Best Political Books in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update August 10, 2020
Political books can tell an engrossing, narrative-driven story. But, before that, the best political books arm you with the tools that you need to navigate the political landscape without falling victim to politicians' dirty tricks. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2020
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Author
Genre
Book Type
Publisher
Page Count
 
PROS
The book pits ideologies like fascism, communism, and capitalism against each other and compares them without displaying an obvious bias. Using step-by-step diagrams as well as illustrations, this book is able to break down the most layered subjects without dumbing them down.
CONS

The Kindle Edition is not great. 

OUR VERDICT

DK The Politics Book discusses the biggest ideas and answers the most profound questions that people have been asking since the dawn of time. The book explores everything from philosophical, social, political, and economic ideologies to the championing of people's rights. 

detailed parameters
Author

DK Publishing

Genre

Politics, Nonfiction, Reference, History, Philosophy 

Book Type

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (downloadable version)

Publisher

DK Publishing

Page Count

352 pages

PROS
Despite remaining historically accurate, the book's able to create an engrossing narrative, painting a realistic portrait and describing the events that transpired around the man's presidency run as well as the mindset that put these events into motion via emotive and colourful prose.
CONS

There is virtually no criticism of Lincoln (even when it seems that there should be).

OUR VERDICT

As divisive as politics can be, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin is loved pretty much universally. To a large extent, the man has shaped that the United States of America that we know today and the book tells you everything you need to know about him.

detailed parameters
Author

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Genre

History, Nonfiction, Biography, Politics

Book Type

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (audio CD version), Accessory

Publisher

Penguin

Page Count

976 pages

PROS

Unlike the previous books about Bevan, this one uses recent sources and first-hand interviews, giving you a glimpse into the man's mind. In addition to his political career, the book spends a considerable amount of time describing his childhood and the hardships his family endured.  

CONS

The book is pretty dry. 

OUR VERDICT

Nye: The Political Life of Aneurin Bevan by Nick Thomas-Symonds has been described as an insightful portrait of a person largely responsible for establishing the National Health Service and someone belongs among the most influential and prominent British politicians of the 20th century.

detailed parameters
Author

Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds

Genre

Politics, History, Nonfiction, Biography

Book Type

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle Edition

Publisher

I.B. Tauris

Page Count

336 pages

PROS

This modest work incorporates flowcharts, infographics, and diagrams, explaining complex concepts with them as well as employing a language that's simple and concise yet quite vibrant. The illustrations help without making you feel like the book is insulting your intelligence.

CONS

Only a paperback version is available. 

OUR VERDICT

DK The Little Book of Politics is an ambitious yet accessible guide that makes politics and political thought easily digestible for kids, teenagers, and uninterested adults. With this book, you will discover more than 60 ideas, theories, and people who shaped politics in the last ~2,000 years.

detailed parameters
Author

DK Publishing

Genre

Politics, Nonfiction

Book Type

Paperback

Publisher

DK Publishing

Page Count

208 pages

PROS

Even though the book's humorous approach may seem counterintuitive, this work is pretty good at describing the absolute mess that is Brexit. Using hilarious yet witty sketches, the book can engage even those readers that could not care less about politics.

CONS

People who regularly read the author's Guardian articles will not find this book especially interesting. 

OUR VERDICT

With madness governing the current political sphere, taking politics and politicians seriously is not only difficult but downright dangerous, especially for your sanity. Decline and Fail: Read in Case of Political Apocalypse from John Crace understands that and lets you observe this madness through a humorous lens.

detailed parameters
Author

John Crace

Genre

Politics, Nonfiction, Humor

Book Type

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (downloadable version)

Publisher

Guardian Faber Publishing 

Page Count

320 pages

DK The Politics Book

Discussing the Biggest Ideas

Politics are seldom easily digestible. More often than not, even in a broad sense, this subject is more nuanced than most people are comfortable with. That being said, there are books that manage to break down the biggest political ideas from the greatest thinkers that the world has seen. On that note, let's talk about DK The Politics Book. Right off the bat, this book is as much about politics as it is about philosophy. In other words, it is an all-encompassing publication that discusses the biggest, most influential ideas, sometimes regarding politics, sometimes general society, sometimes philosophy.

Thing is, the people have been always asking profound questions revolving around the best way we can govern ourselves and the way that the ruling class should behave. With this book, you'll be able to follow the longest-running themes and how they developed over time, including different societies' opinions towards violence and democracy. The book will also talk about how the most prominent thinkers have shaped these ideas, from Confucius to Hamatma Gandi.

