100 books like Sister of Mine

By Sabra Waldfogel,

Here are 100 books that Sister of Mine fans have personally recommended if you like Sister of Mine. 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 The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part I: The Witnesses

Elizabeth Bell Author Of Necessary Sins

From my list on the human toll of American slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American novelist and a lifelong, enthusiastic student of American history. To me, history is people. In addition to first-hand accounts and biographies, one of the best ways to understand those people is historical fiction. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in the Southern United States, surrounded by the legacy of slavery, America’s “peculiar institution” that claimed an unequivocal evil was a positive good. Because both the enslaved and their enslavers were human beings, the ways that evil manifested were as complex as each individual—as were the ways people maintained their humanity. These are a few of the novels on the subject that blew me away.

Elizabeth's book list on the human toll of American slavery

Elizabeth Bell Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Until I read The Resurrection of Nat Turner, I considered myself a pacifist. I ended this novel and its sequel rooting for violent resistance and for Nat Turner, the man who led the most famous slave rebellion in American history, a man who was responsible for the deaths of women and children. In a culture of violence and unequivocal evil, turning the other cheek cannot be the only recourse. Foster left me forever changed.

By Sharon Ewell Foster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A riveting novel about tragic hero Nat Turner's uprising, capture, and trial-and how he impacted life in the United States forever.

The truth has been buried more than one hundred years . . .

Leading a small army of slaves, Nat Turner was a man born with a mission: to set the captives free. When words failed, he ignited an uprising that left over fifty whites dead. In the predawn hours of August 22, 1831, Nat Turner stormed into history with a Bible in one hand, brandishing a sword in the other. His rebellion shined a national spotlight on slavery…


Book cover of The Prophets

Jeffrey Richards Author Of We Are Only Ghosts

From my list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way).

Why am I passionate about this?

I came of age in Oklahoma as a gay youth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, keeping myself hidden out of safety and shame. Once I was old enough to leave my small-minded town and be myself, I crashed headlong into the oncoming AIDS epidemic. It set me on a path to understanding the world and my place in it as a homosexual. I turned to reading about the lives and histories of those who came before me, to learn about their deaths and survivals in what could be an ugly, brutal world. These works continue to draw me, haunt me, and inspire me to share my story through my writing. 

Jeffrey's book list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way)

Jeffrey Richards Why did Jeffrey love this book?

This is one of those novels I read as a writer, and I thought I should just pack it in because I’ll never be able to write anything so gloriously beautiful, heartbreaking, and perfect.

While Robert Jones, Jr. meticulously creates an atmosphere of the harsh realities of slavery–stretching from the shores of Africa to the cotton fields of Mississippi–he brings us up above all that ugliness, all that inhumanity by offering a transcendental love story between two of the slaves, Samuel and Isaiah.

Even though the harshness, so realized that it made my stomach turn while reading the story, is so visceral and painful, it is the love story that not only infuses itself throughout the plantation–from the slave quarters to the main house–that supersedes all and wends its way into your skin, your heart, your soul. This novel is an achievement beyond anything I expected.

By Robert Jones, Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*

'This visionary and deeply evocative debut carves a radiant love story out of the bleakest of landscapes.' Waterstones - Best Books to Look Out For in 2021

'An Outstanding novel' Guardian
'A lyrical, poetic novel' Independent
'Epic in its scale' Marlon James, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf
'A rare marvel' Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
'Magisterial' Courttia Newland, author of A River Called Time
'A spellbinding debut' COSMO
'Ambitious and intense' Vanity Fair

In this blinding debut, Robert Jones Jr. blends the lyricism of Toni Morrison with the vivid prose…


Book cover of Douglass' Women

Elizabeth Bell Author Of Necessary Sins

From my list on the human toll of American slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American novelist and a lifelong, enthusiastic student of American history. To me, history is people. In addition to first-hand accounts and biographies, one of the best ways to understand those people is historical fiction. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in the Southern United States, surrounded by the legacy of slavery, America’s “peculiar institution” that claimed an unequivocal evil was a positive good. Because both the enslaved and their enslavers were human beings, the ways that evil manifested were as complex as each individual—as were the ways people maintained their humanity. These are a few of the novels on the subject that blew me away.

Elizabeth's book list on the human toll of American slavery

Elizabeth Bell Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Escaping slavery doesn’t make you a saint. Even Frederick Douglass, one of the world’s most famous former slaves, one of history’s greatest writers, orators, and human rights activists, had feet of clay. His wife Anna was a free Black woman who helped him escape bondage and bore him five children. Yet Frederick cheated on her in a decades-long affair with a White German woman—who is somehow equally sympathetic here. I finished this novel loving all three of these flawed, complex characters, all of whom were real people. Rhodes’s psychological insight leaves me in awe.

