200 years after it was written, Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations is still debated by governments internationally. Smith argued that 'mercantilism'-the theory that the national economy exists solely to strengthen the government, thus the government should regulate the economy-was wrong.
Structural Anthropology (1958) not only transformed the discipline of anthropology, it also energized a movement called structuralism that came to dominate the humanities and social sciences for a generation. Linguistic structuralism studies the meaning of language beyond definitions, looking at the relationships of words and sounds to each other.
Up to the mid 20th century, generations of anthropologists had imported their own value systems into their work, regardless of where they were studying. Indigenous cultures were almost always judged to fall short in some manner - offering justification for colonization in the name of 'civilizing natives.'
Ernest Gellner - a Jew who escaped from Czechoslovakia in 1939 after Hitler invaded - knew first-hand the catastrophic effects of excessive nationalism, and he was determined to understand the phenomenon that had shaped so much of 20th century history.
Modernity at Large is an edited collection of the essays that made Appadurai an influential figure in cultural anthropology. Collectively, these not only present a theory of globalization, but also suggest ways that other researchers can follow up on the author's ideas.
Albert Hourani's A History of the Arab Peoples is unsurpassed as an overview of Arab history from the rise of Islam to the late twentieth century. Going far beyond political history, it provides a deep analysis of social, cultural and economic structures.
Classical economics suggests that market economies are self-correcting in times of recession or depression, and tend toward full employment and output. But English economist John Maynard Keynes disagrees. In his ground-breaking 1936 study The General Theory, Keynes argues that traditional economics has misunderstood the causes of unemployment.
Dikotter's 2010 masterpiece catalogues the tragedy and the cover-up of the hideous famine caused by the Great Leap Forward-Mao Zedong's disastrous attempt to jumpstart industrialization in China in the late 1950s.
Considered his most important work, Mahbub ul Haq's Reflections on Human Development appeared at the end of his career in international development, and consolidates his revolutionary contribution to the discipline.
Before Browning's 1992 book, most Holocaust scholarship focused either on the experience of the victims or on the Nazi political ideology driving the slaughter. He in stead investigates the men who carried out acts of extreme violence. Who were they? How could they end up committing such unspeakable acts?
In His book Gender and the Politics of History (1998), Scott draws attention to the fact that despite gender equality's long-term recognition there has been no genuinely revolutionary change unlike economic, social, and class inequalities.
In Citizen and Subject, Mahmood Mamdani challenges dominant views of the crisis of postcolonial Africa, particularly that the problems the continent faces are home grown. Citizen and Subject insists that the current crisis is the institutional legacy of colonialism.
In their 1990 work, Gottfredson and Hirschi introduce a new and comprehensive theory of crime. At the time, crime researchers tended to focus on environmental factors that led to crime, not on the criminals themselves, and were inclined to think about crime only from their particular academic perspective.
Postmodernist thinkers consider history to be not very far removed from a work of fiction, something dependent on historians' own interpretations of the past. Evans, however, argues that we can trust history and it is possible to be objective about what happened and what caused it to happen.
Elizabeth Loftus' 1979 work explains why people sometimes remember events inaccurately and how this simple fact has a profound impact on the criminal justice system, especially given the value placed on eyewitness accounts. Although, as these are based on memories that are not always reliable.
Born in 1961, US anthropologist and activist David Graeber was weaned on leftist politics, and declared himself an anarchist at age 16. He became an anthropology professor, and his early cultural research in Madagascar exposed him to poverty that he saw as caused by pressures to repay excessive government debt.
The United States has the world's largest prison population, with more than two million behind bars. Alexander says this is mainly due to America's 'war on drugs,' launched in 1982. In The New Jim Crow, she explains how this government initiative has led to America's black citizens being imprisoned on a colossal scale.
Ever since the nineteenth century, people have claimed that the prosperity enjoyed by the First World was the result of its devotion to unconstrained economic freedoms. Chang claims that, in fact, First World success was due to exactly the kinds of state intervention that traditional economic thinking consistently opposes today.
Published in 2010, Bloodlands argues that accounts of World War II have paid too much attention to the atrocities of Adolf Hitler, and not enough to Joseph Stalin's. Snyder believes a definitive history of the period must depict the suffering of all of the conflict's victims.