Review of DK The Politics Book Hardcover

Ideologies Clashing

Of course, justice (as in both the morals and the judicial systems that attempt to govern morals), will always be going hand in hand with politics, which is why the comprehensive guide that this book creates will also explore the individuals and ideas that have championed people's rights, from the Magna Carta to Jefferson's Bill of Rights to Malcolm X's call to arms. But this is a loaded subject, with ideologies clashing and the book taking you through them, pitting capitalism against communism and fascism as well as exploring these ideologies' roots and the social contexts that have birthed and supported them. Besides explanations cutting through the occasionally obscure jargon, this political book will employ illustrations and step-by-step diagrams that will make these complex and layered subjects a little more straightforward.

Brimming with thought-provoking quotes from the greatest thinkers, including figures such as Nietzsche, Karl Marx, and Mao Zedong, what we have here is a thought-provoking read that will aid not just students but anyone and everyone who has an interest in untangling the web that is the world of politics, government, and power. We would just recommend avoiding the Kindle Edition because, unlike the paperback, hardcover, and audiobook versions, it is not necessarily great, to say the least.

DK The Politics Book Hardcover in the use

 

Doris Kearns Goodwin Team of Rivals

History Through an Emotive Prose lens

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln from Doris Kearns Goodwin is a massive book, counting almost 1,000 pages. But this is politics, folks, there are no shortcuts here, we're discussing the most layered and intricate subject there is. To be more precise, this is Abraham Lincoln, the most legendary American president that we have yet.

This is the book that inspired Barack Hussein Obama II during his presidency, which is no small feat, let's just agree there, shall we? Anyway, when Barack Obama was asked what is the book that he could not live without during his White House run, the man did not hesitate to outline Team of Rivals. The monumental work that this book is has shaped Obama's presidency, explaining how Lincoln has been able to save America by appointing his biggest rival to the most influential cabinet positions.

Now, in case we haven't made that clear already, this is an inspiring study that talks about not just one of America's greatest leaders, no, one of the greatest leaders that this world has ever seen. But, maybe even before that, this is a thrilling narrative history piece that will make you consume the 976 pages that constitute this book within a week tops.

Review of Doris Kearns Goodwin Team of Rivals The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln Paperback

An Engrossing yet Historically Accurate Narrative

Political books are usually as divisive as politics themselves. But Team of Rivals is almost universally loved. Barack Obama has described it as a remarkable study in leadership. Kit Harington has said that the book is nothing short of sensational and is the most uplifting book that he has read in the last two decades, maybe ever. Even Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson, the legendary Manchester United manager, has called this book brilliant.

At the very least, we can see where these people were/are coming from. The narrative is as engrossing as it is exciting, describing both the events that transpired and the man's mindset that put these events into motion in this grand old style that overflows with colour and character. Before anything else, the book puts the author's narrative abilities on full display here, creating a portrait that paints Lincoln as a virtuosic politician and managerial genius but using emotive prose that is able to elevate this tome, turning a mere history into a literary achievement.

Sure, some people will complain that the book does not entail almost any criticism of Abraham Lincoln, even though the man was far from flawless. But this read is not about exploring his moral compass, it is about making history enjoyable yet accurate at the same time.

Doris Kearns Goodwin Team of Rivals The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln Paperback in the use

 

Neil Kinnock Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds Nye:

The Person Behind the National Health Service

Unlike the previous book, this piece from Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds is not something we can recommend anyone without knowing the person's tastes, preferences, and political leanings. This is a difficult book and, even though the page counts caps at modest 336 pages, this is not something that most people can finish in one weekend. Partially, this is the case because the author's style is quite dry, nothing even remotely resembling Goodwin's emotive prose. To some extent, this is also the case because the subject is not as comfortable and reassuring here. No, the things this book talks about are sometimes messy, sometimes dirty, and sometimes plain boring.

Nye: The Political Life of Aneurin Bevan is not an easy read because there's nothing easy about the Labour Party's most pivotal figure during Britain's post-war era. Serving as a Minister for Health in Attlee's government, the man's role in creating the National Health Service, the world's largest publically-funded health service today that treats more than one million patients every 36 hours, was instrumental. Some even go as far as to say that Bevan has forever changed British society's face.

But the book is just as much about his deeds as it is about his journey. The son of a humble coal miner from Wales, Bevan has always been a life-long social justice champion, establishing and protecting the rights of the working class and becoming the leading Socialist thoughts' proponent in the country.

Review of Neil Kinnock Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds Nye: The Political Life of Aneurin Bevan

An Insightful Portrait

What we have here is the first full biography of this prominent figure in more than two decades. Apart from sources that were released recently, the book draws on first-hand interviews, painting a unique portrait that befits one of the country's greatest statesmen of the last 100+ years.

But not everyone is crazy about this read. Some have described it as heavy-going and written primarily for Labour politicians. Some question the book's accuracy, suggesting that the author presents Bevin almost like the sun shone from his backside.