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2003 PEN OAKLAND JOSEPHINE MILES AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING WRITING AND THE BLACK CAUCUS OF THE ALA LITERARY AWARD
Frederick Douglass, the great African-American abolitionist, was a man who cherished freedom in life and in love. In this ambitious work of historical fiction, Douglass' passions come vividly to life in the form of two women: Anna Murray Douglass and Ottilie Assing.
Douglass' Women is an imaginative rendering of these two women -- one black, the other white -- in Douglass' life. Anna, his wife, was a free woman of color who helped Douglass escape as a slave. She…


Book cover of Freeman

Elizabeth Bell Author Of Necessary Sins

From my list on the human toll of American slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American novelist and a lifelong, enthusiastic student of American history. To me, history is people. In addition to first-hand accounts and biographies, one of the best ways to understand those people is historical fiction. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in the Southern United States, surrounded by the legacy of slavery, America’s “peculiar institution” that claimed an unequivocal evil was a positive good. Because both the enslaved and their enslavers were human beings, the ways that evil manifested were as complex as each individual—as were the ways people maintained their humanity. These are a few of the novels on the subject that blew me away.

Elizabeth's book list on the human toll of American slavery

Elizabeth Bell Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This novel begins just after the American Civil War and Emancipation, but it foreshadows the horrific legacy of slavery. The titular character, a Black man named Sam who is now free, goes in search of Tilda, the wife whom slavery ripped away from him. Meanwhile, her Confederate enslaver drags Tilda westward, refusing to give up the woman he thinks he owns. How do you rebuild a society and a family in the wake of slavery’s devastation? Pitts explores this question unforgettably, acknowledging the inevitable violence but with a glimmer of hope. Freeman put me through a whole gamut of emotions. It rung me out and gave me a soothing cup of tea at the end.

By Leonard Pitts, Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Freeman, the new novel by Leonard Pitts, Jr., takes place in the first few months following the Confederate surrender and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Upon learning of Lee's surrender, Sam--a runaway slave who once worked for the Union Army--decides to leave his safe haven in Philadelphia and set out on foot to return to the war-torn South. What compels him on this almost-suicidal course is the desire to find his wife, the mother of his only child, whom he and their son left behind 15 years earlier on the Mississippi farm to which they all "belonged." At the same…


Book cover of The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation

Joshua D. Rothman Author Of The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America

From my list on the domestic slave trade.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have taught history at the University of Alabama since the year 2000, and I have been working and writing as a historian of American slavery for more than twenty-five years. It is not an easy subject to spend time with, but it is also not a subject we can afford to turn away from because it makes us uncomfortable. Slavery may not be the only thing you need to understand about American history, but you cannot effectively understand American history without it. 

Joshua's book list on the domestic slave trade

Joshua D. Rothman Why did Joshua love this book?

That enslaved people were considered commodities is no secret. But in this book, Daina Ramey Berry demonstrates how enslaved people were attached to monetary prices throughout their entire lives. Indeed, enslaved people were in the market even before they were born, and they remained in the market even after they had died. But Berry reminds us that enslaved people themselves understood that their “soul value,” and not their supposed economic value, defined who they really were.

By Daina Ramey Berry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Price for Their Pound of Flesh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Groundbreaking look at slaves as commodities through every phase of life, from birth to death and beyond, in early America

In life and in death, slaves were commodities, their monetary value assigned based on their age, gender, health, and the demands of the market. The Price for Their Pound of Flesh is the first book to explore the economic value of enslaved people through every phase of their lives—including preconception, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, the senior years, and death—in the early American domestic slave trade. Covering the full “life cycle,” historian Daina Ramey Berry shows the lengths to which enslavers…


Book cover of The Cotton Kingdom: A Traveller's Observations On Cotton And Slavery In The American Slave States, 1853-1861

Marcia E. Herman-Giddens Author Of Unloose My Heart: A Personal Reckoning with the Twisted Roots of My Southern Family Tree

From my list on genealogy and racial justice for truth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was introduced to genealogy, family pride, and racism as an only child. Growing up in Birmingham scarred me. Since young adulthood, I have worked on being an antiracist. I found that research on my ancestors, especially my maternal slaveholding side, helped me know my history, my family’s history as enslavers, my Black cousins, and what it means to be an American with all its flaws. I never tire of this research. It teaches me so much, has offered great gifts, and has built me a new family.

