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Best political books 2022: Explore international, UK, women’s politics and more

Looking for the best political books? Read on for our top picks

With all the turmoil currently engulfing the world, and more specifically the UK, there’s never been a better time to familiarise yourself with the world of politics. Whether that’s through a fictional take, a biography or a special area of interest, we’ve only scratched the surface of the huge range of political books available today. But we think there’s something for everyone in our carefully curated list.

While you’ll find all of the titles included below at competitive prices on Amazon, you’ll also be able to buy a copy of the works we’ve listed at most major online retailers, as well as at national bookshop chains such as Waterstones and WHSmith, and smaller, independent bookshops. 

Alternatively, if you prefer to do your reading on a tablet or e-reader, we’ve also provided links to download electronic copies of each title via Amazon’s Kindle platform.

Whether you have a specific political topic in mind or are just looking to brush up on your general political knowledge, check out our selection of the best political books to see which best grab your attention.

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Best political books: At a glance

How to choose the best political books for you

What types of political books are there?

Depending on your area of interest, or whether you’re simply looking for a broad explanation of a particular aspect, there’s a wide range of different political books to choose from.

In addition to traditional political textbooks and beginner’s guides, you’ll also find many fictional takes on the world of politics, as well as autobiographical accounts from some of the most notable world leaders, politicians and journalists.

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The best political books to buy 

1. The Little Book of Politics by Steven Gauge: The best politics book for beginners

Price: £6.99 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re completely new to the world of politics or are looking to become more politically active in the future, this pocket guide will whet your appetite and inspire you to delve deeper into the world of politics. 

A relatively short introduction to the world of UK politics, it covers many of the essential bases for beginners, with chapters dedicated to what Members of Parliament do, whether voting makes a difference, what parties there are and, more generally, what politics actually is. It’s a great option for those learning about the subject at school or considering studying at a higher level, such as college or university.

Enlivened by fascinating political quotes scattered throughout, this is a great entry-level introduction to British politics that’s easy to digest and refer back to when needed.

Key specs – Length: 128 pages; Publisher: Summersdale; First published: 12 July 2018; Digital formats: Kindle (£3.99)

2. Why We Get the Wrong Politicians by Isabel Hardman: The best book on British politics

Price: £11 | Buy now from Waterstones

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like within the halls of Westminster or asked yourself why none of the current Members of Parliament seems to be able to properly represent your interests and views, this book by award-winning journalist Isabel Hardman will give you a great insight into the machinations of British politics. 

She successfully shines a light on many of the system’s arcane inner workings, including the restrictive processes that ensure that only a select few, those who can ostensibly afford to, are actually able to stand as candidates. The book also conveys a great sense of the huge pressures and demands on those who do eventually secure a role within the UK political system.

You might imagine that a concise work of analysis and research such as this might be a little dry and off-putting, but actually it turns out to be very compelling, primarily because of its lack of any obvious bias. It’s certainly an essential work to read if you plan on becoming more politically active yourself or, indeed, want to be better informed before you next visit the ballot box on polling day.

Key specs – Length: 352 pages; Publisher: Atlantic Books; First published: 6 September 2018; Digital formats: Kindle (£1.19)

Buy now from Waterstones

3. Putin’s People by Catherine Belton: The best book on international politics

Price: £7.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Former Moscow correspondent and investigative journalist Catherine Belton courageously charts the eye-opening story of Vladimir Putin’s ascent to power and uncovers a treasure trove of hitherto unknown information, both about him as well as his loyal collective of KGB cronies and ever-expanding network of oligarchs. 

This is a well-researched and detailed account in which Russian money and influence has been assiduously investigated and tracked in order to unearth the true sources of Putin’s power. Such chronicles can often feel sterile or boring but this work almost reads like a fictional thriller at times, gripping in its pace and ultimately hard to put down.

Charting the Russian president’s overarching and far-reaching influence from London to Switzerland, the US (under Trump’s presidency) and beyond, Putin’s People is a must-read for anyone interested in finding out more about global politics on an international scale.

Given Russia’s 2022 offensive against Ukraine, there’s never been a better time to pick up this book and learn more about what drives Russia’s leader.

Key specs – Length: 656 pages; Publisher: William Collins; First published: 2 April 2020; Digital formats: Kindle (£3.99)

4. Women of Westminster: The MPs Who Changed Politics by Rachel Reeves: The best book on women in politics

Price: £9.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Despite the huge strides that women have made in UK politics since gaining the vote, such as the accession of three female prime ministers, the fight for equal pay and demand for legislation on the gender pay gap, the stories of many of the influential women who have contributed to British political life have often been overlooked.

Rachel Reeves, a Member of Parliament since 2010 and the current Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, outlines the role of the women who set out to shape and change both Parliament and the country. 

From those who broke into Parliament’s “boys’ club”, to the very first female MP who was voted in just a year after women won the right to vote, Reeves chronicles the achievements made from 1919 to 2019, highlighting the progress made so far but also identifying the further reforms that have yet to be made. 

As well as being informative and insightful, this book is also surprisingly engaging and will no doubt spark your interest in reading more about the groundbreaking female politicians who’ve made, and who continue to make, an impact in the UK political sphere. 

For further reading on the role that women play in British politics, we also recommend The Life of an MP by Jess Phillips and A Woman’s Work by Harriet Harman.

Key specs – Length: 339 pages; Publisher: Bloomsbury Caravel; First published: 5 March 2020; Digital formats: Kindle (£5.03)

5. A Promised Land by Barack Obama: The best political autobiography

Price: £35 | Buy now from Waterstones

There are many great political autobiographies, written by everyone from world leaders to instrumental political figures and key journalists. But one of our favourites is the third memoir from the former president of the United States, and the first of African-American descent, Barack Obama. 

A Promised Land charts Obama’s rise from grassroots activism, through to his time in the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room. As he reflects on his presidency, a period during which he secured the historic Affordable Care Act, authorised the operation that led to the death of Osama bin Laden and much more, we get an intimate insight into his thoughts during these momentous events in history. 

He also explains the reach, as well as the limitations, of presidential power, and conveys a great sense of the dynamic of partisan politics within the US. 

It’s worth noting that this latest work is the first of a planned two-volume series of memoirs by Obama, so there’s more to look forward to. And even though his account is our top political autobiography pick, we also highly recommend Becoming by former First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Key specs – Length: 751 pages; Publisher: Penguin; First published: 17 November 2020; Digital formats: Kindle (£16)

Buy now from Waterstones

6. State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny: The best political novel

Price: £14 | Buy now from Blackwell’s

If you’re looking for a fictional political thriller to keep you on the edge of your seat, look no further than this novel, written jointly by crime author Louise Penny and former US Secretary of State and First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

With plenty of plot twists, cliffhangers and thrilling scenes, State of Terror follows a newly appointed female Secretary of State who has just joined the political opposition during a time of terror attacks, blackmail, conspiracies and political negotiations. Clinton’s insider knowledge adds additional credibility and plausibility to the story and makes it feel much more authentic than many similar political thrillers set in the US and, in particular, within the White House. 

Seeing this kind of story through the eyes of a woman is also incredibly refreshing and impactful so, if you’re looking for an engrossing political novel to take with you on holiday or read at leisure, we can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Key specs – Length: 512 pages; Publisher: Macmillan; First published: 12 October 2021; Digital formats: Kindle (£4.99)

Buy now from Blackwell’s

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