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11 must-read Brookings books by women authors

In recent years, some of the most influential and bestselling books published by the Brookings Institution Press have been written by women from our research programs. For Women’s History Month, we have compiled a list of books that have informed myriad policy debates.

Systematic Thinking for Social Action
By Alice M. Rivlin

In this personal and conversational volume, Alice Rivlin analyzes who pays for and who benefits from social programs. Her groundbreaking book offers a new approach to allocating funds to maximize the well-being of all citizens. Originally published in 1971, it was reissued as a Brookings Classic in 2015.

Dilemmas of  Trading Nation: Japan and the United States in the Evolving Asia-Pacific Order
By Mireya Solís

In “Dilemmas of a Trading Nation,” awarded the 2018 Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prize, Mireya Solís explores the uncertain paths ahead for Japan and the United States as trading nations with both nations pursuing economic competitiveness, social legitimacy, and political viability.

Generation Unbound: Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage
By Isabel V. Sawhill

In “Generation Unbound,” Isabel Sawhill examines the problem of unplanned pregnancy, and surveys the impact it has on family structure and child well-being. She draws on insights from the field of behavioral economics to show it is possible to move to a culture in which adults have children only when they are ready.

Primary Politics: Everything You Need to Know about How America Nominates Its Presidential Candidates
By Elaine C. Kamarck

Now in its third edition, “Primary Politics” is the story of how presidential candidates in major parties have sought to change rules in their favor. Updated to include the 2016 election, Elaine Kamarck explains how the presidential nomination process became the confusing system we have today.

Pakistan Under Siege: Extremism, Society, and the State
By Madiha Afzal

In her well-reviewed first book, “Pakistan Under Siege,” Madiha Afzal examines ordinary Pakistanis’ views on terrorism, non-Muslims, America, and Pakistan. Afzal traces their outlook to Pakistan’s birth, regressive laws, and the impact of education to provide a more complete picture of Pakistan and its people.

Exceptions to the Rule: The Politics of Filibuster Limitations in the U.S. Senate
By Molly E. Reynolds

In “Exceptions to the Rule,” Congress expert Molly Reynolds outlines the special rules that enable the Senate to govern when it lacks the votes to break a filibuster. In the book, she explains how using these procedures allows the majority party to advance policies that improve its chances of gaining seats.

Leapfrogging Inequality: Remaking Education to Help Young People Thrive
By Rebecca Winthrop with Adam Barton and Eileen McGivney

Experts predict by 2030, an estimated 825 million children will reach adulthood without secondary-level skills. Rebecca Winthrop, director of the Center for Universal Education at Brookings, proposes a new path for global education by harnessing innovation to accelerate educational progress.

Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin
By Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy

Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy co-wrote this critically acclaimed profile of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Mr. Putin” follows his rise to power and offers a clear-eyed look at this multidimensional man, his objectives, and his motives.

The Consequences of Chaos: Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis and the Failure to Protect
By Elizabeth G. Ferris and Kemal Kirisci

In the first book published in The Marshall Series, Elizabeth Ferris and Kemal Kirişci examine the humanitarian crisis created by the civil was in Syria, and consider the economic, political and social implications of displaced persons.

The Pursuit of Happiness: An Economy of Well-Being
By Carol L.  Graham

Showcasing the contributions of happiness research to the study of economics, Carol Graham’s “The Pursuit of Happiness” presents what we know about the determinants of happiness and a message of caution to policymakers.

Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs
By Vanda Felbab-Brown

In her first of many books published by Brookings, Vanda Felbab-Brown focuses attention on the unintended consequences of conventional counter-narcotics policy. Drawing from interviews and fieldwork, she explains how belligerent groups can branch off into related criminal activities.

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