100 books like Ruling But Not Governing

By Steven A. Cook,

Here are 100 books that Ruling But Not Governing fans have personally recommended if you like Ruling But Not Governing. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Managing Instability in Algeria: Elites and Political Change

Dalia Ghanem Author Of Understanding the Persistence of Competitive Authoritarianism in Algeria

From my list on the North African version of North Korea: Algeria.

Why am I passionate about this?

I hold a doctorate in political science and am an expert on Algeria. I was a senior scholar at Carnegie for ten years before I joined the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), the EU's official think tank. I was born in Algeria, where I grew up. When I was fourteen, between 22-23 September 1997 the massacre of Bentalha took place while I was living in Algeria, and I became obsessed with that massacre. This obsession led me ten years later to write a Ph.D. on that bloody page of Algerian history, political violence, and jihadism. Eventually, my expertise encompassed all of Algeria's political, social, and economic developments. 

Dalia's book list on the North African version of North Korea: Algeria

Dalia Ghanem Why did Dalia love this book?

In this book, Werenfels explains how elite dynamics and tactics work in the Algerian political system and how they have led to the lack of significant political change since the country returned to the democratic process in 1995. Werenfels analyses the coping mechanisms of the highly opaque authoritarian elite in a shifting local and global environment building on evidence from extensive research. This book planted the seed of an idea for what the topic of my own book would be and how I wanted to structure it. 

By Isabelle Werenfels,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This topical new book seeks to understand the relationship between elite dynamics and strategies and the lack of profound political change in Algeria after 1995, when the country's military rulers returned to electoral processes.

Using evidence from extensive fieldwork, Isabelle Werenfels exposes successful survival strategies of an opaque authoritarian elite in a changing domestic and international environment. The main focus is on:

the changing balance of power between different elite segments the modes of generation change and the different emerging young elite types constraints, obligations and opportunities arising from elite embeddings in clienteles networks and in specific social and economic…


Book cover of Dictators and Dictatorships: Understanding Authoritarian Regimes and Their Leaders

Dalia Ghanem Author Of Understanding the Persistence of Competitive Authoritarianism in Algeria

From my list on the North African version of North Korea: Algeria.

Why am I passionate about this?

I hold a doctorate in political science and am an expert on Algeria. I was a senior scholar at Carnegie for ten years before I joined the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), the EU's official think tank. I was born in Algeria, where I grew up. When I was fourteen, between 22-23 September 1997 the massacre of Bentalha took place while I was living in Algeria, and I became obsessed with that massacre. This obsession led me ten years later to write a Ph.D. on that bloody page of Algerian history, political violence, and jihadism. Eventually, my expertise encompassed all of Algeria's political, social, and economic developments. 

Dalia's book list on the North African version of North Korea: Algeria

Dalia Ghanem Why did Dalia love this book?

I like this book because it is based on a qualitative investigation into the politics of authoritarian states. It contends that political outcomes in dictatorships are mostly the result of relations between leaders and elites, and the internal structures that influence the dynamics of these relations. The book analyses the differences between several authoritarian regimes and their political ramifications. Process in personalist, military, one-party, monarchical, and semi-authoritarian regimes are examined. The book explains what dictatorship entails and how authoritarian politics function. 

By Natasha Lindstaedt, Erica Frantz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This title discusses how dictatorships work, looking at leaders, elites, and regime dynamics, synthesizing foundational and cutting-edge research on authoritarian politics, and integrating theory with case studies. "Dictators and Dictatorships" is a qualitative enquiry into the politics of authoritarian regimes. It argues that political outcomes in dictatorships are largely a product of leader-elite relations. Differences in the internal structure of dictatorships affect the dynamics of this relationship. This book shows how dictatorships differ from one another and the implications of these differences for political outcomes. In particular, it examines political processes in personalist, military, single-party, monarchic, and hybrid regimes. The…


Book cover of Oil Wealth and the Poverty of Politics: Algeria Compared

Dalia Ghanem Author Of Understanding the Persistence of Competitive Authoritarianism in Algeria

From my list on the North African version of North Korea: Algeria.

Why am I passionate about this?