Still, we would say that the book does not necessarily gloss over his faults. After all, he was only human, and you get that impression here, but you also feel like this read did not dim the man's brilliance. Plus, the book spends ample time describing the childhood that moulded the man, including the hardships that Welsh miners endured during the time. Assuming you go into this with an open mind, chances are, you'll find this publication an insightful portrait of a man who easily lands among the most important British politicians of the 20th century.

Neil Kinnock Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds Nye: The Political Life of Aneurin Bevan in the use

 

DK The Little Book of Politics

Explaining Politics Without Dumbing them Down

Books that do not dumb down politics but can still make them accessible to kids and adults who have very little interest in the subject are hard to find. Generally speaking, most reads that attempt that sound condescending or more convoluted than they should be. But we cannot extend the same sentiment towards DK The Little Book of Politics, so kudos to the people behind this publication. 

While most history books are boring you with dates, acts, and countless names behind these acts, this one focuses on the most important figures, discussing the complex concepts, layered ideologies, and complicated ideas without getting bogged down in the details. Of course, to be 100% transparent, this is not the most comprehensive read and this is not us criticising the book since there are countless works written about each and every subject that this book discusses, so, as you can imagine, 208 pages is not quite enough to tell you everything about these subjects.

Nevertheless, the book does a pretty solid job examining the philosophies behind different political beliefs and the government methods that were used around the world over the course of human history. This modest work touches upon everything from democracy's origins to Machiavelli's cunning statecraft, from the "social contract" that Rousseau has proposed to the American Declaration of Independence, Marxist communism, the dawn of populism, as well as modern-day identity politics.

Review of DK The Little Book of Politics Little Books

An Ambitious yet Accessible Guide

With this ambitious yet accessible guide, you'll be discovering over 60 political ideas, theories, and the people behind these theories. In one sentence, this book is an excellent pocket-sized introduction to politics and political thought, loaded with flowcharts, infographics, and diagrams that explain difficult concepts using a simple, concise, and exciting language. There are also abundant illustrations that make these concepts more accessible but without insulting the readers' intelligence.

As much as we like the book's contents though, we're not crazy about the product. To elaborate, the book's fine, with its portable format and affordable price. But the fact that only a paperback version is available is unfortunate, to say the least. Sure, we can do without a hardcover but, at the very least, we would like to see an audiobook version since, without one, many people will miss this book and this is not something that we're fine with.

DK The Little Book of Politics Little Books in the use

 

John Crace Decline and Fail:

Your Personal Survival Guide

Politics can be a daunting subject. To some extent, they should be. That being said, the late-night commentary shows that we've seen gaining massive traction the last few years also prove that you can discuss even the most daunting topics without using the most humourless language imaginable. Quite the opposite, an occasional joke here and there can make certain events, topics, and ideas much more digestible than they usually are.

With that in mind, adding Decline and Fail: Read in Case of Political Apocalypse from John Crace to this list was an easy decision. Before that though, we'll point out that the people who have read many John's Guardian articles before will not find this book especially interesting because most sketches and jokes used here were used in his Guardian work initially. But the people who have not been following his works should find the book hilarious and, at times, quite useful.

To initiate the conversation, the book proposes that there's only one certainty in life and that is the idea that, when you think things cannot get any worse, they always do and they always will. You can worry about these things or you can laugh at the ridiculous state that the country seems to be in, which is the right approach more often than you would expect, especially when there's nothing you can personally do about it.

Review of John Crace Decline and Fail: Read in Case of Political Apocalypse

Ridiculing the Clown's National Circus

Outlining the last three years surrounding the Maybot malfunctioning and Brexit bungling, the book welcomes you to BoJo the clown's national circus - where fun for none of the family is guaranteed. Worry not though, this book from John Crace will work wonders as a personal survival guide towards the ongoing political apocalypse. Employing John's countless political sketches, this work should get you through these dark days or, failing that, should help you find the funny side to this whole debacle. Using these brilliant sketches, the book explains how taking politicians in general and government ministers in particular seriously is a terrible strategy that you as a discerning citizen who hopes to gain truth and enlightenment should avoid.

The author's astute and unsparing critique regarding the events that surround the parliament does an excellent job highlighting the lives, waffles, and shenanigans that can seem beyond parody sometimes. And, as far as we're concerned, the madness that rules the political sphere nowadays is best looked at through this humorous lens.

John Crace Decline and Fail: Read in Case of Political Apocalypse in the use

 

What Are Political Books?

Most people find politics dirty and politicians to be the least trustworthy individuals. But, as much as we may dislike and even show disdain towards this subject, paying attention and understanding politics is important, maybe even more than ever right now. As we all know, nothing is new under the sun and those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Dropping this idiomatic approach though, you need to understand political ideas and ideologies before you can follow the current politics. Otherwise, the people that do understand them will be able to easily mislead you.

