18 Best Political Authors That Challenge the Status Quo

These 18 best political authors will challenge your thinking about government and its role in society.

Where does political thought come from? Today’s political scene has heavy influences from ancient philosophers and modern ideas about society and human rights. Studying political authors, both current and historical, will help you better understand why today’s voters, politicians, and governments do what they do.

Political writers may be highly opinionated, or they may present facts and philosophy. Many strive to make changes in government and policy through their written works, while others try to record what happened politically for posterity. Either way, if you are looking for some political-inspired reading, this list of 18 authors will be a good starting point.

Political Authors to Read to Get Yourself Thinking

Best political authors

Political authors are not people you pick up to read for enjoyment. Instead, these deep thinkers write about complicated, thought-provoking topics. Still, these 18 authors are worth reading if you want to learn more about political thought or streamline your own thinking about politics, government, and ethics.

1. Karl Marx

The author of The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx, is, perhaps, one of the most influential political writers. His theories about society and economics created the Marxism system, and his ideas continue to influence political thinkers today. Moreover, his anti-capitalism thinking has tremendously impacted political history since the 1800s.

The Communist Manifesto
  • Same day shipping. International Publishers. #13116
  • Karl Marx (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 48 Pages - 02/07/2014 (Publication Date) - International Publishers Co (Publisher)

2. Ben Rhodes

Though he only has two works to his name, Ben Rhodes, a former adviser to Democratic President Barack Obama, has made it to the New York Times bestseller list for his book The World As It Is. He has an insider’s look at American politics, which he brings to his writing. He also works as a political commentator and national security analyst.

3. George Orwell

George Orwell is considered one of the most influential writers in the world, writing about politics through fiction to make people think about the governments around them. Animal Farm is his most famous work, creating an allegorical world where a group of farm animals rebels against their farmer, only to end up under a different type of totalitarian rule. This story was written to criticize Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. 

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Animal Farm: 75th Anniversary Edition
  • George Orwell (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 140 Pages - 04/06/2004 (Publication Date) - Signet (Publisher)

For more books in a similar genre, check out our list of the best dystopian novels

4. Mussolini

Best political authors: Mussolini
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Before becoming an Italian dictator and one of the originators of Fascism, Benito Mussolini was a prolific writer. Most of his work was for Socialist newspapers. He did create one novel, The Cardinal’s Mistress, but he is primarily known for radical articles against capitalism, imperialism, and religion published for the soviets.

The Cardinals Mistress
  • Benito Motherwell, Hiram, Mussolini (Author)
  • 08/09/2022 (Publication Date) - A. & C. Boni (Publisher)

5. Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is the founder of modern linguistics and is known as one of the most influential public intellectuals in the world and one of the most often cited scholars in modern history. He has over 150 books to his name, and many of those are written on topics of war and politics, including Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy and Requiem for the American Dream. His activism against war earned him the U.S. Peace Prize in 2011.

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Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power
  • Seven Stories Press
  • Chomsky, Noam (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 03/28/2017 (Publication Date) - Seven Stories Press (Publisher)

6. Greg Palast

Greg Palast is an investigative reporter who regularly writes on trending politics. His book How Trump Stole 2020 – The Hunt for America’s Vanished Voters showcased voting fraud under President Donald Trump’s leadership in the 2020 presidential election. In addition, he brings humor to serious political writing, which makes his political books easier to read than some other authors.

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How Trump Stole 2020: The Hunt for America's Vanished Voters
  • Palast, Greg (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 07/14/2020 (Publication Date) - Seven Stories Press (Publisher)

7. Aristotle

Aristotle was considered the father of political science and a leader in political thought processes. His collection of essays on topics like the rule of law, citizenship, constitutionalism, and man’s social nature continue to educate political scientists today. His work Politics is a good indication of his political thought and discusses what makes good and bad governments. 

8. John Locke

Best political authors: John Locke
Godfrey Kneller, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Father of Liberalism, John Locke, helped develop political philosophy in the late 1600s. Two Treatises of Government is one of his most famous works, and he also had six of his works published after his death. In Two Treatises, he first attacks patriarchal government structures, then brings ideas for a civilized society based on contract theory and people’s natural rights. 

