100 books like Degrees of Equality

By John Frederick Bell,

Here are 100 books that Degrees of Equality fans have personally recommended if you like Degrees of Equality. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

Kathleen DuVal Author Of Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution

From my list on the American Revolution beyond the Founding Fathers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professional historian and life-long lover of early American history. My fascination with the American Revolution began during the bicentennial in 1976, when my family traveled across the country for celebrations in Williamsburg and Philadelphia. That history, though, seemed disconnected to the place I grew up—Arkansas—so when I went to graduate school in history, I researched in French and Spanish archives to learn about their eighteenth-century interactions with Arkansas’s Native nations, the Osages and Quapaws. Now I teach early American history and Native American history at UNC-Chapel Hill and have written several books on how Native American, European, and African people interacted across North America.

Kathleen's book list on the American Revolution beyond the Founding Fathers

Kathleen DuVal Why did Kathleen love this book?

Annette Gordon-Reed’s book introduces readers to the enslaved family of a Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson.

What I love about this book is that it upends the traditional picture of Jefferson while neither vilifying nor excusing him. It’s a full picture of a complicated man and the fascinating people who were part of his life. After all, the historian’s task is not to make heroes or villains but to show the full complexity of human beings.

At the center of the story is Sally Hemings, the half-sister of Jefferson’s wife and the mother of some of Jefferson’s children. The book also shows how a careful historian can interpret and evaluate different kinds of evidence, including documents, oral history, and DNA.

By Annette Gordon-Reed,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Hemingses of Monticello as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This epic work-named a best book of the year by the Washington Post, Time, the Los Angeles Times, Amazon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a notable book by the New York Times-tells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently. Now, historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family's dispersal after Jefferson's death in 1826.


Book cover of Illusions of Emancipation: The Pursuit of Freedom and Equality in the Twilight of Slavery

Frank J. Cirillo Author Of The Abolitionist Civil War: Immediatists and the Struggle to Transform the Union

From my list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent many a night growing up glued to the television, watching Ken Burns’ Civil War. But as I got older, I found my interests stretching beyond the battles and melancholic music on the screen. I decided to become a historian of abolitionism–the radical reform movement that fought to end the evils of slavery and racial prejudice. Through my research, I seek to explain the substantial influence of the abolitionist movement as well as its significant limitations. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 2017, and have since held positions at such institutions as The New School, the University of Bonn, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Frank's book list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America

Frank J. Cirillo Why did Frank love this book?

Reidy's book is an elegant and engaging read, but it is not an easy one.

It illustrates how the process of emancipation actually played out on the ground after Abraham Lincoln issued his famed Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. It takes us away from the marble edifices of Civil War Washington and into the dirt, showing us how messy the process of implementing freedom truly was.

It does so, moreover, by centering our attention on the actual men and women fighting for their own freedom. Reidy offers us historians a seminal reminder: change is not made solely from on high.

By Joseph P. Reidy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Illusions of Emancipation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As students of the Civil War have long known, emancipation was not merely a product of Lincoln's proclamation or of Confederate defeat in April 1865. It was a process that required more than legal or military action. With enslaved people fully engaged as actors, emancipation necessitated a fundamental reordering of a way of life whose implications stretched well beyond the former slave states. Slavery did not die quietly or quickly, nor did freedom fulfill every dream of the enslaved or their allies. The process unfolded unevenly.

In this sweeping reappraisal of slavery's end during the Civil War era, Joseph P.…


Book cover of Freedom's Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers

Frank J. Cirillo Author Of The Abolitionist Civil War: Immediatists and the Struggle to Transform the Union

From my list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent many a night growing up glued to the television, watching Ken Burns’ Civil War. But as I got older, I found my interests stretching beyond the battles and melancholic music on the screen. I decided to become a historian of abolitionism–the radical reform movement that fought to end the evils of slavery and racial prejudice. Through my research, I seek to explain the substantial influence of the abolitionist movement as well as its significant limitations. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 2017, and have since held positions at such institutions as The New School, the University of Bonn, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Frank's book list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America

Frank J. Cirillo Why did Frank love this book?

Newman's work opened my eyes to a remarkable man I had previously known little about: Bishop Richard Allen, the founder and leader of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Born into slavery, Allen freed himself and dedicated his life to a singular cause: providing enslaved African Americans a safe space where they would be treated as dignified human beings rather than property. His AME Church changed the course of African American history.

