100 books like Bills of Rights and Decolonization

By Charles Parkinson,

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

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Book cover of The Conservative Human Rights Revolution: European Identity, Transnational Politics, and the Origins of the European Convention

Nat Rubner Author Of The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights Volume 1: Political, Intellectual & Cultural Origins

From my list on the intelligent person’s guide to human rights.

Why am I passionate about this?

Following my PhD at King’s College, Cambridge I was invited by the School of History at Queen Mary, University of London to serve as an Honorary Research Fellow. This enabled me to focus fully on 15 years of research into previously untapped archives and interviews with more than twenty-five politicians and jurists active in the process of the African human rights charter. By coincidence, thirty-five years or so ago, in an earlier incarnation, I was also responsible for editing the first public debt prospectus for the African Development Bank in Abidjan.

Nat's book list on the intelligent person’s guide to human rights

Nat Rubner Why did Nat love this book?

An outstanding book that reinterprets the origins of the European human rights system.

His compelling analysis is supported, as one would hope, with an impressive range of archival research. It will surprise the modern reader as it stands in stark reproach to the widespread understanding of the European political project and human rights system as constructed on a liberal-minded ethical foundation. A real delight.

By Marco Duranti,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Conservative Human Rights Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The European Court of Human Rights has long held unparalleled sway over questions of human rights violations across continental Europe, Britain, and beyond. Both its supporters and detractors accept the common view that the European human rights system was originally devised as a means of containing communism and fascism after World War II.

In The Conservative Human Rights Revolution, Marco Duranti radically reinterprets the origins of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), arguing that conservatives conceived of the treaty not only as a Cold War measure, but also as a vehicle for pursuing a controversial domestic political agenda on…


Book cover of Human Rights and the End of Empire: Britain and the Genesis of the European Convention

Nat Rubner Author Of The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights Volume 1: Political, Intellectual & Cultural Origins

From my list on the intelligent person’s guide to human rights.

Why am I passionate about this?

Following my PhD at King’s College, Cambridge I was invited by the School of History at Queen Mary, University of London to serve as an Honorary Research Fellow. This enabled me to focus fully on 15 years of research into previously untapped archives and interviews with more than twenty-five politicians and jurists active in the process of the African human rights charter. By coincidence, thirty-five years or so ago, in an earlier incarnation, I was also responsible for editing the first public debt prospectus for the African Development Bank in Abidjan.

Nat's book list on the intelligent person’s guide to human rights

Nat Rubner Why did Nat love this book?

The most extensive narrative on the administrative and legal process that brought about the European Convention on Human Rights but with a primary focus on the perspective of the British Foreign Office and the Colonial Office. It therefore provides a useful complementary narrative to the essentially political and ideological narrative presented by Duranti. A tour de force.  

By A. W. Brian Simpson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Human Rights and the End of Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The European Convention on Human Rights, which came into force in 1953 after signature, in 1950, established the most effective system for the international protection of human rights which has yet conme into existence anywhere in the world. Since the collapse of communism it has come to be extended to the countries of central and eastern Europe, and some seven hundred million people now, at least in principle, live under its protection. It remains far and away the most significant achievement of the Council of Europe, which was established in 1949, and was the first product of the postwar movement…


Book cover of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Origins, Drafting, and Intent

Nat Rubner Author Of The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights Volume 1: Political, Intellectual & Cultural Origins

From my list on the intelligent person’s guide to human rights.

Why am I passionate about this?

Following my PhD at King’s College, Cambridge I was invited by the School of History at Queen Mary, University of London to serve as an Honorary Research Fellow. This enabled me to focus fully on 15 years of research into previously untapped archives and interviews with more than twenty-five politicians and jurists active in the process of the African human rights charter. By coincidence, thirty-five years or so ago, in an earlier incarnation, I was also responsible for editing the first public debt prospectus for the African Development Bank in Abidjan.

Nat's book list on the intelligent person’s guide to human rights

Nat Rubner Why did Nat love this book?

The author’s perspective on human rights and the process would not be something I would endorse, but it is, nonetheless, to date, the best book on the details of the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as it wound its way through the United Nations. 

