The best 15 UK Politics books

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UK Politics Books: Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson

Why Nations Fail

Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson
The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty
4.6 (426 ratings)

What's Why Nations Fail about?

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.

Who should read Why Nations Fail?

  • Anyone who is interested in world politics and foreign aid
  • Anyone who wants to find out why some countries are poor while others prosper
  • Anyone who has thought about how we can tackle inequality in the world

UK Politics Books: The Myth of the Strong Leader by Archie Brown

The Myth of the Strong Leader

Archie Brown
Political Leadership in the Modern Age
3.8 (82 ratings)

What's The Myth of the Strong Leader about?

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.

Who should read The Myth of the Strong Leader?

  • Students of politics or history
  • People curious how authoritarian leaders rise to power
  • Aspiring leaders who want to lead fairly

UK Politics Books: This Blessed Plot by Hugo Young

This Blessed Plot

Hugo Young
Britain and Europe From Churchill to Blair
4.1 (39 ratings)

What's This Blessed Plot about?

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.

Who should read This Blessed Plot?

  • Anyone interested in the “Brexit” referendum
  • Political junkies
  • Students of modern European history

UK Politics Books: Sea Power by James Stavridis

Sea Power

James Stavridis
The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans
4.0 (47 ratings)

What's Sea Power about?

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.

Who should read Sea Power?

  • History buffs
  • News junkies worried about the future
  • Readers interested in politics and global affairs

UK Politics Books: How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt

How Democracies Die

Steven Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt
4.0 (154 ratings)

What's How Democracies Die about?

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.

Who should read How Democracies Die?

  • Anyone interested in current affairs
  • Students of political science or government
  • Readers interested in the historical relevance of the Trump presidency

UK Politics Books: A Short History of Brexit by Kevin O’Rourke

A Short History of Brexit

Kevin O’Rourke
From Brentry to Backstop
4.3 (85 ratings)

What's A Short History of Brexit about?

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.

Who should read A Short History of Brexit?

  • Anyone trying to understand the confusing Brexit process
  • Europeans wanting to understand British-EU history
  • Leavers and Remainers wondering what went wrong

UK Politics Books: The Prime Ministers by Steve Richards

The Prime Ministers

Steve Richards
Reflections on Leadership from Wilson to May
4.3 (55 ratings)

What's The Prime Ministers about?

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.

Who should read The Prime Ministers?

  • Anyone following the current political crisis in the UK
  • Those interested in British political history
  • Would-be leaders looking to learn from past mistakes and triumphs

UK Politics Books: Why We Get the Wrong Politicians by Isabel Hardman

Why We Get the Wrong Politicians

Isabel Hardman
4.3 (41 ratings)

What's Why We Get the Wrong Politicians about?

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.

Who should read Why We Get the Wrong Politicians?

  • Britons seeking valuable information on how their government works
  • Politics enthusiasts who need some required reading
  • Politicians who require a reality check

UK Politics Books: Upheaval by Jared Diamond


Jared Diamond
Turning Points for Nations in Crisis
4.3 (367 ratings)

What's Upheaval about?

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.

Who should read Upheaval?

  • History buffs
  • Students of political science
  • Globally minded individuals interested in world affairs

UK Politics Books: The Secret Barrister by The Secret Barrister

The Secret Barrister

The Secret Barrister
Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken
4.2 (26 ratings)

What's The Secret Barrister about?

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.

Who should read The Secret Barrister?

  • Students of law and ethics
  • Fans of true crime
  • Advocates for prison reform

UK Politics Books: For the Record by David Cameron

For the Record

David Cameron
4.4 (57 ratings)

What's For the Record about?

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. 

Who should read For the Record?

  • Political animals
  • Anyone who wants to understand why Brexit happened 
  • Modern Conservatives

UK Politics Books: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

The Splendid and the Vile

Erik Larson
A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
4.6 (110 ratings)

What's The Splendid and the Vile about?

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.

Who should read The Splendid and the Vile?

  • World War II nerds
  • People interested in eccentric histories
  • Anyone curious about Winston Churchill’s legacy

UK Politics Books: Empire by Niall Ferguson


Niall Ferguson
How Britain Made the Modern World
4.6 (281 ratings)

What's Empire about?

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.

Who should read Empire?

  • History buffs
  • Anyone interested in the legacy of colonialism
  • People curious about the world economy

UK Politics Books: The Plantagenets by Dan Jones

The Plantagenets

Dan Jones
The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England
4.5 (181 ratings)

What's The Plantagenets about?

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.

Who should read The Plantagenets?

  • Lovers of high drama and intrigue
  • Game of Thrones fans
  • Medieval history fanatics

UK Politics Books: Bedtime Biography: Margaret Thatcher by Margaret Thatcher

Bedtime Biography: Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher
The Autobiography
4.6 (213 ratings)

What's Bedtime Biography: Margaret Thatcher about?

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. 

Who should read Bedtime Biography: Margaret Thatcher?

  • History buffs
  • Anglophiles
  • Politicos

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