Marcia's book list on genealogy and racial justice for truth

Marcia E. Herman-Giddens Why did Marcia love this book?

I no longer remember how, around 2018, I discovered this remarkable 1850 travelogue and presentation of observations on slavery by the man most people know as a landscape architect. Before his landscaping, Olmstead was hired by the now New York Times to travel the South interviewing and recording all he could from whites, whether rich or poor, slave owners or not, and enslaved Blacks. An added treasure: I loved reading about his travel experiences by boat, horse, train, and stagecoach, as well as the challenges of finding places to overnight. 

The horrors of slavery come through without any preaching. I still think about this book a lot and what I learned from it–aspects of Southern life in the 1850s presented by someone trying to be fair and observant without a special agenda. 

By Frederick Olmsted,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) is best known for designing parks in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Chicago, Boston, and the grounds of the Capitol in Washington. But before he embarked upon his career as the nation's foremost landscape architect, he was a correspondent for the New York Times , and it was under its auspices that he journeyed through the slave states in the 1850s. His day-by-day observations,including intimate accounts of the daily lives of masters and slaves, the operation of the plantation system, and the pernicious effects of slavery on all classes of society, black and white,were largely collected in The Cotton…


Book cover of The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African

Vincent Carretta Author Of Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man

From my list on recover early Black Atlantic lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I decided to familiarize myself with eighteenth-century authors of African descent by editing their writings, I didn’t anticipate becoming their biographer. In annotating their writings, I quickly became intrigued and challenged by trying to complete the biographical equivalent of jigsaw puzzles, ones which often lack borders, as well as many pieces. How does one recover, or at least credibly speculate about, what’s missing? Even the pieces one has may be from unreliable sources. But the thrill of the hunt for, and the joy of discovering, as many pieces as possible make the challenge rewarding. My recommendations demonstrate ways others have also met the biographical challenge.

Vincent's book list on recover early Black Atlantic lives

Vincent Carretta Why did Vincent love this book?

Equiano’s autobiography fascinated me when I stumbled upon a paperback edition of it in a local bookstore nearly thirty years ago.

A bestseller during Equiano’s lifetime, his Interesting Narrative is appreciated as a work of enduring historical and literary value. The odyssey he recounts takes him from enslavement as a child in Africa to becoming a leading figure in the struggle to abolish the transatlantic slave trade.

Along the way, he serves in the British Royal Navy, gains his freedom, participates in a scientific expedition to the Arctic, has a religious conversion, observes various kinds of slavery in North and Central America, England, Europe, and the Middle East before agreeing to help administer settling in Africa formerly enslaved poor Blacks who had joined the British forces during the American Revolution.

By Olaudah Equiano,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, first published in 1789, is the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano. The narrative is argued to be a variety of styles, such as a slavery narrative, travel narrative, and spiritual narrative. The book describes Equiano's time spent in enslavement, and documents his attempts at becoming an independent man through his study of the Bible, and his eventual success in gaining his own freedom and in business thereafter.

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano was one of the first widely read slave narratives. Eight editions…


Book cover of Survivors of Slavery: Modern-Day Slave Narratives

Seth Mallios Author Of Born a Slave, Died a Pioneer: Nathan Harrison and the Historical Archaeology of Legend

From my list on confronting slavery and how it impacts society today.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an archaeologist, anthropologist, and historian who has worked on both the East Coast (Flowerdew Hundred and Jamestown, Virginia) and West Coast (San Diego, California) of the U.S. and dug sites from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, I am passionate about how archaeology can serve to offer new insights for marginalized peoples in American history. I specialize in exposing how narrow thinking, revisionism, and myth-making warp local histories and turn them into fabrications of the present. 

Seth's book list on confronting slavery and how it impacts society today

Seth Mallios Why did Seth love this book?

Laura Murphy uses nearly forty survivor narratives from around the world to demonstrate that slavery is not a heinous phenomenon of the past, but of the present as well. Her work is essential to students of American history; it ensures that slavery is never presented as merely a crime of the past or only as a despicable practice isolated to one geographic region.

