100 books like Counting the Dead

By Winifred Tate,

Here are 100 books that Counting the Dead fans have personally recommended if you like Counting the Dead. 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 Condor Trials: Transnational Repression and Human Rights in South America

Debbie Sharnak Author Of Of Light and Struggle: Social Justice, Human Rights, and Accountability in Uruguay

From my list on human rights in Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked at the International Center for Transitional Justice in 2009 when Uruguay held a second referendum to overturn the country’s amnesty law that protected the police and military from prosecution for human rights abuses during the country’s dictatorship. Despite the country’s stable democracy and progressive politics in the 21st century, citizens quite surprisingly rejected the opportunity to overturn the state-sanctioned impunity law. My interest in broader accountability efforts in the world and that seemingly shocking vote in Uruguay drove me to want to study the roots of that failed effort, ultimately compelling a broader investigation into how human rights culture in Uruguay evolved, particularly during and after its period of military rule. 

Debbie's book list on human rights in Latin America

Debbie Sharnak Why did Debbie love this book?

Operation Condor is the coordination that occurred between military governments across borders in South America during the Cold War to repress those suspected of being subversives. Some fled their home countries, only to be apprehended, tortured, and sometimes killed by a neighboring regime.

As difficult as it has been to try those involved in national crimes, it has been even more challenging to do so in these legally complex cases that span numerous jurisdictions. Lessa, however, has been following these accountability efforts for over a decade, and writes a fantastic book about these battles, shedding light on not only the events that occurred but also the struggle to document them and have accountability for victims. 

By Francesca Lessa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stories of transnational terror and justice illuminate the past and present of South America's struggles for human rights

Through the voices of survivors and witnesses, human rights activists, judicial actors, journalists, and historians, Francesca Lessa unravels the secrets of transnational repression masterminded by South American dictators between 1969 and 1981. Under Operation Condor, their violent and oppressive regimes kidnapped, tortured, and murdered hundreds of exiles, or forcibly returned them to the countries from which they had fled. South America became a zone of terror for those who were targeted, and of impunity for those who perpetuated the violence.

Lessa shows…


Book cover of Bread, Justice, and Liberty: Grassroots Activism and Human Rights in Pinochet's Chile

Debbie Sharnak Author Of Of Light and Struggle: Social Justice, Human Rights, and Accountability in Uruguay

From my list on human rights in Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked at the International Center for Transitional Justice in 2009 when Uruguay held a second referendum to overturn the country’s amnesty law that protected the police and military from prosecution for human rights abuses during the country’s dictatorship. Despite the country’s stable democracy and progressive politics in the 21st century, citizens quite surprisingly rejected the opportunity to overturn the state-sanctioned impunity law. My interest in broader accountability efforts in the world and that seemingly shocking vote in Uruguay drove me to want to study the roots of that failed effort, ultimately compelling a broader investigation into how human rights culture in Uruguay evolved, particularly during and after its period of military rule. 

Debbie's book list on human rights in Latin America

Debbie Sharnak Why did Debbie love this book?

So many books about the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile focus on the particularities of violence during that awful period in the country’s history.

Yet, Bread, Justice, and Liberty looks at a longer trajectory of the struggle for human rights in the country that focuses on socioeconomic justice that began long before the coup of September 11, 1973, and also continued much further afterward.

It is a beautifully written monograph that focuses on shantytown communities’ experiences and activism and expands our understanding of Chilean politics and human rights. 

By Alison Bruey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the SECOLAS Alfred B. Thomas Book Award
Named Best Social Science Book, LASA Southern Cone Studies Section

In Santiago, Chile, poverty and state violence have often led to grassroots resistance movements among the poor and working class. Alison J. Bruey offers a compelling history of the struggle for social justice and democracy during the Pinochet dictatorship. Deeply grounded by both extensive oral history interviews and archival research, Bread, Justice, and Liberty provides innovative contributions to scholarship on Chilean history, social movements, popular protest and democratization, neoliberal economics, and the Cold War in Latin America.


Book cover of In Search of the Lost Decade: Everyday Rights in Post-Dictatorship Argentina

Debbie Sharnak Author Of Of Light and Struggle: Social Justice, Human Rights, and Accountability in Uruguay

From my list on human rights in Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked at the International Center for Transitional Justice in 2009 when Uruguay held a second referendum to overturn the country’s amnesty law that protected the police and military from prosecution for human rights abuses during the country’s dictatorship. Despite the country’s stable democracy and progressive politics in the 21st century, citizens quite surprisingly rejected the opportunity to overturn the state-sanctioned impunity law. My interest in broader accountability efforts in the world and that seemingly shocking vote in Uruguay drove me to want to study the roots of that failed effort, ultimately compelling a broader investigation into how human rights culture in Uruguay evolved, particularly during and after its period of military rule. 

