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.
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.
Nowadays, it’s common knowledge that Britain sees itself as distinct from the rest of Europe. For instance, they use the pound instead of the euro and do not take part in the EU free travel zone. But how did Britain’s relationship with Europe end up like this? That’s what This Blessed Plot (1998) is all about. It explains that, since WWII, Britain has had a conflicted relationship with the European project, filled with negotiations and exemptions. With the “Brexit” now on everyone’s mind, find out more about this complicated history and what it might be able to tell us about Britain’s future.
Sea Power (2017) provides an enlightening look at the role Earth’s oceans have played over the course of human history. From early voyagers who sailed into the vast unknown, to the tens of thousands of commercial ships now traversing the globe on a daily basis, our oceans have always been a powerful force that we’ve longed to tame and control. While we’ve come a long way, we still find ourselves faced with immense challenges that we’ll only overcome by working together.
How Democracies Die (2018) examines the fundamental principles of democracy, with a look at historical cases – particularly in Latin America – where democracies have turned into dictatorships or autocracies. The authors examine how these democratic downfalls have happened, whether it could happen again in the future, and what could be done to prevent this dangerous and often lethal outcome. Attention is also given to the presidency of Donald Trump, to question his motives and determine whether he qualifies as an American autocrat.
A Short History of Brexit (2019) explains the United Kingdom’s complicated relationship with Europe from a historical perspective. Beginning with post-war anxieties over integration and ending with the chaotic Brexit negotiations, this book tells a tale of economic agreements and political divisions that are shaping Europe as we speak.
The Prime Ministers (2019) looks back on nine British prime ministers, from Harold Wilson to Theresa May. Taking in different political eras – from Thatcher’s booming eighties to the troubled post-Brexit landscape of Theresa May – Steve Richards considers the particular leadership qualities of these figures, judging their merits and defects at crucial junctures in their careers.
Why We Get the Wrong Politicians (2018) isn’t merely a damning critique of British lawmakers and government officials. Sure, that’s part of it, but Isabel Hardman’s first book goes further. Expounding the mechanics of Parliament, exposing its injustices and inefficiencies and explaining what can be done to fix it, Hardman’s book is as much about Parliament’s structure and culture as the politicians inside it.
Upheaval (2019) takes us through some of modern history’s biggest national crises to find out how each nation ended up in such trouble, and how they managed to get out of it. Looking at seven different nations, author Jared Diamond reveals how some of the same problems and solutions have emerged time and again, whether we’re looking at Chile and Indonesia in the 1970s, or Australia and Germany after WWII.
The Secret Barrister (2019) takes a behind-the-scenes look at the often chaotic and frighteningly disorganized world of England and Wales’ criminal justice system. As revealed by an experienced criminal barrister, the current system is woefully underfunded and suffering from a lack of resources, yet is also under threat from proposed reforms that would impose further cuts. However, there are some reasonable ways for the system to improve.
In For the Record (2019), David Cameron gives a behind-the-scenes account of his life, career, and time as prime minister. He opens up about his upper-class upbringing, his school life, and his family. He describes how he tried to push the Conservative Party toward a more modern outlook on the world and reflects on the decisions that led to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
The Splendid and the Vile (2020) is a meticulously researched account of Winston Churchill’s first year of leadership. Beginning in 1940, he led the country through France’s surrender, the miraculous rescue at Dunkirk, and the Nazi air force’s bombing blitz of the UK, which killed over 44,000 Brits. Through it all, he retained his sense of humor and charming eccentricities that ensure him a fond place in our collective memory.
Empire (2003) offers a compelling overview of the highs and lows of the British Empire, from its late-to-the-game beginnings in the seventeenth century to its ultimate collapse in the twentieth century. Through the many disgraces and unparalleled achievements, you’ll learn how Great Britain came to control close to a quarter of the world, and how we’re still coming to terms with this legacy.
The Plantagenets (2012) is a rollicking history of eight generations of English royal rule. From the Crusades through the signing of Magna Carta and up to the start of the Hundred Years’ War, the House of Plantagenet ruled during some of the most thrilling times of English history.
Margaret Thatcher: The Autobiography (2013) is the definitive account of the Iron Lady. Covering everything from her upbringing to the political battles that defined her time in office, this memoir sheds light on the thinking and values of Britain’s most transformative twentieth-century leaders.