100 books like I Didn't Do It for You

By Michela Wrong,

Here are 100 books that I Didn't Do It for You fans have personally recommended if you like I Didn't Do It for You. 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 Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Author Of The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

From my list on rulers behaving badly in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith are professors of politics at New York University. They use the mathematical approach of game theory to understand the incentives of leaders in different settings. The Dictator’s Handbook distills decades of academic work into a few essential rules that encapsulate how leaders come to power and remain there.

Bruce's book list on rulers behaving badly in Africa

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Why did Bruce love this book?

All of Kapuscinski’s books are gems. He traveled Africa and other parts of the developing world as a Soviet journalist. The Emperor describes the rule and decline of the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie. The dry day-to-dry accounts of the emperor’s benign neglect for his people is chilling. Haile Selassie knew to keep those around him happy and not to worry about the people: “A man starved all his life will never rebel…. No one raised his voice or hand there. But just let the subject start to eat his fill and then try to take the bowl away, and immediately he rises in rebellion. The usefulness of hunger is that a hungry man thinks only of bread.”.

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A "sensitive, powerful ... history" (The New York Review of Books) of a man living amidst nearly unimaginable pomp and luxury while his people teetered netween hunger and starvation.

Haile Selassie, King of Kings, Elect of God, Lion of Judah, His Most Puissant Majesty and Distinguished Highness the Emperor of Ethiopia, reigned from 1930 until he was overthrown by the army in 1974. While the fighting still raged, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Poland's leading foreign correspondent, traveled to Ethiopia to seek out and interview Selassie's servants and closest associates on how the Emperor had ruled and why he fell. This is Kapuscinski's…


Book cover of The Fate of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Author Of The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

From my list on rulers behaving badly in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith are professors of politics at New York University. They use the mathematical approach of game theory to understand the incentives of leaders in different settings. The Dictator’s Handbook distills decades of academic work into a few essential rules that encapsulate how leaders come to power and remain there.

Bruce's book list on rulers behaving badly in Africa

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Why did Bruce love this book?

The breadth of Meredith’s book makes it a true masterpiece. He covers the political history of virtually every African state from independence through the end of the century. Each chapter is as compelling as it is brutal.

By Martin Meredith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in 2005, The Fate of Africa was hailed by reviewers as "A masterpiece....The nonfiction book of the year" ( The New York Post ) "a magnificent achievement" ( Weekly Standard ) "a joy," ( Wall Street Journal ) and "one of the decade's most important works on Africa" ( Publishers Weekly , starred review). Now Martin Meredith has revised this classic history to incorporate important recent developments, including the Darfur crisis in Sudan, Robert Mugabe's continued destructive rule in Zimbabwe, controversies over Western aid and exploitation of Africa's resources, the growing importance and influence of China, and the…


Book cover of Congo: The Epic History of a People

Michela Wrong Author Of Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad

From my list on Central Africa (from a journalist based there).

Why am I passionate about this?

After working as a foreign correspondent in Italy and France I was sent by Reuters news agency to Cote d’Ivoire and what was then Zaire, the latter posting coinciding with the shocking start of the genocide in neighboring Rwanda. It was the kind of assignment you don’t forget, and when I moved to the Financial Times I continued following the larger-than-life dramas unfolding in Africa’s Great Lakes region. I’ve now written five books, the first – In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz - about Mobutu Sese Seko's imprint on the Democratic Republic of Congo and the latest – Do Not Disturb - looking at personalities and events I first started writing about a quarter of a century ago. You keep going back.

Michela's book list on Central Africa (from a journalist based there)

Michela Wrong Why did Michela love this book?

As the author of a book on the Democratic Republic of Congo myself, I should have felt fiercely competitive with Van Reybrouk, a Belgian playwright, poet, and author. In fact, I loved this book. He tells this enormous country’s complex history, from King Leopold’s 19th-century giant land grab through to Patrice Lumumba's premiership, Marechal Mobutu Sese Sekos’ overthrow, Laurent Kabila’s Rwandan-backed takeover and beyond, almost exclusively through the testimony of living Congolese citizens, making it not only extraordinarily fresh, but utterly authentic as a record of the past. It’s a long book – 150 years of history, addressed at a leisurely pace, takes up a lot of paper - but every chapter is a jewel.

