Death of a Salesman (1949) is widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s greatest plays. A poignant critique of the promises and pitfalls of capitalism and the American Dream, it follows the salesman Willy Loman, his increasingly tense relationships with his family and colleagues, and his tragic, hallucinatory descent into fantasy and madness.
The Wealth of Nations is a profoundly influential work in the study of economics and examines exactly how nations become wealthy. Adam Smith advocates that by allowing individuals to freely pursue their own self-interest in a free market, without government regulation, nations will prosper.
Myth America (2022) is a collection of essays that examine and dismantle some of the most pervasive myths about America: how it was founded, who’s allowed to be here, and how we define a ‘real’ American or American family.
The Communist Manifesto is the result of a meeting of international communists in London. It vividly portrays the first common position of political communism regarding the class struggle between the working class and the capitalist bourgeoisie.
Animal Farm (1945) is a classic satirical novella that transplants the events of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to a small English farm. Once the animals stage an uprising, a political battle ensues between an ideological pig named Snowball and a power-hungry pig named Napoleon.
Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942) is a seminal work of economics. Its ideas have proven prophetic, and remain relevant to this day. It claims that capitalism will ultimately be eroded by the very processes that define it. It also explains the differences between capitalism and socialism and their relationship to democracy, and helps readers understand the role of entrepreneurship and creative destruction in modern capitalism.
Why Nations Fail revolves around the question as to why even today some nations are trapped in a cycle of poverty while others prosper, or at least while others appear to be on their way to prosperity. The book focuses largely on political and economic institutions, as the authors believe these are key to long-term prosperity.
It’s OK to be Angry About Capitalism (2023) is a critique of the economic and political system in the US. It offers a blueprint on how to move past unbridled capitalism onto a fairer and freer future.
American Psycho (1991) is a controversial cult novel that uses graphic violence to satirize modern capitalism and consumer culture. It follows the life of Patrick Bateman, a wealthy and handsome investment banker living in Manhattan in the 1980s. Beneath his polished exterior lies a psychopathic killer who preys on his victims without remorse. Bateman’s exploits quickly grow more and more extreme, and his mask of sanity starts to slip.
The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) is a landmark work by Hannah Arendt, in which she traces the anti-Semitic and imperialist roots of modern-day totalitarianism in Europe. Starting with the rise of the nation-state in the seventeenth century, Arendt reveals the prejudices and myths that empowered the Nazism and Stalinism of the early twentieth century, and that can lead to the erosion of free-thinking democracy. She also gives clear warning on how to avoid predatory totalitarian movements in the future.
The Dawn of Everything (2021) is a reimagining of the history of humanity, based on new discoveries in the worlds of anthropology and archeology. According to the authors, new findings challenge what we thought we knew about hierarchies, inequality, property, and the state.
Angrynomics (2020) examines the growing atmosphere of anger around the globe. Part political theory, part social science, this approachable text diagnoses the cause of the rising resentment and proposes a few popular solutions.
Phishing for Phools (2015) reveals the ways in which modern free-market systems, so often praised as the epitome of rational exchange, are fueled instead by willful deceit, with the goal of pushing you to act against your self-interest.
Financial Feminism (2022) debunks the money myths and exposes the systemic oppression that keeps many stuck in toxic jobs or cycles of debt. Offering practical solutions that everyone can start today to close the wage gap, ramp up financial fitness, and build the life of their dreams.
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.
The House of Rothschild (1998) offers a detailed, insider look into the famed Rothschild family’s multinational partnership. By examining the relationships and strategies that launched the Rothschilds to success, the book demystifies this historic family, making their meteoric rise to tremendous wealth and fame much easier to understand.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (2019) provides a revealing look at just how committed companies like Google and Facebook are to tracking every one of your actions and selling that data to advertisers. Over the past few years, this business practice has become one of the most prominent worldwide, and the harmful effects it has on personal liberty and democracy are becoming more apparent.
Listed on The Guardian’s Best 100 Books of the 21st Century
Utopia for Realists (2016) is a call to arms for a radical rethinking of life, work and how society functions. It argues that the world enjoys unprecedented wealth and material comfort but is still full of problems, from soul-destroying jobs to inequality and poverty. We have the power to solve these problems and build a better future if we embrace utopian thinking.
How to Be an Anticapitalist in the 21st Century (2019) is both a moral critique of capitalism and a pragmatic strategy guide to building an alternative economic system. Drawing from Erik Olin Wright’s four decades of work in sociology, it provides a nuanced account of why democratic socialism is both possible and desirable.
Bullshit Jobs (2018) takes an unwavering look at a dismal fact: millions of people – from corporate lawyers to university administrative assistants – are stuck in jobs that they know, deep down, are pointless and unnecessary. Despite technological advances that could allow us to work less and enjoy life more, our cultural values mean we’ve come to prioritize work, even if it’s bullshit.
Socialism (2005) is a dash through the history of the term after which the book is named. Socialism has played an important role over the past 200 years of human history, but its original goal of achieving an egalitarian society has, in recent decades, been somewhat forgotten. This book is a thorough tour of socialism’s history. It’s also an exploration of the various ways the word has been implemented and a guide to ways we might use it in the future.
