George Orwell famously stated, "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind". Indeed, it can be tricky to navigate the world of politics, but it affects almost every element of our daily lives, so buying a book on the subject is a great place to start.
That's why we've compiled a list of the ten best books about politics you can buy online this year, including nonfiction tomes on British and world politics, government analysis, political economics and history, and guides for complete beginners. Rated according to subject area and value for money, we've also written a buying guide helping you choose.
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Table of Contents
If you want to buy a book on politics but aren't sure where to start, consider a few basic factors such as the part of the world you're interested in and also the style of book you enjoy reading best. Below we've divided 'politics books' into some more specific categories, making shopping for them much easier!
First of all, think about whether you'd like to read about the politics of Britain and the United Kingdom, or to learn about political systems on a more global scale.
For a more general guide to the way politics functions globally, choose a book that encompasses international issues and wider history of the world's social and economical development.
If you're wondering where to start when it comes to a theme, you may like to consider a book that focuses closely on one particular area of politics, such as poverty, gender inequality or institutionalised racism, particularly if you already have an interest in the topic or it resonates with you.
There are some fantastic recent releases which are hugely informative on specific areas and heavily entrenched in the politics of our country and the world, however, beginners could also try a book on general politics to help them discover which themes spark an interest.
It's also worth thinking about the book itself, all the way from its spine and how it feels in your hand, to the layout of information and the way points are illustrated. You may also prefer to take information in through varied means, for example on a Kindle or as an audiobook.
Some books a best enjoyed as paperbacks, whereas for others a hardback works well. Apart from the obvious difference in price, it's also worth considering where you'll read your book and what you are reading it for.
Something to throw into your bag for the commute or your daily stroll? A lightweight paperback obviously suits.
A gift, a coffee table staple or a tome to study at your desk? Hardcovers are durable and beautiful. Large illustrated guides also work well as hardbacks because they often open out flat.
Alternatively, check out whether your book is available to be downloaded to your Kindle or other eReader if you're a minimalist who prefers not to have shelves (or a bag) filled with books.
Likewise, if you find it hard to concentrate on reading, an audiobook version may also be available and means you can multitask!
Consider buying a book about politics with illustrations if you are a visual learner and want a simple way to help you retain facts better. Some books are text only, which is great if you're looking for a good read, but others have photographs which can help flesh out your understanding of an event or person.
You can also look out for politics books featuring information tables and infographics. These can be particularly helpful if you want information to stick in your mind, for example if you're taking an exam or giving a presentation and need to know your stuff.
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The Politics Book
An Accessible Guide to Government
A Very Short Introduction to British Politics
Pocket Sized Breakdown of Politics in Britain
Prisoners of Geography
Global Politics Through a Collection of Maps
Talking to My Daughter: A Brief History of Capitalism
A Must-Read to Get Your Head Around Capitalism
Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain's Underclass
A Razor-Sharp Perspective on Poverty and a Plea for Change
Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson
Why Nations Fail
An Investigation of How Institutions Hinder Power and Prosperity
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race
An Essential Guide to Race Relations in the UK
The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It
A Bestselling Investigation of Power
Isabelle Criado Perez
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
A Data-Driven Peek at Gender Inequality
Why We Get the Wrong Politicians
An Award-Winning Glimpse Into the Pitfalls of Life as an MP
We like this all-encompassing guide to politics because of its straightforward approach, its clear photographs, infographics and diagrams and the broad perspective it takes on politics throughout history and across the world.
The use of direct language paired with visually appealing illustrations makes it fantastic for younger learners or those at the beginning of their journey into the political realm. A top tome to keep on your shelf or coffee table and whip out for reference whenever you need it!
The 'Very Short Introduction to...' series is popular for good reason. They are much more than bullet point guides, but rather carefully researched essays exploring a particular subject.
This book takes glimpses at the legacy of Winston Churchill, the rise of the Labour Party and subsequently New Labour, and the British constitution as a whole. A perfect pocket guide to help you brush up on your basics.