By Johannes Morsink,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Book for 1999
Born of a shared revulsion against the horrors of the Holocaust, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has become the single most important statement of international ethics. It was inspired by and reflects the full scope of President Franklin Roosevelt's famous four freedoms: "the freedom of speech and expression, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear." Written by a UN commission led by Eleanor Roosevelt and adopted in 1948, the Declaration has become the moral backbone of more than two hundred human rights…


Book cover of The American Language of Rights

Nat Rubner Author Of The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights Volume 1: Political, Intellectual & Cultural Origins

From my list on the intelligent person’s guide to human rights.

Why am I passionate about this?

Following my PhD at King’s College, Cambridge I was invited by the School of History at Queen Mary, University of London to serve as an Honorary Research Fellow. This enabled me to focus fully on 15 years of research into previously untapped archives and interviews with more than twenty-five politicians and jurists active in the process of the African human rights charter. By coincidence, thirty-five years or so ago, in an earlier incarnation, I was also responsible for editing the first public debt prospectus for the African Development Bank in Abidjan.

Nat's book list on the intelligent person’s guide to human rights

Nat Rubner Why did Nat love this book?

A really interesting book that focuses on three periods in US history to demonstrate that conceptions of rights are determined by time and place.

That conceptions and uses of rights language are responses to specific political questions of the day, questions looking for a political answer, rather than, as human rights advocates are inclined to assume, a manifestation of a continuum of a single human rights tradition stretching back several thousand years.

By Richard A. Primus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Richard A. Primus examines three crucial periods in American history (the late eighteenth century, the civil war and the 1950s and 1960s) in order to demonstrate how the conceptions of rights prevailing at each of these times grew out of reactions to contemporary social and political crises. His innovative approach sees rights language as grounded more in opposition to concrete social and political practices, than in the universalistic paradigms presented by many political philosophers. This study demonstrates the potency of the language of rights throughout American history, and looks for the first time at the impact of modern totalitarianism (in…


Book cover of The Blood of the Colony: Wine and the Rise and Fall of French Algeria

Rod Phillips Author Of French Wine: A History

From my list on the history of wine.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been passionate about wine since I was a teenager in New Zealand and I now teach and write about it, judge in wine competitions, and travel the world to visit wine regions. I teach European history and the history of food and drink at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. As a wine historian, I spend weeks each year in archives, studying everything from changes in vineyard area and the weather in specific years to the taxation of wine and patterns of wine drinking. Currently, I’m working in several French archives for a book on wine in the French Revolution. It will be my ninth wine book.

Rod's book list on the history of wine

Rod Phillips Why did Rod love this book?

Owen White’s excellent book has given Algerian wine the place it deserves in the wine history of both Algeria and France. Wine production, introduced to Algeria by French settlers in the late 1800s, was an anomaly because the majority Muslim population of the colony did not drink. But it became essential to the French wine industry because it was commonly blended with the then-anemic wines of southern France to make wines with colour and strength. Even so, many French wine producers regarded Algeria as a rival and there was a constant tension between producers who needed Algerian wine and those who resented it. It was resolved when Algeria won independence from France and the wine industry there went into steep decline. 

By Owen White,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The surprising story of the wine industry's role in the rise of French Algeria and the fall of empire.

"We owe to wine a blessing far more precious than gold: the peopling of Algeria with Frenchmen," stated agriculturist Pierre Berthault in the early 1930s. In the last decades of the nineteenth century, Europeans had displaced Algerians from the colony's best agricultural land and planted grapevines. Soon enough, wine was the primary export of a region whose mostly Muslim inhabitants didn't drink alcohol.

Settlers made fortunes while drawing large numbers of Algerians into salaried work for the first time. But the…


Book cover of Colonizing Animals

Shira Shmuely Author Of The Bureaucracy of Empathy: Law, Vivisection, and Animal Pain in Late Nineteenth-Century Britain

From my list on getting familiar with multispecies history.

Why am I passionate about this?

My fascination and emotional connection with animals have been lifelong. However, it wasn't until my second year as an undergrad student that I realized that human-animal relationship could be examined from philosophical, historical, and anthropological perspectives. Over the past couple of decades, the conversations around the roles of non-human animals in diverse cultural, social, and material contexts have coalesced under the interdisciplinary field known as Animal Studies. I draw upon this literature and use my training in law and PhD in the history of science to explore the ties between knowledge and ethics in the context of animal law.  

