100 books like A Colony of Citizens

By Laurent Dubois,

Here are 100 books that A Colony of Citizens fans have personally recommended if you like A Colony of Citizens. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880

Charlotte Hinger Author Of Nicodemus

From my list on African Americans in the West after the Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a multi-award-winning novelist and Kansas historian. Through reading letters written by African Americans in Kansas, I realized that black people were a major political force. In fact, with the settlement of Nicodemus, for the first time in American history, enough black people had gathered in one place to dominate political decisions and prevail over the white community. No one had told the story of the three black powerhouses who shaped politics on a county, state, and national level. I was thrilled when University of Oklahoma Press published my academic book. It won second place in the Westerner’s International Best Book contest.

Charlotte's book list on African Americans in the West after the Civil War

Charlotte Hinger Why did Charlotte love this book?

W.E.B Du Bois’s magnificent contribution to Post-Reconstrucion history put a stop to the notion that blacks were lightweights when it came to academia. Du Bois is a careful historian but doesn’t hesitate to speak from a black agenda. I’m well aware that this book supports my own ideas that blacks were a force in settling the West, but still, the truth will come out. Black people exerted extraordinary political influence. Du Bois, was a serious scholar, with impeccable credentials, and the founder of the NAACP. This man can write! I’m envious of his matchless ability to present history. 

By W.E.B. Du Bois,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

W. E. B. Du Bois was a public intellectual, sociologist, and activist on behalf of the African American community. He profoundly shaped black political culture in the United States through his founding role in the NAACP, as well as internationally through the Pan-African movement. Du Bois's sociological and historical research on African-American communities and culture broke ground in many areas, including the history of the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. Du
Bois was also a prolific author of novels, autobiographical accounts, innumerable editorials and journalistic pieces, and several works of history.

Black Reconstruction in America tells and interprets the story of…

Book cover of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All

Jennifer Frost Author Of "Let Us Vote!" Youth Voting Rights and the 26th Amendment

From my list on voting rights in the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

After growing up in California, earning a PhD in Wisconsin, and having a stint as an academic in Colorado, I now teach United States history in beautiful Aotearoa New Zealand. I write books on 20th century U.S. politics, social movements, and popular culture. Along the way, I have found important political content, interactions, and struggle in unlikely spots, from community organizing to Hollywood gossip. In all my work, I find Americans drawing upon the ideological and material resources available to them—whether radicalism, conservatism, and liberalism, or social movements and popular culture—to construct and contest the meanings of citizenship.  

Jennifer's book list on voting rights in the United States

Jennifer Frost Why did Jennifer love this book?

Painting a broad picture of African-American women’s political advocacy and activism, Martha S. Jones presents women fighting for a voice in our political system from the early days of the Republic through women’s suffrage to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Many of the women and their contributions to racial and gender equality were familiar to me. Others less so, including three generations of Jones’s own foremothers who worked for democratic participation in their day. Bringing home how very personal the political is, Jones finds Black women’s politics in parties, elections, government, and beyond. In churches and community institutions, in careers as teachers and journalists, they pursued an expansive vision of human rights and dignity.

It’s an informative, inspiring history, with hard-won gains contextualized with hard truths about our impaired democracy, and reminded me that the obligation to repair it belongs to us all.

By Martha S. Jones,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Vanguard as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“An elegant and expansive history” (New YorkTimes)of African American women’s pursuit of political power—and how it transformed America  
InVanguard, acclaimed historian Martha S. Jones offers a new history of African American women’s political lives in America. She recounts how they defied both racism and sexism to fight for the ballot, and how they wielded political power to secure the equality and dignity of all persons. From the earliest days of the republic to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and beyond, Jones excavates the lives and work ofBlackwomen—Maria Stewart, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Fannie Lou Hamer, and more—who…

Book cover of The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition

Justin Iverson Author Of Rebels in Arms: Black Resistance and the Fight for Freedom in the Anglo-Atlantic

From my list on Black resistance to slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of slavery and resistance in early America and in the Atlantic world, and I have long been passionate about how enslaved people refused to accept the chattel system and the many creative ways they found to resist their status. It has also become a central goal of mine to tell their stories and make sure we know more about how slave resistance influenced U.S. society in the past and how it shapes the world in which we live today.

Justin's book list on Black resistance to slavery

Justin Iverson Why did Justin love this book?