Debbie's book list on human rights in Latin America

Debbie Sharnak Why did Debbie love this book?

This book also centers on a post-dictatorship period, looking not only at accountability for the thousands that were killed or disappeared during Argentina’s military junta, but also at the struggle for social and economic rights amid an economic crisis in the 1980s.

Adair centers her book on the Raúl Alfonsín presidency to look at the various challenges he faced, and the demands that citizens placed on his government to ensure basic needs. The book is also imminently readable and filled with moving anecdotes about citizens’ struggles during this period. 

By Jennifer Adair,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Search of the Lost Decade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1983, following a military dictatorship that left thousands dead and disappeared and the economy in ruins, Raul Alfonsin was elected president of Argentina on the strength of his pledge to prosecute the armed forces for their crimes and restore a measure of material well-being to Argentine lives. Food, housing, and full employment became the litmus tests of the new democracy. In Search of the Lost Decade reconsiders Argentina's transition to democracy by examining the everyday meanings of rights and the lived experience of democratic return, far beyond the ballot box and corridors of power. Beginning with promises to eliminate…


Book cover of Principles in Power: Latin America and the Politics of U.S. Human Rights Diplomacy

Debbie Sharnak Author Of Of Light and Struggle: Social Justice, Human Rights, and Accountability in Uruguay

From my list on human rights in Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked at the International Center for Transitional Justice in 2009 when Uruguay held a second referendum to overturn the country’s amnesty law that protected the police and military from prosecution for human rights abuses during the country’s dictatorship. Despite the country’s stable democracy and progressive politics in the 21st century, citizens quite surprisingly rejected the opportunity to overturn the state-sanctioned impunity law. My interest in broader accountability efforts in the world and that seemingly shocking vote in Uruguay drove me to want to study the roots of that failed effort, ultimately compelling a broader investigation into how human rights culture in Uruguay evolved, particularly during and after its period of military rule. 

Debbie's book list on human rights in Latin America

Debbie Sharnak Why did Debbie love this book?

Jimmy Carter is so frequently praised for his focus on human rights, at the same time many lament its unfulfilled promises.

Walker’s book brilliantly analyzes the various influences on his human rights policy in Chile and Argentina, particularly how activists in the US and abroad interacted with US policymakers over how to influence the behavior of foreign governments inflicting massive human rights violations on its own people, while still grappling with Cold War concerns and national security demands.

The analysis ultimately extends to both the Ford and Reagan presidencies to paint a nuanced portrait of the various challenges of policymaking during the late Cold War. 

By Vanessa Walker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vanessa Walker's Principles in Power explores the relationship between policy makers and nongovernment advocates in Latin America and the United States government in order to explain the rise of anti-interventionist human rights policies uniquely critical of U.S. power during the Cold War. Walker shows that the new human rights policies of the 1970s were based on a complex dynamic of domestic and foreign considerations that was rife with tensions between the seats of power in the United States and Latin America, and the growing activist movement that sought to reform them.

By addressing the development of U.S. diplomacy and politics…


Book cover of In the First Circle: The First Uncensored Edition

Jonathan R. Rose Author Of After the Flames: A Burn Victim's Battle With Celebrity

From my list on showing uncomfortable truths.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always strived to speak out when surrounded by silence, whether in person through my own voice, or through the books I have written and had published. Not because I am heroic or noble, but because I am angered by suppressed truth, and I believe reality should be shown as it is, not as people believe it should be. That is why the books I chose are so important to me, because they fearlessly exposed the truths the respective authors were determined to show, risks be damned. I hope these books inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

Jonathan's book list on showing uncomfortable truths

Jonathan R. Rose Why did Jonathan love this book?

This book showed me in a way I’d never seen before what life was like for an imprisoned bureaucrat in Stalin-era Russia. The author proved to me that through undeniable detail and unflinching sincerity, you can show an unsettling reality that powerful authorities have worked tirelessly to conceal.

Found within the book’s pages are poignant anecdotes, lessons, and reflective moments that made me question the very concepts of what a person is capable of doing and enduring under extreme circumstances. I could not get the chapter “The Buddha’s Smile” out of my head, and I don’t think I ever will.

By Aleksandr I Solzhenitsyn, Harry Willets (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The thrilling Cold War masterwork by the Nobel Prize-winning author of The Gulag Archipelago, published in full for the first time.

