crash’s shockwaves from their epicenter in the American financial markets to their conclusions in Crimea, London, Athens and other geopolitical hotspots.
Time of the Magicians (2020) explores one of the greatest periods of German philosophy: the 1920s. In this decade of extraordinary intellectual productivity, thinkers like Martin Heidegger, Ernst Cassirer, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Walter Benjamin upended traditional philosophical thought completely and left a lasting mark on how we understand the world.
The Narrow Corridor (2019) weaves together a rich tapestry from disparate parts of history to answer the question: Why do some countries achieve liberty while others do not? From the ancient city of Uruk to Revolutionary America, from 1950s China to modern-day Argentina, it examines the conditions that enable governments and citizens to thrive as one – and the consequences when this fails to occur.
The Constitution of Liberty (1960) is a classic of economic philosophy. As one of the seminal texts of modern liberalism, it reminds us of the values of individual freedom, limited government, and universal principles of law. First published in the 1960s, it contends that social progress depends on the free market rather than on socialist planning. This work remains relevant in an age where socialist ideas are gaining new popularity.
Hunter Gatherers (2021) explores the mismatch between our evolutionary tendencies and our modern environments. It outlines how seemingly innocuous aspects of contemporary living are harming us, and stifling our true nature and potential.
The Social Contract (1762) is a seminal work of political and social theory, and is Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s most important and influential text. In the book, Rousseau lays out the conditions required for the legitimate founding and governing of a nation state. Playing a role in both the French Revolution and the founding of the US Constitution, The Social Contract is a cornerstone of modern political thought and essential reading for anyone interested in political theory.
The Road to Unfreedom (2018) chronicles the extraordinary political age we are now living in. Russian expansionism, led by Vladimir Putin, threatens to encroach on the freedoms that people in Europe and America enjoy. After having successfully helping to bring about Brexit, the Kremlin set its gaze on the United States and, in doing so, played a central role in ushering in the Donald Trump presidency. And with Europe in the midst of a right-wing ascendancy, Russia is wielding a greater influence than ever before.
The Myth of the Strong Leader (2014) explores why people tend to favor charismatic leaders, those they perceive as “strong.” These blinks show which factors allow such leaders to rise to power and why such a personality type shouldn’t necessarily lead a democratic society. Importantly, you’ll learn what can happen on an international scale when ill-suited “strong leaders” take the reins of a democracy.
The Dying Citizen (2021) explores the ways in which modern American democracy is being weakened. Touching on issues like globalization and identity politics, it discusses how left-wing progressives are damaging the foundations of the United States.
Anarchism (2004) lays out the history and principles behind an oft-misunderstood political ideology. Crucially, anarchists emphasize freedom over oppression, thereby seeking to do away with human life’s many hierarchies, be they those imposed by the modern nation-state, by patriarchal societies or even by religious organizations. Anarchism envisions a world free from any sort of coercion.
Propaganda (1928) is a plain-speaking and unashamed defense of the techniques of political and social manipulation. Far from being a dark art practiced by despots and dictators, Bernays suggests that propaganda instead plays an essential and necessary role in the life of modern democracies. Not everyone agrees, of course, but nearly 100 years later the enduring influence of Bernays’s arguments is reason enough to engage with them.
Maoism (2019) is a deep dive into Maoist ideology, tracing the origins of the movement in the caves of northwest China to the jungles of India, the high Andean sierra, and the California city parks where The Black Panthers did their military drills. Maoism is a movement that’s hardly limited to China or even Asia.
Discipline & Punish (1975) is a celebrated work of renowned French philosopher and sociologist Michel Foucault. Foucault studies the history of forms of power, punishment, discipline and surveillance from the French Ancien Régime through to more modern times, seeing it as a reflection of a changing society.
After the Fall (2021) takes a sobering look at the rise of nationalism and authoritarianism in places like Hungary, China, Russia, and the United States of America. It examines how the standing and influence of the US changed in the years following the Cold War, and how this has led to the current challenges facing democracy around the world.
How to be a Conservative (2014) presents the case for traditional conservatism in a world that seems inhospitable to its existence. In this short volume, English philosopher Sir Roger Scruton lays out the case for the nation-state, a free market, and a more sensible approach to multiculturalism and human rights.
Mission Economy (2021) explains how we can rethink our approaches toward government and capitalism through the concept of missions – huge, ambitious projects that inspire people across society to think big. These blinks show how we can change the world by taking inspiration from one of the most famous missions of all: the moon landing.
How to Run the World (2011) is a guide to diplomacy in today’s chaotic world. These blinks paint a picture of how a new kind of diplomacy can make the world a better place, exploring the potential for new and meaningful partnerships across borders and sectors.
Populism (2017) investigates one of the political buzzwords of our age, which is often encountered in the media and thrown around by political opponents. Populist leaders attempt to mobilize the frustrations of the masses by claiming to speak for “the people.” By placing blame for social and economic problems on a supposed “elite,” populists attempt to gain political success.
Perversion of Justice (2021) reveals how a reporter for the Miami Herald broke the story behind Jeffrey Epstein’s sex crimes and the scandalous deal he got from the US justice system in 2008. It explains the history of the case, how the mysterious financier was able to escape justice for so long, and the important questions that remain unanswered.
In Man, the State and War, Kenneth Waltz develops a groundbreaking analysis of the nature and causes of war, offering readers a wide overview of the major political theories of war from the perspective of political philosophers, psychologists and anthropologists.
Free Speech (2022) traces the history of this world-defining idea. It provides a soapbox for some of free speech’s greatest proponents and highlights key events that pushed the idea forward from ancient times to the present. Offering an evenhanded treatment of the costs and benefits of free speech throughout history, it’s a powerful retort to all those forces that threaten to erode free speech today.
The Black Agenda (2022) is a compilation of essays by Black experts reflecting the latest developments and challenges in diverse fields such as wellness, criminal justice, climate activism, and AI.
Dear America (2021) is a call to action for Americans. It implores them to unite despite differences – and preserve their nation before it’s too late.
Gang Leader For A Day is based on author Sudhir Venkatesh’s ten years of personal, in-depth research conducted on-site at the notorious Robert Taylor Homes public housing projects in Chicago. Ignored by city government and law enforcement, residents in the close-knit community rely only on local gangs and each other for basic services and social support.
Abortion and the Law in America (2020) offers a comprehensive legal history of abortion rights in the US. It highlights the social and cultural shifts that have contributed to the abortion debate and looks closely at the types of arguments invoked by both sides.
Mine! (2021) explores the hidden rules of ownership that govern our world and influence our behavior. From who rides first at Disney World to who owns the space behind your seat on an airplane, it reveals the secrets of who gets what and why.
Engines of Liberty (2016) is an exploration into the influence citizens can have on government, and the changes that can be brought about through activism, the spreading of information and the mobilization of one’s peers. When it comes to the big issues of our time, like gay marriage, guns and human rights, it’s passionate citizens who are speaking up for what they believe in and bringing about change.