In this massive study of one of the most radical movements in U.S. history, Manisha Sinha extends the story of Abolition to the 18th century and on the international stage, forcing us to rethink what we thought we knew about the movement’s trajectory and who its central figures were.

By telling the broader story, Sinha demonstrates who central Black rebels were for moving the cause along and for creating an interracial alliance that would eventually succeed in 1865.

By Manisha Sinha,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Slave's Cause as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2017 Frederick Douglass Prize

A groundbreaking history of abolition that recovers the largely forgotten role of African Americans in the long march toward emancipation from the American Revolution through the Civil War

Received historical wisdom casts abolitionists as bourgeois, mostly white reformers burdened by racial paternalism and economic conservatism. Manisha Sinha overturns this image, broadening her scope beyond the antebellum period usually associated with abolitionism and recasting it as a radical social movement in which men and women, black and white, free and enslaved found common ground in causes ranging from feminism and utopian socialism to anti-imperialism…

Book cover of Colored Travelers: Mobility and the Fight for Citizenship Before the Civil War

Christina Proenza-Coles Author Of American Founders: How People of African Descent Established Freedom in the New World

From my list on African Americans who shaped democracy in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

After growing up in South Florida, a longstanding crossroads of Southern, Latin, and Caribbean culture, I became a student of the African Diaspora in the Americas. I learned that Africans preceded the English in the Americas and arrived in greater numbers than Europeans until 1820. As a history professor and researcher, I continually came across the stories of Black men and women, enslaved and free, who started independence movements, fought in revolutions, established schools, businesses, newspapers, and political organizations - men and women who challenged slavery and discrimination and championed freedom at every opportunity. The number of individuals was overwhelming and fundamentally altered how I understand American history and democracy.

Christina's book list on African Americans who shaped democracy in America

Christina Proenza-Coles Why did Christina love this book?

Rosa Parks is an essential icon of the Civil Rights Movement, but the history of Black women and men turning segregation and discrimination during travel into a platform to negotiate the rights of citizenship has a long arc. Pryor gives us the longer backstory to the 20th-century Civil Rights Movement and 21st-century movement for Black lives when she traces how 19th-century Black men and women traveling in stage coaches, rail cars, and steam ships were often on the front lines of the struggle for Americans’ equal protection under the law.

By Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Americans have long regarded the freedom of travel a central tenet of citizenship. Yet, in the United States, freedom of movement has historically been a right reserved for whites. In this book, Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor shows that African Americans fought obstructions to their mobility over 100 years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus. These were "colored travelers," activists who relied on steamships, stagecoaches, and railroads to expand their networks and to fight slavery and racism. They refused to ride in "Jim Crow" railroad cars, fought for the right to hold a U.S. passport…

Book cover of The Spartacus War

Paul Hay Author Of Saeculum: Defining Historical Eras in Ancient Roman Thought

From my list on for aspiring Roman history buffs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of Roman history who teaches and writes about the social world of the ancient Romans. I’m drawn to the topic of ancient Rome because it seems simultaneously familiar and alien: the people always “feel real” to me, but the many cultural differences between Rome and modern America prod me to contemplate those aspects and values of my own world that I take for granted. I enjoy the high moral stakes of the political machinations as well as the aesthetic beauty of the artistic creations of Rome. And the shadow of Rome still looms large in American culture, so I find the study of antiquity endlessly instructive.

Paul's book list on for aspiring Roman history buffs

Paul Hay Why did Paul love this book?

Like many others, I have long been fascinated by the story of Spartacus and his fight for freedom (a story that has resonated with many activists and advocates around the world).

Strauss has a wonderful prose style that balances scholarly rigor with clarity for a popular audience. I still picture Kirk Douglas in my mind when I think about Spartacus, but reading this book also gave me a much fuller understanding of the sociopolitical context of this slave revolt.

By Barry Strauss,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Spartacus War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of the most famous revolt of the ancient world, and its legendary leader, Spartacus the Gladiator.

Spartacus was a Thracian gladiator who started a prison breakout with 74 men, armed with kitchen knives. It grew into a full scale rebellion against Rome, the most famous slave revolt in history. With an army of gladiators, ex-slaves and other desperadoes, he managed to defeat a succession of Roman armies and bring the Republic to its knees.