Newman demonstrates how Allen was also a forceful abolitionist whose invocations of patriotism to win over white Americans proved a lasting influence on the cause. Quite simply, it is a wonderful biography.

By Richard S. Newman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gold Winner of the 2008 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award, Biography Category
Brings to life the inspiring story of one of America's Black Founding Fathers, featured in the forthcoming documentary The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song
Freedom's Prophet is a long-overdue biography of Richard Allen, founder of the first major African American church and the leading black activist of the early American republic. A tireless minister, abolitionist, and reformer, Allen inaugurated some of the most important institutions in African American history and influenced nearly every black leader of the nineteenth century, from Douglass…


Book cover of Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence

Frank J. Cirillo Author Of The Abolitionist Civil War: Immediatists and the Struggle to Transform the Union

From my list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent many a night growing up glued to the television, watching Ken Burns’ Civil War. But as I got older, I found my interests stretching beyond the battles and melancholic music on the screen. I decided to become a historian of abolitionism–the radical reform movement that fought to end the evils of slavery and racial prejudice. Through my research, I seek to explain the substantial influence of the abolitionist movement as well as its significant limitations. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 2017, and have since held positions at such institutions as The New School, the University of Bonn, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Frank's book list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America

Frank J. Cirillo Why did Frank love this book?

This book demonstrates a point that I always try to make to students: the antislavery movement was much more than mass meetings and heroic escapes along the Underground Railroad.

It was far more complex–and, at times, far more violent. Many Black activists in the years before the Civil War turned to the tactics of violence to try and shake a complacent nation into action. They did so in desperation, and only with much anguish–and much controversy.

Jackson's book gets deep into the weeds of how the struggle for antislavery progress actually worked. 

By Kellie Carter Jackson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From its origins in the 1750s, the white-led American abolitionist movement adhered to principles of "moral suasion" and nonviolent resistance as both religious tenet and political strategy. But by the 1850s, the population of enslaved Americans had increased exponentially, and such legislative efforts as the Fugitive Slave Act and the Supreme Court's 1857 ruling in the Dred Scott case effectively voided any rights black Americans held as enslaved or free people. As conditions deteriorated for African Americans, black abolitionist leaders embraced violence as the only means of shocking Northerners out of their apathy and instigating an antislavery war.
In Force…


Book cover of Beyond Retention: Cultivating Spaces of Equity, Justice, and Fairness for Women of Color in U.S. Higher Education

Marilyn K. Easter Author Of Resilience: Bravery in the Face of Racism, Corruption, and Privilege in the halls of Academia

From my list on empowerment and hope.

Why am I passionate about this?

As with many people, my life has been full of twists and turns. I know what it means to be an outsider and to be cast aside as though my voice and presence doesn’t matter. But, with grit and determination, I battled systemic racism head-on, and with my good L.U.C.K (labor under correct knowledge), encouragement, and faith, I am thriving in an environment that was designed to be non-inclusive for People of Color. Currently, I am the only Black female professor in the 94-year history in the college where I am employed.

Marilyn's book list on empowerment and hope

Marilyn K. Easter Why did Marilyn love this book?

Beyond Retention is a non-fiction title that has the same narrative as my novel Resilience. Through various stories of lived experience, this title brings to light all the issues of race and gender inequality in higher institutions. What makes this book special is that it doesn't focus only on faculty but deals with administrators as well. Every woman who is interested in a career in academia should have and read Beyond Retention, as it offers ways through which one can thrive and not just survive in higher education.

By Brenda L. H. Marina (editor), Sabrina N. Ross (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Beyond Retention: Cultivating Spaces of Equity, Fairness, and Justice for Women of Color in U.S. Higher Education, Brenda Marina and Sabrina N. Ross address the continued underrepresentation of women faculty of color at predominantly White colleges and universities through a creative convergence of scholarship focused on intellectual activism and structural change. Inspired by the African American oral tradition of call and response, this text illuminates the calls, or personal narratives of women faculty of color who identify racialized, gendered, sexualized, and class-based challenges associated with work in predominantly White institutions. Accounts of social justice-oriented strategies, policies, and practices that…


Book cover of Against White Feminism: Notes on Disruption

Sara Shaban Author Of Iranian Feminism and Transnational Ethics in Media Discourse

From my list on proving Arab women can speak for themselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an Arab American woman who grew up in Nashville in an evangelical church, I’ve always maintained complex understandings of myself as both an Arab and a woman. My experiences coupled with my love for reading led me to become a journalist where I could explore stories about Arab women in hopes of learning more about myself. After 9/11, watching my family face racism and hate from a country we're so proud to be a part of, I wanted to change the narrative. I got a Ph.D. in Media Sociology from the University of Missouri and started writing critical analyses of media’s poor representation of Arab women and how we can help change the game.  

