April 10M, A Twitter account called “Art of Life” posted a list of “20 books for you to read at age 20”. This has led to a trend where many Twitter users, With me, Gave us a list of 20 books of our own. In this post, I want to tell you a little bit about why I chose each book.
1- Rule of Commons By Elinor Ostrom
This book is a wonderful combination of rational choice theory and real-world empirical evidence. Many sociologists have adopted a false dichotomy when it comes to the “common tragedy.” They believed that common-pool resources would inevitably dwindle unless resources were privatized or controlled from the top by a user-centric government. Eleanor Ostrom looks at the experimental evidence that the range of possible solutions to the commons problem is much wider. Resource users can talk to each other and engage in self-governance to save the resources they use. And indeed, they have many times. Self-governance is not a panacea, but this book provides a great test of how it can work and when it fails.
2- Struggle for a developed world By Peter Boetke
Classical liberalism is often seen, especially by its critics, as a conservative program, as a defense of stability. But it is basically a doctrine of liberation from oppression. This compilation of Peter Boyet’s essays does an outstanding job of creating a humane and liberating view of liberalism, and in the process also explains to Boyet many important insights from economics and political economy.
3- Production militarism Christopher J. Coin and Abigail R. By the hall
As I mentioned in my review for Econlib, this book skillfully applies the theory of public choice to examine the serious issues of war, militarism, and government propaganda. Reading this is a great way to understand the public’s preference, and it is a very important reading to address the serious consequences of militarism.
4- Economic gangster By Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel
I first read this book before I started graduating school. There are many choices about it. One is that the authors discuss how culture, violence, corruption, and other key institutional issues relate to the nation’s wealth and poverty. They are development economists, and they do a great job explaining why development is important and how it affects development. They communicate very effectively the insights behind causal estimation techniques used in their academic research. The strategies they used, such as using precipitation as a material variable, have been severely criticized. But this book provides a really accessible way to understand why causation is difficult and what techniques social scientists use to try to diagnose causation.
5- Frontier empire By Todd Miller
This book explores how US Border Patrol has been deployed around the world. We often think of Border Patrol as merely patrolling the U.S. border, but they now also serve as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy. The book “US Border Militarization and Foreign Policy: A Symbiotic Relationship” (recently published) Journal of Economics of Peace and Security) The book also influenced my work on “Border militarization as an entrepreneurial process”.
৬- Political capitalism By Randall Holcombe
Across the political spectrum, people lament the role of elite interests in politics. Randall Holcomb uses Ronald Kose’s insights to explain his political and economic power. He argues that for most people, the cost of a transaction involving political exchange is prohibitively high. But some political and economic elites form a “low transaction cost group” and can therefore bargain politically, often at the expense of others.
7- Liberalism By Ludwig von Mrs.
Much like Boettke Struggle for a developed world, This classic by Ludwig von Mieses presents an inspirational case for liberalism and weaves many important economic insights. This book also contains some of the most controversial parts of Mises, so if you want to take part in a controversial conversation about Mises’ legacy, read on.
8- Out of politics By Randy Simmons
This book is my favorite introduction to the public’s choice. In addition to covering public preferences, it provides excellent insights on key issues such as property rights. There are plenty of great examples in the book to explain the theory and each chapter ends with suggestions for further reading. An excellent resource.
9- The art of domination and resistance By James C. Scott
This book examines how classified energy can distort human conversation. Think about it this way: If you express your grievances too harshly with your boss, you are likely to be fired. If a farmer tells the king that he is a fool, that farmer may be put to death. The motives are clear, and as a result, Scott calls what he calls “hidden copies,” a discourse between subordinate groups that is not heard by those in power.
10- Eleanor Ostrom: An Intellectual Biography By Vlad Tarko
This is my favorite overview of Eleanor Ostrom’s work. I am often interested in recommending it instead Rule of Commons When people ask me how they can learn more about Ostrom. Rule of Commons Covers a very important part of Ostrom’s research activities. Tarko covers everything from his initial research on municipal water governance to his work on multidisciplinary and municipal policing to his subsequent work in the Commons. He showed how this research program fits into a comprehensive research agenda about self-governance. If you want to understand self-governance, and what Eleanor Ostrom’s research can teach us about it, read this book.