By David Van Reybrouck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

FINALIST FOR THE CUNDILL PRIZE FOR HISTORY

'Not only deserves the description "epic", in its true sense, but the term "masterpiece" as well' Independent

This gripping epic tells the story of one of the world's most critical failed nation-states: the Democratic Republic of Congo. Interweaving his own family's history with the voices of a diverse range of individuals - charismatic dictators, feuding warlords, child soldiers, and many in the African diaspora of Europe and China - Van Reybrouck offers a deeply humane approach to political history, focusing squarely on the Congolese perspective and returning a nation's history to its people.


Book cover of Multi-party Politics in Kenya

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Author Of The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

From my list on rulers behaving badly in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith are professors of politics at New York University. They use the mathematical approach of game theory to understand the incentives of leaders in different settings. The Dictator’s Handbook distills decades of academic work into a few essential rules that encapsulate how leaders come to power and remain there.

Bruce's book list on rulers behaving badly in Africa

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Why did Bruce love this book?

By far the most academic of our recommendations, Throup and Hornsby describe the constraints that having to hold an election imposes on leaders and, most tellingly, how easy leaders find it to flaunt these binds.

By David Throup, Charles Hornsby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Multi-party Politics in Kenya as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book uses the Kenyan political system to address issues relevant to recent political developments throughout Africa. The authors analyze the construction of the Moi state since 1978. They show the marginalization of Kikuyu interests as the political economy of Kenya has been reconstructed to benefit President Moi's Kalenjin people and their allies. Mounting Kikuyu dissatisfaction led to the growth of demands for multi-party democracy. The book places contemporary Kenyan politics and the 1992 election in their historical context, contrasting the present multi-party era with the previous one during the sixties. The authors question the hopes for a \u201csecond independence\u201d…


Book cover of Refugee Boy

Mary Jennifer Payne Author Of Enough

From my list on unforgettable protagonists in urban settings.

Why am I passionate about this?

Born the same year as Winona Ryder, Tupac Shakur, and Elon Musk, I’m a Toronto-based writer of novels, short fiction, graphic stories, nonfiction, and scripts for film and television. My YA books include the graphic novella The Lion of Africa, the supernatural, climate change-fuelled Daughters of Light trilogy, and the hard-hitting Since You’ve Been Gone. My writing gives voice to strong, diverse protagonists in urban settings who are dealing with seemingly insurmountable challenges. I’ve been a special education teacher for more than 20 years and my characters are often inspired by the amazing young people I’ve worked with. The cities in my work are living, breathing entities that shape the plot and the protagonist’s character.

Mary's book list on unforgettable protagonists in urban settings

Mary Jennifer Payne Why did Mary love this book?

In a world where the number of forcibly displaced people is rising faster and to the highest levels ever, I believe this beautifully written story of fourteen-year-old Alem is incredibly important. Thinking he’s on a short holiday to the UK with his father, Alem, who is an aspiring architect, happily soaks in the sights and sounds, making apt comparisons between London and the urban landscapes and architecture of Ethiopia. However, Alem is about to have his world turned upside down. The next day, his father abandons him in the UK in a desperate attempt to keep him safe from the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. This means Alem is forced to navigate the asylum process and get used to living in the UK while trying desperately to hang onto the hope that his parents are still alive and that they might one day be reunited as a family.

