sometimes ask me for book recommendations. Here are a few books that I can
- Myrdal, Gunnar. 1957. Economic
Theory and Underdeveloped Regions. New York: Harper & Row. This
short book by Myrdal provides one of the best perspectives on how local
economies grow and decline. The book is also known as Rich Lands and
- Jacobs, Jane. 1961. The
Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random House. The
great Jane Jacobs' best book. Not a work of scholarship, but the product
of a very observant eye: Jacobs tells us how something as small as the
width of a sidewalk can make or break a neighborhood.
- Fischer, David
Hackett. 1991. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America.
Oxford: Oxford University Press. Fischer
maintains that the regional cultures in the United States stem from the
cultures brought by four different streams of British immigrants during
- Scott, James C. 1990. Domination
and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. New Haven: Yale
University Press. James C. Scott
shows how oppression creates a distinctive cultural reaction among the
oppressed. The book provides the best description I've seen of the
cultural effects of slavery.
The Evolution of Political Organization
- Kelly, Robert L. 1995.
The Foraging Spectrum: Diversity
in Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways. Washington: Smithsonian Institution
Press. If you were to read a single book on the way that foragers
live and have lived, this synthesis of the vast ethnographic literature
would be an excellent choice.
- Bellwood, Peter. 2004.
First Farmers: The Origins of
Agricultural Societies. Blackwell Publishers. Bringing together evidence from genetics, comparative linguistics,
and archeology, Bellwood describes and explains the Neolithic transition.
- Earle, Timothy. 2002. Bronze Age Economics: The Beginnings
of Political Economies. Boulder: Westview Press. Earle
is an archaeologist, an authority on chiefdoms and early states; this book
looks at Bronze Age Denmark, the pre-Columbian Andes, and Hawaii.
- Finer, Samuel E. 1999.
History of Government (Three Volumes). Oxford: Oxford
University Press. A wonderfully
detailed survey of the ways in which states have been organized, from the
time of Sumer to the present.
The Evolutionary Basis of Human Behavior
- Dunbar, Robin; Louise
Barrett; and John Lycett. 2001. Human
Evolutionary Psychology. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Perhaps the best introduction to the quickly
developing sciences of human evolutionary psychology and human ecology.
- Ridley, Matt. 2000. Genome . New York: HarperCollins. Ridley
is one of the world's best science writers, and was once the science
editor for The Economist. Here he reviews what is known about the
History of Economic Thought
- Muller, Jerry Z. 2002.
The Mind and the Market:
Capitalism in Modern European Thought. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Muller
is a gifted writer, with a vast knowledge of European political thought.
More people should read this book.
The War in Iraq and the War against
- Anonymous. 2004. Imperial
Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror.
Washington, D.C.: Brassey's Inc. Perhaps
the best book to date about the war against America-hating Islamists. The
author is 'anonymous' because he is still employed at the CIA.
- McCarthy, Justin.
2001. The Ottoman Peoples and the End of Empire. London:
Arnold Press. What do Bosnia,
Serbia, Kosovo, Palestine, Israel, Kuwait, and Iraq have in common? Justin
McCarthy provides the historical background for some of today's most
persistent conflicts, explaining how they emerged from the ruins of the
Social Network Analysis
- Scott, John. 2000. Social
Network Analysis: A Handbook (second edition). London: Sage
Publications, Ltd. Scott has written the most accessible
introduction to Social Network Analysis.
- Wasserman, Stanley and
Katherine Faust. 1994. Social Network Analysis: Methods and
Applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wasserman and Faust provide an encyclopedic
survey of the mathematical methods used in Social Network Analysis.
- Olson, Mancur. 1982. The Rise and Decline of Nations:
Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities .
New Haven: Yale University Press. Over
twenty years old, but still one of the best books ever written about the
economic problems of representative democracies.
- Thaler, Richard H. 1992. The Winner's Curse:
Paradoxes and Anomalies of Economic Life. Princeton: Princeton
University Press. Thaler's very readable book catalogs anomalies--the
instances where empirical evidence shows that widely accepted economic
theory doesn't work. In economics, as in other sciences, theory evolves to
explain anomalous facts, so the book is valuable in helping economists
understand why theory is developing as it is.