75 books like Children of the Drug Trade

By Luke Dowdney,

Here are 75 books that Children of the Drug Trade fans have personally recommended if you like Children of the Drug Trade. 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 Laughter Out of Place: Race, Class, Violence, and Sexuality in a Rio Shantytown

Robert Gay Author Of Bruno: Conversations with a Brazilian Drug Dealer

From my list on the drugs and violence in Brazil.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was twelve, my family moved to Brazil for a year because of my father’s work. I’ve been fascinated by the country and it has been always been the focal point of my research. Initially, my focus was how neighborhood associations in Rio’s favelas took advantage of new political opportunities during the transition to democracy in the mid-1980s. By the mid-1990s, however, the neighborhoods had all been occupied by heavily armed and occasionally violent drug gangs. Since then, I've tried to figure out the dynamics of this process, from the involved actors’ points of view. Including the voices of participants in drug gang life and those, like Bruno, who bring drugs to market.

Robert's book list on the drugs and violence in Brazil

Robert Gay Why did Robert love this book?

If you want to get a taste of what life is like in a Rio favela, then this is the book for you. Based on years of meticulous fieldwork, Goldstein documents the hardships endured by a woman she befriended who works as a maid for a wealthy family in the city. More importantly, however, Goldstein’s book describes in detail how life in a Rio favela changed as violence associated with the drug trade overwhelms the community. When she began her fieldwork, in the early 1990s, Rio was enjoying a period of relative calm. By the end of the 90s, however, Goldstein could no longer risk visiting her friends for fear of her own personal safety. 

By Donna M. Goldstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Donna M. Goldstein presents a hard-hitting critique of urban poverty and violence and challenges much of what we think we know about the "culture of poverty" in this compelling read. Drawing on more than a decade of experience in Brazil, Goldstein provides an intimate portrait of everyday life among the women of the favelas, or urban shantytowns in Rio de Janeiro, who cope with unbearable suffering, violence and social abandonment. The book offers a clear-eyed view of socially conditioned misery while focusing on the creative responses - absurdist and black humor - that people generate amid daily conditions of humiliation,…


Book cover of The Killing Consensus: Police, Organized Crime, and the Regulation of Life and Death in Urban Brazil

Robert Gay Author Of Bruno: Conversations with a Brazilian Drug Dealer

From my list on the drugs and violence in Brazil.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was twelve, my family moved to Brazil for a year because of my father’s work. I’ve been fascinated by the country and it has been always been the focal point of my research. Initially, my focus was how neighborhood associations in Rio’s favelas took advantage of new political opportunities during the transition to democracy in the mid-1980s. By the mid-1990s, however, the neighborhoods had all been occupied by heavily armed and occasionally violent drug gangs. Since then, I've tried to figure out the dynamics of this process, from the involved actors’ points of view. Including the voices of participants in drug gang life and those, like Bruno, who bring drugs to market.

Robert's book list on the drugs and violence in Brazil

Robert Gay Why did Robert love this book?

This tremendous little book is about who has the right to discipline and kill. In an ideal world, the author argues, this right is monopolized by territorial entities we know as states. This is not the case in Brazil, however. In Brazil, or rather in metropolitan São Paulo, the right to discipline and kill is shared—hence the book’s title—between the various agents of the public security state and an extremely well-organized and powerful criminal faction known as the Primeiro Comando do Capital or PCC.

By Graham Denyer Willis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We hold many assumptions about police work that it is the responsibility of the state, or that police officers are given the right to kill in the name of public safety or self-defense. But in The Killing Consensus, Graham Denyer Willis shows how in Sao Paulo, Brazil, killing and the arbitration of normal killing in the name of social order are actually conducted by two groups the police and organized crime both operating according to parallel logics of murder. Based on three years of ethnographic fieldwork, Willis' book traces how homicide detectives categorize two types of killing: the first resulting…


Book cover of Rio de Janeiro: Extreme City

Robert Gay Author Of Bruno: Conversations with a Brazilian Drug Dealer

From my list on the drugs and violence in Brazil.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was twelve, my family moved to Brazil for a year because of my father’s work. I’ve been fascinated by the country and it has been always been the focal point of my research. Initially, my focus was how neighborhood associations in Rio’s favelas took advantage of new political opportunities during the transition to democracy in the mid-1980s. By the mid-1990s, however, the neighborhoods had all been occupied by heavily armed and occasionally violent drug gangs. Since then, I've tried to figure out the dynamics of this process, from the involved actors’ points of view. Including the voices of participants in drug gang life and those, like Bruno, who bring drugs to market.