With these political books, you'll be able to acquire a much better understanding of politics in general and different ploys, schemes, and tactics that politicians use to trick their audience in particular. Some of these books are narrative-driven, while others are more philosophical in their approach, discussing ideas as they are without talking about the people that championed these ideas and the events that involved them. But one thing is certain - every book on this list will prove invaluable to you in the long run, whether you like politics or not.

When you're done with them, you can go back to reading Stephen King, no judgment here, we like his works as well. Also, you might want to look into these book lights to make your reading experience a little cosier and more comfortable.

What Features to Compare

Style

Politics are not entertaining in and of themselves. Sure, at times, they can be, especially when politicians are doing that intentionally, with the goal of making their opponent look like an idiot. But, again, the subject itself is not entertaining. Even people with an interest in politics can have a hard time reading certain political books, which is why the narrative abilities of the author become even more important than ever with these books. When the language is too dry, reading an entire book that describes political ideas, themes, and events becomes an almost Herculean task. But when it is too colourful, the book will usually fail to transport you into the world of politics, so you feel like an outsider looking in rather than an active participant.

Also, we usually associate different diagrams, infographics, flowcharts, and illustrations with children's or science books but political books can make excellent use of these tools too. With their help, the author can break down an often complicated subject and explain a complex concept without making it feel like the book treats you like an idiot.

Genre

As you can imagine, political books almost always fall under a nonfiction category, although both genre fiction and literary fiction almost always entail different ideologies, involve social commentary, and explore various facets of the human condition. Besides that, political works are usually biographical or historical in nature, sometimes both. There are books that explore one man's life, telling you that individual's story and his journey as well as his impact on politics'. There are also books that explore hundreds of different ideas, works, and theories, from democracy to fascism, from social constructs to identity politics. Sometimes, these books can even be humorous, making serious subjects a little less difficult to digest.

Book Type

Political books will seldom not have a paperback version. Of course, in the current year, most will also be available in a Kindle Edition and/or an audiobook version. The larger books will usually have a hardcover version, but the smaller ones will seldom offer you that option.

Page Count

The books that discuss politics are rarely an easy read. Nevertheless, there are introductory books that contain no more than 200 pages. Having said that, there are also huge, comprehensive works that contain more than 1,000 pages, so you can choose the one that fits your current preferences.

Should Everyday People Follow Politics?

When it comes to politics, it seems that most people are either political hobbyists or generally apolitical, either following everything that's happening in their country (or even in the world) with close, unwavering attention or not paying any attention to politics at all. But, as far as we're concerned, both extremes are wrong, as they usually are. Consuming political information to satisfy your emotional and intellectual needs, almost the same way that people consume television programs and sports, is a terrible idea. But disregarding politics altogether is a wrong way to go too, and here are a few reasons why:

Politics Impact Most Aspects of Your Life

As much as you may dislike it, government plays and will always play a sizable role in your daily life, from deciding the tax you pay for a morning coffee to the light bulb types you can and cannot purchase. So, considering that the government will always have an impact on countless choices that we make or will make, taking the time and figuring out how the whole process works makes sense, right? Who even makes these laws in the first and how and why will they impact you? When you understand that, determining the best action course regarding various issues (including much more significant issues than the morning coffee and the light bulbs you're allowed to use) becomes a task that you're well-equipped to handle now.

Knowing and Understanding Politics Makes You an Informed Voter

Generally speaking, somewhere around two-thirds of the UK's entire electorate will vote on important issues (like choosing the new Prime Minister) and even less than that will vote when the issue at hand sounds a little less important. We're not necessarily here to convince you that you should be among the people who do vote (though we can make that argument), we're just telling you that if you do plan on voting, going to the polls armed with facts is better than doing so knowing almost nothing at all. As you can imagine, an informed voter is more likely to make an informed decision on issues that involve him and/or impact his life in one way or the other.

Should you read every single newspaper article that talks about this issue and watch every TV interview with a prospective candidate? No, not really. But, doing actual independent research will, at the very least, give you a certain peace of mind knowing that you have done your homework before casting a ballot.

Politics are Entertaining

This is both a gift and a curse. Since politicians understand that, prospective candidates will, at times, turn debates into a circus-esque performance that benefits nobody but them. But, because these people understand that, politics can be more fun than you'd expect. As long as you become good enough at filtering the nonsense and the drivel that these people can spew at you, looking to confuse and mislead the audience at home, watching vigorous debates and heated discussions can prove almost as entertaining as watching sports and scripted comedy programs.

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Publish Date: 2020-08-10 13:08:12