The Best Books On Power And The Powerless

The Books I Picked & Why

James Baldwin: Collected Essays

By James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Toni Morrison

James Baldwin: Collected Essays

Why this book?

I am recommending this book because one can’t understand power without being beholden to it systemically and repeatedly, all the while dissecting power’s discontents. Baldwin’s words may seem to strike only to America’s core, but every marginalized person will find truth in them. As an Egyptologist, I rely on Baldwin to tell me what oppressed people in an authoritarian regime thought but could not commit to paper.


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The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

By Michael W. Twitty

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

Why this book?

I am recommending this book because it delves deep into a people’s connection to land, plants and animals, food, and ancestors. Even without the privilege of written history, the powerless can find a power in the past.


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Circe

By Madeline Miller

Circe

Why this book?

I am recommending this book because it is a lyrical poem of a book about a fierce and quiet female power that tries to hide but is subversive in spite of itself. Circe carves out her place amongst the kings and kingmakers of the world, not looking to be powerful over anything except her own space and those who exist within it. It is a manifesto of living in harmony with the natural world and each other.


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The Matter of History

By Timothy J. Lecain

The Matter of History

Why this book?

I am recommending this volume because it shocked me with its ability to nestle humans into the world as an integral part of the natural world, not separate from it, not rulers over it, but clever animals that need the Earth more than the Earth needs us. It helps me to undercut the manufactured power of the divinely ordained rulers from ancient Egypt.


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Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

By James C. Scott

Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

Why this book?

The fifth book is Seeing Like a State by James C. Scott which teaches how the state makes people legible and controllable by naming them, giving them addresses, marking them, or moving them. 


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