Shira's book list on getting familiar with multispecies history

Shira Shmuely Why did Shira love this book?

The newest publication on my list, this book offers future directions for researching the history of human-animal relations. 

Arguing against the Eurocentrism of animal history, the book brings in multiple species into the historical inquiry of colonial Myanmar. Saha explores colonized people's interspecies relationships, with a particular emphasis on commodification processes.

I recommend the book to those who are interested not only in a captivating analysis, but also in a thought-provoking theoretical discussion about the intersection of animal studies and postcolonial scholarship.  

By Jonathan Saha,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Animals were vital to the British colonization of Myanmar. In this pathbreaking history of British imperialism in Myanmar from the early nineteenth century to 1942, Jonathan Saha argues that animals were impacted and transformed by colonial subjugation. By examining the writings of Burmese nationalists and the experiences of subaltern groups, he also shows how animals were mobilized by Burmese anticolonial activists in opposition to imperial rule. In demonstrating how animals - such as elephants, crocodiles, and rats - were important actors never fully under the control of humans, Saha uncovers a history of how British colonialism transformed ecologies and fostered…


Book cover of The Vandemonian War

Kristyn Harman Author Of Aboriginal Convicts: Australian, Khoisan and Maori Exiles

From my list on the Frontier Wars fought downunder.

Why am I passionate about this?

Kristyn Harman is an award-winning researcher who successfully completed doctoral research investigating the circumstances in which at least ninety Australian Aboriginal men were transported as convicts within the Australian colonies following their involvement in Australia’s frontier wars. She has published extensively on historical topics, and currently lectures in History at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia. Having lived in both countries, Kristyn is fascinated by the different understandings that New Zealanders and Australians have of their nation’s respective pasts. She is particularly intrigued, if not perturbed, by the way in which most New Zealanders acknowledge their nation’s frontier wars, while many Australians choose to deny the wars fought on their country’s soil.

Kristyn's book list on the Frontier Wars fought downunder

Kristyn Harman Why did Kristyn love this book?

Van Diemen’s Land is the former name for the island at the bottom of Australia now called Tasmania. The British who invaded the island changed the colony’s name after the place became infamous. Not only was it home to the British Empire’s most feared convict stations, but it also had a fearsome reputation as the location of one of the most brutal genocides in the Empire’s history. Nick Brodie draws on extensive, yet previously ignored, archival documents to refute the long-standing myth that the Vandemonian War was fought between hapless convict shepherds at the far reaches of the island colony and the island’s Aboriginal inhabitants. He demonstrates instead how this significant conflict was an orchestrated campaign in which the Lieutenant-Governor of the colony used military and para-military forces to prosecute his war against Aboriginal people. Ultimately, the British won the Vandemonian War and then purposefully covered up the military nature…

By Nick Brodie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Britain formally colonised Van Diemen's Land in the early years of the nineteenth century. Small convict stations grew into towns. Pastoralists moved in to the aboriginal hunting grounds. There was conflict, there was violence. But, governments and gentlemen succeeded in burying the real story of the Vandemonian War for nearly two centuries. The Vandemonian War had many sides and shades, but it was fundamentally a war between the British colony of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) and those Tribespeople who lived in political and social contradiction to that colony. In The Vandemonian War acclaimed history author Nick Brodie now exposes the…


Book cover of The Bonds of Family: Slavery, Commerce and Culture in the British Atlantic World

Nicholas Radburn Author Of Traders in Men: Merchants and the Transformation of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

From my list on how the Atlantic slave trade operated.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the Atlantic slave trade since 2007, when I first studied the business papers of a Liverpool merchant who had enslaved over a hundred thousand people. I was immediately struck by the coldness of the merchant’s accounts. I was also drawn to the ways in which the merchant’s profit-motivated decisions shaped the forced migrations and experiences of their victims. I have subsequently extended my research to examine slave traders across the vastness of the Atlantic World. I'm also interested in the ways that the slave trade’s history continues to shape the modern world, from the making of uneven patterns of global economic development to such diverse areas as the financing of popular music. 