I hold a doctorate in political science and am an expert on Algeria. I was a senior scholar at Carnegie for ten years before I joined the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), the EU's official think tank. I was born in Algeria, where I grew up. When I was fourteen, between 22-23 September 1997 the massacre of Bentalha took place while I was living in Algeria, and I became obsessed with that massacre. This obsession led me ten years later to write a Ph.D. on that bloody page of Algerian history, political violence, and jihadism. Eventually, my expertise encompassed all of Algeria's political, social, and economic developments. 

Dalia's book list on the North African version of North Korea: Algeria

Dalia Ghanem Why did Dalia love this book?

In this book, Lowi examines why Algeria's domestic political economy disintegrated in the mid-1980s and how the regime eventually reclaimed power and hegemony. Miriam Lowi discusses the significance of leadership decisions for political outcomes and extends her theory to explain the diversity in stability among oil-exporting states in response to economic shocks. Comparing Algeria to Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia, she inquires as to why certain regimes fail and endure regime change while others remain stable or are able to regain stability after a time of turmoil.

By Miriam R. Lowi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Oil Wealth and the Poverty of Politics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How can we make sense of Algeria's post-colonial experience - the tragedy of unfulfilled expectations, the descent into violence, the resurgence of the state? Oil Wealth and the Poverty of Politics explains why Algeria's domestic political economy unravelled from the mid-1980s, and how the regime eventually managed to regain power and hegemony. Miriam Lowi argues the importance of leadership decisions for political outcomes, and extends the argument to explain the variation in stability in oil-exporting states following economic shocks. Comparing Algeria with Iran, Iraq, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, she asks why some states break down and undergo regime change, while…


Book cover of A History of Algeria

Jessica Ayesha Northey Author Of Civil Society in Algeria: Activism, Identity and the Democratic Process

From my list on understanding the importance of Algerian History.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved Algeria since I lived there for 3 years from 2007. The experiences of the 20th century, particularly the War of Independence, make Algeria such an important country. The anti-colonial War overturned an entrenched colonialism, not only in Algeria, but set in train a movement for freedom across an entire continent. I have written extensively on the growth of civil society associations and how these helped people recover from tragedies; and more recently, the developments that sprung from the Algerian Hirak of 2019. This saw millions of protesters march peacefully, for over a year, to bring about significant changes and new understandings of citizenship in the 21st century.

Jessica's book list on understanding the importance of Algerian History

Jessica Ayesha Northey Why did Jessica love this book?

James McDougall’s History of Algeria gives an excellent overview of Algerian history, focusing on the lived experiences of the Algerian people over the last 500 years.

He does this with an easily readable style, offering acute insights and drawing on the personal experiences of those who lived through world-changing movements. He covers the War of Independence and the revolutionary transformations which ensued in Algeria, and across the continent, by that long and heroic struggle.

By James McDougall,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Covering a period of five hundred years, from the arrival of the Ottomans to the aftermath of the Arab uprisings, James McDougall presents an expansive new account of the modern history of Africa's largest country. Drawing on substantial new scholarship and over a decade of research, McDougall places Algerian society at the centre of the story, tracing the continuities and the resilience of Algeria's people and their cultures through the dramatic changes and crises that have marked the country. Whether examining the emergence of the Ottoman viceroyalty in the early modern Mediterranean, the 130 years of French colonial rule and…


Book cover of The Kurdish Nationalist Movements in Turkey, 1980 to 2011: Oppression, Resistance, War, Education in the Mother Tongue and Relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government

Ceren Sengül Author Of Customized Forms of Kurdishness in Turkey: State Rhetoric, Locality, and Language Use

From my list on the relationship between Turkey and Kurds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been interested in political and social events around me, and being from Turkey, it was inevitable not to be surrounded by the news of the conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK that has been going on for decades. However, perhaps due to being a member of the non-Muslim minority community of Turkey myself, I have always been interested in the ‘non-mainstream’ explanations of a state-ethnic group conflict. This interest in alternative explanations led me to study an MSc in Nationalism Studies and to a PhD in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, with the focus of my thesis being Kurdishness in Turkey. 

Ceren's book list on the relationship between Turkey and Kurds

Ceren Sengül Why did Ceren love this book?

This book is a very good source to understand the more recent history of the Turkish state and Kurds, up until 2011 when the book was published. 2011 is also the year when I first started my PhD, so this was actually one of the first books I read when I started my PhD, and I also reviewed this book.

The more monumental events in the recent history of Turkey such as the Ergenekon trials are explained here through their relations to the Kurdish nationalist movements.

