My own list of recommended books from 2020 is constrained by the circumstances of this extraordinary year. So much of my time was absorbed by politics and by my academic work that I was unable to read more widely as I usually do. Thus, all the books I recommend are not culled from an array of interesting writings across literature, the arts, history, architecture, politics and philosophy as might be the case in an ordinary year. All of these books were helpful to me to make sense of our American political crisis this year. The good news is that all are relevant to the mission of The Constitutionalist.
- Russell Muirhead and Nancy Rosenblum, A Lot of People are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy (Princeton University Press, paper ed.. 2020). This book is listed on many top book lists this year because it so acutely describes and analyzes the outsized role of conspiracy thinking in American politics today. The authors show what is new about today’s form of conspiracy talk and how damaging it is to American democracy.
- Jason Frank, Publius and Political Imagination (Routledge, 2014). An insightful, original and rich interpretation of The Federalist. This is the most important book on that classic since David Epstein’s book published in 1984.
- Josh Chafetz, Congress and the Constitution (Yale University Press, paper ed. 2019). Best recent book on Congress that shows how the institution has more power at its disposal than it realizes or is capable of deploying.
- Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn and Yaniv Roznai, Constitutional Revolution Yale University Press, 2020). The most important recent book in comparative constitutional theory. The authors build on their path-breaking work on constitutional identity to show how revolutionary change takes a variety of forms including some that are generated by or enable or legitimize the the existing constitution.
- Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency (Lawfare Press, 2020). An agenda setting book for necessary political reforms in the wake of the damage to the constitutional order from the Trump presidency.