By Laura T. Murphy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Slavery is not a crime confined to the far reaches of history. It is an injustice that continues to entrap twenty-seven million people across the globe. Laura Murphy offers close to forty survivor narratives from Cambodia, Ghana, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, and the United States, detailing the horrors of a system that forces people to work without pay and against their will, under the threat of violence, with little or no means of escape. Representing a variety of circumstances in diverse contexts, these survivors are the Frederick Douglasses, Sojourner Truths, and Olaudah Equianos of our time, testifying to…


Book cover of The Reaper's Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery

Nicholas Hudson Author Of A Political Biography of Samuel Johnson

From my list on why the Enlightenment is the beginning of the modern world.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teacher and writer, I am a passionate believer in the ideals of the Enlightenment. In my understanding of these ideals, they include a belief in reason and honest inquiry in the service of humanity. More and more we need these ideals against bigotry, self-delusion, greed, and cruelty. The books recommended here are among those that helped to inspire me with continued faith in the progress of the human species and our responsibility to help each other and the world we live in.

Nicholas' book list on why the Enlightenment is the beginning of the modern world

Nicholas Hudson Why did Nicholas love this book?

I was on the Guggenheim committee that awarded The Reaper’s Garden the prize for the best book on the eighteenth century in 2010.

The eighteenth century marked the climax of the slave trade and the plantation system in European colonies in the Americas and elsewhere. Brown’s book brings the plantation world of eighteenth-century Jamaica alive like no other that I have read.

This was a world filled with death, not only the mortality of the African slaves but just as commonly of the white plantation owners and their families who seldom lasted two years before dying of tropical diseases. Funerals became competing sites for display between blacks and whites.

The funerals of black people became such powerful vehicles of protest and cultural identity that the plantation owners tried to repress them. Brown’s book stands out in my mind as a powerful study of the evils of slavery and morbid culture…

By Vincent Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Merle Curti Award
Winner of the James A. Rawley Prize
Winner of the Louis Gottschalk Prize
Longlisted for the Cundill Prize

"Vincent Brown makes the dead talk. With his deep learning and powerful historical imagination, he calls upon the departed to explain the living. The Reaper's Garden stretches the historical canvas and forces readers to think afresh. It is a major contribution to the history of Atlantic slavery."-Ira Berlin

From the author of Tacky's Revolt, a landmark study of life and death in colonial Jamaica at the zenith of the British slave empire.

What did people make…


Book cover of Twice Condemned: Slaves and the Criminal Laws of Virginia, 1705-1865

James M. Denham Author Of A Rogue's Paradise: Crime and Punishment in Antebellum Florida, 1821-1861

From my list on crime and punishment in the Antebellum South.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of history and Director of the Lawton M. Chiles Jr. Center for Florida History at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. I am a specialist in Southern, social, criminal justice, and legal history. I am the author or co-author of seven books, including three that address criminal justice at the state and federal level. My articles and reviews on criminal justice history have appeared in the America Historical Review, American Journal of Legal History, Journal of Southern History, Florida Historical Quarterly, Florida Bar Journal, and Georgia Historical Quarterly.

James' book list on crime and punishment in the Antebellum South

James M. Denham Why did James love this book?

Philip J. Schwarz’s Twice Condemned adeptly analyzes the history of enslaved African Americans' relationship with the criminal courts of the Old Dominion from roughly 1700 to the end of the Civil War.  Based on over four thousand trials from the colonial, early national, and antebellum periods, no other book does such a comprehensive job of analyzing the prevalence, longevity, and variety of behavior attributed to slave convicts. This book also provides a detailed picture of how one slave society evolved, and along the way, it uncovers previously unexamined aspects of slave culture, and of slave owners' attitudes toward the "domestic enemy" in their midst.  Schwarz argues that the judicial system for slaves served two purposes: it helped slave owners control slaves and enabled authorities to sanction criminal behavior. This dual function of slave trials mirrored the two kinds of slaves' behavior judges tried to suppress.

When focused on slave…

By Philip J. Schwarz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Schwarz, Philip J. Twice Condemned: Slaves and the Criminal Laws of Virginia, 1705-1865. [Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press]. [1988]. xvi, 354pp. Reprinted 1998 by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. LCCN 98-4424 Hardcover. New. Analyzes the history of enslaved African Americans' relationship with the criminal courts of the Old Dominion during a 160 year period. Before Twice Condemned was first published in 1988, historians often focused primarily on isolated or dramatic examples of the sometimes deadly conflict present in societies based on slave labor. But Twice Condemned analyzes the prevalence, longevity, and variety of behavior attributed to slave convicts. In doing…


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Interested in slavery in the United States, Slavery, and Jewish history?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about slavery in the United States, Slavery, and Jewish history.

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