Politics (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) by Aristotle
Aristotle's Politics is one of the earliest, and at the same time one of the most thorough and balanced, accounts of politics. It provides extended analyses of the origin and function of the state; the proper distribution of political power among the branches of government; a classification of the different types of regime; the reasons why the different regimes fail and how to prevent such failure; and, in general, the principal details of practical politics. In this respect, it is a primer on government as valuable today as it was when first written.
The greatest contribution of the Politics, however, lies in its establishment of the fundamental principles underlying these details-the political significance of human nature and rationality; the relation of the human good to the political good; the critical difference between politics and economics; and the true justification for political authority and power. At the very least, Aristotle's Politics is a reminder that government, both in theory and practice, needs to have its foundation and justification in broader understandings of man, of nature, and of the purpose of political life.