Sen's 1997 work argues that the success or failure of international development cannot be measured by income alone. Having grown up in India, Sen brings his own understanding of poverty to the issue, arguing that the end goal of development must be human freedom.
Originally published in 1866, Civil Disobedience asks when - and in what circumstances - an individual should actively oppose government and its justice system. Thoreau's argument is that opposition is legitimate whenever government actions or institutions are unacceptable to an individual's conscience.
Theory of International Politics created a "scientific revolution" in international relations, starting two major debates. It defined the 1980s controversy between the 'neorealists,' who believed that competition between states was inevitable, and the 'neoliberals,' who believed that states could co-operate.
After Hegemony has had a huge impact on policy debates over the last three decades. Hegemony means the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence of one dominant group, and Keohane asks if international cooperation can survive in the absence of a single superpower.
Published anonymously by Locke in 1689, Two Treatises claims that a monarch's right to rule does not come from God, but from the people he rules. In the mid-seventeenth century, England removed its king and tried different systems of government before opting to restore a monarchy.
The Second Sex caused uproar when it appeared in 1949. Simone de Beauvoir sets out groundbreaking ideas on what it meant to be a woman, charting the oppression of "the second sex." She argued that gender identity was shaped by upbringing in a world ruled by men, and her most startling thesis became a rallying cry for the feminist movement.
More than 2,500 years after it was written, Symposium remains a key text for philosophers, historians, writers, artists and politicians. Plato imagines seven important historical figures, including the philosopher Socrates, debating eros (human love and desire).
'Politics as a Vocation' examines what makes good political leaders and explores the effects of political action on modern societies. On one level, it summarizes the political scholarship of one of the founding fathers of social science. On another, it reflects practical concerns about the future of Germany after its defeat in World War I.
In Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein presents a radical approach to the philosophy of language and the mind, setting out a startlingly fresh conception of philosophy itself. Wittgenstein begins from the insight that most philosophical problems trace back to incorrect assumptions about the nature of language.
What is justice? How should an individual and a society behave justly? And how do they learn how to do so? These are just some of the core questions explored in The Republic, considered by many to be Plato's most important work.
Aristotle, a student of Plato, wrote Nicomachean Ethics in 350 BCE, in a time of extraordinary intellectual development. Over two millennia later, his thorough exploration of virtue, reason, and the ultimate human good still forms the basis of the values at the heart of Western civilization.
Why We Can't Wait (1964) is arguably the most vital book by one of the most important men in US history. Martin Luther King Jr. sets out the ideas that fuelled a large part of the 1960s civil rights movement.
Slavery had been accepted in Western culture for centuries. So why did a movement suddenly rise up in the industrial era calling for its abolition? Could it be that people had suddenly become more enlightened and humanitarian? Or were there other, more compelling and perhaps self-serving reasons for this sudden about-turn?
The story of the crusades has been told and retold in Western histories-but invariable from Western perspectives. Carole Hillenbrand's fresh interpretation drew on Islamic sources that describe the crusades from a Muslim point of view.
Riley-Smith's 1986 book gives convincing case for a 'revisionist' view of the crusades, challenging the common belief that the crusades were motivated by fanaticism and were designed to plunder the Holy Lands.
Competitors have always existed in business, but what if it were possible to render your competition irrelevant? This is the critical question posed in Blue Ocean Strategy, which argues that the path to success of any company lies not in taking on potential competitors, but in the creation of "blue oceans" in uncontested market space.
Westad's seminal 2005 work shifts the focus of Cold War studies from Europe to the post-World War II interventions by both the Soviet Union and the United States in the affairs of developing nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Lewis's 1952 Mere Christianity-originally printed in pamphlet form during World War II-documents a complex journey from atheism to faith. Lewis's fresh, lively, and often humorous presentation of Christian doctrine helped to make him arguably the greatest defender of Christianity of the 20th century.
In 1963's The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan challenged the vision 1950s America had of itself as a nation of happy housewives and contented families. After World War II, society had fostered the idea that women wanted to run a home and live through the achievements of a husband and children.