Book cover of Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South

Matthew J. Clavin Author Of Toussaint Louverture and the American Civil War: The Promise and Peril of a Second Haitian Revolution

From my list on slave resistance and revolts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I long ago decided that I could contribute to the struggle for the freedom and equality of all people by becoming a historian. My fascination with the history of race has led me on a quest to illuminate the extraordinary efforts of enslaved people and their allies to challenge White supremacy and destroy the institution of slavery. My newest book, Symbols of Freedom: Slavery and Resistance Before the Civil War, examines the role that revolutionary nationalism played in inspiring slave and antislavery resistance.

Matthew's book list on slave resistance and revolts

Matthew J. Clavin Why did Matthew love this book?

It is hard to think of any book of comparable size that packs a more powerful punch. In less than 150 pages, Camp reveals how in the antebellum South enslaved women resisted their oppression in ways that were both visible and invisible. By challenging slave owners’ control and conception of space, they carved out a “rival geography” where they, along with their friends and families, enjoyed a modicum of freedom despite longstanding and widespread oppression. Camp’s description of late-night plantation frolics, stolen dresses, and the interior walls of slave cabins redefines slave resistance in a way that highlights the efforts of enslaved women to improve the lives of themselves and their loved ones in the face of almost insurmountable odds. 

By Stephanie M. H. Camp,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Recent scholarship on slavery has explored the lives of enslaved people beyond the watchful eye of their masters. Building on this work and the study of space, social relations, gender, and power in the Old South, Stephanie Camp examines the everyday containment and movement of enslaved men and, especially, enslaved women. In her investigation of the movement of bodies, objects, and information, Camp extends our recognition of slave resistance into new arenas and reveals an important and hidden culture of opposition. Camp discusses the multiple dimensions to acts of resistance that might otherwise appear to be little more than fits…

Book cover of Property

David Wright Faladé Author Of Black Cloud Rising

From my list on complicated Black-white relations.

Why am I passionate about this?

For me, the American story is about “mixedness”—about the ways in which people of various backgrounds and beliefs have come together, oftentimes despite themselves, to make up our modern racial stew. It has been true since the Founding and is all the more so now, even as we, as a society, continue to want to resist it. These novels achieve what I aspire to in my own writing: the white characters are as complex as the Black ones. And in their struggles to make sense of the world, they all reveal the complexity and contradictions of American identity.

David's book list on complicated Black-white relations

David Wright Faladé Why did David love this book?

A thin, little book and a true masterpiece!

Narrated by Manon Gaudet, the mistress of an 1830s plantation outside New Orleans, the novel forced me to adopt the perspective of a person who is both oppressed, as a woman in the 19th century, and oppressor, as a slave-owner, who is keenly observant and stunningly blind. Manon’s body-servant, Sarah, has given birth to a deaf wild-child who Manon cannot ignore, given his striking resemblance to her own husband. Manon, who is obsessed with Sarah too, is incapable of recognizing her as someone being victimized by her husband. She only sees a rival.

I teach Property in my classes. My students hate Manon. They also love the book!

By Valerie Martin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Property is Valerie Martin's powerful, startling novel set in America's deep South in the early nineteenth century: a story of freedom, both political and personal. Manon Gaudet is unhappily married to the owner of a Louisiana sugar plantation. She misses her family and longs for the vibrant lifestyle of her native New Orleans. The tension revolves around Sarah, a slave girl given to Manon as a wedding present from her aunt, whose young son Walter is living proof of where Manon's husband's inclinations lie. This private drama is played out against a brooding atmosphere of slave unrest and bloody uprisings.

Book cover of Flight to Freedom: African Runaways and Maroons in the Americas

Sylviane A. Diouf Author Of Slavery's Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons

From my list on runaways and Maroons in the Americas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a social historian of the African Diaspora. I am passionate about writing stories that have never been told. The stories I uncover detail the lives, struggles, and resistance of enslaved people. I am interested in and have written about such overlooked topics as African resistance to the transatlantic slave trade; Maroons in the American South; the experience of African Muslims enslaved throughout the Americas; and the lives of the people deported on the Clotilda, the last slave ship to the US. Much still needs to be unearthed to help form a more comprehensive history of the people who, in countless and remarkable ways, fought against their subjugation.

Sylviane's book list on runaways and Maroons in the Americas

Sylviane A. Diouf Why did Sylviane love this book?

This book is predominantly about Caribbean runaways and Maroons, with some brief forays into South America and the United States.

I found Thompson’s approach quite enlightening. Rather than studying marronage by country, as is usually the case, he chose an encompassing thematic approach across territories. He studies the topic in four major parts: the ideological bases of marronage, its origin and development, maroon organization, and the question of accommodation and revolution.

