It’s the most wonderful time of the year! What better way to celebrate the holidays than with political science-themed gifts for your nearest and dearest? Whether you’re shopping for that political scientist who has everything or wanting to inspire the next generation to pursue the path of rigorous analysis, we on the TMC editorial staff have all your holiday 2016 shopping needs covered!

Of course, at the top of everyone’s holiday shopping list should be our compilation of summaries on some of the best new research on the rise of President-elect Donald Trump and the phenomena that made way for his candidacy. Edited by TMC editor in chief John Sides, “The Science of Trump: the Rise of an Unlikely Candidate” will provide you and yours with dozens of talking points for holiday cocktail parties and dinners with family members who may have . . . disparate political points of view. You can read more about “The Science of Trump” here. At only $4.99 on Kindle, “The Science of Trump” is a bargain; why not buy it for everyone on your list?!?

And now, suggestions from our editors:

John Sides: This holiday season comes at the end of the Obama presidency and the
beginning of Trump’s. One book is well- positioned to help us understand both: Michael Tesler’s “Post Racial or Most Racial?” Tesler — a political scientist at the University of California at Irvine, one of Politico’s 50 influential thinkers and a frequent contributor to The Monkey Cage — demonstrates how electing the first African American president made both race and white Americans’ racial attitudes more salient. Attitudes toward African Americans were, unsurprisingly, more strongly associated with support for President Obama than with support for previous presidents or candidates. Attitudes toward African Americans also became more strongly associated with how people evaluated the economy, with how they voted in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections, with their overall partisanship, and with virtually any person, issue or dog associated with Obama. This “racialization” of public opinion was ubiquitous while Obama was in office.

The book may end with Obama leaving office, but the implications of its findings don’t. Indeed, Tesler’s book shows us how much Obama’s presidency was connected to the rise of Trump. Most notably, the Obama presidency witnessed the movement of white voters to the Republican Party — in particular, white voters who did not have a college degree and had unfavorable views about African Americans. This arguably helped a Republican candidate like Trump, whose support during both the primary and the general election was strongly tied to racial attitudes. In a prescient sentence, Tesler writes “Obama’s race may, therefore, continue to influence mass assessments of presidential candidates and presidents in both 2016 and beyond.”

Henry Farrell: I’m going to recommend four books and a service. First, George Scialabba’s
new collection of essays, “Low Dishonest Decades.” Scialabba is the finest living American essayist — if you haven’t yet discovered him, now is the time. Second, “The Quotable Machiavelli,” edited by Maurizio Viroli. Machiavelli was a fine and caustic writer, and there are many sharp and pungent quotes not only from “The Prince and the “Discourses on Livy,” but his letters and his play. Third, Ada Palmer’s “Too Like the Lightning.” A wonderfully strange vision of a future in which cheap travel and the collapse of the nation state have radically transformed politics. Fourth, for fun, Max Gladstone’s Craft sequence, starting with “Three Parts Dead.” Clever, sharply plotted fantasy that riffs (as Gladstone told us in this interview) on the ideas of political scientist James Scott.

Finally, for the intelligent news consumer in your life, a year’s subscription to the Browser is unbeatable. Every day, the Browser’s proprietor (a former journalist for the Economist) sifts the Internet for four or five interesting and unexpected pieces; every day he finds gold nuggets and river pearls.

Kim Yi Dionne: As the resident Monkey Cage Grinch, I still object to this exercise
(because reasons). But if you must get something for someone you love/like/swipe right, might I suggest something related to women and power? My favorite book by a political scientist this year was Alice Kang’s “Bargaining for Women’s Rights: Activism in an Aspiring Muslim Democracy.” (See my Q&A with her about the book here.) If you just don’t have the bandwidth to add another book to the stack on your nightstand, you could buy some beautiful African fabric (or totebags!) from Tiwale, a nonprofit community-based organization in Malawi whose mission is women’s empowerment.

Marc Lynch: Before the presidential election, I recommended three wildly entertaining, politically relevant series of graphic novels: Dave Sim’s Cerebus, especially the “High Society” arc; DMZ by Brian Woods and Riccardo Burchielli; and Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson.  All three will be only more resonant since Trump’s election. Let’s hope that the American media can live up to the standards of Ellis’s crusading journalist Spider Jersualem, with or without the bowel disruptor gun.

There has been a lot of great music this year, but I especially liked “We Got It from Here,” the
first new album in nearly 20 years by A Tribe Called Quest. While you’re waiting on my list of the best Middle East politics books of the year (coming soon), you might enjoy one of my favorite non-Middle East politics books of the year: “Your Favorite Band is Killing Me,” by Steven Hyden. It gives a taste of the book on the political lessons of hip-hop beef that I’ve always hoped to find the time to write.

And, finally, spare a thought over the holidays for the urgent humanitarian needs of people suffering from the unending wars in Syria and Yemen. I donate to the Karam Foundation and Save the Children, but there are many humanitarian organizations working to deal with Syria’s and Yemen’s human tragedy who need whatever help they can get.

Vanessa Lide: Need a last-minute gift for a historian, political scientist, an armchair diplomat? Browse Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy online Case Study Library and download a PDF from more than 240 case studies in diplomacy and negotiation. Voila! No wrapping paper needed.

Written by senior practitioners directly involved in the events, ISD case studies tell compelling stories of both successful and unsuccessful negotiations, and reveal the dynamics and nuance of diplomacy in action. Or pick out a simulation exercise and get the whole crowd negotiating a peace settlement — a great start to 2017!