Us vs. Them (2018) explores how globalism has created both winners and losers and explains how the losers are now looking to set things right. In countries from the United States to China, from Venezuela to Turkey, unhappy citizens are making new demands of their governments, and populist politicians are promising easy answers. Us vs. Them offers a lucid take on the forces disrupting societies around the world and suggests potential solutions for the future.
The Romanovs (2016) charts the stunning rise and dramatic fall of one of the world’s great dynasties. The Romanov family helmed the Russian empire for three centuries filled with family dramas, power struggles, political upheaval, and opulent spending.
Postcapitalism (2015) offers a close examination of the failures of current economic systems. The 2008 financial crisis showed us that neoliberal capitalism is falling apart, and these blinks outline the reasons why we’re at the start of capitalism’s downfall, while giving an idea of what our transition into postcapitalism will be like.
Manufacturing Consent (1988) takes a critical view of the mass media to ask why only a narrow range of opinions are favored whilst others are suppressed or ignored.
It formulates a propaganda model which shows how alternative and independent information is filtered out by various financial and political factors allowing the news agenda to be dominated by those working on behalf of the wealthy and powerful. Far from being a free press, the media in fact maintain our unequal and unfair society.
The Raging 2020s (2021) is an autopsy of the American social contract, which once kept companies, governments, and individuals in stable harmony but has since broken down. In particular, it describes how the power of corporations has expanded in recent years while federal might has waned – and how the result is that companies have more control over people’s lives than ever before. We must work to restore the balance and write a new social contract for the modern age.
Earth for All (2022) is more than a book – it’s a survival guide. After centuries of industrialization, population growth, and rising inequality, our planet is now at a tipping point. We are already learning to live with pandemics, war, wildfires, and more. This guide offers timely, practical solutions for the urgent problems facing humankind.
The Future Is History (2017) tackles the complex issue of Russia’s love/hate relationship with democracy. By looking at the lives of a select few, Masha Gessen takes us from the collapse of the Communist Party to deep within the activism of the Putin era – all in an attempt to show us how and why Russia’s modern brand of totalitarianism came about.
New Dark Age (2018) investigates the fundamental paradox of our digital age: as new technologies allow us to gather more and more data on our world, we understand less and less of it. Examining the history, politics and geography of the complex digital network we are enmeshed in, James Bridle sheds new light on the central issues of our time, from climate change to wealth inequality to post-factual politics, and explains how we can live with purpose in an era of uncertainty.
Americana (2017) traces the history of the USA from one key perspective: capitalism. Bhu Srinivasan shows how the development of the country has been closely bound up with the development of capitalism, from the New England colonies’ earliest days to the most recent innovations of Silicon Valley or Wall Street.
Named by The Economist as one of the best books of 2017
We face an overwhelming abundance of choices when it comes to what we eat. Should you opt for the local, grass-fed beef, or save time and money with cheap chicken nuggets? Organic asparagus shipped from Argentina, or kale picked from your neighbor’s garden? The Omnivore’s Dilemma examines how food in America is produced today and what alternatives to those production methods are available.
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.
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.
Chaos Under Heaven (2021) brings to life the behind-the-scenes negotiations and deliberations that dictated the Trump administration’s policy toward China. America’s understanding of the inner workings of the Chinese state has changed a great deal, yet competing interests have so far led to a chaotic response as the US grapples with this foreign policy challenge.
Bad Blood (2018) is the harrowing inside story of a how a tech start-up rooted in Silicon Valley’s fake-it-till-you-make-it culture risked the lives of millions with a blood-testing device that proved too good to be true. Written by Pulitzer-winning journalist John Carreyrou, who broke the story and pursued it to its end, this is the account of Theranos and its wunderkind CEO Elizabeth Holmes’ meteoric rise and epic fall from grace.
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.
The Economists’ Hour (2019) is a compact history of how economists came to dominate our political discourse. This work traces the rise of neoliberal ideology from the 1960s to today.
Barbarians at the Gate (1989) tells the story of one of the largest corporate deals in US history, the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco. These blinks provide a gripping portrait of the extreme and extravagant behavior in corporate America during the 1980s.
First as Tragedy, Then as Farce (2008) sets out to uncover the hidden ideology that surrounds us in our everyday lives. In examining how capitalist society affects our lives and permeates the way we think, the book ultimately offers a new and better alternative to the way our world is structured today.
The Lonely Century (2021) explores the loneliness that characterizes the twenty-first century. Drawing on a decade of research, it reveals how neoliberal policies, new technologies, and mass migration to cities have contributed to us becoming so lonely – and what shifts need to occur for us to reconnect.
Imagined Communities (1983) is one of the most influential studies of the origins of nationalism. In it, Benedict Anderson asks a question that had long vexed his fellow historians: Why did nations become such a potent source of identity in the modern world? In these blinks, we’ll unravel Anderson’s fascinating answer to this conundrum as we delve into the history of capitalism, the printing press, religious belief systems, and nationalism.
