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The Best Books of 2020: Politics

Posted on 9th November 2020 by Mark Skinner

From Brexit to Coronavirus to Black Lives Matter, 2020 has been an eventful year politically, to say the least. Our selection of the best politics books of the past twelve months ranges far and wide, from penetrating investigations into the power of Putin to dynamic polemics against systemic racism. Towering above all else is the scintillating first part of Barack Obama's two-volume Presidential memoirs, A Promised Land, a book destined to become one of the biggest publishing successes of the decade. 


US Politics

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The biggest book of the decade is a Presidential memoir like no other. Recounting Barack Obama’s journey to the White House in matchless, eloquent prose, A Promised Land is utterly essential reading.
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JFK
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Doing for John F. Kennedy what Robert Caro continues to do for Lyndon B. Johnson, the first part of Logevall’s magisterial biography focuses on the youth and early career of the future 35th US President.
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The legendary political journalist delivers another unflinching account of the Trump presidency, focusing on the multiple crises and provocative flashpoints of 2020.
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A concise yet piercing deconstruction of the 46th US President’s career that examines how his political longevity and experience of personal tragedy has shaped the figure he has become.
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Deftly combining poetry, prose and image, Just Us is Claudia Rankine’s powerful attempt to understand the division and intolerance of modern America’s culture wars through dialogue with those on opposing sides.
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A razor-sharp dissection of Trump’s extraordinary approach to diplomacy from an informed insider - the former British Ambassador to the United States.
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As compelling as any fictional thriller, Gellman’s exposé of the disturbing links between the US government and big tech is a heady brew of surveillance, espionage and deep, dark secrets.
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British Politics

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Former Waterstones Book of the Year-shortlisted The Secret Barrister unmasked the corruption and deficiencies of a broken British legal system, and now Fake Law exposes the lies and misinformation spread by those who would seek to keep the general public in ignorance of their rights.
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From the meteoric rise of grassroots activism during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership to Labour’s catastrophic defeat in the 2019 election, the author of Chavs and The Establishment offers an unprecedented insider’s view into the rise and fall of the Left.
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A welcome corrective to the inflexible tribalism of modern political discourse, this thoughtful and entertaining volume from the broadcaster and author of How To Be Right pays tribute to the power of changing your mind.

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Painting a compelling picture of a complex individual, Bunce’s balanced, well-informed biography charts the career of a pioneering politician who has always worn her ideological views on her sleeve.
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The nation’s most forensic political biographer tackles the life and career of the incumbent Prime Minister in characteristically combative style.
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In the withering Three Years in Hell, the bestselling author of Heroic Failure takes a scabrously funny scalpel to everything that came after the game-changing EU referendum result of 2016.
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Pogrund and Maguire’s definitive dissection of Labour under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn charts a dizzying path from the highs of the 2017 general election to the desperate lows of its 2019 counterpart.
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Activism & Political Theory

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Women Don’t Owe You Pretty is an accessible entry point into progressive feminist discussion, covering topics such as body image, toxic beauty standards, and identity-building in a world still plagued by misogyny and sexism.

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Packed with practical exercises and enlightening socio-political context, the book of Saad's pioneering blog offers numerous ways of transforming the discourse surrounding systemic racism.
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Exploring the insatiable taste for outrage in today’s world, BBC presenter and DJ Ashley ‘Dotty’ Charles calls for a return to civility in this brilliant, punchy book.
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A devastating critique of the prejudicial systems that underpin modern society, Wilkerson's penetrating work is delivered with passion and eloquence.
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An unnerving exposé of the dark fraternities of extreme misogyny, Men Who Hate Women is a timely volume from the author of Everyday Sexism and Girl Up.
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In his characteristically candid manner, Piers Morgan discusses the way in which the COVID-19 pandemic has lifted the lid off the central flaws of our society, as well as amplified some fundamental virtues.
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Star economist and author of Adults in the Room, Yanis Varoufakis returns with a compelling vision of what a new post-Capitalist society might look like.
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In this thoughtful and timely volume, the esteemed political philosopher Michael Sandel deconstructs what success means in a rigidly stratified and unequal society and argues for a new method of measuring achievement more in line with the common good.
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Epic in scope and formidably ambitious in intent, Piketty’s follow-up to 2013’s bestselling Capital in the Twenty-First Century is nothing less than a wholesale re-examination of inequality since the dawn of humanity.
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International Politics

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Meticulously researched and written with clarity and pace, the definitive account of Vladimir Putin's rise to power is a compelling tale of KGB strongmen, sinister oligarchs and broken promises to the Russian people.
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A penetrating analysis of the collapse of western democracy since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Applebaum’s searing volume highlights the experiences of a raft of individual voices caught up in the maelstrom of globalization and encroaching nationalism.
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An insight into the minds of survivalists the world over, O’ Connell’s grimly addictive volume traces a journey through the physical and mental terrain of those planning for the end of the world.
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Plunging head first into the world of dark money, misinformation and influence games, Geoghegan’s meticulous and urgent book lays bare the most severe threats to global democracy.
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Adopting five different identities, Ebner infiltrated a dozen extremist groups and Going Dark is her eye-opening and alarming exposé of radical ideology and what it means for the rest of us.
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Unflinching and courageous, Lamb’s definitive study of sexual violence against women during wartime puts a seldom examined topic under a compelling spotlight with a superb mix of reportage and personal testimony.
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Blending politics, memoir and travelogue, Kampfner’s affectionate and deeply researched volume explores the development of post-war Germany into a stronghold of democracy – and the lessons its story holds for us all.
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A detailed and deeply troubling examination of China’s alleged agenda of global subversion, Hidden Hand investigates the Chinese Communist Party's covert influence operations.
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