The best books about power and resistance

Why am I passionate about this?

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam is a world-renowned scholar and author. A double graduate of Cambridge University, he received his Professorship in Global Thought at SOAS as one of the youngest academics in his field. Since then he has been elected to several honorary positions all over the world, some of them with the royal seal and including at Harvard University and Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences in Kunming, China.


I wrote...

What is Iran?

By Arshin Adib-Moghaddam,

Book cover of What is Iran?

What is my book about?

What is Iran is the first book of its kind, as it comes with a playlist to read by. Likened to the “School of Love”, that Adib-Moghaddam adopted from Persian poetry, the book sheds fresh light on everything there is to know about Iran, the region that it is embedded in and the global politics affecting it. Adib-Moghaddam uses musical pieces as a way to offer a holistic understanding of the full spectrum of Iranian affairs. As a result, even the general reader is invited to traverse a wide array of topics in an interactive format which merges approaches from the social sciences with philosophy, poetry, and art.

These topics include a variety of themes, issues, and personalities: from Trump, Khomeini, the Shah, Saddam Hussein, and Qasem Soleimani, to Israel, Syria, Latin America, China, and the Gulf monarchies. Ultimately, this book demonstrates in clear and accessible prose the impact of Iranian politics on a global scale, and offers solutions to the various crises enveloping the country in the region and beyond.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Bolivian Diary

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam Why did I love this book?

I have given this the top spot, not because of the political ideals of the author, but the intimate portrayal of his passion for justice that this classic book portrays with such vivid humanity. Che Guevara was a gifted writer and in this book all the revolutionary idealism that fed into his life-long battle merge into a powerful narrative that is so symptomatic for the romanticism of a bygone era. The Cuban revolution firmly rooted the idea of independence in the political lexicon of resistance movements all over the world, as independence from outside interference, is a necessary step towards a progressive democracy. I read Guevara's books as a Junior Research Fellow at Oxford University in order to train my mind in the various methods of critique.

By Ernesto Che Guevara,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Guevara was a figure of epic proportions. These diaries, stark and moving, will be his most enduring monument' Observer

The final diaries of Che Guevara begin in 1966, when he travelled to Bolivia to foment a revolution, and end just two days before his death in October 1967. They form an unvarnished account of his guerrilla campaign against CIA-backed Bolivian troops, fighting in the jungle and keeping his men's spirits up - even as the struggle started to fail. Found in Guevara's backpack and smuggled to Cuba after his execution, The Bolivian Diary is an inspiring record of, and a…


Book cover of The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam Why did I love this book?

The second choice is another statutory example for a life punctured and ended by resistance against the rather more nefarious manifestations of power, in this case racism in the United States. I had to read this book in high school at a German Protestant private school in the northern port town of Hamburg and I was immediately struck by its vivid realism, and the genuine belief of the author that a just struggle will prevail in the end. I am sure Malcolm would see his worldview vindicated by the global BlackLivesMatter movement triggered by the savage murder of George Floyd.

By Malcolm X, Alex Haley,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Autobiography of Malcolm X as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE OF TIME’S TEN MOST IMPORTANT NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

In the searing pages of this classic autobiography, originally published in 1964, Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement. His fascinating perspective on the lies and limitations of the American Dream, and the inherent racism in a society that denies its nonwhite citizens the opportunity to dream, gives extraordinary insight into the most urgent issues of our own time. The Autobiography of Malcolm X stands as the definitive statement of a movement…


Book cover of Gharbzadegi: Weststruckness

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam Why did I love this book?

A book which perfectly encapsulates the pulse that delivered the revolution in Iran, and in particular the romanticism behind it. This virtuoso of the Iranian belles lettres, a celebrity intellectual of the 1960s, indicts western imperialism and its modernity for the brutal subjugation of the Global South in the name of the machine, a metaphor for cultural imperialism. Working with an incredibly potent medical analogy that likens western modernity to a disease, al-e Ahmad would have been seriously disappointed with the outcome of the revolution in 1979, which did not bring about the libertarian project that his generation envisaged. I read this book as a PhD student at Cambridge, and I was immediately struck by its powerful concepts that apply even today and beyond Iran.