No Logo takes a look at how the power of brands has grown since the 1980s, and how companies have emphasized their brand image rather than their actual products. No Logo shows how this strategy has affected employees in both the industrial and the non-developed world. No Logo also introduces the reader to the activists and campaigners who are leading the fight back against multinationals and their brands.
Private Government (2017) boldly asserts a provocative thesis: most modern companies are run more like communist dictatorships than the “free enterprises” their often libertarian-minded owners, managers, and defenders believe them to be. Drawing on a wide range of ideas, facts, and data from economics, political philosophy, and history, Private Government backs this thesis up with a strong, compelling argument that’s well worth reckoning with.
The Shock Doctrine (2008) offers insights into the dark world of disaster capitalism, in which crises serve as an instrument to undo the trade regulations and national protections which prevent international megacorporations from totally exploiting poorer countries. Rooted in the findings of the CIA-sponsored "MKUltra" psychological torture experiments, economic shock treatment has left behind a legacy of blood and destruction since it first began to be taken seriously in the 1970s.
The Zero Marginal Cost Society (2014) lays out a strong case for the self-destructive nature of capitalism, demonstrating how it is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. But in its wake, a new, collaborative, democratized economy will materialize – one made possible by the internet.
Raw Deal (2015) reveals the ugly truth behind the new sharing economy and the harm that companies like Uber or Airbnb are inflicting upon societies around the world. There’s a major crisis on the horizon, and it will affect not only these companies’ exploited employees. We’re all at risk, and we’ll need to choose our next steps wisely to prevent an economic collapse.
The Curse of Bigness (2018) deals with topics and questions that have become especially pressing in recent times. How and why have markets become dominated by a handful of corporate giants? And what can we do about it? To answer these questions, the author recounts the political, economic and legal history of economic concentration. Along the way, he examines the dangers that come with it, and how they can be mitigated.
Kochland (2019) is a biography of Koch Industries. Once a relatively small and disorganized conglomeration of private holdings, Koch Industries is now the second-largest privately held corporation in the United States, with a sprawling network of assets that includes everything from oil refineries to chemical plants and oil pipelines to paper mills. These blinks tell the story of Koch’s massive growth and shine sidelights on the life of Charles Koch, Koch’s CEO for more than 50 years and the man who made it all possible.
Glass House (2017) tells the cautionary tale of Lancaster, Ohio, a town that went from boom to bust over the course of the past fifty years. At the heart of this downfall is the Anchor Hocking glass factory, a major source of employment that turned into a bitter disappointment. This story is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the current state of affairs in American society and politics.
A few decades ago, India seemed poised to become a major player in the global economy. Today, a number of serious problems hold the country back. Restart (2015) explains what caused India’s decline and offers insights about what could be done to fix it.
Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism (2018) makes an argument that’s even more provocative than its title suggests. More than just better sex, it claims that women have better lives in general under socialism. To prove this claim, it compares and contrasts women’s lives under state socialism, democratic socialism, and neoliberal capitalism.
Beyond Outrage provides a sobering analysis of what has gone wrong in American politics and economics. Looking at the distribution of wealth and income imbalance, it convincingly argues that we must wrest government from the hands of the regressive right.
The Third Pillar (2019) traces the evolving relationship between the three “pillars” of human life – the state, markets and communities – from the medieval period to our own age. Economist Raghuram Rajan argues that, throughout history, societies have struggled to find a sustainable balance between these pillars. Today is no different: caught between uncontrolled markets and a discredited state, communities everywhere are in decline. That, Rajan concludes, is jet fuel for populist movements. But a more balanced kind of social order is possible.
The Western world seems to be in crisis. It is faced with huge levels of public and private debt, and the economies of the rest of the world are fast catching up. After 500 years of total global dominance, the era of Western powers could be coming to an end.
The Great Degeneration (2014) aims to tackle why this is the case. It suggests that a decline in Western institutions is partly to blame. Only by arresting this decline through radical reform can the West recover.
Enough offers a scathing critique of the one rule that always seems to hold in Western societies: “more is always better.” With the help of compelling biological and psychological studies, Enough shows us how our obsession with “more” is actually the source of many of our woes, as well as what we can do about it.
First They Killed My Father (2006) is Loung Ung’s memoir of her childhood experiences living under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia during the 1970s. She begins her story as the Khmer Rouge take power, forcing her family to flee the country’s capital, Phnom Penh, only to find themselves living as slave laborers, in constant fear that they would be personally targeted by the regime.
The Monopolists (2015) unveils the true yet checkered history of Parker Brothers's most successful board game, Monopoly. It tells the tale of the game’s origins in progressive, anti-capitalist thinking to its evolution under the control of Parker Brothers, a company that went to extraordinary lengths to rewrite Monopoly’s history and crush any competition in the process.
A Quiet Word explains what lobbyism is, how it works and why it can be dangerous for democracy. The authors reveal the extent of lobbying today, detail different strategies used by lobbyists to influence governments, and offer a solution to help defend democracy.
Factory Man unveils the dark side of globalization; that is, the horrific impact it has had on American business and the lives of factory workers. In its detailed examination of twentieth-century furniture manufacturing, it reveals how to fight against the death of the local economy and, more importantly, why this fight is worth it.