Sara's book list on proving Arab women can speak for themselves

Sara Shaban Why did Sara love this book?

This is hands down the best book on transnational feminism that I’ve ever read!

I have recommended this book to so many people that I’m planning on hosting a book club. Zakaria opens the book with her own experience attending a happy hour with a group of white women that ends on a particularly awkward note.

Zakaria is not only challenging white feminists, but she is also calling out all people who subscribe to white feminism and how it does more harm than good. What is white feminism you ask? Pick up this book and let Zakaria tell you. 

By Rafia Zakaria,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Upper-middle-class white women have long been heralded as "experts" on feminism. They have presided over multinational feminist organizations and written much of what we consider the feminist canon, espousing sexual liberation and satisfaction, LGBTQ inclusion, and racial solidarity, all while branding the language of the movement itself in whiteness and speaking over Black and Brown women in an effort to uphold privilege and perceived cultural superiority. An American Muslim woman, attorney, and political philosopher, Rafia Zakaria champions a reconstruction of feminism in Against White Feminism, centering women of color in this transformative overview and counter-manifesto to white feminism's global, long-standing…


Book cover of Abortion in Early Modern Italy

Nora Jaffary Author Of Reproduction and Its Discontents in Mexico: Childbirth and Contraception from 1750 to 1905

From my list on unearthing abortion’s hidden history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began gathering stories about pregnancy and its avoidance in Mexican archives twenty-five years ago when I was working on my dissertation on religious history. This topic fascinated me because it was central to the preoccupations of so many women I knew, and it seemed to present a link to past generations. But as I researched, I also realized that radical differences existed between the experiences and attitudes of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Mexican women and the concerns, practices, and understandings of my own period that I had assumed were timeless and unchanging. For me, this was a liberating discovery. 

Nora's book list on unearthing abortion’s hidden history

Nora Jaffary Why did Nora love this book?

I appreciate Christopolous’ book because he renders concrete the abstract realm of papal pronouncements by studying their reception by sixteenth-century Italian women and their confessors. He also unearths the complexity of attitudes to abortion that existed even within the church establishment in this period.

When Pope Sixtus issued a 1588 edict declaring all who aborted their pregnancies were automatically excommunicated and reserving the right to absolve them to the papacy alone, bishops across Italy’s Renaissance states objected. They argued that neither they nor their confessants could afford to travel to Rome to seek absolution; they sought mercy and forgiveness for the women to whom they ministered.

With this example, and in other parts of his book, Christopolous treats his subjects with sensitivity and precision.

By John Christopoulos,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Abortion in Early Modern Italy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A comprehensive history of abortion in Renaissance Italy.

In this authoritative history, John Christopoulos provides a provocative and far-reaching account of abortion in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italy. His poignant portraits of women who terminated or were forced to terminate pregnancies offer a corrective to longstanding views: he finds that Italians maintained a fundamental ambivalence about abortion. Italians from all levels of society sought, had, and participated in abortions. Early modern Italy was not an absolute anti-abortion culture, an exemplary Catholic society centered on the "traditional family." Rather, Christopoulos shows, Italians held many views on abortion, and their responses to its…


Book cover of The Mark of Cain: Guilt and Denial in the Post-War Lives of Nazi Perpetrators

Thomas A. Kohut Author Of A German Generation: An Experiential History of the Twentieth Century

From my list on seeking to understand Nazi Perpetrators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of modern Germany. As a teacher and a writer, I seek to get my students and readers to empathize with the people of the past, to think and even feel their way inside those people’s experiences. Because empathy is not sympathy, one can and should empathize with people one finds unsympathetic. We need to empathize with Nazis in order to understand how they and other Germans—human beings not unlike ourselves—could have committed the worst crimes in modern European history, not least the Holocaust.

Thomas' book list on seeking to understand Nazi Perpetrators

Thomas A. Kohut Why did Thomas love this book?

This book is based on reports, reflections, and correspondence of prison chaplains who interacted with imprisoned Nazi perpetrators awaiting trial and, in some instances, execution.

