100 books like Myanmar's Enemy Within

By Francis Wade,

Here are 100 books that Myanmar's Enemy Within fans have personally recommended if you like Myanmar's Enemy Within. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity

Friederike Otto Author Of Angry Weather: Heat Waves, Floods, Storms, and the New Science of Climate Change

From my list on starting to think about the much abused idea of freedom.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a physicist who ended up doing their PhD in philosophy, because the “so what” question for me always was more interesting to answer than finding out how the physical world is changing. Working as a climate scientist I see how climate change and extreme weather devastate livelihoods on a daily basis. It makes me very aware I know nothing, but also that the philosophical and humanist ideas we build our societies upon are much more important to solve the climate crisis than physics and technology. One of the most important ones is to reclaim freedom and actually allow people to live good lives.

Friederike's book list on starting to think about the much abused idea of freedom

Friederike Otto Why did Friederike love this book?

Identity isn’t personal, it is shaped by all sorts of influences, some of them we are very aware of and some of them we have never thought about. To be free means to be aware of all of them.

Appiah shows that while you cannot escape identity, you can pick and choose much more than most people make us believe. There is no inevitability and that is extremely liberating.

As a white woman, it made me see much better how not to equate privilege with guilt only, but responsibility and agency. 

By Kwame Anthony Appiah,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Lies That Bind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who do you think you are? That's a question bound up in another: What do you think you are? Gender. Religion. Race. Nationality. Class. Culture. Such affiliations give contours to our sense of self, and shape our polarized world. Yet the collective identities they spawn are riddled with contradictions, and cratered with falsehoods.

Kwame Anthony Appiah's The Lies That Bind is an incandescent exploration of the nature and history of the identities that define us. It challenges our assumptions about how identities work. We all know there are conflicts between identities, but Appiah shows how identities are created by conflict.…


Book cover of In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong

Uzi Rabi Author Of The Return of the Past: State, Identity, and Society in the Post-Arab Spring Middle East

From my list on political identity and divisions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. My interest lies in modern history and evolution of states and societies in the Middle East: Iranian- Arab relations, oil and politics, and Sunni- Shi’i dynamics. It is a particularly important period in time for the Middle East as there is a changing paradigm of geopolitics in the region. During the course of the last decade, we have seen repercussions of the Arab Spring, withdrawal of US troops from the region and signing of the Abraham Accords. I follow these developments and frequently provide expert commentary and analysis in various forums. 

Uzi's book list on political identity and divisions

Uzi Rabi Why did Uzi love this book?

In the Name of Identity challenges our thinking about how we decide who we are as individuals, as groups and what makes us behave as we do with each other.

Maalouf addresses the dangers of defining people solely on a singular component of their identity rather than their identity as a whole. He examines his own identity, and acknowledges that it is complex.

He is Arab and Christian, both Lebanese and French. Yet his identity is more than the aggregate of these components. He urges the reader to avoid generalizing based on a singular component of one’s identity and convincingly argues how this can lead to violence.

Maalouf’s wisdom on how we use our identities to define ourselves against each other can help us understand how to avoid hatred and violence. 

By Amin Maalouf, Barbara Bray (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Makes for compelling reading in America today.”—New York Times Book Review.

“I want to try and understand why so many people commit crimes in the name of identity,” writes Amin Maalouf. Identity is the crucible out of which we come: our background, our race, our gender, our tribal affiliations, our religion (or lack thereof), all go into making up who we are. All too often, however, the notion of identity—personal, religious, ethnic, or national—has given rise to heated passions and even massive crimes.

Moving across the world’s history, faiths, and politics, he argues against an oversimplified and hostile interpretation of…


Book cover of Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture

Uzi Rabi Author Of The Return of the Past: State, Identity, and Society in the Post-Arab Spring Middle East

From my list on political identity and divisions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. My interest lies in modern history and evolution of states and societies in the Middle East: Iranian- Arab relations, oil and politics, and Sunni- Shi’i dynamics. It is a particularly important period in time for the Middle East as there is a changing paradigm of geopolitics in the region. During the course of the last decade, we have seen repercussions of the Arab Spring, withdrawal of US troops from the region and signing of the Abraham Accords. I follow these developments and frequently provide expert commentary and analysis in various forums. 

Uzi's book list on political identity and divisions

Uzi Rabi Why did Uzi love this book?

The Hispanic community represents nearly 20% of the American population and is one of the fastest-growing minorities.

