nixonlandConsider this a prompt for an open thread.

I’m looking for books to recommend to students to both give them a hint of what academic political science is “really” like but also to get them excited about the systematic study of politics. No single book can do it all, but a summer reading list can at least prod people to look in the right areas. So here’s my list; additions welcome.

  • Putnam and Campbell, American Grace: Fascinating survey of religion and politics in American life
  • Cohen, Karol, Noel, and Zaller, The Party Decides: Who makes presidents and why?
  • Gelman, Park, Bafumi, and Shor, Red State, Blue State: Why do people vote the way they do? Why are some states red and some states blue?
  • James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How do ideas constitute and guide state policy?
  • James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed: Taking anarchism seriously.
  • Acemoglu and Robinson, Why Nations Fail
  • Hendrik Spruyt, The Sovereign State and Its Competitors: The states system we take for granted wasn’t the inevitable or even the only conclusion of European state-making
  • Rick Perlstein, Nixonland: Sweeping descriptions of how politics made and unmade American society–and a reminder that political contestation isn’t teleological.
  • BDM and Smith, The Dictator’s Handbook: Thinking like a bad guy.
  • John Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics: Few scholars have written such an approachable, provocative, and erudite book.
  • Richard Ben Cramer, What It Takes: Gripping.
  • Kenneth Waltz, Man, the State, and War: Worth re-reading. Most successful comps outline in the history of academia.
  • Michael Ross, The Oil Curse. The definitive statement of a generation of the resource curse research project.
  • Please Vote For Me: School politics with a twist. Is ‘picky eating’ a valid decision rule?
  • Street Fight. I think this was supposed to make me like Cory Booker, but I had the opposite reaction.

And: Continue reading

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