By Benjamin Zephaniah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Refugee Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

'Playful, obstinate and courageously humorous ... hilarious and later heartbreaking' Guardian 'Sweet, funny, highly inventive' Yorkshire Post The personal, funny and poignant tale of a young refugee, from acclaimed storyteller Benjamin Zephaniah Acclaimed performance poet and novelist Benjamin Zephaniah's honest, wry and poignant story of a young refugee left in London is of even more power and pertinence today than when it was first published. Life is not safe for Alem. His father is Ethopian, his mother Eritrean. Their countries are at war, and Alem is welcome in neither place. So Alem is excited to spend a holiday in London…


Book cover of The Shadow of the Sun

Mark Weston Author Of The Ringtone and the Drum: Travels in the World's Poorest Countries

From my list on travel in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I first visited Africa in 2004 I’ve found it difficult to tear myself away. I’ve lived in South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, and Sudan and travelled in all corners of the continent. I’ve participated in a revolution, hung out with the illegal fishermen of Lake Victoria, been cursed—and protectedby witch doctors, and learned Swahili. I’ve also read extensively about the place, written three books about it, and broadcast from it for the BBC World Service. In my other life I research and write about international development for universities and global organisations. This too has a focus on Africa.

Mark's book list on travel in Africa

Mark Weston Why did Mark love this book?

This short book is without doubt the best introduction to African travel (and in my opinion one of the greatest travel books ever written).

Ranging across the whole continent, Kapuscinski’s evocative writing, although not always sticking religiously to factual details, captures the essence—and the magic—of the place like nobody else can. The book, along with his other great works on Africa Another Day of Life and The Emperor, was a major influence on both why I wanted to get to know Africa and how I write about it. 

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Shadow of the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Only with the greatest of simplifications, for the sake of convenience, can we say Africa. In reality, except as a geographical term, Africa doesn't exist'. Ryszard Kapuscinski has been writing about the people of Africa throughout his career. In astudy that avoids the official routes, palaces and big politics, he sets out to create an account of post-colonial Africa seen at once as a whole and as a location that wholly defies generalised explanations. It is both a sustained meditation on themosaic of peoples and practises we call 'Africa', and an impassioned attempt to come to terms with humanity itself…


Book cover of Boyhood

Tim Bascom Author Of Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia

From my list on memoirs of American and European expats in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since spending seven years of my youth in East Africa, I have read the literature of that continent. I have relished the incredible novels of authors like Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Maaza Mengiste, but I have also sought out stories of those who entered Africa from outside, wanting to confirm my experience and to make sense of it. My reading has included masterpieces like Abraham Verghese’s novel Cutting for Stone or Ryszard Kapuscinski’s journalistic expose The Emperor. But here are a few personal memoirs that have given me a basis for my own understanding of being an expatriate shaped profoundly by life in Africa.  

Tim's book list on memoirs of American and European expats in Africa

Tim Bascom Why did Tim love this book?

Some would claim Coetzee’s Boyhood is an autobiographical novel, and others would insist it is a fictionalized memoir. In any case, it is a powerful depiction of a child’s experience of being raised in the harsh, racist culture of Afrikaners in apartheid South Africa. Maybe because the author decided to tell the story from the 3rd person perspective—as if standing outside of himself—the bleakness of his home and community presses home twice as hard. One senses, behind the cruelty and callousness, the buried ugliness of entrenched bigotry. I lived in a kinder missionary community, learning to admire the people I encountered in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan, but over time I had to recognize subtler prejudices that went with that evangelistic expatriate culture. Boyhood spoke to me in a necessary, truth-telling way that was not comfortable but very important.

By J. M. Coetzee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The critically acclaimed author of In the Heart of the Country tells his personal story of growing up under apartheid in South Africa with a father he cannot respect and a mother he both adores and despises. 12,500 first printing.


Book cover of Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind

Michael Ruse Author Of A Philosopher Looks at Human Beings

From my list on human evolution and the human story.

Why am I passionate about this?

Our discovery that we are modified monkeys rather than modified mud is a human achievement on a par with a Mozart opera or a Vermeer painting. As a historian and philosopher of science, my lifelong mission has been to see how this knowledge transcends earlier myths about divine creation and opens the way to a far richer and more optimistic vision of human nature, our achievements, and our future possibilities. New knowledge can be terrifying. It can also be exciting and liberating. It is an obligation, a privilege, and a joy to be able to express our full humanity. The authors I shall introduce exemplify this so very much.

Michael's book list on human evolution and the human story

Michael Ruse Why did Michael love this book?

