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Democracy: A Short Reading List

This page is currently being revised and will continue to be updated over the coming months.

Thank you for checking back often, and for letting us know if you have suggestions to add.  


Achen, Christopher & Larry Bartels, Democracy for Realists. Princeton University Press, 2016.

Bartels, Larry, Unequal Democracy. Russell Sage Foundation, 2008/2016.

Belew, Kathleen, Bring the War Home. Harvard University Press, 2018.

Courser, Zachary, et.al., Parchment Barriers. University of Kansas Press, 2018.

Crick, Bernard, Democracy: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2002.

Dewey, John, Democracy and Education. The Free Press, 1966/1916.

Ellis, Joseph, American Dialogue. Knopf, 2018.

Fountain, Ben, Beautiful Country Burn Again. HarperCollins, 2018.

Frum, David. Trumpocracy. Harper, 2018.

Ginsburg, Tom and Aziz Huq, How to Save a Constitutional Democracy. University of Chicago Press, 2018.

Grossmann, Matt and David Hopkins, Asymmetric Politics. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Gutmann, Amy, Democratic Education. Princeton University Press, 1987.

Hayes, Christopher, Twilight of the Elites. Broadway Paperbacks, 2011.

Hayes, Christopher, A Colony in a Nation. Norton, 2018.

Hetherington, Marc, J., and Jonathan D. Weiler, Authoritarianism & Polarization in American Politics. Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Kaufman, Dan, The Fall of Wisconsin. Norton, 2018.

Lappé, Frances Moore and Adam Eichen, Daring Democracy. Beacon Press, 2017.

Levitsky, Steven & Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies Die. Crown, 2018.

Lewis, Michael, The Fifth Risk. Norton, 2018.

Luce, Edward, The Retreat of Western Liberalism. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2017.

Mann, Thomas and Norman Ornstein, It’s Even Worse Than it Looks. Basic Books, 2012.

McWilliams, Wilson Carey, Redeeming Democracy in America. University Press of Kansas, 2011.

Mettler, Suzanne, The Government-Citizen Disconnect. Russell Sage Foundation, 2018.

Nance, Malcolm, The Plot to Destroy Democracy. Hachette Books, 2018.

Noddings, Nel, Education and Democracy. Teachers’ College Press, 2013.

Page Benjamin & Martin Gilens, Democracy in America. University of Chicago, 2017.

Palmer, Parker J., Healing the Heart of Democracy. Jossey-Bass, 2011.

Phillips, Steve, Brown is the New White. The New Press, 2016.

Purdy, Jedediah, After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene. Harvard University Press, 2015.

Rahman, K. Sabeel, Democracy against Domination. Oxford U. Press, 2017.

Reich, Rob, Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy. Princeton University Press, 2018.

Reich, Rob, Chiara Cordelli, Lucy Bernholz (eds), Philanthropy in Democratic Societies. University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Reich, Robert, The Common Good. Knopf, 2018.

Rosenbluth, Francis, M., & Ian Shapiro, Responsible Parties. Yale University Press, 2018.

Schlozman, Kay Lehman, Henry Brady, Sidney Verba, Unequal and Unrepresented. Princeton University Press, 2018.

Schlozman, Kay Lehman, Sidney Verba, Henry Brady, The Unheavenly Chorus. Princeton University Press, 2012.

The Atlantic, “Is Democracy Dying?” October, 2018.

Toplin, Robert B., Radical Conservatism. University of Kansas Press, 2006.


The Right to Vote

Anderson, Carol, One Person, No Vote. Bloomsbury, 2018.

Anderson, Margo J., The American Census (2nd edition), Yale University Press, 1988/2015.

Berman, Ari, Give Us the Ballot. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.

Daley, David, Ratf**ked, Liveright, 2016.

Gumbel, Andrew, Down for the Count. The New Press, 2016.

Keyssar, Alexander, The Right to Vote. Basic Books, 2000.

Lichtman, Allan, The Embattled Vote in America. Harvard University Press, 2018.

Poundstone, William, Gaming the Vote. Hill & Wang, 2008.

Waldman, Michael, The Right to Vote. Simon and Schuster, 2016.


Race & Democracy

Alexander, Michelle, The New Jim Crow. The New Press, 2012.

Anderson, Carol, One Person, No Vote. Bloomsbury, 2018.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi, We Were Eight Years in Power. One World, 2018.

Cohen, Cathy, Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics. Oxford Univ. Press, 2012.

Dyson, Michael, Eric, Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America. St. Martin's Press, 2017.

Dyson, Michael, Eric, What Truth Sounds Like. St. Martins Press, 2018.

Gates, Henry Louis and Cornel West, The Future of the Race. Vintage, reprinted 1997.

Phillips, Steve, Brown is the New White. The New Press, 2018.

Prashad, Vijay, Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Racial Purity. Beacon Press, 2002.

Rothstein, Richard, The Color of Law. Liveright, 2017.

Shelby, Tommie, We Who are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity. Belknap Press, 2005.