"Solzhenitsyn's best novel. . . . A great and important book, whose qualities are finally fully available to English-speaking readers.” —Washington Post

Moscow, Christmas Eve, 1949.The Soviet secret police intercept a call made to the American embassy by a Russian diplomat who promises to deliver secrets about the nascent Soviet Atomic Bomb program. On that same day, a brilliant mathematician is locked away inside a Moscow prison that houses the country's brightest minds. He and his fellow prisoners are…


Book cover of Libya: The Rise and Fall of Qaddafi

Ronald Bruce St John Author Of Historical Dictionary of Libya

From my list on explaining the Libyan Quagmire.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first visited and worked in Libya in 1977. At the time, only a handful of books on Libya were available in English, and all of them were technical studies related to the petroleum industry. In an effort to better understand the political economy of this beautiful and intriguing state, I began to conduct my own field research. This research led to the publication in 1981 of two articles on Libya under the pseudonym of our two sons because it was dangerous for anyone to publish critical analysis of the Qaddafi regime. I remain fascinated with Libya, and over time, I have published five books and well over 100 articles and reviews on Libya.

Ronald's book list on explaining the Libyan Quagmire

Ronald Bruce St John Why did Ronald love this book?

Alison Pargeter is a leading member of the new generation of Western scholars focused on North Africa and the Middle East in general and Libya in particular.

An Arabist, she draws on original research and field interviews to offer fresh perspectives and nuanced views not found elsewhere. Libya: The Rise and Fall of Qaddafi is an account of the Qaddafi regime from its creation in September 1969 until the death of Qaddafi in October 2011.

Throughout the book, Pargeter disentangles involved, complicated issues and events and explores them in lucid, engaging, and approachable prose.

She concludes her excellent book with a few thoughts on the legacy of the Qaddafi regime, remarks some reviewers found unduly pessimistic.

Unfortunately, the concerns she expressed in her concluding chapter have been largely borne out in the post-Qaddafi era.

By Alison Pargeter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The entire story of Qaddafi's corrupt and repressive regime, the details of its downfall, and what Libya's future may hold in store

For a reader unfamiliar with the history of Libya, Muammar Qaddafi might be mistaken for a character in fiction. His eccentric leadership as the nation's "Brother Leader," his repressive regime, sponsorship of terrorist violence, unique vision of the state, and relentless hold on power all seem implausibly extreme. This riveting book documents the extraordinary reality of Qaddafi's rise and 42-year reign. It also explores the tenacious popular uprising that finally defeated him and the possibilities for Libya as…


Book cover of Latin American Politics and Society: A Comparative and Historical Analysis

Joe Foweraker Author Of Polity: Demystifying Democracy in Latin America and Beyond

From my list on democracy in Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Latin America as I meandered around Mexico in the summer of 1969. The passion has never died. Within a year I walked into Brazil’s ‘wild west’ to research the violence along its moving frontier, while over fifty years later I am an emeritus professor of Latin American politics at the University of Oxford and an honorary professor at the University of Exeter. An early decision to look at politics from the ‘bottom up’ led to a life-long inquiry into the theory and practice of democracy, and the publication of many essays and books that are available to view on my Amazon author page.

Joe's book list on democracy in Latin America

Joe Foweraker Why did Joe love this book?

This is the most up-to-date and comprehensive account of the politics of Latin America and delivers a scintillating analysis of its democratic systems of government. It is written by two of the most dynamic and original scholars working in Latin America today, who are working here to a set of rigorous analytical standards. Their argument is supported and extended by numerous links to primary and secondary written materials, as well as photo and video archives. The argument is both lucid and accessible.

By Gerardo L. Munck, Juan Pablo Luna,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Latin American Politics and Society as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Taking a fresh thematic approach to politics and society in Latin America, this introductory textbook analyzes the region's past and present in an accessible and engaging style well-suited to undergraduate students. The book provides historical insights into modern states and critical issues they are facing, with insightful analyses that are supported by empirical data, maps and timelines. Drawing upon cutting-edge research, the text considers critical topics relevant to all countries within the region such as the expansion of democracy and citizenship rights and responses to human rights abuses, corruption, and violence. Each richly illustrated chapter contains a compelling and cohesive…


Book cover of The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression

Jasper Becker Author Of Made in China: Wuhan, Covid and the Quest for Biotech Supremacy

From my list on understanding the history of communism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jasper Becker is a foreign correspondent who spent decades reporting on China and the Far East. His the author of numerous books including Hungry Ghosts – Mao’s Secret Famine, Rogue Regime – Kim Jong Il and the looming threat of North Korea, City of Heavenly Tranquillity, and most recently Made in China – Wuhan, COVID and the Quest for Biotech Supremacy.

Jasper's book list on understanding the history of communism

Jasper Becker Why did Jasper love this book?

This was the first real effort to bring together a picture of the whole story of the global Communist movement and the many famines it created. It covers the whole-scale of the misery in regimes in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, Russia, India, China, and southeast Asia. It’s a lot of ground to cover but the narrative does not flag. Although the opening of the archives had produced more information, this is still a very impressive book however sobering it might be.