What the prisoners confessed to the clergy and, even more, the criminal behavior they failed to acknowledge I find so revealing. The prisoners felt guilty for individual personal transgressions (like cheating on their wives). Here, they had chosen to sin. But they felt no guilt about their participation in genocide since they saw themselves as having acted perforce on behalf of the community of the “Volk.”

Kellenbach brings this astonishing fact home in a way that is simultaneously horrifying and empathic. After reading her book, I finally came to understand what Adolf Eichmann meant when he claimed that he was “the victim of a fallacy” at his trial in Jerusalem.

By Katharina von Kellenbach,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Mark of Cain fleshes out a history of conversations that contributed to Germany's coming to terms with a guilty past. Katharina von Kellenbach draws on letters exchanged between clergy and Nazi perpetrators, written notes of prison chaplains, memoirs, sermons, and prison publications to illuminate the moral and spiritual struggles of perpetrators after the war. These documents provide intimate insights into the self-reflection and self-perception of perpetrators. As Germany looks back on more than sixty years of passionate debate about political, personal and legal guilt, its ongoing engagement with the legacy of perpetration has transformed its culture and politics.

In…


Book cover of A Tapestry of Values: An Introduction to Values in Science

Angela Potochnik Author Of Idealization and the Aims of Science

From my list on exploring strange features of science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a philosopher before I knew what philosophers were: asking questions to challenge the starting points for conversations. My biggest pet peeve has always been people who were sure they entirely understood something. While scientists conduct science to help learn about the world, philosophers of science like me study science to try to figure out how it works, why (and when) it’s successful, and how it relates to human concerns and society. Humans ultimately invent science, and I think it’s fascinating to consider how its features relate to our interests and foibles and how it’s so successful at producing knowledge and practical abilities. 

Angela's book list on exploring strange features of science

Angela Potochnik Why did Angela love this book?

“Science doesn’t care what you believe” has become a slogan meant to point out that science is objective. Yet science is influenced by social and cultural values—by what we believe and what we think is important—in many ways.

This approachable book outlines how values can influence science, describing when that influence is okay and when it’s not. 

By Kevin C. Elliott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The role of values in scientific research has become an important topic of discussion in both scholarly and popular debates. Pundits across the political spectrum worry that research on topics like climate change, evolutionary theory, vaccine safety, and genetically modified foods has become overly politicized. At the same time, it is clear that values play an important role in science by limiting unethical forms of research and by deciding what areas of research have the greatest relevance for society. Deciding how to distinguish legitimate and illegitimate influences of values in scientific research is a matter of vital importance.
Recently, philosophers…


Book cover of Humanomics: Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations for the Twenty-First Century

Andreas Ortmann and Benoit Walraevens Author Of Adam Smith's System: A Re-Interpretation Inspired by Smith's Lectures on Rhetoric, Game Theory, and Conjectural History

From my list on the Adam and smith of modern economics.

Why are we passionate about this?

 AO: I have been intrigued by the Adam and smith (a play on Adam Smith’s name due to K. Boulding) of social sciences ever since, as a graduate student, I was given the privilege to teach a history-of-thought course. I found a lot of wisdom in Smith’s works and continue to find it with every new read. BW: I first met Adam Smith when I was studying for my master’s degree in economics almost twenty years ago. Since then, I have enjoyed rereading him, always finding new sources of fascination and insights. For me, Smith's work is endlessly rich and remains astonishingly topical, three centuries after his birth. 

Andreas and Benoit's book list on the Adam and smith of modern economics

Andreas Ortmann and Benoit Walraevens Why did Andreas and Benoit love this book?

Smith is generally considered as the father of economics, laying its foundations in the eighteenth century.

But he can also be an inspiration for rethinking economics (providing more realistic assumptions about human conduct) and laboratory experiments in the twenty-first century, helping us to build a new “Humanomics” (see also McCloskey’s two books on this subject). That’s what Vernon Smith (Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002) and Bart Wilson convincingly argue for in their uncommon and innovative book. Smith is still alive (and well alive) today. 

By Vernon L. Smith, Bart J. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

While neo-classical analysis works well for studying impersonal exchange in markets, it fails to explain why people conduct themselves the way they do in their personal relationships with family, neighbors, and friends. In Humanomics, Nobel Prize-winning economist Vernon L. Smith and his long-time co-author Bart J. Wilson bring their study of economics full circle by returning to the founder of modern economics, Adam Smith. Sometime in the last 250 years, economists lost sight of the full range of human feeling, thinking, and knowing in everyday life. Smith and Wilson show how Adam Smith's model of sociality can re-humanize twenty-first century…


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