The best fiction on revolutionary social change

Who am I?

Chicago-born and now living in Spain, I was a community organizer in South America and the US before earning a PhD in sociology and becoming a college professor and author. I’ve written five nonfiction books and articles for publications including The New York Times, The Nation, Counterpunch, etc. Of my collection of short stories, Welcome to My Contri, the NY Times Book Review said that it “leaves us aware that we are in the presence of a formidable new writer.” In Rabble! I’ve called on my organizing experience as well as analysis and fiction to bring to life the actors in the first worker-run, self-governing society in the modern world.


I wrote...

Rabble! A Story of the Paris Commune

By Geoffrey Fox,

Book cover of Rabble! A Story of the Paris Commune

What is my book about?

1870. 17-year-old apprentice bookbinder Étienne Bonin travels from revolutionary Lyon to even more revolutionary Paris seeking excitement and professional opportunity. By the spring of 1871 he is deeply committed to the insurrection for workers’ power, to a new lover—Rose Durand, 16-year-old coworker and budding feminist from Belleville—and to his new comrades. Together they experience festive celebrations, institutional innovations, military disasters, and the final “week of blood.”

Étienne and Rose’s coming of age in the midst of a revolution is also the story of the growth of a powerful working-class movement. The tradesmen and women involved in creating and defending the Paris Commune of 1871 were not just bookbinders, but also bronze workers, tin smiths, shoemakers, typographers, printers, laundresses, clothing and textile workers, carpenters, and many others.

The books I picked & why

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A Princess In Berlin

By Arthur R. G. Solmssen,

Book cover of A Princess In Berlin

Why this book?

In Princess a reader feels the fears, panic, and illusions in post-World War I Germany that led to the rise of Hitler and World War II. A young German-speaking American, in love with the daughter of a Jewish banking family, witnesses the explosive growth of racist nationalism, blaming Jews for war loss and economic disaster, and how a youth socially related to that family is turned into a furious, murderous Nazi. We also glimpse young Bertolt Brecht, singing scathing critiques of the nationalists, and a Bohemian artist much like George Grosz, representing the left opposition. The book helped me understand how a movement for the exact opposite of the Paris Commune’s ideals of “Freedom, equality, and fraternity,” could develop among frightened and ignorant people, a warning for all of us.

A Princess In Berlin

By Arthur R. G. Solmssen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Princess In Berlin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When American soldier Peter Ellis returns to Berlin in 1922 to study painting, he experiences all the opulent decadence of an upper-class romance and the lurid bohemian lifestyle of Berlin's art world


Moon Brow

By Shahriar Mandanipour, Sara Khalili (translator),

Book cover of Moon Brow

Why this book?

Moon Brow describes the social tensions between ideals of freedom, religion, and authoritarianism that provoked Iran’s 1978 revolution, but only increased under Islamic rule. Amir, a formerly rich, wild playboy, flogged by the morality police after a drunken orgy, joins the army to escape shame and find meaning for his life in the brutal and futile 10-year war against Iraq. Commanding artillery in the borderland, he encounters the mysterious, sprite-like woman he calls “Moon Brow,” who, after an Iraqi shell maims him, becomes a magical force in his PTSD hallucinations. Her true identity will come as a rebuke for his comparatively pointless existence, while his sister’s spurning of her rich, pretentious suitor will be another rebuke, of his machismo. A brilliant evocation of the illusions that sustain violence.

Moon Brow

By Shahriar Mandanipour, Sara Khalili (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moon Brow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From “one of Iran's most important living fiction writers” (The Guardian) comes a fantastically imaginative story of love and war narrated by two angel scribes perched on the shoulders of a shell-shocked Iranian soldier who’s searching for the mysterious woman haunting his dreams.

Before he enlisted as a soldier in the Iran–Iraq War and disappeared, Amir Yamini was a carefree playboy whose only concerns were seducing women and riling his religious family. Five years later, his mother and sister Reyhaneh find him in a mental hospital for shell-shocked soldiers, his left arm and most of his memory lost. Amir is…


Gate of the Sun

By Elias Khoury, Humphrey Davies (translator),

Book cover of Gate of the Sun

Why this book?