Soner Çağaptay’s book that I have recommended above and this book can be read back to back to get an up-to-date understanding of why the relations between the Turkish state and Kurds are the way they are. 

Book cover of Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America

William Watson Author Of Twelve Steps for White America: For a United States of America

From my list on explaining a divided United States of America.

Why am I passionate about this?

My own collusion with white supremacy and anti-Blackness is a lifelong journey I mitigate for my soul’s redemption. I am a Mississippi-born redneck, alcoholic, psychotherapist, San Francisco Bay Area queer, higher education administrator with a Critical Race Theory doctorate. I first learned democracy by watching my Mississippi parents risk their lives and mine in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Three-Fifths Magazine recently published “My First English: The Vernacular of the KKK.” My book, “Twelve Steps for White America” won the BookFest 1st Place Gold Medal for “Society and Social Sciences: Race Culture Class and Religion.” I work to live in a USA where race no longer predicts outcomes. 

William's book list on explaining a divided United States of America

William Watson Why did William love this book?

Heather Richardson is one of our best historians. I love her brilliance, and I love that she knows the material well enough to explain it simply to the novice.

I read her previous book, and this next one didn't disappoint. If I could only read one book on how the USA has come to this, Democracy Awakening would be it. I recommend it for anyone who would finally like to try democracy in a USA where race no longer predicts outcomes!

By Heather Cox Richardson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

** #4 New York Times bestseller **

In Democracy Awakening, American historian Heather Cox Richardson examines how, over the decades, an elite minority have made war on American ideals. By weaponising language and promoting false history, they are leading Americans into authoritarianism and creating a disaffected population.

Many books tell us what has happened over the last five years. In Democracy Awakening, Richardson wrangles America's meandering and confusing news feed into a coherent story to explain how America got to this perilous point, what we should pay attention to, and what the future of democracy holds.


Book cover of Hanoi Journal, 1967

Jessica Frazier Author Of Women's Antiwar Diplomacy During the Vietnam War Era

From my list on women and the US war in Vietnam.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell into researching women’s antiwar activism during the U.S. war in Vietnam by chance when I came across evidence of middle-aged American women traveling to Jakarta, Indonesia in 1965 to meet with women from North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front—the enemies of the United States at the time. Discovering that some of these same U.S. women (and many others), would later travel to Hanoi despite the United States conducting extensive bombing raids over North Vietnam, despite travel to North Vietnam being prohibited, and despite some of the women having young children at home, simply astounded me, and I had to find out more.

Jessica's book list on women and the US war in Vietnam

Jessica Frazier Why did Jessica love this book?

Carol McEldowney, a community organizer in 1967, cut her activist teeth in the student protest movement in the early 1960s as a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society. In 1967, she accepted the opportunity to attend an antiwar conference with Vietnamese diplomats, including Nguyen Thi Binh, in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. Following that meeting, McEldowney and six other Americans traveled on to Hanoi to find out what was happening on the ground. Her transcribed journal tells of this experience, including McEldowney’s anxieties, hopes, and doubts, and presents readers with a glimpse of life for North Vietnamese as well as a window into the questions, concerns, and perceptions of an antiwar activist.

By Carol Cohen McEldowney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hanoi Journal, 1967 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the fall of 1967, Carol McEldowney, a twenty-four-year-old community organizer living in Cleveland, embarked on a remarkable journey. In a climate of growing domestic unrest and international turmoil, she traveled illegally to North Vietnam with fellow members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to meet the enemy face-to-face. She was determined to understand the foe that had troubled America's leaders in Washington since the end of World War II. With an eye toward history and a recognition of the significance of her journey, McEldowney documented her experiences in the journal reproduced in this book. Through her words we…


Book cover of When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America

Lee Ann Timreck Author Of Pieces of Freedom: The Emancipation Sculptures of Edmonia Lewis and Meta Warrick Fuller

From my list on the activism of African American women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm fascinated with material culture – studying the things we make and use – and what they tell us about our history. My particular passion is for nineteenth-century Black material culture, often the only tangible history of enslaved and newly-emancipated Black lives. The books on my list educated me of the historical realities for African Americans, from emancipation to Jim Crow – providing critical context for deciphering the stories embedded in historical artifacts. Overall, the gendered (and harrowing) history these books provide on the contributions of African-American women to civil rights and social justice should be required reading for everyone. 