Robert's book list on the drugs and violence in Brazil

Robert Gay Why did Robert love this book?

Luiz Eduardo Soares is a Brazilian anthropologist who served as the Coordinator of Public Safety in Rio de Janeiro in 1999 and the National Secretary of Public Security in 2003. As a consequence, he has a unique and very personal take on the relationship between poverty, drugs, and violence, and drugs at the local and country level. This book offers the reader a series of engaging essays on Soares’ experiences in office, revealing the near impossibility of reforming the system in the face of endemic corruption and a culture of violence in the public sphere. It is a great read!

By Luiz Eduardo Soares,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A book as rich and sprawling as the seductive metropolis it evokes, Rio de Janeiro builds a kaleidoscopic portrait of this city of extremes, and its history of conflict and corruption. Award-winning novelist, ex-government minister and sociologist Luiz Eduardo Soares tells the story of Rio through the everyday lives of its people: gangsters and police, activists, politicians and struggling migrant workers, each with their own version of the city. Taking us on a journey into Rio's intricate world of favelas, beaches and corridors of power, Soares reveals one of the most extraordinary cities in the world in all its seething,…


Book cover of Drugs and Democracy in Rio de Janeiro: Trafficking, Social Networks, and Public Security

Robert Gay Author Of Bruno: Conversations with a Brazilian Drug Dealer

From my list on the drugs and violence in Brazil.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was twelve, my family moved to Brazil for a year because of my father’s work. I’ve been fascinated by the country and it has been always been the focal point of my research. Initially, my focus was how neighborhood associations in Rio’s favelas took advantage of new political opportunities during the transition to democracy in the mid-1980s. By the mid-1990s, however, the neighborhoods had all been occupied by heavily armed and occasionally violent drug gangs. Since then, I've tried to figure out the dynamics of this process, from the involved actors’ points of view. Including the voices of participants in drug gang life and those, like Bruno, who bring drugs to market.

Robert's book list on the drugs and violence in Brazil

Robert Gay Why did Robert love this book?

Arias’ book is the product of nine years of intensive ethnographic research in three favelas (shanty towns) of Rio de Janeiro. This enables him to assess how local community leaders deal with the parallel power of drug gangs that become entrenched in their neighborhoods. Unable to rely on the police, who are violent and corrupt, community leaders are forced to find ways to coexist with actors who represent a substantial financial and military threat to their authority. In terms of methodology, this is a really impressive piece of research!

By Enrique Desmond Arias,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Drugs and Democracy in Rio de Janeiro as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Taking an ethnographic approach to understanding urban violence, Enrique Desmond Arias examines the ongoing problems of crime and police corruption that have led to widespread misery and human rights violations in many of Latin America's new democracies. Employing participant observation and interview research in three favelas (shantytowns) in ""Rio de Janeiro"" over a nine-year period, Arias closely considers the social interactions and criminal networks that are at the heart of the challenges to democratic governance in urban Brazil. Much of the violence is the result of highly organized, politically connected drug dealers feeding off of the global cocaine market. Rising…


Book cover of From My Window

Laura Resau Author Of Stand as Tall as the Trees: How an Amazonian Community Protected the Rain Forest

From my list on children’s pictures set in South America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I feel passionate about spreading the word about all the fantastic children’s literature set in South America. As an author and a multilingual mom whose son enjoys learning about his Latin American heritage, I’ve always brought home stacks of picture books—in Spanish and English—that celebrate Latin American cultures and settings. I’ve loved traveling to the Andes mountains and the Amazon rain forest as part of my children’s book collaborations with Indigenous women in those regions. Most of all, I love transporting young readers to these inspiring places through story.

Laura's book list on children’s pictures set in South America

Laura Resau Why did Laura love this book?

The vibrant, colorful cut-out style mosaic artwork first caught my eye—it creates a jubilant sensory experience.

In poignant observations, the author recounts what he saw as a boy from his window, in his favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Although favelas might have problems with lack of services and violence, this story is a celebration of the creative spirit of the favela, where Brazilian funk was born, and where future soccer super-stars hone their skills.

This is a poignant glimpse into the poetry of people’s lives in the favela, and it captivated me completely.

By Otavio Junior, Vanina Starkoff (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From My Window as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

What do you see from your window? This #OwnVoices picture book from Brazil offers a first-hand view of what children growing up in the favelas of Rio de Janiero see everyday. A vibrant and diverse celebration of urban community living, brought to life by unique, colorful illustrations that juxtapose brick buildings with lush jungle plants.


