10 books like In the Forest of No Joy

By J.P. Daughton,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like In the Forest of No Joy. Shepherd is a community of 8,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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King Leopold's Ghost

By Adam Hochschild,

Book cover of King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

Lyla Bashan Author Of Global: An Extraordinary Guide for Ordinary Heroes

From the list on becoming a global citizen and ordinary hero.

Who am I?

In 6th grade I did a report about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, which manifested in a career spanning more than 20 years where I’ve worked for NGOs, the State Department, and the United States Agency for International Development to help make the world a better place. I’ve lived in Guatemala, Tajikistan, Armenia, and Jordan, and travelled throughout Sub-Saharan Africa working on conflict prevention, democracy, governance, and human rights. I’m a firm believer that, no matter your profession, everyone can help make the world a better place – and that’s why I wrote my book and why I read the books on my list – to help make this a reality. 

Lyla's book list on becoming a global citizen and ordinary hero

Discover why each book is one of Lyla's favorite books.

Why did Lyla love this book?

I read King Leopold’s Ghost when I was working on conflict resolution in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the State Department.

The painful legacy of colonization can still be felt in the DRC and across the continent. Colonizing nations didn’t invest in education, public servants, infrastructure, or any of the necessary elements to create a strong nation-state because this was never colonization’s goal.

This book clearly outlines this upsetting reality with the real-life example of Belgium’s colonization of the DRC. It is upsetting to read, but so important to understand how we got to where we are in so many countries that were colonized around the world. 

King Leopold's Ghost

By Adam Hochschild,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked King Leopold's Ghost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Duff Cooper Prize, King Leopold's Ghost is the true and haunting account of Leopold's brutal regime and its lasting effect on a ruined nation. With an introduction by award-winning novelist Barbara Kingsolver.

In the late nineteenth century, when the great powers in Europe were tearing Africa apart and seizing ownership of land for themselves, King Leopold of Belgium took hold of the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. In his devastatingly barbarous colonization of this area, Leopold stole its rubber and ivory, pummelled its people and set up a ruthless regime that would reduce…


Heart of Darkness

By Joseph Conrad,

Book cover of Heart of Darkness

Stefán Máni Author Of Deathbook

From the list on losing faith in humanity but having a good time.

Who am I?

I'm Stefán Máni, the Dark prince of Nordic noir. I was an avid book reader from an early age but I didn’t believe I could become a writer myself one day. I dropped out of school at the age of 17, worked in the fishing industry, and travelled to Europe and the United States. I started writing at the age of 23, published my first book at the age of 26, and my first best-seller at the age of 34; the thriller Black’s Game that became a popular movie in 2012. Since then I've written many best sellers and created the most popular character in Icelandic literature; detective Hordur Grímsson.

Stefán's book list on losing faith in humanity but having a good time

Discover why each book is one of Stefán's favorite books.

Why did Stefán love this book?

Talking about must reads. Everybody has read this one, right?

A masterpiece of narration, written by a Polish immigrant and published in 1902. It is a true classic. If you want be become a writer, you must read this book – and then read it again, and again.

This is storytelling at the highest level. The movie Apocalypse Now is based on this story. And very much so, although the setting is quite different. Almost every scene in the book was used in the movie.

This is a book about a journey; a journey up a river and also a journey into the darkness of the human heart. Boats, sailors, water. Come to think of it, Heart of Darkness is very much related to Moby Dick.

Marlow is Ishmael and Kurtz is captain Ahab. The jungle is the ocean and deep in the darkness lurks the evil heart; the great…

Heart of Darkness

By Joseph Conrad,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Heart of Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although Polish by birth, Joseph Conrad (1857–1924) is regarded as one of the greatest writers in English, and Heart of Darkness, first published in 1902, is considered by many his "most famous, finest, and most enigmatic story." — Encyclopaedia Britannica. The tale concerns the journey of the narrator (Marlow) up the Congo River on behalf of a Belgian trading company. Far upriver, he encounters the mysterious Kurtz, an ivory trader who exercises an almost godlike sway over the inhabitants of the region. Both repelled and fascinated by the man, Marlow is brought face to face with the corruption and despair…


Travels in the Congo

By Andre Gide,

Book cover of Travels in the Congo

Edward Berenson Author Of Heroes of Empire: Five Charismatic Men and the Conquest of Africa

From the list on the impact of European colonialism on Africa and Africans.

Who am I?