By Stéphane Courtois, Nicolas Werth, Jean-Louis Panné , Andrzej Paczkowski , Karel Bartosek , Jean-Louis Margolin

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Already famous throughout Europe, this international bestseller plumbs recently opened archives in the former Soviet bloc to reveal the actual, practical accomplishments of Communism around the world: terror, torture, famine, mass deportations, and massacres. Astonishing in the sheer detail it amasses, the book is the first comprehensive attempt to catalogue and analyze the crimes of Communism over seventy years.

"Revolutions, like trees, must be judged by their fruit," Ignazio Silone wrote, and this is the standard the authors apply to the Communist experience-in the China of "the Great Helmsman," Kim Il Sung's Korea, Vietnam under "Uncle Ho" and Cuba under…


Book cover of Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and Its Threat to Democracy

Zachary M. Schrag Author Of The Fires of Philadelphia: Citizen-Soldiers, Nativists, and the 1844 Riots Over the Soul of a Nation

From my list on mob violence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fortunate not to have witnessed any major riots myself; the worst I’ve endured was a 1993 street fight in Moscow between parading Communists and the police, with bricks on one side and clubs and water cannon on the other. But even a relatively gentle protest march that draws a police response can be an astonishing spectacle, transforming a familiar, modern city into a medieval battlefield of massed crowds confronting armored men on horseback. And I am fascinated by the place of crowd actions in democratic societies. The right to assemble is embedded in our constitution, but there’s a fine line between public expression and mob rule.

Zachary's book list on mob violence

Zachary M. Schrag Why did Zachary love this book?

Unscrupulous leaders often stir up mob violence in service to their own ambitions, taking offense at slights that they could choose to shrug off. George charges such groups as the Bharatiya Janata Party in India, the Front Pembela Islam in Indonesia, and ACT! for America in the United States with pursuing power, money, and attention by shrieking that a blasphemous cartoon, a multicultural textbook, or a new house of worship threatens the dominant religion. “Explosions of righteous indignation and incitement are more than the hysteria of mad mullahs and enraged mobs,” argues George. He reminds us to look past the young men throwing rocks and find the movement leaders who stand to gain.

By Cherian George,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How right-wing political entrepreneurs around the world use religious offense—both given and taken—to mobilize supporters and marginalize opponents.

In the United States, elements of the religious right fuel fears of an existential Islamic threat, spreading anti-Muslim rhetoric into mainstream politics. In Indonesia, Muslim absolutists urge suppression of churches and minority sects, fostering a climate of rising intolerance. In India, Narendra Modi's radical supporters instigate communal riots and academic censorship in pursuit of their Hindu nationalist vision. Outbreaks of religious intolerance are usually assumed to be visceral and spontaneous. But in Hate Spin, Cherian George shows that they often involve sophisticated…


Book cover of The Temple of Memories: History, Power, and Morality in a Chinese Village

Alexander F. Robertson Author Of Mieres Reborn: The Reinvention of a Catalan Community

From my list on village lives as keys to history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Working as a social anthropologist in Uganda, Ghana, Malaysia, and Catalonia, I became fascinated by villages as microcosms of broader social change, places where history can be observed in the making through the lives and histories of families and of their members. Villages are anything but ‘natural’ communities or social backwaters. They survive (or perish) because people, beliefs, and goods are continually moving in and out. Village lives are certainly shaped by state and society, but the impact goes both ways. Each of my selected books tells a gripping and distinctive story of villagers grappling with social and cultural tension, the forces of change, and the challenges of survival.

Alexander's book list on village lives as keys to history

Alexander F. Robertson Why did Alexander love this book?

On a cold winter night in 1960 the families of Dachuan village were forced out of their homes to make way for the waters of a huge new dam. Some managed to retrieve a few bones from the family graves to take to their new homes. But the ancestral temple that had been at the heart of village life and identity for centuries was lost to the rising waters. 

For decades Maoist policy suppressed all religious expression in China, but the reforms of the 1980s saw many forms of religious revival, including the triumphant reconstruction of Dachuan’s Confucius temple, its rituals, ethics, and ancestral spirit tablets. 

Jing’s book is an outstanding study of social memory, its powers of resistance to crisis and oppression, and its mobilization as a resource to rebuild community and history. A unique window onto the travails of modern China, it also invites us to reflect on…

By Jun Jing,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This study focuses on the politics of memory in the village of Dachuan in northwest China, in which 85 percent of the villagers are surnamed Kong and believe themselves to be descendants of Confucius. It recounts both how this proud community was subjected to intense suffering during the Maoist era, culminating in its forcible resettlement in December 1960 to make way for the construction of a major hydroelectric dam, and how the village eventually sought recovery through the commemoration of that suffering and the revival of a redefined religion.

Before 1949, the Kongs had dominated their area because of their…


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