Nicholas' book list on how the Atlantic slave trade operated

Nicholas Radburn Why did Nicholas love this book?

As I extended my research beyond British merchants to examine slave traders elsewhere in the Atlantic World, I noticed that there has been surprisingly little written on the men who sold Africans arriving aboard the ships in the Americas.

Katie Donington’s examination of the Hibberts, perhaps the largest slave-trading family in the British Americas, is, therefore, a must-read for anyone wanting to know who drove the traffic. By studying the different members of the Hibbert clan on either side of the Atlantic, Donington demonstrates the centrality of women, both free and enslaved, to slaving merchants’ businesses.

She also reveals the paradoxical ways in which familial connections between merchants were crucial to the smooth functioning of the slave trade—a business premised on sundering family ties between enslaved people. 

By Katie Donington,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Moving between Britain and Jamaica The bonds of family reconstructs the world of commerce, consumption and cultivation sustained through an extended engagement with the business of slavery. Transatlantic slavery was both shaping of and shaped by the dynamic networks of family that established Britain's Caribbean empire. Tracing the activities of a single extended family - the Hibberts - this book explores how slavery impacted on the social, cultural, economic and political landscape of Britain. It is a history of trade, colonisation, enrichment and the tangled web of relations that gave meaning to the transatlantic world. The Hibberts's trans-generational story imbricates…


Book cover of Reordering the World: Essays on Liberalism and Empire

Dillon S. Tatum Author Of Liberalism and Transformation: The Global Politics of Violence and Intervention

From my list on liberalism and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dillon Stone Tatum is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Francis Marion University. His research interests are on the history, development, and politics of liberal internationalism, international political theory, and critical security studies.

Dillon's book list on liberalism and politics

Dillon S. Tatum Why did Dillon love this book?

Duncan Bell’s collection of essays, Reordering the World, analyzes Victorian (and Victorian-adjacent) liberal imaginaries of empire and world politics. Of specific interest for Bell is the central place settler colonialism had in the constitution of liberal intellectual traditions, and the complex relationship between liberalism as an ideology and liberalism as part-and-parcel of the British empire. Of particular note in this collection are the essays in part I, which I have found to be indispensable in my own grappling with the contours of liberalism as a political and intellectual tradition.

By Duncan Bell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A leading scholar of British political thought explores the relationship between liberalism and empire

Reordering the World is a penetrating account of the complexity and contradictions found in liberal visions of empire. Focusing mainly on nineteenth-century Britain-at the time the largest empire in history and a key incubator of liberal political thought-Duncan Bell sheds new light on some of the most important themes in modern imperial ideology.

The book ranges widely across Victorian intellectual life and beyond. The opening essays explore the nature of liberalism, varieties of imperial ideology, the uses and abuses of ancient history, the imaginative functions of…


Book cover of The Hungry Empire: How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World

Troy Bickham Author Of Eating the Empire: Food and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain

From my list on food and empires in history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of History at Texas A&M University and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.  I teach and research broadly in the histories of Britain and its empire, North America, and the Atlantic world. I am the author of four books, including Making Headlines: The American Revolution as Seen through the British Press and The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire, and the War of 1812. I am especially fascinated with how imperialism shape colonizers’ cultures.

Troy's book list on food and empires in history

Troy Bickham Why did Troy love this book?

Collingham has written multiple books on food and the British Empire, and this one is my favorite. Stretching from 1545 to 1996, each of the twenty chapters selects a historical meal, dissecting its ingredients and manner of preparation in order to explore the imperial forces and experiences that created it. Painstakingly research, each chapter is a standalone history.

By Lizzie Collingham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*WINNER OF THE GUILD OF FOOD WRITERS BOOK AWARD 2018*

'This is a wholly pleasing book, which offers a tasty side dish to anyone exploring the narrative history of the British Empire', Max Hastings, Sunday Times

The glamorous daughter of an African chief shares a pineapple with a slave trader... Surveyors in British Columbia eat tinned Australian rabbit... Diamond prospectors in Guyana prepare an iguana curry...

In twenty meals The Hungry Empire tells the story of how the British created a global network of commerce and trade in foodstuffs that moved people and plants from one continent to another, re-shaping…


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