I’ve spent most of my career teaching and writing about French history. In the 1990s, it became belatedly clear to me and other French historians that France shouldn’t be understood purely as a European nation-state. It was an empire whose imperial ambitions encompassed North America, the Caribbean, Africa, Indochina, and India. By the twentieth century, and especially after 1945, large numbers of people from those colonial places had emigrated to mainland France, claiming to belong to that country and asserting the right to live there. Their presence produced a great deal of political strife, which I wanted to study by looking at France’s colonial past.

Edward's book list on the impact of European colonialism on Africa and Africans

Discover why each book is one of Edward's favorite books.

Why did Edward love this book?

This travel diary by the Nobel Prize winning French writer was published in 1927 and expertly translated by his lifelong friend Dorothy Bussy. Gide dedicated his book and its sequel, Return from Chad, to Joseph Conrad, whose Congolese itinerary Gide retraced in part. In 1926 and 1927, the Frenchman spent ten months in Equatorial Africa with his lover Marc Alégret, making no secret of his sexual preference for young men and boys. In these travelogues, Gide fiercely criticized French colonialism and especially France’s “concessionary companies,” the large monopolistic firms that cruelly exploited Congolese laborers forced under inhuman conditions to harvest raw rubber. France’s Congo colony reproduced the excesses of its Belgian counterpart, despite the efforts of Gide and other prominent French figures to reform it.

Travels in the Congo

By Andre Gide,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French


Book cover of Citizenship Between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945-1960

Edward Berenson Author Of Heroes of Empire: Five Charismatic Men and the Conquest of Africa

From the list on the impact of European colonialism on Africa and Africans.

Who am I?

I’ve spent most of my career teaching and writing about French history. In the 1990s, it became belatedly clear to me and other French historians that France shouldn’t be understood purely as a European nation-state. It was an empire whose imperial ambitions encompassed North America, the Caribbean, Africa, Indochina, and India. By the twentieth century, and especially after 1945, large numbers of people from those colonial places had emigrated to mainland France, claiming to belong to that country and asserting the right to live there. Their presence produced a great deal of political strife, which I wanted to study by looking at France’s colonial past.

Edward's book list on the impact of European colonialism on Africa and Africans

Discover why each book is one of Edward's favorite books.

Why did Edward love this book?

In this superb, prize-winning book, Cooper shows that despite France’s often gruesome treatment of its African colonies, its postwar leaders tried to make amends. After taking power in 1958, Charles de Gaulle gave each of France’s African territories three choices: 1) full departmental status within the French Republic (à la Martinique and Guadeloupe); 2) internal autonomy and democratic self-government in a newly dubbed French Community modeled on the British Commonwealth; 3) complete independence with a cutoff of all financial assistance. Every territory voted for option 2, except Guinea, which chose independence. Although the Community option ultimately fell apart, Cooper shows nonetheless that there was nothing inevitable about the devolution of France’s African empire into a series of independent nation-states.

Citizenship Between Empire and Nation

By Frederick Cooper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the French public debates its present diversity and its colonial past, few remember that between 1946 and 1960 the inhabitants of French colonies possessed the rights of French citizens. Moreover, they did not have to conform to the French civil code that regulated marriage and inheritance. One could, in principle, be a citizen and different too. Citizenship between Empire and Nation examines momentous changes in notions of citizenship, sovereignty, nation, state, and empire in a time of acute uncertainty about the future of a world that had earlier been divided into colonial empires. Frederick Cooper explains how African political…


Last Train to Paradise

By Les Standiford,

Book cover of Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad That Crossed an Ocean

Jason Vuic Author Of The Swamp Peddlers: How Lot Sellers, Land Scammers, and Retirees Built Modern Florida and Transformed the American Dream

From the list on modern Florida.

Who am I?

Originally from Punta Gorda, Florida, I am an exiled Florida Man, living in Texas, and specialize in creative nonfiction. I love the absurd, the unusual, and enjoy finding ways to examine and teach history through unexpected topics and sometimes maligned or ridiculed things. My first book, for example, was on the infamous Yugo car. I then wrote a history of the ill-starred Sarajevo Olympics and the oh-for-twenty-six 1976-1977 Tampa Bay Bucs, and most recently a book on the wild heydays of Florida land development in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. I have a PhD in history from Indiana University Bloomington and have appeared on NPR’s "Weekend Edition," APM’s "Marketplace," and C-SPAN’S "Book TV."

Jason's book list on modern Florida

Discover why each book is one of Jason's favorite books.

Why did Jason love this book?

