This article presents a list of 10 must-read books for political science majors. The books cover a wide range of perspectives on politics, government, and society, including political theory, international relations, and American politics. The books in the list include classics like Plato’s The Republic, Machiavelli’s The Prince, and Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto, as well as more contemporary works like Edward Said’s Orientalism and Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man. By reading these books, political science majors can deepen their understanding of the key ideas and concepts that have shaped political thought throughout history.
10 Great Books Every Political Science Major should Read
As a political science major, it is important to read and understand a variety of perspectives on politics, government, and society. The following 10 books are must-reads for any political science student looking to deepen their understanding of political theory, international relations, and American politics.
1. The Republic by Plato
Written over 2,000 years ago, Plato’s The Republic is still considered one of the most influential works in political theory. The book explores the question of what constitutes justice and a just society, ultimately arguing that a just society is only possible under the rule of a philosopher-king.
2. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince, written in 1513 by Italian philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, is a classic treatise on political theory and leadership. The book is known for its emphasis on the importance of gaining and maintaining political power, even if it means resorting to immoral or unethical tactics.
3. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan is a seminal work in political philosophy, exploring the relationship between individuals and the state. Hobbes argues that without a strong central authority, human beings would revert to a state of nature characterized by violence and chaos.
4. Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is a study of American society and politics. The book explores the unique culture and political system of the United States, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of American democracy.
5. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
The Communist Manifesto, written in 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, remains one of the most influential political texts in history. The book outlines the principles of communism, arguing that capitalism inevitably leads to economic inequality and exploitation.
6. The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
The Federalist Papers, a collection of essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, were written in support of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The essays remain an important resource for understanding the principles of American democracy and the role of the Constitution in shaping the United States.
7. Orientalism by Edward Said
Orientalism, written by Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said, explores the way in which Western societies have historically viewed and represented the Middle East. Said argues that the Western perspective of the East is often distorted by colonialism, racism, and imperialism.
8. The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama
In The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama argues that the collapse of Soviet communism marks the end of history, with liberal democracy emerging as the dominant political system. Fukuyama contends that the triumph of liberal democracy marks the end point of humanity’s ideological evolution.
9. Man, the State, and War by Kenneth Waltz
Kenneth Waltz’s Man, the State, and War is an influential work in the field of international relations. The book aims to explain the causes of war, arguing that the behavior of states is primarily shaped by the anarchic structure of the international system.
10. The American Political Tradition by Richard Hofstadter
The American Political Tradition, written by historian Richard Hofstadter, is a collection of essays exploring the history of American political thought. The book provides an overview of the key figures and ideas that have shaped American politics, from the founding of the country to the present day.
These 10 books represent a diverse range of perspectives on politics, government, and society. By reading and understanding these works, political science majors can develop a deep understanding of political theory, American politics, and international relations.