In spite of this, the community is rarely featured in conversations about race and ethnicity. Latinx (a gender-neutral term describing people of Latin heritage) provides an in-depth understanding of the community. Morales focuses on what Latinx means and how Latinx cultures of the past have shaped how the community understands its identity.

Through his analysis, Morales points out that identifying as Latinx creates a political identity that embodies an idea of ‘mixedness’ or ‘hybridity’, but at the same time challenges the black/ white racial binary which is prevalent in American history.

As Latinx increase, their political empowerment could reform the balance of forces within the country. 

By Ed Morales,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Latinx" (pronounced "La-teen-ex") is the gender-neutral term that covers the largest racial minority in the United States, and the poorest but fastest-growing American group, whose political empowerment is altering the balance of forces in a growing number of states. In this groundbreaking discussion, Ed Morales explains how Latinx political identities are tied to a long Latin American history of mestizaje, translatable as "mixedness" or "hybridity", and that this border thinking is both a key to understanding Latinx cultures and a challenge to America's infamously black-white racial regime.


Book cover of Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America

Uzi Rabi Author Of The Return of the Past: State, Identity, and Society in the Post-Arab Spring Middle East

From my list on political identity and divisions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. My interest lies in modern history and evolution of states and societies in the Middle East: Iranian- Arab relations, oil and politics, and Sunni- Shi’i dynamics. It is a particularly important period in time for the Middle East as there is a changing paradigm of geopolitics in the region. During the course of the last decade, we have seen repercussions of the Arab Spring, withdrawal of US troops from the region and signing of the Abraham Accords. I follow these developments and frequently provide expert commentary and analysis in various forums. 

Uzi's book list on political identity and divisions

Uzi Rabi Why did Uzi love this book?

Identity Crisis delivers a compelling account of the 2016 Presidential campaign.

The book explains how the election played out and what factors led to Trump’s seemingly surprising victory.

The authors explore the many plausible reasons for the outcome, eventually concluding that the racially charged language of the campaign, particularly from Trump, provoked voters’ pre-existing divisions on racial issues and prompted them to vote based on identity.

In addition, they address how identity compared to factors such as economic anxiety and dissatisfaction as explanations for Trump’s success. The 2016 election was indicative of a more apparent American crisis that raised issues such as who is American and what the values of the country are.

By John Sides, Michael Tesler, Lynn Vavreck

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A gripping in-depth look at the presidential election that stunned the world

Donald Trump's election victory resulted in one of the most unexpected presidencies in history. Identity Crisis provides the definitive account of the campaign that seemed to break all the political rules-but in fact didn't. Featuring a new afterword by the authors that discusses the 2018 midterms and today's emerging political trends, this compelling book describes how Trump's victory was foreshadowed by changes in the Democratic and Republican coalitions that were driven by people's racial and ethnic identities, and how the Trump campaign exacerbated these divisions by hammering away…


Book cover of Muslims and Citizens: Islam, Politics, and the French Revolution

Christine Haynes Author Of Our Friends the Enemies: The Occupation of France After Napoleon

From my list on the French Revolution from a wide range of perspectives.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my research and teaching, I have long been fascinated with the effects of the French Revolution on France, Europe, and the broader world.  In my most recent book, Our Friends the Enemies, I sought to examine the aftermath of the wars provoked by the Revolution, which lasted (with only two short breaks) from 1792 to 1815.  In particular, I wanted to reconstruct the story—which had long been overlooked by historians—of the occupation of France by the Allies who defeated Napoleon.  Lasting from 1815 to 1818, this occupation was the first modern peacekeeping mission, with profound consequences for the history of France and Europe in the nineteenth century and beyond.

Christine's book list on the French Revolution from a wide range of perspectives

Christine Haynes Why did Christine love this book?

Similarly contributing to a broadening of perspective on the French Revolution, Ian Coller’s new book examines the way in which Muslims figured into the history of this world-historical event.  Making creative use of scattered and fragmentary sources on Muslims in eighteenth-century France and its empire, he shows how they were central to discussions of the “universalism” of the rights guaranteed by the revolutionary government. While this government was initially supported by much of the Muslim world, it ultimately undermined Muslim support—and the republic itself—by attempting to impose its vision of universal “liberty” in the invasion of Egypt in 1798, which brought the young general Napoleon Bonaparte to power.