Last Train to Paradise is acclaimed novelist Les Standiford's fast-paced and gripping true account of the extraordinary construction and spectacular demise of the Key West Railroad—one of the greatest engineering feats ever undertaken, destroyed in one fell swoop by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. Brilliant and driven entrepreneur Henry Flagler's dream fulfilled, the Key West Railroad stood as a magnificent achievement for more than twenty-two years, heralded as "the Eighth Wonder of the World." Standiford brings the full force and fury of 1935's deadly Storm of the Century and its sweeping destruction of "the railroad that crossed an ocean" to terrifying life.

Last Train to Paradise

By Les Standiford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The fast-paced and gripping true account of the extraordinary construction and spectacular demise of the Key West Railroad—one of the greatest engineering feats ever undertaken, destroyed in one fell swoop by the strongest storm ever to hit U.S. shores.

In 1904, the brilliant and driven entrepreneur Henry Flagler, partner to John D. Rockefeller, dreamed of a railway connecting the island of Key West to the Florida mainland, crossing a staggering 153 miles of open ocean—an engineering challenge beyond even that of the Panama Canal. Many considered the project impossible, but build it they did. The railroad stood as a magnificent…


Railways & the Raj

By Christian Wolmar,

Book cover of Railways & the Raj: How the Age of Steam Transformed India

Sathnam Sanghera Author Of Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain

From the list on the British Empire's impact on the world.

Who am I?

I was in my 40s before I began exploring the topic of the British Empire. It came after I realised it explained so much about me (my Sikh identity, the emigration of my parents, my education) and so much about my country (its politics, psychology, wealth…) and yet I knew very little. It turned out that millions of people feel the same way… and I hope I provide an accessible introduction and summary of the massive topic. 

Sathnam's book list on the British Empire's impact on the world

Discover why each book is one of Sathnam's favorite books.

Why did Sathnam love this book?

Approaching the subject not as an imperial historian but as a specialist on transport, Wolmar dismantles the lie at the heart of a thousand TV documentaries: that the British bestowed railways on India in an act of benevolence.

Every TV commissioner in Britain should be made to read this.

Railways & the Raj

By Christian Wolmar,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Railways & the Raj as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

India was the jewel in the crown of the British Empire, an Empire that needed a rail network to facilitate its exploitation and reflect its ambition. But, by building India's railways, Britain radically changed the nation and unwittingly planted the seed of independence. As Indians were made to travel in poor conditions and were barred from the better paid railway jobs a stirring of resentment and nationalist sentiment grew.

The Indian Railways network remains one of the largest in the world, serving over 25 million passengers each day. In this expertly told history, Christian Wolmar reveals the full story, from…


Metropolitan Corridor

By John R. Stilgoe,

Book cover of Metropolitan Corridor: Railroads and the American Scene

Patrick N. Allitt Author Of A Climate of Crisis: America in the Age of Environmentalism

From the list on understanding American environmental history.

Who am I?

I am a history professor at Emory University. I was born and raised in England and feel equally at home in Britain and America. I’ve written six books on religious, political, and environmental history and one on my life as a college professor. I’ve also made eleven recorded lecture series with The Great Courses, on a wide variety of topics, including a series on the History of the Industrial Revolution and a series titled The Great Tours: England, Scotland, and Wales.

Patrick's book list on understanding American environmental history

Discover why each book is one of Patrick's favorite books.

Why did Patrick love this book?

Railroads usually show up in American history books when they’re just getting started (1830), linking up the two coasts (1869), or going into catastrophic decline in competition with cars, trucks, and aircraft (the 1960s). Stilgoe, a professor of environmental design at Harvard, is much more interested in their long dominance from the 1860s to the 1950s and how they facilitated the development of American cities, the siting of power stations, the development of suburbs, and the rise of industrial parks. Nothing’s too humble and grimy to escape his notice. In one bravura passage, he even explains the truth behind the “Valley of Ashes” in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Metropolitan Corridor

By John R. Stilgoe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pathbreaking examination of the impact of railroads on American culture and the built environment. Prof. Stilgoe focuses on how the railroads created metropolitan corridors that not only shaped the landscape but also American attitudes towards industrial might, exploration of the countryside and Nature, and the possibility of an ordered and beautiful future. Illustrated throughout with black and white photos as well as drawings. With extensive notes. 397 pages with index.


Thomas the Tank Engine's Hidden Surprises

By Rev. W. Awdry, Josie Yee (illustrator),

Book cover of Thomas the Tank Engine's Hidden Surprises

Jack Payton Author Of Billy Balloon

From the list on children’s stories you wish you had written.

Who am I?

