Department of State Suggested FSOT Reading List
Below is a list of reading material suggested by the Department of State (January 2020) to help you pass the Foreign Service Officer Test.
This is a great resource, and I recommend that you take the time to review the suggestions and consider purchasing a publication in the area(s) you believe you need to improve your knowledge.
Not sure the area(s) to improve? Take a practice test to find out!
The Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) measures broad knowledge in world and national affairs, usually gathered over an extended period of time through education, reading, and life experiences. The best preparation is a good education, ideally one that includes courses in U.S. and world history, U.S. government and politics, international relations, political science, international economics and trade, geography, literature, English, management, and public administration. Familiarity with American society and culture is important.
Because the test covers such a broad range of topics, it is difficult to provide a formal, comprehensive reading list that will prepare someone to pass the test. Below, we suggest an illustrative list of the types of books and other readings that could prove useful.
English Language Usage
The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition
While digital technologies have revolutionized the publishing world in the twenty-first century, one thing still remains true: The Chicago Manual of Style is the authoritative, trusted source that writers, editors, and publishers turn to for guidance on style and process. For the sixteenth edition, every aspect of coverage has been reconsidered to reflect how publishing professionals work today. Though processes may change, the Manual continues to offer the clear, well-considered style and usage advice it has for more than a century.
The sixteenth edition offers expanded information on producing electronic publications, including web-based content and e-books. An updated appendix on production and digital technology demystifies the process of electronic workflow and offers a primer on the use of XML markup, and a revised glossary includes a host of terms associated with electronic as well as print publishing. The Chicago system of documentation has been streamlined and adapted for a variety of online and digital sources. Figures and tables are updated throughout the book—including a return to the Manual’s popular hyphenation table and new, comprehensive listings of Unicode numbers for special characters.
The Elements of Style, 4th Edition
You know the authors’ names. You recognize the title. You’ve probably used this book yourself. This is The Elements of Style, the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. A new Foreword by Roger Angell reminds readers that the advice of Strunk & White is as valuable today as when it was first offered. This book’s unique tone, wit and charm have conveyed the principles of English style to millions of readers. Use the fourth edition of “the little book” to make a big impact with writing.
United States (culture, foreign policy, history, politics)
Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic, 6th Edition
By Davidson, DeLay, Heyrman, Lytle, and Stoff
Known for its friendly narrative style and careful blending of political and social history, Nation of Nations offers a balanced approach to teaching the American history survey course. The story presented by the authors reflects their belief that the American past can only be fully understood when linked to events worldwide. As a result of this view, Nation of Nations has become the leader in the integration of global material, done in a sensible and thoughtful way. This sixth edition features expanded coverage of environmental and pre-colonial history by new coauthor Brian DeLay, as well as a completely redesigned map program, additional After the Fact content, and a new online version of the popular Primary Source Investigator.
Racial and Ethnic Relations, 9th Edition
A theoretically informed and empirical exploration of the diversity, depth, and significance of racial and ethnic relations in the U.S., this book is organized by racial-ethnic groups rather then by issues. Drawing heavily on a broad range of research sources — that dig deep into the “what,” “why,” and “how” of racial and ethnic oppression and conflict — it examines 15 major racial and ethnic groups with regard to their incorporation, economic circumstances, political development, and experience with exploitation — with special reference to the assimilation and power conflict (theoretical) perspectives. Covers a comprehensive new theory of racial oppression; increasing demographic concentration of people of color; racism; issues of racial change; and housing discrimination & segregation.
International Relations, 10th Edition
The bestselling text in its field, International Relations is praised for being the most current and comprehensive introduction to international relations theory as well as security, economic, and global issues. From war and trade to human rights and the environment, this survey explores relations among states and the influence of transnational actors and events.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know
In this fast-paced information age, how can Americans know what’s really important and what’s just a passing fashion? Now more than ever, we need a source that concisely sums up the knowledge that matters to Americans — the people, places, ideas, and events that shape our cultural conversation. With more than six thousand entries,The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy is that invaluable source.Wireless technology. Gene therapy. NAFTA. In addition to the thousands of terms described in the original Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, here are more than five hundred new entries to bring Americans’ bank of essential knowledge up to date. The original entries have been fully revised to reflect recent changes in world history and politics, American literature, and, especially, science and technology. Cultural icons that have stood the test of time (Odysseus, Leaves of Grass, Cleopatra, the Taj Mahal, D-Day) appear alongside entries on such varied concerns as cryptography, the digital divide, the European Union, Kwanzaa, pheromones, SPAM, Type A and Type B personalities, Web browsers, and much, much more.As our world becomes more global and interconnected, it grows smaller through the terms and touchstones that unite us. As E. D. Hirsch writes in the preface, “Community is built up of shared knowledge and values — the same shared knowledge that is taken for granted when we read a book or newspaper, and that is also taken for granted as part of the fabric that connects us to one another.” A delicious concoction of information for anyone who wants to be in the know, The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy brilliantly confirms once again that it is “an excellent piece of work . . . stimulating and enlightening” (New York Times) — the most definitive and comprehensive family sourcebook of its kind.
A People and a Nation: A History of the United States, 10th Edition
A People and a Nation is a best-selling text offering a spirited narrative that tells the stories of all people in the United States. The authors’ attention to race and racial identity and their inclusion of everyday people and popular culture brings history to life, engaging readers and encouraging them to imagine what life was really like in the past.
The Politics of United States Foreign Policy, 6th Edition
Women and the American Experience, 5th Edition
World History and Geography
Atlas of the World, 24th Edition
The Heritage of World Civilizations, 10th Edition
Central Asia: Challenges of Independence
Modern Latin America, 8th Edition
Now thoroughly updated in its eighth edition, Modern Latin America is a lively interpretive history and the leading text in the field. Featuring vivid, anecdotal illustrative boxes, the book uses case studies to discuss the major countries and themes of the region over the past 200 years. For each country, Thomas E. Skidmore, Peter H. Smith, and James N. Green examine such central themes as European-New World interaction, racial mixtures, military takeovers, and U.S. intervention in the area.
Economics and Public Policy
Macroeconomics: Economic Growth, Fluctuations, and Policy, 6th Edition
Principles of Microeconomics, 7th Edition
With its clear and engaging writing style, Principles of Microeconomics, Seventh Edition, continues to be one of the most popular books on economics available today. Mankiw emphasizes material that you are likely to find interesting about the economy (particularly if you are studying economics for the first time), including real-life scenarios, useful facts, and the many ways economic concepts play a role in the decisions you make every day.