By Ian Coller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking study of the role of Muslims in eighteenth-century France

"This elegant, braided history of Muslims and French citizenship is urgently needed. It will be a 'must read' for students of the French Revolution and anyone interested in modern France."- Carla Hesse, University of California, Berkeley

From the beginning, French revolutionaries imagined their transformation as a universal one that must include Muslims, Europe's most immediate neighbors. They believed in a world in which Muslims could and would be French citizens, but they disagreed violently about how to implement their visions of universalism and accommodate religious and social difference. Muslims,…


Book cover of China's Forgotten People: Xinjiang, Terror and the Chinese State

Grayson Slover Author Of Middle Country: An American Student Visits China's Uyghur Prison-State

From my list on the Uyghur Genocide.

Why am I passionate about this?

I traveled to Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the summer of 2019, where I saw for myself many of the tools of surveillance and control that the Chinese Communist Party has used to turn the region into an open-air prison. Since returning to the United States, I have tried to draw attention to the Uyghur genocide through my published articles and through my book, Middle Country, where I tell the story of the Uyghur genocide by weaving facts, history, and analysis into a narrative account of the week I spent in Xinjiang. I hope that my book can make this profoundly complex and multifaceted issue more accessible to the average person.

Grayson's book list on the Uyghur Genocide

Grayson Slover Why did Grayson love this book?

This book provides the most accessible account of the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and the native peoples of Xinjiang. Holdstock draws on his own experience living in Xinjiang to show how the CCP’s failure to recognize the genuine grievances of the native peoples of the region helped to drive the terrorism problem that the CCP claims to be addressing today through its genocidal policies.

By Nick Holdstock,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After isolated terrorist incidents in 2015, the Chinese leadership has cracked down hard on Xinjiang and its Uyghurs. Today, there are thought to be up to a million Muslims held in 're-education camps' in the Xinjiang region of North-West China. One of the few Western commentators to have lived in the region, journalist Nick Holdstock travels into the heart of the province and reveals the Uyghur story as one of repression, hardship and helplessness. China's Forgotten People explains why repression of the Muslim population is on the rise in the world's most powerful one-party state. This updated and revised edition…


Book cover of For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia

Stefan B. Kirmse Author Of The Lawful Empire: Legal Change and Cultural Diversity in Late Tsarist Russia

From my list on how cultural diversity sustained the Russian Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

You can experience Russia by exploring the churches and palaces of St Petersburg and Moscow. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not my approach. For me, it has always made more sense to look at the largest country on earth from its edges, the distant mountains, steppes, forests, and waters that surround it. For three decades, I have travelled across this space, studied its languages, written books and articles about it. And I have tried to look through the lens of the diverse peoples and cultures that have been part of Russian history, for better or worse. The rise and fall of the Russian Empire are unthinkable without them.    

Stefan's book list on how cultural diversity sustained the Russian Empire

Stefan B. Kirmse Why did Stefan love this book?

This book was a milestone in the study of tsarist Russia as a multiethnic and multireligious empire, especially its large Muslim population.

By the 2000s, we had become used to thinking that the Russian Empire had suppressed or ignored its religious minorities who, in turn, had avoided state institutions as much as possible. Crews’ book shattered that idea.

Exploring court cases and other disputes across time and space, he boldly argued that Muslims turned to the state as protector of their faith and that Islam became a pillar of Russian imperial policy. Many scholars have attacked his argument since then, partly for good reasons.

And yet, his contribution has proven to be more important and long-lived than those of most of his critics. On top, it’s a wonderful read. 

By Robert D. Crews,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Russia occupies a unique position in the Muslim world. Unlike any other non-Islamic state, it has ruled Muslim populations for over 500 years. Though Russia today is plagued by its unrelenting war in Chechnya, Russia's approach toward Islam once yielded stability. In stark contrast to the popular 'clash of civilisations' theory that sees Islam inevitably in conflict with the West, Robert D. Crews reveals the remarkable ways in which Russia constructed an empire with broad Muslim support. In the 18th Century, Catherine the Great inaugurated a policy of religious toleration that made Islam an essential pillar of Orthodox Russia. For…


Book cover of The Politicization of Islam: Reconstructing Identity, State, Faith, and Community in the Late Ottoman State

Emrah Sahin Author Of Faithful Encounters: Authorities and American Missionaries in the Ottoman Empire

From my list on understanding the Ottoman Empire and the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Emrah Sahin is a specialist in the history of religious interactions and international operations in Islam and Muslim-Christian relations. He received a Ph.D. from McGill University, a Social Science and Humanities Research Award from Canada, the Sabancı International Research Award from Turkey, and the Teacher of the Year Award from the University of Florida. He is currently with the University of Florida as a board member in Global Islamic Studies, an affiliate in History, a lecturer in European Studies, a college-wide advisor, and the coordinator of the federal Global Officer program.