I wrote Billy Balloon in fourth grade for a writing exercise. I remember the teacher reading it to the whole class. I was filled with pride. Then through the years I’d revisit the story and think about getting it published. Many years later, with the support and encouragement from my family, I finally decided to go through with it. We then went from wanting to publish one book to building a brand similar to Curious George and Thomas the Train. We had such a great experience and fun time we also decided to share the adventure with others. We invite readers to submit ideas for other books in the Billy Balloon series through our website

Jack's book list on children’s stories you wish you had written

Discover why each book is one of Jack's favorite books.

Why did Jack love this book?

This is another impressive and prolific book series.

The magic here is how trains on set tracks on an island can have such big and diverse personalities. Thomas was the little engine trying to do big things.

In a way he is like a little kid growing up and exploring their independence. He tries to show he can do things the bigger trains (or kids) can.

My kids and I had a great time growing up alongside Thomas. My son always carried a small Thomas toy in his pocket.

I would notice he would pat his pocket whenever he needed extra encouragement, for example, at the park among the bigger kids.

Thomas the Tank Engine's Hidden Surprises

By Rev. W. Awdry, Josie Yee (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thomas the Tank Engine's Hidden Surprises as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thomas is going on a special trip to the circus, and there are lots of wonderful things to discover along the way--a beautiful hot air balloon, a playful dolphin, and a barrel of monkeys, just to name a few! Lift and peek behind the many flaps and see the hidden surprises. Preschoolers will want to climb on board with this fun transportation shaped flap book, bursting with treasures on every page!


Railroaded

By Richard White,

Book cover of Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America

Sarah Deutsch Author Of Making a Modern U.S. West: The Contested Terrain of a Region and Its Borders, 1898-1940

From the list on reimagining our mythic American West and its cast.

Who am I?

At some point I decided that if I was going to teach US history, I better have a good sense of what the place looked like. So I drove across the country—and then back again—and then again, and then once more, each time at a different latitude. I drove through North Dakota and South Dakota, Montana and Idaho, Nebraska and Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas, up and down California, Oregon and Washington, and on and on. I got addicted to seeing the landscape in all its amazing variety and vastness, and seeing the landscape made the histories come alive. 

Sarah's book list on reimagining our mythic American West and its cast

Discover why each book is one of Sarah's favorite books.

Why did Sarah love this book?

I remember driving across a barren southwestern landscape and suddenly, in the distance, miles away, seeing a train snake across the desert. Trains are sort of magical to me. They change the relation of space and time. And they create and destroy fortunes. Richard White lays bare the era of massive railroad building, financial shenanigans, and the players at all levels. With his signature humor, he reveals the absurdity behind the mythology of the railroad barons and how the West got built.

Railroaded

By Richard White,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This original, deeply researched history shows the transcontinentals to be pivotal actors in the making of modern America. But the triumphal myths of the golden spike, robber barons larger than life, and an innovative capitalism all die here. Instead we have a new vision of the Gilded Age, often darkly funny, that shows history to be rooted in failure as well as success.


Book cover of Building the Railways of the Raj, 1850-1900

Rajendra B. Aklekar Author Of India’s Railway Man: A Biography of E. Sreedharan

From the list on railways and trains.

Who am I?

Rajendra B. Aklekar (born 1974) is an Indian journalist with over 25 years of experience and author of best-selling books on India’s railway history and heritage. He is also the biographer of India’s legendary railway engineer Dr. E Sreedharan. With museology from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharasj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai, Aklekar is also a Google-certified Digital Marketer. Aklekar, associated with the Indian Railway Fans’ Club Association, Indian Steam Railway Society, Rail Enthusiasts Society, has contributed significantly while setting up the Rail Heritage Gallery at the UNESCO-listed Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station, formerly Victoria Terminus building, Bombay, and documentation of heritage relics of India’s first railway.

Rajendra's book list on railways and trains

Discover why each book is one of Rajendra's favorite books.

Why did Rajendra love this book?

This is a key book on the mountain railways of India. While all other history books look at the overall context of Indian Railways, this one, in particular, focuses on the “Ghat sections” of Indian Railways that were built as early as the 1860s with primitive technology, labour and sheer hard work. I personally recommend this work because it explores a not-so-popular yet very important part of the construction of the first railway lines in India. The book has minute details of the labour numbers, the various communities involved, and how work went ahead in the difficult most terrain and tropical weather. I am also proud to be associated with late Kerr during his research visits to India and assist him in his work.

Building the Railways of the Raj, 1850-1900

By Ian J. Kerr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Building the Railways of the Raj, 1850-1900 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

25,000 miles of rail were constructed in India from 1850 to 1900, involving a considerable investment of British capital, railway technology, engineers, skilled workmen and millions of Indian labourers. This is a detailed history of the development of the Indian railroad.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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