Published in 1938, Cyril Lionel Robert (C. L. R.) James' The Black Jacobins is the little-known story of the only successful slave revolution known in history. It was this 12-year struggle of the African slaves in the French colony of San Domingo that led to the establishment of the Republic of Haiti in 1804. The uprising was inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution that had begun in 1789, just two years before, and in this work James goes to great lengths to show the relationship between the two upheavals.
Austrian-born economist Friedrich Hayek's 1944 work, The Road to Serfdom, analyzes the ways in which excessive government planning can erode democracy. Published while World War II still raged, the work draws influential parallels between the totalitarianism of both socialism and Nazism and increasing control exerted by Western democracies.
Economist Amartya Sen's 1997 work Development as Freedom presents a "middle way" approach to how we should look at international development, based on the idea that its success or failure cannot be measured by income alone. Having grown up in India, Sen brings his own understanding of what poverty really means to the issue, arguing that above all, the process and goal of development must be human freedom. He backs up this idea through his concept of "capabilities."
In his best-selling 2013 book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Piketty takes issue with the idea that, despite the odd bump along the way (not least the 2007-08 global financial crisis), inequality tends to decline as capitalism matures. Piketty spent 15 years building an unparalleled database on wealth and income in France, the United States, and a number of other countries. He uses this data to argue that the opposite is true. Capitalism's natural tendency is, he says, to move toward ever-greater inequality.
A professor at Harvard Business School, Kotter spent years coaching organizations - large and small; successful, less successful, and nearly bankrupt - through their own change processes. Some worked; others didn't. Distilling wisdom from these experiences, Kotter identifies eight common mistakes managers make implementing change. He then uses them to propose an eight-stage model that he argues can lead to successful organizational transformation.
Friedman did not just demonstrate that monetary policy plays a vital role in broader economic stability. He also argued that economists got their monetary policy wrong in the 1950s and 1960s by misunderstanding the relationship between inflation and unemployment. In Friedman's view, previous generations of economists had no justification for believing that governments could permanently decrease unemployment by allowing inflation - and vice versa.
One of the most influential books on economics ever written, Thomas Robert Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population remains one of the most controversial too. This 1798 work inspired naturalists Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace to develop the theory of natural selection. But it has also sparked criticism - Karl Marx famously called Malthus a "lackey of the bourgeoisie." Yet this hasn't stopped leading present-day environmentalists from taking up Malthus's ideas.