Dr. Emily Maiden, a respected authority in the field of political science, generously imparts her knowledge and passion for the subject in a YouTube video where she presents her top 10 book recommendations for political science majors. In her engaging presentation, Dr. Maiden emphasizes the subjective nature of her list, recognizing that different individuals may have alternate suggestions based on their own perspectives and experiences.

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Designing Social Inquiry

"Designing Social Inquiry" is a foundational text that delves into the core principles of social science research methods, particularly within the field of political science. While it may be a challenging read, its depth and complexity are what make it essential for aspiring political scientists.

What You Should Know:

  • The book provides a comprehensive overview of various research methodologies used in political science, such as case studies, statistical analysis, and formal theory.
  • It emphasizes the importance of rigorous research design and methodology in producing credible and valid findings.
  • "Designing Social Inquiry" offers practical guidance on how to formulate research questions, choose appropriate methods, and analyze data effectively.
  • It is widely regarded as a seminal work in the field, often assigned in political science courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Why We Love It:

  • Despite its challenging nature, the book is highly rewarding for those who persevere through its contents, as it equips readers with valuable analytical skills and a deeper understanding of social science research.
  • By providing a solid foundation in research methods, "Designing Social Inquiry" empowers students and researchers to conduct more rigorous and insightful studies.
  • Its influence extends beyond political science, serving as a guide for researchers in other social science disciplines as well.
  • Overall, "Designing Social Inquiry" is a testament to the importance of methodological rigor in advancing knowledge and understanding in political science.

Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science

Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science is a valuable resource that offers comprehensive guidance on research methods and dissertation writing for students at all levels of study. Here's a closer look at why this book is highly regarded in the field:

What You Should Know:

  • The book covers a wide range of topics relevant to political science research, including hypothesis development, case studies, surveys, and data analysis.
  • It provides practical advice on conducting research, from formulating research questions to writing and presenting the dissertation.
  • The guide includes useful examples and exercises that help students apply theoretical concepts to real-world research scenarios.
  • It is written in an accessible and engaging style, making complex concepts easier to understand for students new to research methods.

Why We Love It:

  • Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science is a comprehensive and user-friendly resource that serves as a one-stop reference for students undertaking research projects.
  • The book's focus on practical application makes it particularly useful for students who are preparing to conduct their own research or write a dissertation.
  • Its insights into research methods and dissertation writing are invaluable for students looking to develop their research skills and produce high-quality academic work.
  • Overall, this guide is a must-have for students of political science, offering clear and concise guidance on every aspect of the research process.
Politicians talking to people.
Politicians talking to people.

Utopia by Thomas More

"Utopia" by Thomas More is a seminal work that explores the concept of an ideal society, making it a foundational text in political science. Here's why it's such an important read:

What You Should Know:

  • Written in 1516, "Utopia" is a work of fiction that describes an imaginary island society where social, political, and economic structures are idealized.
  • The book is structured as a dialogue between More himself and a fictional character who describes the customs, laws, and institutions of Utopia.
  • Through this narrative, More critiques the political realities of his time, including issues such as poverty, crime, and corruption.
  • The concept of "utopia" has since become a central theme in political theory, influencing ideas about social justice, governance, and the pursuit of a better society.

Why We Love It:

  • "Utopia" challenges readers to think critically about the nature of society and government, encouraging them to consider alternative ways of organizing communities.
  • Despite being written centuries ago, many of the issues and ideas explored in "Utopia" remain relevant today, making it a timeless and thought-provoking read.
  • The book's influence extends beyond political science, inspiring numerous works of literature, philosophy, and political theory.
  • Overall, "Utopia" is a classic work that continues to inspire readers to imagine and strive for a better, more just society.

1984 by George Orwell

"1984" by George Orwell is a classic novel that remains highly relevant today due to its exploration of themes such as political communication, propaganda, and authoritarianism. Here's why it's a must-read for anyone interested in political science:

What You Should Know:

  • Published in 1949, "1984" is a dystopian novel set in a totalitarian society ruled by the Party and its leader, Big Brother.
  • The novel follows the protagonist, Winston Smith, as he navigates life under constant surveillance and attempts to resist the Party's oppressive regime.
  • "1984" is renowned for its portrayal of government propaganda, thought control, and historical revisionism, which have become powerful allegories for contemporary political issues.
  • The novel introduces concepts such as Newspeak, Doublethink, and the Thought Police, which have entered the lexicon as shorthand for totalitarian manipulation and control.

