Sam Seitz

It’s a bit early for me to be putting my book list up, but I figured with shipping delays and other COVID-related inconveniences it made sense to publish this list in November. Unfortunately, this means that I might leave off a great book that I can’t get to until December. But the upshot is that you can now capitalize on bookstores’ Black Friday deals! And, as always, it’s worth mentioning that these are the best books I read this year, not necessarily the best books released this year (in fact, one of the books on my list was published in 1966).

I also want to suggest ordering from local bookstores. I’m really not the kind of person that bashes Amazon, which I think is one of the greatest companies in history, but I do adore physical book shops and know that they’re struggling at the moment. If there are no good bookstores in your area, some of my favorites are Kramer Books, Politics and Prose, Strand, Bridge Street Books, Daunt Books, and the Blackwell’s and Waterstones in Oxford. But without further ado, here are my favorite books of 2020.

1. Outsourcing Empire: How Company States Made the Modern World (by Andrew Phillips and J.C. Sharman)

2. Rise of American Naval Power (by Harold and Margaret Sprout)

3. Strategic Instincts: The Adaptive Advantages of Cognitive Biases in International Politics (by Dominic Johnson)

4. Three Body Problem Trilogy The Three Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death’s End (by Liu Cixin)

5. The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous (by Joseph Henrich)

6. The Picky Eagle: How Democracy and Xenophobia Limited U.S. Territorial Expansion (by Richard Maass)

7. The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power (by Deirdre Mask)

8. In Nelson’s Wake: The Navy and the Napoleonic Wars (by James Davey)

9. The Myth of the Nuclear Revolution: Power Politics in the Atomic Age (by Keir Lieber and Daryl Press)

10. Escape from Rome: The Failure of Empire and the Road to Prosperity (by Walter Scheidel)

11. The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 (by Adam Tooze)

12. Enduring Alliance: A History of NATO and the Postwar Global Order (by Timothy Sayle)

13. The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy: Mikhail Gorbachev and the Collapse of the USSR (by Chris Miller)

14. Imagining War: French and British Military Doctrine Between the War (by Elizabeth Kier)