11- Open borders By Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith
Unlike all other books on this list, it is graphic nonfiction. This is a comic, outstanding web comic illustrated by Jack Weinersmith of the Saturday Morning Breakfast serial. Kaplan and Weinersmith explain how immigration restrictions keep people in poverty and in the process prevent them from enriching others through mutually beneficial exchanges. Immigration restrictions prevent them from making a mere profit from trade, they need a very strong justification. Caplan and Weinersmith examine many arguments for immigration restrictions and ask if the social scientific evidence supports the concerns contained in these arguments.
12- Collective action and civil rights movement By Dennis Chong
Like Eleanor Ostrom Rule of Commons, This book uses game theory, logical choices, and cautionary examination of historical evidence to test how teams of people can solve collective action problems. In this case, the problem of collective action concerns how people can participate in a social movement, especially when it is risky to do so and the change that is sought is in the public interest.
13- The limits of freedom By James M. Buchanan
James M. Buchanan is a legend, one of the leading thinkers of the people’s choice. In this book, he details a treaty of the state, a lawsuit for a limited, constitutional government, and offers an analysis of where both government and anarchy can go wrong. As an anarchist, I find this book a challenging one, but like tackling a challenge and thinking through the head.
14- Rise and fall of the nation By Mancur Olson
Mankur Olson is best known for his classics The logic of joint action. This book expands the influence of his reasoning there. Since narrow special interest groups are better able to solve problems of joint action than the general public, associations tend to develop different distributional alliances and special facilities as they develop. This ultimately slows down development and causes a serious collapse, unless the power of this entrenched interest group is somehow eradicated.
15- Anarchy is unbounded By Peter Leeson
In this book, Peter Lyson makes two simple but important points. First, self-governance can also work in situations where people can expect it to fail, such as situations involving a wide variety of participants. Second, sometimes possible forms of stateless cooperation are preferred over a possible kind of state in a society. Through history and accurate economic theory, listen to how self-governance has been devalued.
16- Theoretical feminism Edited by Elizabeth Hackett and Sally Haslanger
I first read this book on feminist philosophy in college class. What I really realize about this is the wide range of feminist perspectives, including classical liberal feminism, second-wave radical feminism, Marxist feminism, intersectional feminism, and postmodern feminism. If you want to understand the subtlety and diversity of feminist thought, I recommend it.
17- Managerial dilemma By Gary Miller
I read this book as part of my study for George Mason’s Institution and Development Field Exam. This is a really compelling analysis of the challenges associated with management, team production, and key-agent issues. Miller’s proposed institutional solutions are inadequate, and then suggests a brief discussion of the role of culture between organizations.
18- National Economic Plan: What’s left? By Don Lavoie
This could be my all time favorite book. Before I read this book, I did not fully understand the problem of knowledge and its implications for market and central planning. Lavoie provides a great explanation of the flaws in the national economic plan. What’s more, he does so from a point of view that is clearly radical and liberal, which makes his arguments more likely to reach the socialists where they are.
19- Resistance behind bars By Victoria law
This book explains both the experiences of women in American prisons, the human rights abuses they face and the ways in which they resist. Instead of considering well-intentioned reforms to be essentially beneficial, the law argues that a variety of reforms backfire. He distances Prism from benevolent policymakers from what prisoners can do for themselves. I reviewed this book a while ago at the Center for the Stateless Society.
20- The social order of the underworld By David Skarbek
Scarbeck’s book analyzes the development of prison gangs. He argues that their purpose is to provide rule in prisons where the population has become too much to work for such informal governance as the reputation-based “convict code”. This book is a fascinating account of how governance works and how motivations and limitations shape the evolution of governance.