Emrah's book list on understanding the Ottoman Empire and the world

Emrah Sahin Why did Emrah love this book?

Politicization of Islam is a tour de force of the late Ottoman landscape wherein religions became politics in reaction to perceptions and interventions made by Europeans (British, French, and Russian). I enjoy this book because it is an authentic and non-orientalist look at the roots of the Islamist lifeworld.

By Kemal H. Karpat,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Combining international and domestic perspectives, this book analyzes the transformation of the Ottoman Empire over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It views privatization of state lands and the increase of domestic and foreign trade as key factors in the rise of a Muslim middle class, which, increasingly aware of its economic interests and communal roots, then attempted to reshape the government to reflect its ideals.


Book cover of Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam, and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq

Vassily Klimentov Author Of A Slow Reckoning: The USSR, the Afghan Communists, and Islam

From my list on the modern Middle East and Afghanistan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the Cold War and early post-Cold War period, focusing on Soviet/ Russian foreign policy in Afghanistan and in the Middle East in the 1970s and the 1980s. These are exciting topics on which an increasing number of new documents are released each year. I have a research project and lecture about these issues at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. But academia is my second career. Before my Ph.D., I worked as an aid worker, including for two years in the Middle East. I was in the region during the height of the Syrian crisis, notably running humanitarian multi-sector needs assessments.

Vassily's book list on the modern Middle East and Afghanistan

Vassily Klimentov Why did Vassily love this book?

I liked Samuel Helfont’s book for the solidity of his research on the instrumentalization of Islam by the Saddam Hussein regime.

I personally feel that the 1980s is a key period in understanding how some of the problems that emerged during the late Cold War are still relevant today. This is certainly true for the Middle East, a region that is prone to conflicts and where the United States has been involved militarily over the past forty years.

Beyond that, I enjoyed Helfont’s writing which is strikingly dynamic.

By Samuel Helfont,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Samuel Helfont draws on extensive research with Ba'thist archives to investigate the roots of the religious insurgencies that erupted in Iraq following the American-led invasion in 2003. In looking at Saddam Hussein's policies in the 1990s, many have interpreted his support for state-sponsored religion as evidence of a dramatic shift away from Arab nationalism toward political Islam. While Islam did play a greater role in the regime's symbols and Saddam's statements in the 1990s than it had in earlier decades, the regime's internal documents challenge this theory.

The "Faith Campaign" Saddam launched during this period was the culmination of a…


Book cover of Transnational Shia Politics: Religious and Political Networks in the Gulf

Birol Baskan Author Of Turkey and Qatar in the Tangled Geopolitics of the Middle East

From my list on the Persian/Arabian Gulf international politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

The events/developments that unsettle international politics of the Gulf are two kinds: internal and external to the region. Yet, no matter whether it is internal or external, its consequences concern us all, no matter where we live in. What happens in the Gulf does not stay in the Gulf. It unleashes ripple effects that reach directly or indirectly into our pockets and hence our lives. I am one of them and a non-resident scholar in the Middle East Institute, broadly speaking, writing on Turkey, the Persian/Arab Gulf, and the Middle East. 

Birol's book list on the Persian/Arabian Gulf international politics

Birol Baskan Why did Birol love this book?

What are the constituents of the risk Iran poses to the Arab Gulf states? Military? Yes. Ideological? Yes. Rival in the regional influence game? Definitely. But, among all, in my personal view, the trans-border distribution of Shias in the Middle East and in the Gulf is the most serious one. For worse, this book shows, the Shias also constitute a transnational community linked through religious networks. Hence Iran’s hegemonic rise will seriously complicate the problem the presence of Shias poses for at least two, potentially three Gulf states: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and potentially Kuwait. To see the root cause of the Gulf’s Iran/Shia problem, read this book.

By Laurence Louër,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Laurence Louer, author of the critically acclaimed To Be an Arab in Israel, brings her extensive knowledge of the Middle East to an analysis of the historical origins and present situation of militant Shia transnational networks. She focuses on three key countries in the gulf: Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, whose Shia Islamic groups are the offspring of various Iraqi movements that have surfaced over recent decades. Louer explains how these groups first penetrated local societies by espousing the networks of Shiite clergymen. She then describes the role of factional quarrels and the Iranian revolution of 1979 in defining the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Islam and politics, Myanmar, and Buddhism?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Islam and politics, Myanmar, and Buddhism.

Islam And Politics Explore 13 books about Islam and politics
Myanmar Explore 33 books about Myanmar
Buddhism Explore 271 books about Buddhism