The best books of counter history to enrich your world view

The Books I Picked & Why

Genesis: Memory of Fire, Volume 1, 1

By Eduardo Galeano

Genesis: Memory of Fire, Volume 1, 1

Why this book?

The most ambitious counter-history of Latin America! A brilliant way of storytelling. Short historical scenes romp through 400 years. This epic trilogy is a heart-stopping narrative. Galeano begins with the indigenous spirit world that explodes into conflict with the first arrival of Columbus and his mercenaries. In one or two-page vignettes, readers are guided through hearts of darkness and bold resistance. This groundbreaking work stands as an anti-colonial masterpiece. The grand tragedy unfolds with pain and suffering, incredible heroism and hope, irony and outrage. It will mark you…


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The Crusades Through Arab Eyes

By Amin Maalouf

The Crusades Through Arab Eyes

Why this book?

This Paris-based Lebanese author may soon be awarded the Nobel Prize! His first book is a classic that forces readers into a completely different perspective. Maalouf offers in his own vivacious style, a vivid portrait of a society torn by internal conflicts and shaken by a traumatic encounter with an alien culture of invaders. His fascinating insights delve deeply into the Arab and Islamic consciousness today. All Maalouf’s books should be read! Each opens unexpected, illuminated windows on the Middle East with compassion, wisdom, and drama.


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In Other Words: 40 Years of Writing on Indonesia

By Goenawan Mohamad, Jennifer Lindsay

In Other Words: 40 Years of Writing on Indonesia

Why this book?

Open this treasure chest! A perceptive, elegant collection by SE Asia’s leading journalist, public intellectual, and poet. His magnus opus represents 40 years of essays from 1968 – 2014 and each of his 100 brief passages can stand alone as sledgehammers of provocative thought. Often called the Borges of Asia, Goenawan’s dexterous mind tackles issues of identity, literature, nationalism, culture, colonial crimes, terrorism, Islam, mythologies, historicity, and destiny. As he grapples with universal themes, his deep wisdom offers fascinating insights and compassion into questions that concern us all.


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Heart of Darkness

By Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness

Why this book?

Conrad’s masterpiece is the ultimate counter-history. A testimony of actual events he witnessed during his voyage up the Congo River. Captain Kurtz represents the highly cultivated Westerner, who sinks into murderous sadism in his wilderness outpost. Casting all societal norms aside, the tragic cruelty that he inflicts on the Africans is a microcosm of the colonial violence that led to the 20th century’s first holocaust. Kurtz imported his own violence into Africa. Not vice versa. Yet, Europe still viewed Africans as uncivilized, primitive, dangerous. Conrad rejected the “imperial perspective” of his day and forced Europeans to look in the mirror at their own savagery.


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The World Odyssey of a Balinese Prince

By Idanna Pucci

The World Odyssey of a Balinese Prince

Why this book?

Pucci’s book breaks all the clichés about Bali by writers over the last five decades. It offers an eye-opening world view - not only of the island of Bali - through the true stories of Dr. Djelantik. His mission, as a physician, take him to the most remote regions of the planet. He faces all sorts of dangers, even the arrest by Saddam Hussein’s secret police. In each situation, he responds with humanity and a sublime sense of humor. His extraordinary life is grounded in a constant search for truth. Imbued with wonder and magic, these stories awaken a feeling of “lightness of being” in this uncertain age. An incomparable vision of life that offers timeless guidance.


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