Why We Love It:

  • "1984" offers a chilling depiction of a society where truth is manipulated, dissent is suppressed, and individual freedoms are curtailed, serving as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked government power.
  • Orwell's insights into political communication and propaganda remain relevant in today's world of misinformation, fake news, and digital surveillance.
  • The novel's exploration of surveillance and control resonates with contemporary debates about privacy, civil liberties, and the role of technology in society.
  • Overall, "1984" is a thought-provoking and powerful novel that continues to stimulate discussion and reflection on the nature of politics and power.

The Communist Manifesto

"The Communist Manifesto" is a foundational text that is essential for understanding various aspects of political science, including political economy, international relations, and political philosophy. Here's why it's a significant work in the field:

What You Should Know:

  • Written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, "The Communist Manifesto" was first published in 1848 and remains one of the most influential political texts in history.
  • The manifesto outlines the principles of communism, advocating for the overthrow of capitalist societies by the working class and the establishment of a classless, stateless society.
  • It critiques the capitalist system, arguing that it exploits the working class and leads to economic inequality and social unrest.
  • "The Communist Manifesto" also discusses historical materialism, dialectical materialism, and the role of class struggle in shaping societies.

Why We Love It:

  • "The Communist Manifesto" provides a foundational framework for understanding political economy by critiquing capitalism and proposing an alternative economic system based on communal ownership of the means of production.
  • It is essential for understanding the history of socialist and communist movements and their impact on political thought and practice.
  • The manifesto's analysis of class struggle and historical materialism continues to be relevant in understanding contemporary political and economic issues.
  • Overall, "The Communist Manifesto" is a seminal work that has shaped political discourse and inspired political movements around the world.

The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier

"The Bottom Billion" by Paul Collier is a seminal work in development economics and political science that focuses on the challenges faced by the world's poorest countries. Here's why it's a significant book in the field:

What You Should Know:

  • Published in 2007, "The Bottom Billion" examines why some countries have remained mired in poverty and conflict while others have experienced economic growth and development.
  • Collier identifies a group of approximately one billion people living in countries with stagnant economies, high levels of poverty, and often plagued by conflict and instability.
  • The book argues that the conventional approaches to development assistance have failed to address the specific challenges faced by these countries.
  • Collier identifies four key traps that keep countries in the bottom billion: conflict, natural resources, landlockedness, and bad governance.

Why We Love It:

  • "The Bottom Billion" provides a nuanced understanding of the complex factors that contribute to poverty and underdevelopment, moving beyond simplistic explanations.
  • Collier offers practical policy recommendations for addressing the challenges faced by the bottom billion, emphasizing the importance of governance, aid effectiveness, and conflict resolution.
  • The book has had a significant impact on development policy and has influenced the way policymakers and scholars think about development challenges.
  • Overall, "The Bottom Billion" is a thought-provoking and insightful book that sheds light on some of the most pressing issues facing the world's poorest countries.
A politician talking to people.
A politician talking to people.

Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson

"Why Nations Fail" by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson is a seminal work in political economy that explores the underlying factors that contribute to the success or failure of nations. Here's why it's a significant book in the field:

What You Should Know:

  • Published in 2012, "Why Nations Fail" argues that the key driver of economic prosperity is the inclusivity of political and economic institutions.
  • The book contrasts inclusive institutions, which create a level playing field and encourage innovation and economic growth, with extractive institutions, which concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a few.
  • Acemoglu and Robinson draw on a wide range of historical and contemporary examples to illustrate their arguments, from the Industrial Revolution in England to the economic stagnation in many African countries.
  • The authors argue that extractive institutions are often maintained by a narrow elite who use their power to extract wealth from the rest of society, leading to poverty and underdevelopment.

Why We Love It:

  • "Why Nations Fail" offers a compelling framework for understanding the divergent paths of economic development taken by different countries.
  • The book challenges conventional wisdom about the role of geography, culture, and resources in determining a nation's prosperity, emphasizing instead the critical role of institutions.
  • Acemoglu and Robinson's accessible writing style and engaging storytelling make complex economic concepts accessible to a wide audience.
  • The book has had a significant impact on the field of development economics and has influenced policymakers and scholars alike.