For a broad perspective on global politics this book is an excellent read. With chapters that drive us across borders and sail us through international waters from Russia to Korea, flying over India and Pakistan to Latin America via the Arctic, this tome maps geopolitics clearly and boldly.
The map images themselves don't play quite as vital a role as the title suggests, but the information-packed pages do create a clear picture of international relations through recent history to the present day.
Written by Greece's former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, with the aim of making capitalism – and thus the economic element of politics – accessible to his teenage daughter, this book is eye-opening and fun.
Making comparisons between our current capitalist system and 90s cult film The Matrix, as well as using the trade of tea bags and cigarettes in a World War Two prisoner of war camp to explain currency, this book makes understanding economics easy and digestible.
This book is topping many to-read lists this year because of its brutal and frank account of life in Britain on, or just below, the poverty line. It won the 2018 Orwell Prize for political thinking, too.
Written by the Glaswegian rapper Loki, the book examines the myriad effects poverty can have on the human experience, from mental attitudes to physical health and includes critiques of identity politics, intersectionality and the 'poverty industry'. Heartfelt, perspective-shifting reading.
This guide has been written over a period of 15 years, building on a body of research to create a stunning picture of the huge inequality between developing and more developed countries worldwide. It is written by two highly intellectual and deeply respected professors, one specialising in economics and the other in political science.
This book is essential reading, covering China's rise to power, the unfathomable prosperity gap between two towns either side of the Mexican/US border, and alluding to hopes for a radical shift in thinking to make institutions more inclusive and fair.
This book is an absolute must-read. It's extremely quick and easy to get through, and packed with information on the current state of race relations in Britain today from a black writer's perspective.
With chapters on institutionalised racism in the police service, to the uproar when J.K. Rowling cast a black actor to play Hermione in the stage version of the Cursed Child, Reni Eddo-Lodge gives countless examples of how white privilege envelops our worlds so thoroughly that it is rarely noticed or acknowledged by those who benefit from it. A brief, life-changing book.
Guardian journalist and writer Owen Jones became a household name after the release of his bestselling book The Establishment, which is a scathing and at times shocking exposé of the institutions we trust to guide us, such as the BBC, the government itself and even the police.
In his revelatory book on the corruption hidden in plain sight across Britain's social and political landscape, Jones states: "Change is not won through the goodwill and generosity of those above, but through the struggle and sacrifice of those below", and leaves the reader hungry for change.
This book took its cue from the 2017 revelation that the BBC was paying women far less than their male counterparts. Author Caroline Criado Perez has now compiled a veritable dossier of other imbalances, supported by statistics which prove gender inequality permeates our lives.
A quick, easy read, this handy paperback is jammed full of fascinating (and largely worrying) tidbits of data which function alone as ways to shut down anti-feminist arguments and as a whole to build a picture of the areas society must work on to improve women's rights and quality of life.
This book has been nominated for a number of prizes including the 2018 Parliamentary Book Awards (which it won), Waterstone's Book of the Year 2018 and the Orwell Prize 2019.
Though its title alludes to the general sense of disapproval many feel for MPs in the current climate, this book actually looks closely at the stresses and strains of the role, defending and even admiring the extremely high-pressured, and often low-reward, job of representing everyday people in a parliament designed to discourage progression and change.
On the hunt for more interesting reads or hoping to teach yourself something new? We have some cool articles recommending the ten best examples of various book, so whether you're hoping to learn a new language or want a novel to devour on the sofa, our suggestions are a rollercoaster-read through fantasy, fiction and fact.
We hope you've found our guide to buying a book on politics useful and informative, and that somewhere among our choices you'll spot something that's right for you. Whether it's geopolitical theory or the history of politics in the UK, we're pretty sure there are ideas on our list that suit everyone.
Author: Annie Hopkins
No. 1: DK｜The Politics Book
No. 2: Anthony Wright｜A Very Short Introduction to British Politics
No. 3: Tim Marshall｜Prisoners of Geography
No. 4: Yanis Varoufakis ｜Talking to My Daughter: A Brief History of Capitalism
No. 5: Darren McGarvey｜Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain's Underclass
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