If you can read only one book on human evolution, this is it. “Lucy,” a fossil Australopithecus afarensis, discovered in Ethiopia in 1974, is the proverbial “missing link.” About three million years old, she had a chimpanzee-size brain, about 400cc (as opposed to modern humans, about 1200cc), and yet walked upright. Told by Don Johanson, one of the team who discovered her, and science writer Martin Edey, the book is informative, serious, and yet at the same time written with a light touch that makes the tale akin to a thriller like Stephen King. It is a thriller. Our great great grandma was not Eve, eating illicit apples, but a modified monkey roaming the plains of Africa.

By Donald Johanson, Maitland Edey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A glorious success…The science manages to be as exciting and spellbinding as the juiciest gossip” (San Franscisco Chronicle) in the story of the discovery of “Lucy”—the oldest, best-preserved skeleton of any erect-walking human ancestor ever found.

When Donald Johanson found a partical skeleton, approximately 3.5 million years old, in a remote region of Ethiopia in 1974, a headline-making controversy was launched that continues on today. Bursting with all the suspense and intrigue of a fast paced adventure novel, here is Johanson’s lively account of the extraordinary discovery of “Lucy.” By expounding the controversial change Lucy makes in our view of…


Book cover of Africa Solo: My World Record Race from Cairo to Cape Town

Sean Conway Author Of Big Mile Cycling: Ten Years. 60000 Miles. One Dream

From my list on long distance cycling.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sean Conway is a record-breaking endurance cyclist who has cycled over 100,000 miles in the last decade including cycling around the world, LEJOG twice, and the world record for the fastest person to cycle across Europe.

Sean's book list on long distance cycling

Sean Conway Why did Sean love this book?

Having grown up in Africa I found Mark’s Cairo to Cape Town cycling world record captivating from start to finish. Completing the ride in 41 days (which is faster than many people drive it) was a feat of unimaginable endurance.

By Mark Beaumont,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR ADVENTURE TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR

In the spring of 2015, Mark Beaumont set out from the bustling heart of Cairo on his latest world record attempt - solo, the length of Africa, intending to ride to Cape Town in under 50 days. Seven years since he smashed the world record for cycling round the world, this would be his toughest trip yet. And he would set a new mark that would simply break the limits of endurance.

Despite illness, mechanical faults, attempted robbery and stone-throwing children, as well as dehydration in the deserts and unprecedented levels of…


Book cover of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Susan McCormick Author Of The Fog Ladies

From my list on mysteries with senior sleuths and older characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a doctor, an award-winning writer, and lifelong lover of mysteries. Many mysteries feature smart characters. I prefer those with wise characters, who can teach me something about a life well-lived. Or not. Sometimes the mistakes are more instructive and more fun. Stories with older characters offer a plethora of life experience and wisdom, and usually poignancy and humor as well. From my life as a doctor and my daily visits to my mother’s retirement community dinner table, I see seniors who are strong, wise, vital, and often overlooked. I love stories that give voice to this robust and rich generation who have so much to offer.

Susan's book list on mysteries with senior sleuths and older characters

Susan McCormick Why did Susan love this book?

Some might consider this cheating, as Mma Ramotswe’s age is not obvious as the books progress, but after 23 adventures, I will count her tending toward middle if not old age.

If she is not, the gentle mannerisms and thoughtful concerns of her and her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, definitely put the books into this category of wise and poignant characters.

There may still be a mystery to each book, but these stories offer marriage advice, friendship advice, life advice in as joyful and tranquil a way possible.

By Alexander McCall Smith,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Precious Ramotswe, a cheerful woman of traditional build, is the founder of Botswana's first and only ladies' detective agency. Here is a gentle interpretation of the detective role: solving her cases through her innate wisdom and understanding of human nature, she 'helps people with problems in their lives'. With a tone that is as elegant as that which is unfailingly used by his protagonist, Alexander McCall Smith tenderly unfolds a picture of life in Gaborone with a mastery of comic understatement and an evident sympathy for his subjects and their milieu. In the background of all this is Botswana, a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Soviet Union?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Soviet Union.

Ethiopia Explore 45 books about Ethiopia
Eritrea Explore 10 books about Eritrea
The Soviet Union Explore 344 books about the Soviet Union