Lee's book list on the activism of African American women

Lee Ann Timreck Why did Lee love this book?

This book details the engagement and impact African American women have made on race and gender issues throughout American history.

Paula Giddings uses first-person narratives to portray how generations of Black women have acted as “agents of change” to achieve political and economic progress. In researching the lives of two nineteenth-century Black female sculptors, I needed to understand the cultural and political environment that inspired them to tackle the controversial themes of race, gender, and social injustice in their art.

When and Where I Enter provided a gendered and historical framework to help me answer these critical questions.

By Paula J. Giddings,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked When and Where I Enter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“History at its best―clear, intelligent, moving. Paula Giddings has written a book as priceless as its subject”―Toni Morrison

Acclaimed by writers Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, Paula Giddings’s When and Where I Enter is not only an eloquent testament to the unsung contributions of individual women to our nation, but to the collective activism which elevated the race and women’s movements that define our times. From Ida B. Wells to the first black Presidential candidate, Shirley Chisholm; from the anti-lynching movement to the struggle for suffrage and equal protection under the law; Giddings tells the stories of black women who…


Book cover of Her Sister's Tattoo

Lillah Lawson Author Of So Long, Bobby

From my list on what it was like to come of age in the 60s and 90s.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author of historical fiction, I have a number of time periods that I go back to again and again. Both the 1960s (specifically, the late 1960s) and the 1990s are two of those eras that I just can’t get enough of. The parallels between these two time periods are very compelling: both were times of political upheaval and amazing music, with young people leading the charge, hoping to create a better world than the one they were disenchanted with. 

Lillah's book list on what it was like to come of age in the 60s and 90s

Lillah Lawson Why did Lillah love this book?

A tale of close sisters who find themselves at odds as their belief systems are challenged during the height of the Vietnam War; their lives deviating from one another as their priorities change.

A poignant novel about how even the strongest of familial relationships can be torn asunder in times of turmoil and upheaval, but how the purest love can bring them back together again.

By Ellen Meeropol,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rosa and Esther march through downtown Detroit in August 1968 to protest the war in Vietnam. When a bloodied teenager reports that mounted police are beating protestors a few blocks away, the young women hurry to offer assistance. They try to stop the violence, but an officer is injured and the sisters are arrested. Rosa sees an opportunity to protest the war in court. Esther has an infant daughter and wants to avoid prison, which means accepting a plea bargain and testifying against her sister. Told from multiple points of view and through the sisters' never-mailed letters, Her Sister's Tattoo…


Book cover of Conscience

Fran Hawthorne Author Of I Meant to Tell You

From my list on ordinary people drawn into social activism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Was it the environmental movement, which burgeoned as I was growing up? Or remnants of Sunday School teachings? For whatever reason, I deeply believe that I have a responsibility to give back to the world more than I take. There are many ways to give back, as my characters Miranda and Russ explore in my novel I Meant to Tell You. In my nonfiction, I’ve investigated the healthcare and financial industries, and also suggested steps we can take in our everyday lives as consumers, parents, and investors. When I’m not writing, I’m organizing environmental clean-ups, collecting supplies for refugees, and phoning public officials.

Fran's book list on ordinary people drawn into social activism

Fran Hawthorne Why did Fran love this book?

Alice Mattison, the author, must have been reading my mind! This piercing novel echoes some of my conflicted feelings about the Sixties and social activism in general, even as it also probes the strains of long-term marriage and friendship. As college students, Olive, Helen, and Val took different routes during the Sixties antiwar protests. Now, when a magazine commissions Olive to write an essay about Val’s long-ago novel, she must confront the repercussions of those friendships and the decisions the three women made. Helen chose violent protest; Olive chose a PhD; Val chose to appropriate Helen’s life in her fiction. Olive’s rethinking raises a question that’s important for us today: How far should an ethical person go for a just cause?  

By Alice Mattison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Decades ago in Brooklyn, three girls demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and each followed a distinct path into adulthood. Helen became a violent revolutionary. Val wrote a controversial book, essentially a novelization of Helen’s all-too-short but vibrant life. And Olive became an editor and writer, now comfortably settled with her husband, Griff, in New Haven. When Olive is asked to write an essay about Val’s book, doing so brings back to the forefront Olive and Griff’s tangled histories and their complicated reflections on that tumultuous time in their young lives.Conscience, the dazzling new novel from award-winning author Alice Mattison, paints…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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