Seminal Books

I plan on continuously updating this; maybe I’ll simply add a new one; maybe, due to further reading, eliminate others from the list. This is for fun and is completely unabashedly subjective, of course. These books were crucial for me personally and helped steer me in certain directions; they also help me conceptualize inchoate ideas, feelings, and theories that I had myself. It’s fair to say that Hayes’ book and Nasr’s book are the two books that crystallized for me that I wanted to be a political scientist.

The Road to Serfdom (1944), F. A. Hayek
Nobel-winning economist and professor of social philosophy at the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics.

The Great Transformation (1944), Karl Polanyi
The author was a Hungarian-American¬†economic historian, economic anthropologist, economic sociologist, and political economist who penned an extremely important book on the social disruption of the Industrial Revolution and the so-called “free market.” It’s a barnburner that makes every sentence count. Remarkably written.

The End of History and the Last Man (1992), Francis Fukuyama
Fukuyama is now a senior fellow at Stanford University; he has a Ph.D in political science from Harvard.

The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology (1994) by Robert Wright, co-founder of

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996)
by Samuel P. Huntington, the founder of Foreign Policy; and the former president of the American Political Science Association.

The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit From Identity Politics (1999) by George Lipsitz, Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego

Social Theory of International Politics (1999), Alexander Wendt
Wendt is a leading-IR scholar, and this text is the foundation of social constructivism re: IR.

Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World (2001)
by Walter Russell Mead, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Global Capitalism: Its Rise and Fall in the Twentieth Century (2006)
Jeffry A. Frieden, at the time of writing he was the Stanfield Professor of International Peace at Harvard University

Hitch:22: A Memoir (2010)
by Christopher Hitchens, before his untimely passing, was a contributing editor to Vanity Fair.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Religion and Politics (2012)
by Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy (2012)
by Chris Hayes, editor at-large of The Nation

The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat (2013)
by Vali Nasr, the Dean of The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University

How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain (2017)
by Lisa Feldman Barrett, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, with appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in psychiatry and radiology.

Why Liberalism Failed (2018)
by Patrick J. Deneen, the David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (2018)
by Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard