The best books for challenging capitalism, racism, and patriarchy

Jordan Flaherty Author Of No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality
By Jordan Flaherty

Who am I?

I produced dozens of hours of film and television, including for Al Jazeera’s Emmy, Peabody, and DuPont-award-winning program Faultlines; as well as short and long-form documentaries for Democracy Now and teleSUR, and reporting in The New York Times and Washington Post. I’ve written two books based on my journalism, No More Heroes: Grassroots Responses to the Savior Mentality and Floodlines: Community and Resistance From Katrina to the Jena Six. I produced the independent feature film Chocolate Babies, which was recently added to the Criterion Collection. My latest film is Powerlands.


I wrote...

No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality

By Jordan Flaherty,

Book cover of No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality

What is my book about?

We are often told that nice white people are the solution...but what if we are the problem?

From the Crusades to Black Lives Matter, No More Heroes is a grassroots history of resistance to the savior mentality. This book weaves the stories of teachers, international volunteers, sex workers, FBI informants, indigenous organizers, and prison abolitionists into a narrative of revolutionary change that travels from Alaska to Palestine, from Karl Marx to Muhammad Ali, and from KONY 2012 to the Red Cross. Robin D. G. Kelley, the author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination calls it, “A perfect gift for the age of Trump.”

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is readers supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Assata: An Autobiography

By Assata Shakur,

Book cover of Assata: An Autobiography

Why this book?

Reading this book as a teenager changed my life. If you’ve ever been to a Black Lives Matter protest and heard the chant, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains,” then Assata has changed your life too. The fact that her poem has been made into a protest chant demonstrates her continuing impact on movements. This book movingly combines the personal and political. It’s a story of one woman’s radicalization, the brutal state violence she faced, and the comrades who would join her in the hard work of challenging systemic white supremacy and capitalism.


The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

By INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence,

Book cover of The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

Why this book?

The definitive book for understanding today’s social justice movements, and what needs to change for them to be successful. The brilliant women of color of INCITE come from a background of organizing and scholarship, and together they show the systemic flaw in left movements today, showing the ways that organizations become accountable to wealthy funders rather than the people they say they wish to serve. Read this book to learn what can be done to challenge this dynamic and build a better world.


Take Back the Land: Land, Gentrification & the Umoja Village Shantytown

By Max Rameau,

Book cover of Take Back the Land: Land, Gentrification & the Umoja Village Shantytown

Why this book?

The best book I’ve ever read about organizing. Max Rameau is a visionary organizer who, in the midst of the housing crisis of 2008, began seizing empty houses and helping homeless people move in. In this book, he goes into deep detail on a previous campaign to reclaim land and turn it into housing, explaining both the successes and failures, as well as the strategy and ideas behind the tactics. Read this to learn the fundamentals of how to plan, organize and win.


Stone Butch Blues: A Novel

By Leslie Feinberg,

Book cover of Stone Butch Blues: A Novel

Why this book?

This powerful and intense novel is based on Leslie Feinberg’s life, growing up butch, lesbian, working-class, and Jewish in small-town New York in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and later coming out as both transgender and a communist revolutionary. This book is an intimate look at gender, race, and class from someone who lived on the front lines of these struggles.


Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next)

By Dean Spade,

Book cover of Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next)

Why this book?

During this moment of pandemic and other crises caused by capitalism, many people have turned to mutual aid as an attempt to help their neighbors and communities. As Spade writes, “Left social movements have two big jobs right now. First, we need to organize to help people survive the devastating conditions unfolding every day. Second, we need to mobilize hundreds of millions of people for resistance so we can tackle the underlying causes of these crises.” This book explains both why and how we can create structures that will change the world. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in poverty, land use, and the patriarchy?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about poverty, land use, and the patriarchy.

Poverty Explore 37 books about poverty
Land Use Explore 6 books about land use
The Patriarchy Explore 32 books about the patriarchy

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Lean Impact: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in Without Going Crazy, and The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State if you like this list.