The First & Second Treatises of Government
  • Locke, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 202 Pages - 09/07/2016 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

9. Joe Klein

Joe Klein is a political writer who writes both fiction and non-fiction works, all with a political bent. His book The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton takes a hard look at what happened under the 42nd president, cutting through the scandals and controversies to showcase the truth. Another book, Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized by People Who Think You’re Stupid, takes a hard look at the political parties and how they’re destroying America. 

The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton
  • Hardcover Book
  • Klein, Joe (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 298 Pages - 07/01/2002 (Publication Date) - Thorndike Pr (Publisher)

10. Bill O’Reilly

Host of the podcast The O’Reilly Update, Bill O’Reilly is also an author of bestselling history and politics books. In his Killing series, he looks at major historical and political events, like the ending of World War II. These works are engaging reads and bring to light the political ideals that impacted these critical actions and decisions. 

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Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency (Bill O'Reilly's Killing Series)
  • Henry Holt Co
  • Hardcover Book
  • O'Reilly, Bill (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 09/22/2015 (Publication Date) - Henry Holt and Co. (Publisher)

11. Plato

Plato’s famous work, Republic, outlines his political thinking. In the work, Socrates criticizes democracy in favor of aristocracy, and some believe his teachings eventually led to the rise of totalitarianism in the twentieth century. Still, the ancient Greek deserves study when discussing political authors, as political theory was a favorite subject.

Republic
  • Plato (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 248 Pages - 03/05/2020 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

For further reading check out our list of the best philosophy books

12. Henry David Thoreau

Best political authors: Henry David Thoreau
National Portrait Gallery, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The 19th-century philosopher Henry David Thoreau has over 20 volumes to his name, including his famous book Walden. A staunch abolitionist, he often wrote against slavery. He also advocated for the use of civil disobedience, eventually influencing Martin Luther King, Jr. He wrote about this idea in an essay entitled “Resistance to Civil Government.” 

Walden and Civil Disobedience
  • Signet Classics
  • Thoreau, Henry David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 07/03/2012 (Publication Date) - Signet (Publisher)

13. Ann Coulter

Ann Colter is a prolific political author with 13 New York Times bestsellers to her name. She writes from a Republican point of view and writes a syndicated column weekly. Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right is one of her famous works.

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Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right
  • Ann Coulter (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 327 Pages - 09/16/2002 (Publication Date) - Crown Forum (Publisher)

14. John Rawls

Born in 1921, John Rawls was an American political philosopher who followed liberal thinking. In his writing, he explores how political power can have legitimate uses within a democracy. One of his modern works, Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy, is one of the greatest explanations of liberal philosophy.

Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Rawls, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 496 Pages - 09/15/2008 (Publication Date) - Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press (Publisher)

15. Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a political thinker of the 1700s. His writings fielded the thought behind the French Revolution and were influential on modern political thought. The Social Contract and Discourse on Inequality are his two most influential political works. 

The Social Contract
  • Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 104 Pages - 08/27/2020 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

16. Andy Croft

Andy Croft is an English political writer who has seven novels and 42 young adult books in his name. Several of his novels cover political topics, but Red Letter Days is the most famous. This book is a history of political fiction of the 1930s in England.

Red Letter Days: British Fiction in the 1930s
  • Hardcover Book
  • Croft, Andy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12/31/1989 (Publication Date) - Lawrence and Wishart Ltd (Publisher)

17. Michael Johns

Michael Johns is a political analyst who was the speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush. He often writes for many national publications, like The Wall Street Journal and the National Review. His books Freedom in the World: The Annual Guide of Political Rights and Civil Liberties and Facing Our Future: America’s 21st Century have a decidedly conservative viewpoint.

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Finding Our Roots, Facing Our Future: America in the 21st Century
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hardcover Book
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 12/12/1996 (Publication Date) - Madison Books (Publisher)

18. Elizabeth Drew

Elizabeth Drew is a Washington, D.C. resident who was a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker. She has 14 political books to her name, including On the Edge: The Clinton Presidency and George W. Bush’s Washington. She occasionally appears on radio and television programs.

On the Edge: The Clinton Presidency
  • Hardcover Book
  • Drew, Elizabeth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 496 Pages - 11/01/1994 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

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