Smiley, Tavis (Ed.), The Covenant with Black America. Third World Press, 2006.

West, Cornel, Democracy Matters. Penguin Books, 2004.


Economics, Inequality, Corruption, & Democracy

Kuhner, Timothy K., Capitalism v. Democracy. Stanford University Press, 2014.

Kuttner, Robert, Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? Norton, 2018.

Kuttner, Robert, Debtors’ Prison. Vintage Books, 2013.

Mayer, Jane, Dark Money. Doubleday, 2016.

Noah, Timothy, The Great Divergence. Bloomsbury Press, 2012.

Rodrik, Dani, The Globalization Paradox. Norton, 2011.

Raworth, Kate, Doughnut Economics. Chelsea Green, 2017.

Sitaraman, Ganesh, The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution. Knopf, 2017.

Stiglitz, Joseph E., The Great Divide. Norton, 2015.

Teachout, Zephyr, Corruption in America. Harvard University Press, 2014.



Cartledge, Paul, Democracy: A Life. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Hett, Benjamin Carter, The Death of Democracy. Henry Holt, 2018.

Judt, Tony with Timothy Snyder, Thinking the Twentieth Century. The Penguin Press, 2010.

Judt, Tony, Ill Fares the Land. Penguin Press, 2010.

Keane, John, The Life and Death of Democracy. Norton, 2009.

Kloppenberg, James T., Toward Democracy. Oxford University Press, 2016.

MacLean, Nancy, Democracy in Chains. Viking, 2017.

Ober, Josiah, Demopolis: Democracy Before Liberalism. Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Ober, Josiah, The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece. Princeton University Press, 2015.

Snyder, Timothy, The Road to Unfreedom. Tim Duggan Books, 2018.


U.S. History & Politics

Black, Earl and Merle Black, The Rise of Southern Republicans. Harvard University Press, 2002.

Hacker, Jacob & Paul Pierson, Winner-Take-All Politics. Simon and Schuster, 2010.

Hacker, Jacob & Paul Pierson, American Amnesia. Simon and Schuster, 2016.

Judis, John, The Paradox of American Democracy. Routledge, 2001.

Katznelson, Ira, Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time. Liveright, 2013.

Klarman, Michael, The Framers’ Coup. Oxford University Press, 2016.

MacLean, Nancy, Democracy in Chains. Viking, 2017.

Smith, Hedrick, Who Stole the American Dream. Random House, 2012.

Sunstein, Cass, The Second Bill of Rights. Basic Books, 2004.

Wilentz, Sean, The Politicians & The Egalitarians. Norton, 2016.


Fascism & Democracy

Albright, Madeleine, Fascism: A Warning. Harper, 2018. 2008.

Eco, Umberto, “Ur-Facism,” New York Review of Books. 1963.

Gross, Bertram, Friendly Fascism. M. Evans and Company, 1980.

Hett, Benjamin Carter, The Death of Democracy. Henry Holt, 2018.

Klemperer, Victor, The Language of the Third Reich. Bloomsbury, 2013/1957.

Lewis, Sinclair, It Can’t Happen Here. New American Library, 2005/1935.

Paxton, Robert O., The Anatomy of Fascism. Knopf, 2004.

Snyder, Timothy, On Tyranny. Tim Duggan Books, 2017.

Stanley, Jason, How Fascism Works. Random House, 2018.

Sunstein, Cass (ed) Can it Happen Here? Harpercollins, 2018.

Wallace, Henry, “Wallace Defines ‘American Fascism,’” New York Times Magazine. April 9, 1944.



Eichengreen, Barry, The Populist Temptation. Oxford University Press, 2018.

Galston, William, Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy. Yale University Press, 2018.

Judis, John, The Populist Explosion. Columbia Global Reports, 2017.

Mounk, Yascha, The People vs. Democracy. Harvard University Press, 2018.

Müller, Jan-Werner, What is Populism? University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.


The Presidency

Brettschneider, Corey, The Oath and the Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents. Norton, 2018.

Goodwin, Doris Kearns, Leadership in Turbulent Times. Simon & Schuster, 2018.

Sunstein, Cass, Impeachment. Harvard University Press, 2017.

Skowronek, Stephen, The Politics Presidents Make. Harvard University Press, 1997.

Skowronek, Stephen, Presidential Leadership in Political Time. University of Kansas Press, 2011.

Suri, Jeremi, The Impossible Presidency. Basic Books, 2017.

Tribe, Lawrence and Joshua Matz, To End a Presidency. Basic Books, 2018.

Courts & Constitution

Avery, Michael and Danielle McLaughlin, The Federalist Society. Vanderbilt University Press, 2013.

Barber, Sotirios, Constitutional Failure. University of Kansas Press, 2014.

Dahl, Robert, How Democratic is the American Constitution? Yale University Press, 2002.

Fiss, Owen, A War Like No Other. The New Press, 2015.

Ginsburg, Tom and Aziz Huq, How to Save a Constitutional Democracy. University of Chicago Press, 2018.