Through the fantastical, magical reconstructions of the adventures of a supposed Palestinian liberation hero, we get a history of Palestine and the Palestinians from the 1936 Arab revolt to almost today. Khoury, a Lebanese Christian novelist and journalist, has himself been closely involved in this history, as a public commentator and interviewer of figures much like the supposed hero Yunis—who, we will see, may or may not have performed the exploits for which he is renowned. Khoury is a brilliant writer, both as an analyst of complex political relations and as a conveyor of very convincing-sounding dialogue, which is itself enough reason to love and profit from this book. And to learn something from the Palestinian point of view of what is now nearly a century-old conflict.

Gate of the Sun

By Elias Khoury, Humphrey Davies (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gate of the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Notable Book of the Year

“An imposingly rich and realistic novel, a genuine masterwork” that vividly captures the Palestinian experience following the creation of the Israeli state (New York Times Book Review)
 
After Palestine is torn apart in 1948, two men remain alone in a deserted makeshift hospital in the Shatila camp on the outskirts of Beirut—entering a vast world of displacement, fear, and tenuous hope.
 
Khalil holds vigil at the bedside of his patient and spiritual father, a storied leader of the Palestinian resistance who has slipped into a coma. As Khalil attempts to revive Yunes,…


Libra

By Don DeLillo,

Book cover of Libra

Why this book?

Libra is a chillingly realistic novel that re-imagines the assassination of John F. Kennedy. What particularly delighted me was the very realistic-sounding dialogue of the very dissimilar actors in the rambling, uncoordinated but ultimately successful conspiracy, including right-wing Aryan-nation types, non-ideological drifters desperate to leave a mark on history, and (in this version) mobsters and Cuban exile terrorists who blamed Kennedy for the "loss" of Cuba. DeLillo’s renderings of Jack Ruby’s mobster lingo, the uptight tersely coded grunts of the CIA men, the incoherencies of revolutionary wannabe Lee Harvey Oswald and others, are a model of dialogue for any fiction writer.  

Libra

By Don DeLillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Libra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A reconstruction of the events leading up to John Kennedy's assassination. The antihero of the book is, of course, Lee Harvey Oswald, who is as hauntingly real in this novel as he was elusive to us in real life.


The Man Who Loved Dogs

By Leonardo Padura, Anna Kushner (translator),

Book cover of The Man Who Loved Dogs

Why this book?

This is a vivid reimagining of the Stalinist plot to assassinate Leon Trotsky, ultimately successful in 1940, and its repercussions in the Communist world. Iván, a frustrated Cuban writer, discovers this story, suppressed in Cuba, when he meets an aged foreigner walking his Russian greyhounds. Sensing a mystery like Raymond Chandler’s The Man Who Liked Dogs, Iván teases information from the man, who turns out to be Ramón Mercader (b. Barcelona, 1913), Trotsky’s assassin.

We also follow Trotsky’s precarious exile in Turkey, Europe, and finally Mexico, his marital and other conflicts and his inability to protect his sons and ultimately himself from murder—and how Mercader, a fervent Communist idealist, is turned by his Stalinist masters into the robot-like agent programed to infiltrate Trotsky’s circle and kill him.

The Man Who Loved Dogs

By Leonardo Padura, Anna Kushner (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man Who Loved Dogs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gripping novel about the assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico City in 1940

In The Man Who Loved Dogs, Leonardo Padura brings a noir sensibility to one of the most fascinating and complex political narratives of the past hundred years: the assassination of Leon Trotsky by Ramón Mercader.

The story revolves around Iván Cárdenas Maturell, who in his youth was the great hope of modern Cuban literature—until he dared to write a story that was deemed counterrevolutionary. When we meet him years later in Havana, Iván is a loser: a humbled and defeated man with a quiet, unremarkable life…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in assassins, amnesia, and JFK?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about assassins, amnesia, and JFK.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like JFK and the Unspeakable, Oswald's Tale, and Last Second in Dallas if you like this list.