Book cover of Ways to Disappear

Glen Hirshberg Author Of Infinity Dreams

From my list on loners whose passions lure them to other people.

Why am I passionate about this?

All my life, I’ve been fascinated by interest-driven people and the subcultures they discover or form around themselves. Though my writing ranges from mainstream literary work to music criticism to speculative fiction in many different flavors, I’m best known for what one longtime reader referred to as my “oddly personable brand of horror.” Call them people-and-their-ghosts stories. I’ve written six novels and four collections, which have earned me the Shirley Jackson and International Horror Guild Awards, among other honors. I’ve also taught writing at the graduate, university, and secondary level for more than 25 years.

Glen's book list on loners whose passions lure them to other people

Glen Hirshberg Why did Glen love this book?

Emma, the bored and restless translator into English of the works of a reclusive, once-celebrated Brazilian author, learns that the author has disappeared. On impulse, and uninvited, Emma ducks out of her Pittsburgh life and a relationship she has tired of, jets off to Brazil, and insinuates herself into the ongoing investigation into what has happened. Less a detective story than a constantly unfolding act of decoding—like Helene Hanff, Emma seems to have an easier time coaxing layered meaning out of words than interpreting gestures or interactions with actual people—Ways to Disappear is packed with doubts about humanity but soul-deep love of books, Brazil, and the process of translation. (Novey herself has translated the brilliant and enigmatic Clarice Lispector.) This being 21st Century American lit, the relationships that form feel less stable, healthy, and sustainable. And yet, in indulging her fascination with the mysteries of other places…

By Idra Novey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Sami Rohr Prize in Fiction

Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction

NPR Best Book of 2016
Buzzfeed Best Debut of 2016
BUST Magazine Best Book of 2016

Winner of the 2016 Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize for Fiction

New York Times Editors' Choice

2016 Barnes & Noble Discover selection

"An elegant page-turner....Charges forward with the momentum of a bullet." --New York Times Book Review

For fans of Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette, an inventive, brilliant debut novel about the disappearance of a famous Brazilian novelist…


Book cover of The Seven Sisters

Barbara Josselsohn Author Of Secrets of the Italian Island

From my list on set on an intriguing island or coastline.

Why am I passionate about this?

A native of New York’s Long Island, I’ve always been obsessed with the shoreline. My best early memories are of traveling with my family to the eastern edge of Long Island for our two-week summer vacation. My parents didn’t earn a lot of money, and we didn’t vacation often, so those two weeks in August were heavenly. As an adult, I gravitate to coastlines and islands. I’ve always been a fan of books with a strong sense of place, especially when that place is the shore. And I loved setting my current book on an island in the Mediterranean, delving into the qualities and characteristics that make a coastline so evocative and so appealing. 

Barbara's book list on set on an intriguing island or coastline

Barbara Josselsohn Why did Barbara love this book?

Lucinda Riley had me before I even opened this book, as I loved the concept: Maia and her sisters, each adopted separately as babies by their enigmatic billionaire father, return upon his death to their childhood home: a castle on the coast of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva.

There, they discover that their father left clues about each sister’s origins. Maia, the eldest, an introverted beauty in her early thirties, learns that her roots are in Brazil, so she sets out to discover more.

I love this novel for its exotic locations, complicated mysteries, star-crossed lovers, and main character who finds her true self by searching her past.

The book is chock full of romance, passion, and history – my favorite ingredients! No surprise, I’m making my way through the whole eight-book series!

By Lucinda Riley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Seven Sisters is a sweeping epic tale of love and loss by the international number one bestseller Lucinda Riley.

Maia D'Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home - a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva - having been told that their beloved adoptive father, the elusive billionaire they call Pa Salt, has died.

Each of them is handed a tantalising clue to their true heritage - a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil . . .

Eighty years earlier, in…


Book cover of The Myth of Marginality: Urban Poverty and Politics in Rio De Janeiro

Aili Mari Tripp Author Of Changing the Rules: The Politics of Liberalization and the Urban Informal Economy in Tanzania

From my list on the economy as if people mattered.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Tanzania, where I discovered the importance of learning first-hand from ordinary people about their lives by accompanying my mother, who was an anthropologist, when she carried out participant observation among coastal people. Much later in my own research, I could see how essential it was to interact with people face-to-face and learn about their aspirations, joys, fears, daily struggles, and creative ways of coping with the challenges of an economy in free fall. I learned to look beyond the “economic data” to more fully appreciate the humanity of the people involved. All of these books I selected are by people who learned about the real urban economy in this way.