Levinson, Sanford, Our Undemocratic Constitution. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Post, Robert C., Citizens Divided. Harvard University Press, 2014.

Raskin, Jamin B., Overruling Democracy. Routledge, 2003.

Teles, Steven, The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement. Princeton University Press, 2008.


Media &Social Media

Kalb, Marvin, Enemy of the People. Brookings Institution, 2018.

Lippmann, Walter, Public Opinion. The Free Press, 1922/1965.

Sunstein, Cass, #Republic. Princeton University Press, 2017.

Tufekci, Zeynep, Twitter and Tear Gas. Yale University Press, 2017.

Vaidhyanathan, Siva, Anti-Social Media. Oxford University Press, 2018.


Political Theory

Arendt, Hannah, The Origins of Totalitarianism. Meridian Books, 1958/1964.

Barber, Benjamin, Strong Democracy. University of California Press, 1984.

Brennan, Jason, Against Democracy. Princeton University Press, 2016.

Crick, Bernard, In Defense of Politics. Penguin Books, 1962/1982.

Dahl, Robert, Democracy and Its Critics. Yale University Press, 1989.

Dahl, Robert, On Democracy. Yale University Press, 2015/1998.

Diamond, Larry. The Spirit of Democracy. Henry Holt, 2008.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor, “The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor,” in The Brothers Karamazov Book five, chapter five. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990/1879-1880.

Fromm, Eric, Escape from Freedom. Henry Holt ,1941/1969.

Fromm, Eric, The Sane Society. Henry Holt, 1955/1990.

Grayling, A.C. Democracy and Its Crisis. One World Publications, 2017.

Havel, Vaclav, Living in Truth. Faber and Faber, 1987.

Kloppenberg, James T., Toward Democracy. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Lippmann, Walter, Public Opinion. The Free Press, 1922/1965.

Miller, James, Can Democracy Work? Farrar, Staus and Giroux, 2018.

Moss, David, Democracy: A Case Study. Harvard University Press, 2017.

Pennock, Roland, Democratic Political Theory. Princeton University Press, 1979.

Ravitch, Diane, Abigail Thernstrom (eds), The Democracy Reader. Harper, 1992.

Rorty, Richard, Achieving Our Country. Harvard University Press, 1998.

Runciman, David, How Democracy Ends. Basic Books, 2018.  

Sartori, Giovanni, The Theory of Democracy Revisited. Chatham House 1962/1987.

Scarry, Elaine, Thermonuclear Monarchy. Norton, 2014.

Sunstein, Cass, Designing Democracy. Oxford University Press, 2001.

Tilly, Charles, Democracy. Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Touraine, Alain, What is Democracy? Westview, 1997.

Wolin, Sheldon, Democracy Incorporated. Princeton University, 2008/2017

Wolin, Sheldon, Fugitive Democracy. Princeton University Press, 2016.

Wood, Mary Christina, Nature’s Trust. Cambridge University Press, 2014.


Urban Design & Democracy

Barber, Benjamin, Cool Cities. Yale University Press, 2017.

Fairchild, Denise and Al Weinrub (eds), Energy Democracy. Island Press, 2017.

Hēnaff, Marcel and Tracy B. Strong (eds), Public Space and Democracy. University of Minnesota Press, 2001.

Klinenberg, Eric, Palaces for the People. Crown, 2018.

Parkinson, John R., Democracy and Public Space. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Sennett, Richard, Flesh and Stone. Norton, 1994.


Literature & Democracy

Adams, Henry, Democracy: An American Novel. 1880/2008.

Bradbury, Ray, Fahrenheit 451. Simon & Schuster, 2012/1951.

Forster, E.M., Two Cheers for Democracy. Harcourt, Brace & World, 1938.

Greenblatt, Stephen, Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics. Norton, 2018.

Huxley, Aldous, Brave New World. Chatto & Windus, 1932.

Lewis, Sinclair, It Can’t Happen Here. New American Library, 2005/1935.

Mencken, H.L., Notes on Democracy. Dissident Books, 1926/2009.

George Orwell, 1984. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1949.

Roth, Philip, The Plot Against America. Vintage Books, 2004.



Bryce, James, The American Commonwealth. 1888. Multiple editions.

Bryce James, Modern Democracies. MacMillan Co., 1921.

De Toqueville, Alexis, Democracy in America. 1835, 1840 multiple editions.

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay, The Federalist 1787-1788. Multiple editions.

Mill, John Stuart, The Philosophy of John Stuart Mill. Modern Library, 1961.


Future stress

Berry, Thomas, Evening Thoughts. Sierra Club, 2006.

Bonneuil, Christophe and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, The Shock of the Anthropocene. Verso, 2017.

Ellsberg, Daniel, The Doomsday Machine. Bloomsbury, 2017.

Ghosh, Amitav, The Great Derangement. University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Lewis, Simon, and Mark Maslin, The Human Planet. Yale University Press, 2018.

Orr, David W., Dangerous Years, Yale University Press, 2016.