Contentious Politics by Charles Tilly and Sidney Tarrow

"Contentious Politics" by Charles Tilly and Sidney Tarrow is a seminal work that analyzes the dynamics of political change through the lens of social movements. Here's why it's an important book in political science:

What You Should Know:

  • Published in 2006, "Contentious Politics" examines how social movements emerge, evolve, and impact political systems.
  • Tilly and Tarrow argue that contentious politics is a key driver of political change and that social movements play a crucial role in challenging existing power structures and advocating for social, political, and economic change.
  • The book draws on a wide range of historical and contemporary examples, from the civil rights movement in the United States to the anti-globalization protests of the late 20th century.
  • Tilly and Tarrow's framework emphasizes the importance of understanding the relationship between social movements, states, and other actors in the political system.

Why We Love It:

  • "Contentious Politics" offers a comprehensive and nuanced analysis of the complex interactions that drive political change, making it essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the dynamics of social movements.
  • The book's interdisciplinary approach draws on sociology, political science, and history to provide a rich and multifaceted analysis of contentious politics.
  • Tilly and Tarrow's writing is engaging and accessible, making complex theoretical concepts accessible to a wide audience.
  • The book's insights into the strategies and tactics used by social movements to achieve their goals are as relevant today as they were when the book was first published.

The Logic of Collective Action by Mancur Olson

"The Logic of Collective Action" by Mancur Olson is a classic work in political science that discusses the challenges of mobilizing individuals for collective action. Here's why it's an important book in the field:

What You Should Know:

  • Published in 1965, "The Logic of Collective Action" examines how individuals with common interests often fail to act collectively to achieve those interests.
  • Olson argues that in large groups, individuals have less incentive to participate in collective action because the benefits of their actions are spread across all group members, while the costs are borne individually.
  • The book introduces the concept of "selective incentives," which are benefits that are available only to those who participate in collective action, as a way to overcome the free-rider problem.
  • Olson's analysis has been influential in the fields of political science, economics, and sociology, and has been applied to a wide range of collective action problems, from labor unions to environmental activism.

Why We Love It:

  • "The Logic of Collective Action" provides a clear and compelling explanation for why collective action is often difficult to achieve, even when it is in the interest of the group as a whole.
  • Olson's insights into the role of incentives in shaping individual behavior have been widely cited and continue to inform research on collective action and public policy.
  • The book's analysis of how groups form and operate has practical implications for policymakers and activists seeking to mobilize individuals for collective action.
  • Despite being published over 50 years ago, "The Logic of Collective Action" remains a seminal work in the study of collective action and is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the dynamics of group behavior.

One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson

"One Person, No Vote" by Carol Anderson is a powerful and insightful book that examines the issue of voter suppression in the United States and its impact on democracy. Here's why it's an important read:

What You Should Know:

  • Published in 2018, "One Person, No Vote" provides a detailed account of the history of voter suppression tactics in the United States, particularly targeting African Americans.
  • Anderson argues that voter suppression is not a new phenomenon, but rather a persistent and evolving strategy used by those in power to maintain their grip on political control.
  • The book highlights various tactics used to suppress the vote, including poll taxes, literacy tests, voter ID laws, and gerrymandering, and explores their disproportionate impact on marginalized communities.
  • Anderson also discusses the broader implications of voter suppression on democracy, arguing that it undermines the fundamental principle of one person, one vote.

Why We Love It:

  • "One Person, No Vote" sheds light on an often overlooked aspect of American history and provides a compelling narrative that challenges conventional views of democracy in the United States.
  • Anderson's writing is engaging and accessible, making complex historical and political concepts easy to understand for a wide audience.
  • The book is meticulously researched, drawing on a wealth of historical evidence and data to support its arguments.
  • By focusing on the impact of voter suppression on marginalized communities, "One Person, No Vote" highlights the ongoing struggle for voting rights and the importance of protecting and expanding access to the ballot.

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Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

What is the best book of political science?

The Best Book of Political Science is The Republic by Plato. This publication has been influential for centuries, and is still required reading for many political science majors.

What should I read about in political science?

The Politics of Power: A Critical Introduction to American Government: This book offers a critical examination of American government and politics. It is perfect for those who want to understand how power works in the United States.

How can I prepare for political technique?

First, it is important to understand the basics of U.S. government and politics. You can learn about this by reading guides, taking classes, or watching documentaries.


Dr. Maiden encourages viewers to share their favorite political science books and provides a list of all the books mentioned in the video for reference. This invitation to engage fosters a sense of community among viewers and allows for further exploration of diverse perspectives within the field of political science. By providing a comprehensive list of the recommended books, viewers can easily access and explore these works, enhancing their understanding and appreciation of the subject matter.