Aili's book list on the economy as if people mattered

Aili Mari Tripp Why did Aili love this book?

Drawing on her first-hand experience of living in a shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Perlman powerfully upends many existing myths about the urban poor as marginal in this classic work.

This book, which inspired me to look beyond the economic models at how people actually live, shows how shantytown dwellers are integrated into society, but in a way that exploits and oppresses them economically and politically.

They are not socially and culturally marginal, but rather they are stigmatized and excluded from a closed social system that is radically unequal.

They are socially well-organized and cohesive; they aspire to educate their children and improve the quality of their homes; they work hard and take pride in a job well done. They are aware of and involved in those aspects of politics that affect their lives. 

By Janice Perlman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

myth of urban poverty .....


Book cover of Neymar: From the Playground to the Pitch

Madelaine Healey

From my list on sport for 8-12 year olds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an expat Australian freelance writer living in Silicon Valley, and also the mother of two boys aged ten and seven. My boys are avid readers and it is an accepted rule that no one in our family speaks at breakfast. I have a bad habit of reading books over their shoulders, but my boys are still willing helpers on some current writing projects on kids’ fiction and circumnavigating the horribly sad “decline at nine”. I also have a PhD in South Asian Studies and have worked in commercial research and marketing.

Madelaine's book list on sport for 8-12 year olds

Madelaine Healey Why did Madelaine love this book?

This isn’t one you’ll enjoy reading over your kid’s shoulder unless you truly are a diehard soccer fan. Matt and Tom Oldfield’s series of soccer-star bios are comfort food for tween fans - a bland, seemingly never-ending diet of rags to riches stories to inspire every kid with dreams of the Premier League. The prose is undemanding: “With his mohawk dyed red this time, Neymar Jr walked onto the stage. He couldn’t believe what was happening. His goal had beaten brilliant strikes by Wayne Rooney and Lionel Messi”. The story unfolds with a happy triumphalism: Neymar is spotted as a deft-footed child prodigy, he is scouted to the heights of Barcelona, he overcomes injuries, he puts the team first, he is a mega-star who does noble things for Brazil. If you’re not a soccer person, the Oldfields’ books on Lionel Messi, Harry Kane and Paul Pogba don’t read very differently.…

By Tom Oldfield, Matt Oldfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Neymar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

The No.1 football series - over 1 million copies sold!

'As Neymar Jr made the long walk to the penalty spot, he knew this was his chance, the one that he had dreamed of since the age of three. If he scored, Brazil would be Olympic Champions for the first time ever.'

Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is the boy who carries the hopes of Brazil on his shoulders. Although he now faces a new challenge at Paris Saint-Germain, it was his years playing for Barcelona, in a fearsome attacking trident alongside Messi and Suarez, that made him a legend…


Book cover of Crafting the Third World: Theorizing Underdevelopment in Rumania and Brazil

Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak Author Of The Political Economy of Latin American Independence

From my list on the history of political economy in Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Brazilian economist working in Paris and dedicated to historical scholarship. I have always been deeply impressed by the political weight carried by economic arguments across Latin America. Debates on economic policy are typically contentious everywhere, but in Latin America, your alignment with different traditions of political economy can go a long way to determine your intellectual and political identity. At the same time, our condition as peripheral societies – and hence net importers of ideas from abroad – raises perennial questions about the meaning of a truly Latin American political economy. I hope this list will be a useful entry point for people similarly interested in these problems.

Carlos' book list on the history of political economy in Latin America

Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak Why did Carlos love this book?

In this classic and pioneering study, Joseph Love traces how ideas about underdevelopment travelled from interwar Rumania to postwar Brazil, two peripheral regions united in their disenchantment with the promises of economic liberalism.

Household names like Mihail Manoilescu, Raúl Prebisch, and Celso Furtado come across as heirs to a long intellectual tradition connecting Russian Narodnik populism to Latin American dependency theory a century later.

These disparate historical actors were brought together by a shared concern with the obstacles to development posed by a world of structural economic and geopolitical inequalities, thus shining a spotlight on the conflicting interests between the West and the Rest.

By Joseph L. Love,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This innovative study compares the history of economic ideas and ideologies in Rumania and Brazil-and more broadly, those in East Central Europe and Latin America-in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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