10 Books That Will Change the Way You Think


Jul 19, 2012

An illustration of a person thinking

Students at the Pardee RAND Graduate School are encouraged to "be the answer" to the challenges they see in their communities and around the world. Recently, the public policy school asked its faculty members to name the books that inspired them, and remain essential reading for anyone who wants to stretch themselves and how they view the world.

The newest book on the list, It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How The American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism, by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, came out in 2012. The oldest—Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America—was originally published in 1840.

The list also includes a few choice quotes from PRGS faculty explaining why they selected those books. Professor David Kennedy, who selected Everything is Obvious Once You Know The Answer: How Common Sense Fails Us, notes, "It's a great look at how historical events often have common sense explanations that are useless for public policy development."

With about 100 students, the Pardee RAND Graduate School is the nation's largest public policy Ph.D. program. Its 197 faculty members are drawn from the more than 1,000 researchers at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

"As part of RAND's research staff, our graduate students apply what they learn to real-world problems that cut across traditional academic disciplines and issues." said Dean Susan L. Marquis. "As a result, it is essential that our students are able to look beyond conventional wisdom and are open to new ideas and analytic approaches. Our faculty put together this reading list to inform and inspire this kind of critical thinking."

Founded in 1970 as one of eight graduate programs in public policy created to train future leaders in the public and private sectors in policy analysis, the school is the only program specializing in the doctorate degree and the only one based at a public policy research organization.