Steven David is the director of the certificate program in national security studies and professor of international relations at the Johns Hopkins University. His scholarly focus is on security issues arising from the developing world, with a special emphasis on the Middle East. He is now finishing his third book, on the implications for American security of civil conflict in key states.
"History of the Peloponnesian War" / by Thucydides / Penguin Classics / 656 pages / $15
A great work showing the enduring truths of human nature and international politics. The "Melian Dialogue" alone conveys the essence of international relations in a manner unequaled in the works of the next 2,500 years.
"All Quiet on the Western Front" / by Erich Maria Remarque / Vintage / 224 pages / $24
As a young man I read many books extolling the romance and adventure of war. This book was an indispensable reality check. No wonder Hitler had it burned.
"The World Book Encyclopedia" / World Book Encyclopedia / 22 volumes / $420
OK, not really a single book, but nevertheless something that played a critical role in my intellectual development. The sheer excitement of being able to learn so much from a single source still gives me tingles. I feel sorry for my children's generation, whose rush to computers deprives them of the joy of amassing knowledge about subjects that simply happen to be alphabetically close to what you were looking for.