I recently read this book and I can confirm the Mises Institute and Hayek recommendations.  In some ways it is the political science version of “The Road to Serfdom.”  Written at about the same time, 1948.


On Power: The Natural History of Its Growth

AUTHOR: Jouvenel, Bertrand de


is the primary menace to peace, freedom, and civilization–such is the
lesson we learn from the great works of literature, philosophy, and
history. Why then do we tolerate it? Where did it come from? How did it
come to be unleashed in such fury in the last century and this? What
can we expect can be done to curb it?
These are the themes of this erudite treatise, of which F.A. Hayek said
when it appea
red in 1948: “his picture of one of the great historical
forces is a work of art.”

Bertrand De Jouvenel, scholar and liberal aristocrat, provides a
sweeping history of the development of power in the age of the rise of
the nation state, and traces it through the democratic age that has
given presidents and parliaments power that would have been the envy of
medieval barrons.

His theme is the steady expansion of power, its pyschological roots,
and its cultural effects. In particular, he explains the dangers of
majoritatarian democracy, and what they are sure to mean for the idea
of liberty. On this particular point, he is especially illuminating.

This is a challenging and serious work of historical analytics. No one
studying the history of power and its effect can overlook it. A true
modern classic.

Hardbound: 444 pp.
ISBN: 0865971129