By Jalal Al-E Ahmad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gharbzadegi [Weststruckness] is a tour de force on social conditions in Iran. It was written in 1962 when the Pahlavi regime seemed to have control over Iran's destiny. For the author, Al-e Ahmad (1923-1969), the result was total national submission to the West and its technology. The Iranian monarchy is portrayed in this work as no more than a native brokerage for Western influence, with no aims and identity of its own. Al-e Ahmad sought to defined in large part by a tradition of conflict with the West. This essay is a document of immense significance for students of Iranian…


Book cover of Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam Why did I love this book?

With this study, the legendary Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, delivered a manifesto for a critical pedagogy that continues to undergird the mission statement of many university departments all over the world, and in particular in the Global South, from the Humanities to the Social Sciences. The book tells the story of the eternal struggle between the ruling classes and the underprivileged castes in society, and their resistance against the oppressive power of that system. I read this book at SOAS University of London. It has informed my understanding of civil resistance as a form of democratic empowerment which is so crucial to keep any form of authoritarianism at bay.

By Paulo Freire,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pedagogy of the Oppressed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in Portuguese in 1968, Pedagogy of the Oppressed was translated and published in English in 1970. Paulo Freire's work has helped to empower countless people throughout the world and has taken on special urgency in the United States and Western Europe, where the creation of a permanent underclass among the underprivileged and minorities in cities and urban centers is ongoing. This 50th anniversary edition includes an updated introduction by Donaldo Macedo, a new afterword by Ira Shor and interviews with Marina Aparicio Barberan, Noam Chomsky, Ramon Flecha, Gustavo Fischman, Ronald David Glass, Valerie Kinloch, Peter Mayo, Peter McLaren…


Book cover of One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam Why did I love this book?

One of the books that has made the biggest impression on me and which I applied to my studies far beyond its original locus as the pamphlet for the 68’ generation in post-war Germany. Marcuse became the celebrated spokesperson of a whole generation as a part of the glorious “Frankfurt School” and along with luminaries such as Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. In this damning indictment of capitalist excess, Marcuse’s ideas chime with those of al-e Ahmad (see above), as both of them foresaw the demise of culture and value under the heavy burden of profit-driven production. I read this book as a Political Science student in Germany, first in the original and then in its English translation.

By Herbert Marcuse,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked One-Dimensional Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1964, One-Dimensional Man quickly became one of the most important texts in the ensuing decade of radical political change. This second edition, newly introduced by Marcuse scholar Douglas Kellner, presents Marcuse's best-selling work to another generation of readers in the context of contemporary events.


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A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

By Victoria Golden, William Walters,

Book cover of A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

Victoria Golden Author Of A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Story teller Book fav swapper Movie buff A writer’s daughter Escapee from Beverly Hills

Victoria's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Four years old and homeless, William Walters boarded one of the last American Orphan Trains in 1930 and embarked on an astonishing quest through nine decades of U.S. and world history.

For 75 years, the Orphan Trains had transported 250,000 children from the streets and orphanages of the East Coast into homes in the emerging West, sometimes providing loving new families, other times delivering kids into nightmares. Taken by a cruel New Mexico couple, William faced a terrible trial, but his strength and resilience carried him forward into unforgettable adventures.

Whether escaping his abusers, jumping freights as a preteen during the Great Depression, or infiltrating Japanese-held islands as a teenage Marine during WWII, William’s unique path paralleled the tumult of the twentieth century—and personified the American dream.

A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

By Victoria Golden, William Walters,

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARDS

WINNER, DA VINCI EYE AWARD FOR COVER DESIGN, ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARDS

HONORABLE MENTION, ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARDS, E-BOOK NONFICTION

FINALIST, NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS, E-BOOK NONFICTION

FINALIST, NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS, MEMOIRS (Overcoming Adversity)

HONORABLE MENTION, READERS' FAVORITE BOOK AWARDS, GENERAL NONFICTION

From 1854 to the early 1930s, the American Orphan Trains transported 250,000 children from the streets and orphanages of the East Coast into homes in the emerging West. Unfortunately, families waiting for the trains weren’t always dreams come true—many times they were nightmares.

William Walters was little more than a…


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Interested in modernity, Malcolm X, and Che Guevara?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about modernity, Malcolm X, and Che Guevara.

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