This panoramic view, which also offers a lot of details, helps point out commonalities but also differences between communities. 

By Alvin O. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

African slavery in the Americas has left indelible marks on the geographical, political, economic, social and cultural landscapes of the Americas. An important part of that indelibility is marronage that involved both flight from slavery and the establishment of free communities. This book is about the struggles of enslaved Africans in the Americas who achieved freedom through flight and the establishment of Maroon communities in the face of overwhelming military odds on the part of the slaveholders. Incontestably, Maroon communities constituted the first independent polities from European colonial rule in the hemisphere, even if the colonial states did not accord…

Book cover of All Souls' Rising

Keith Madsen Author Of The Sons and Daughters of Toussaint

From my list on the life and history of Haiti.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the time I heard of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that killed over 200,000 people, my heart was drawn to that country. From 2012 to 2017 I lead five mission trips to Cap Haitian, where we toured mission work, helped Haitians build an elementary school, and met so many of these beautiful people. I ate the great cooking of “Mama Jo” who, along with her husband, hosted us. I gave “horsey” rides to children at a Port-au-Prince orphanage; and shared in prayer and singing with churches near Cap Haitian. In short, I fell in love with these people. How could I not write a novel of hope about them? 

Keith's book list on the life and history of Haiti

Keith Madsen Why did Keith love this book?

As I prepared to write my own novel on Haiti, I searched for a novel of merit already written as part of my preparation. I found this work of Madison Smartt Bell, which was nominated for the National Book Award. This author proved to be a master of the language. I admired his ability to bring Toussaint alive, as well as picturing the culture of the time, and the complexities of a war that changed history.  

By Madison Smartt Bell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Souls' Rising as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A serious historical novel that reads like a dream." --The Washington Post Book World

"One of the most spohisticated fictional treatments of the enduring themes of class, color, and freedom." --San Francisco Chronicle


This first installment of the epic Haitian trilogy brings to life a decisive moment in the history of race, class, and colonialism. The slave uprising in Haiti was a momentous contribution to the tide of revolution that swept over the Western world at the end of the 1700s. A brutal rebellion that strove to overturn a vicious system of slavery,…

Book cover of The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World

Alex Borucki Author Of From Shipmates to Soldiers: Emerging Black Identities in the Río de la Plata

From my list on Black history in Argentina and Uruguay.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the slave trade and slavery in the Rio de la Plata region (today’s Argentina and Uruguay) who then turned to the study of the traffic of captive Africans in the whole Spanish Americas. Yet, my love remains in the Rio de la Plata, what I call the “cold Caribbean.” Exciting books on the history of Africans and their descendants examine this region within the framework of Atlantic History, racial capitalism, gender, and the connections between twentieth-century Black culture and politics. As these recommendations are limited to English-language books, readers should note that much more has been published on this subject in Spanish and Portuguese.

Alex's book list on Black history in Argentina and Uruguay

Alex Borucki Why did Alex love this book?

Greg Grandin integrates the history of a slave rebellion in the vessel Tryal sailing from Valparaiso (Chile) to Lima (Peru) to the large narrative of how capitalism fueled slavery in the early nineteenth century. As the captives passed through the Rio de la Plata region on their way from Africa to Chile, Grandin weaves the history of the southern cone of South America in this story of deception. Herman Melville’s novel Benito Cereno (1855) popularized this slave rebellion, which allows Grandin to establish connections between the North and South Atlantic. Intriguingly, Grandin found another story of a shipboard slave rebellion on the vessel San Juan Nepomuceno, where captives made it back from Montevideo to Africa, which perhaps constitutes the most successful shipboard slave rebellion in the history of this horrific traffic. 

By Greg Grandin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One morning in 1805, off a remote island in the South Pacific, Captain Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, climbed aboard a distressed Spanish ship carrying scores of West Africans he thought were slaves. They weren't. Having earlier seized control of the vessel and slaughtered most of the crew, they were staging an elaborate ruse, acting as if they were humble servants. When Delano, an idealistic, anti-slavery republican, finally realized the deception, he responded with explosive violence. Drawing on research on four continents, The Empire of Necessity explores the multiple forces that culminated in this extraordinary event-an event that…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in slave rebellions, slaves, and liberty?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about slave rebellions, slaves, and liberty.

Slave Rebellions Explore 17 books about slave rebellions
Slaves Explore 102 books about slaves
Liberty Explore 55 books about liberty