The Political and Economic Theory Reader

The classics of political and economic theory and other usefull works

This selection is intended to give the reader the broadest possible base from which to approach the topics of political and economic theory and of revolution. The classic and founding works of the major strains of political theory are all here. Reading this list will make you about as knowledgeable about theory as a person can be without becoming an expert.

The list is intentionally as idologically broad as possible, all books in this category are works of opinion, and their inclusion in the list simply indicates that I believe they should be read and thought about, not nessicarily agreed with.

For the sake of your convenience and my pocketbook, you can buy any of the books on this list online from Barnes&Noble's by clicking the title link. Buying books from this list via this site helps to support the site.


  1. General works of interest
  2. Classical works on political theory
  3. 18th century political theory
  4. American Government
  5. Economics
  6. Libertarian theory
  7. Site navigation links


Academic & Scholarly | Law| Nonfiction

General works of interest

From Magna Carta to the Constitution: Documents in the Struggle for Liberty
A good introduction to the field of political theory in the Anglo-american tradition.
Confronting the Constitution: The Challenge to Locke, Montesquieu, Jefferson, and the Federalists from Utilitarianism, Historicism, Marxism, Freudis
An overview of the varrious political philosophies of our time and their relation to the 18th century theories of politics.
Sending Your Government a Message: E-Mail Communications between Citizens and Government
A list like this can never be entirely historical. This work on technology and government was an influence to my constitution and aided in the conceptualization of the process by which it was debated.
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
Noam Chomsky's examination of the corporate media's influence on American society. A modern classic and a major influence in current cultural criticisim and my own thinking.
Mein Kampf
Hitler's own chilling account of his plans in regard to the then future of Germany. An example of the danger of extremeisim and the damage a deranged individual can do if they get into government. Rich source of negative scenarios.
Constitution Makers on Constitution Making: The Experience of Eight Nations

Seemed interesting at the website, hasn't arrived yet. Listed because it may be of interest.

Classical works on political theory and history

Plato's Republic
The first major exploration of political philosophy in the western tradition, and the first attempt at a conception of Utopia. Possibly the best book to argue over in all of western literature.
The Early History of Rome: Books I-V of The History of Rome From Its Foundation (Ab Urbe Condita) | Rome and Italy: Books VI-X of The History of Rome From Its Foundation (Ab Urbe Condita)
Livy's history of Rome, one of Madisons standard reference works and the best source available on Roman political history. A major source of examples for what can go wrong in government in the debates section of this site. (The remaining books in the series can be found by browsing from this link)
Machiavelli: The Prince
The first major work on politics of the Rennaisance and a long-time influence on many other political thinkers and politicians. Also an influence on my constitutional thinking and debates.

18th Century Political Theory


Two Treatises of Government
John Locke's classic work, this was the inspiration for much of the US constitution, and provides the reasoning behind many later. It is required reading for anyone studying any kind of constitutional theory.
Lord Acton's History of Liberty
Lord Acton's great work on the evolution of the english government, in an edition with a lot of good introductory information.
The Best of Burke: Selected Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke
One of the best leagal minds of history, Burke is here to balance the great classically liberal works of his time, Burke's classically conservative viewpoint is here to provide counterpoint to the rest of the list and serve as the best arguement for an entire philosophy that would otherwise be omitted. Yet another influence on my own constitutional thinking.
Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England
The definitive source on the English common law, and a must for every lawer's bookshelf since it was first published, and one of "the ordinary sources of the common law" referenced by my constitution. Not available online, but can be found or special ordered at your local Barnes&Noble superstore.
The Mysterious Science of the Law: An Essay on Blackstone's Commentaries
A thought-provoking work on the social construction of the English commonlaw and of Blackstone's work. An excelent adjunct to the work itself.


Rousseau: The Social Contract and Other Later Political Writings
Rousseau's classic conceptualization of the social contract was the basis for much of the political thinking of the Enlightenment period in both France and England, becoming a major basis for the theory underlieing all constitutions.
The Spirit of the Laws: Montesquieu
Need I say more?
Freedom's Moment: An Essay on the French Idea of Liberty from Rousseau to Foucault
A good primer on the differences that make French political theory of the 18th century distinctive from both the American and English conceptions. An excelent starting work on French political thinking.

American Government
The Federalist Papers
The defining work on the US constitution and its construction, by the most influential of its framers. Basicly the document that "sold" us the constitution. Also a good overview of constitutional theory generally and a major influence to my constitution.
The Anti-Federalist: Writings by the Opponents of the Constitution
Not as important as the federalist, but here to keep Publius honest and point out the flaws in their work.
Notes on the State of Virginia
Thomas Jefferson's first articulation of the American state and the ideals behind it. Another of the primary references behind history.
Democracy in America
Alexis de Toqueville's great study of American society from the European perspective, and a good reference on how the American experiment changed the society.
Walden; On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
Two in one, the first book advocating Environmentalisim in America and one of the most influential works on protest in history. Civil Disobedience makes the list for inspiring such greats as Ghandi and Martin Luther King.
Voting and the Spirit of American Democracy: Essays on the History of Voting and Voting Rights in America
One of the best new works on the subject I've read in a long time.



The Wealth of Nations
Where else to begin a study of capitalist economic theory than with the book that started it all...
General Theory of Money and Interest
John Maynard Keynes' work changed everyone's view of economics and was the most influential work of the last 100 years. Unfortunately, I could not find it at; so you'll have to buy it from your local bookstore.
The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization
My favorite book of the summer, The crucial book for understanding globalization and its effect on society. Not so much about the economic theory as the social impact of its practice, it also provides a great deal of usefull information on social change and the economic causes of changes in government.


The Communist Manifesto : By Karl Marx and Frederick Engels with Related Documents
Again, as with The Wealth of Nations, where else to begin the study of communisim than with the book that started it all? Marx's theories were shaky in his own time, but some of his reasoning is simply brilliant. The book that inspired the communist movement.
The Road to Serfdom
Frederick Hayek's classic refutation of socialisim. A good balance for all the marxist works in this category.

Libertarian theory

The Constitution of Liberty
Frederick Hayek is the only author to make the list twice because I'm a big fan of his. This is the magnum opus of classical liberalisim, and was a major influence on my constitution. His prose is a bit dense, but well worth reading.
The Ayn Rand Reader
OK, can you fault me for not being able to choose which of Ayn Rand's excelent works to put on the list? This excelent selection makes a good starting point for further study of Objectiveisim. Many of my constitutional ideas are concieved in refutation or agreement with hers, so it counts as a major influence.
The homepage of this site
Webring users, if you are not interested in this site please click here to go back to the ring codes.
My constitution
The document itself, a proposed constitution for a small 21st century state.
To other online resources of interest to those studying constitutional and revolutionary theory.
The Revolutionary reader
The definitive reading list for all would-be revolutionaries.
The arguements for my constitution
An introduction to the theory and practice of constitutional government, in the form of an arguement for the proposed system.

Copyright 2000 Jack Durst, Last modified 10/12/2000 10:55PM PDT