(Full disclosure: Monkey Cage Associate Editor Vanessa Lide is the ISD’s case study editor.)

Danny Hayes: Giving your special someone a movie about American political campaigns at the end of 2016 is likely to get you a lump of coal in return. But after they watch “Last Man Standing: Politics — Texas Style,” they’ll thank you (and you can magnanimously accept their apology).

Released in 2004, the documentary chronicles a 2002 campaign for a Texas state House of
Representatives seat. The race pits Republican incumbent Rick Green, a young Christian conservative, against an upstart Democrat named Patrick Rose. After attending Princeton, Rose has returned home to the Hill Country outside Austin and is oozing political ambition. The campaign that follows includes all the elements of good political drama — charismatic characters, scandal, and suspense.

But the film, directed by Paul Stekler, isn’t just entertaining. We also get a glimpse of how different the vast majority of American political campaigns are from presidential contests. The candidates transport their own yard signs and knock on doors. There are no campaign buses; they drive pickup trucks (different brands, of course). And set against the backdrop of a rapidly diversifying Texas, we see the political consequences of social and demographic change. In that respect, this 12-year-old movie has much to tell us about our current politics.

Joshua Tucker: Yes, 2016 may not have been the greatest year ever from a political (or musical) perspective, but at least the moon didn’t explode. And while that may not seem like a big deal at the moment, you’ll have a totally different perspective after reading Neal Stephenson’s amazing “Seveneves: A Novel.” This book is one of my favorite recent reads, especially if you have a desire for both astrophysics and politics in one place.

If you are looking for something a little more tangible, let me suggest Steven Levitsky and
Lucan A. Way’s now-even-more-important-than-ever Competitive Authoritariansim: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War. We used to think of the world as largely divided between democracies — which relied on elections to choose their leaders — and authoritarian regimes, which didn’t.  Today, however, there are large numbers of countries in the world that hold “competitive” elections that are neither free nor fair. Understanding exactly how these regimes function and how they got that way may be one of the most important political challenges of the coming decade. Levitsky and Way literally wrote the book on this topic, and their painstakingly researched 35 case studies makes it accessible to academics and non-academics alike.

Regardless of one’s political persuasion, hopefully everyone can agree that two weeks of summer camp in the mountains — and away from all forms of media, social and otherwise — is wonderful experience for every child. Unfortunately, not all families can afford the cost of sending a child to camp. So if you’ve enjoyed reading our blog over the years but always thought “What can I do to thank the authors/editors of it for all the time they put into it?” this particular co-author/editor would be incredibly grateful for a donation of any size to help send kids to camp at Frost Valley YMCA.

Finally, although it won’t be out until May, it’s hard to imagine just how big the smile will be on the faces of your friends and family knowing that they’ve had a copy of Communism’s Shadow preordered for them!  Just saying …

Erik Voeten: I’m going to recommend an older book that I recently reread: “Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey,” written by Bunche’s longtime colleague and friend Brian
Urquhart. Bunche’s life was fascinating. Bunche, who was black, earned his doctorate in political science from Harvard based on an extensive field study in African countries. He worked closely with Gunnar Myrdal on the famous American Dilemma study, which was supposed to give a definitive look at race relations in America. The stories of Bunche trying to keep the brusque Swedish scholar and (especially) himself out of trouble while traveling in the American South are worth the price of the book alone. Bunche ended up working for the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor of the CIA) during World War II. He later became undersecretary general at the United Nations and won the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbors. Like any good biography, the book uses an exceptional life to shed light on crucial developments of an era: changing race relations, African countries becoming independent, World War II and the early years of the United Nations. Not a hugely popular book, so a good one to impress your more discerning family members.

Oh, and if you’d rather panic about the future, watch “Occupied,” a Norwegian series on Netflix documenting an imaginary ‘soft’ Russian takeover of the country.

Laura Seay: I spent half of 2016 doing field research in and dragging luggage through 12 countries. To that end, my gift suggestions this year are for those political scientists and family members you know who might be doing the same and are looking for practical, lightweight items that make the task of travel a little less daunting.

The Huzi Infinity Pillow is neither compact nor does it pack small, but it’s the only travel pillow I’ve ever found that blocks out enough light and sound to get some sleep on long, overnight flights full of overly chatty passengers. I tie it to the outside of my carry-on, and it’s worth every bit of trouble. Combined with Bose’s in-ear QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones, I am able to sleep soundly onboard and hit the ground running for interviews and site visits on arrival.

I do research in some pretty remote locations, and keeping devices charged for survey data
entry and general keeping-in-touch (Yes, mom, I’m still alive!) is always a challenge. I depend on the PowerMonkey Extreme 12V charger, which is waterproof and comes with a mini solar charger so you never run out of power (if it isn’t the rainy season). The PowerMonkey Extreme is incredibly reliable, and I usually carry two of the chargers for maximum benefit. Also essential: a lightweight power strip with USB ports like this one from BESTEK.

In an ideal world, I can fit all my gear into a carry-on, but when that won’t work and I have to check a bag, the Trakdot luggage tracker is indispensable. For $40 and a modest annual fee, the battery-powered Trakdot uses local cellphone networks around the world to determine where your bag is at any given time, sending you updates by email or text every time the bag lands at a new airport. Trakdot is how I knew where my lost luggage was on one trip last spring when my airline didn’t, and I was able to ensure its recovery because of that fact.

We at TMC wish you and yours a very happy holiday season!