100 books like The Black Man’s Burden

By Basil Davidson,

Here are 100 books that The Black Man’s Burden fans have personally recommended if you like The Black Man’s Burden. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Invention of Somalia

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis Author Of The Suicidal State in Somalia: The Rise and Fall of the Siad Barre Regime, 1969-1991

From my list on contemporary Africa and late colonialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Somali scholar in the field of Somali Studies and African Studies, specialising in anthropology, history, and the politics of Somali society and state(s). I am recognised as an authority and expert on the historical and contemporary Somali conflicts in the Diaspora and back home. I am a Research Fellow at the Conflict Research Programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where I am tasked to study the political economy of Mogadishu. I am also a visiting professor at the African Leadership Centre, King’s College London, where I deliver lectures about the genesis of the Cold War in the Horn of Africa and the Civil War in Somalia. 

Mohamed's book list on contemporary Africa and late colonialism

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis Why did Mohamed love this book?

This groundbreaking and pioneering book was the best book ever written on Somalia. It was indeed an eye-opener for me during my early years of academia. It dramatically changed how I would think of Somali studies. I still recall vividly to this day how I became enchanted with how authors, most of whom were Somalis, had critically challenged previous anthropological and historical scholarship on Somalia, pompously written at the time by Eurocentrists. As soon as I finished reading the book, I began to follow in the footsteps of scholars like Professor Ali Jimale Ahmed.

Book cover of Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia: The War Behind the War

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis Author Of The Suicidal State in Somalia: The Rise and Fall of the Siad Barre Regime, 1969-1991

From my list on contemporary Africa and late colonialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Somali scholar in the field of Somali Studies and African Studies, specialising in anthropology, history, and the politics of Somali society and state(s). I am recognised as an authority and expert on the historical and contemporary Somali conflicts in the Diaspora and back home. I am a Research Fellow at the Conflict Research Programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where I am tasked to study the political economy of Mogadishu. I am also a visiting professor at the African Leadership Centre, King’s College London, where I deliver lectures about the genesis of the Cold War in the Horn of Africa and the Civil War in Somalia. 

Mohamed's book list on contemporary Africa and late colonialism

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis Why did Mohamed love this book?

I read this original and outstanding book long before I decided to join academia. It was almost a year before I embarked on my undergrad years. It was a memorable time of my life, as an exile in a small town, a suburban of Brussels, Belgium, to grasp the real causes of the state failure in Somalia. The authors brilliantly presented painful empirical research findings on land grabbing they had collected a few years before the collapse of the military regime in Somalia in 1991 which navigated a new route in research findings on the post-state collapse in Somalia that allowed me to look differently at the Somali conflict.

By Catherine Besteman (editor), Catherine Besteman (editor), Lee V. Cassanelli (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Despite massive international intervention, Somalia remains a land violently divided by class and cultural conflicts. Explanations for the civil war have generally focused on personalities, clan affiliations or Cold War competition, but this study examines issues of land and resources as important ingredients in Somali politics, and in the events that precipitated the civil war. Drawing on evidence of disputes over land rights and natural resources over several decades, the book aims to add a new dimension to the understanding of factional politics and ethnic/regional rivalries in Somalia.


Book cover of Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis Author Of The Suicidal State in Somalia: The Rise and Fall of the Siad Barre Regime, 1969-1991

From my list on contemporary Africa and late colonialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Somali scholar in the field of Somali Studies and African Studies, specialising in anthropology, history, and the politics of Somali society and state(s). I am recognised as an authority and expert on the historical and contemporary Somali conflicts in the Diaspora and back home. I am a Research Fellow at the Conflict Research Programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where I am tasked to study the political economy of Mogadishu. I am also a visiting professor at the African Leadership Centre, King’s College London, where I deliver lectures about the genesis of the Cold War in the Horn of Africa and the Civil War in Somalia. 

Mohamed's book list on contemporary Africa and late colonialism

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis Why did Mohamed love this book?

This is one of the most compelling books written on Africa. The author insightfully and thoughtfully reassesses the predicament and plight of the African continent with regards to socio-cultural development, institution-building, nation-building, and state-building. The book – both challenging and stimulating as it is – proves to be a somewhat difficult read as the author alternately targets scholars of African studies more than students of Africa as his main audience and recipients.

By Mahmood Mamdani, Mahmood Mamdani,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In analyzing the obstacles to democratization in post- independence Africa, Mahmood Mamdani offers a bold, insightful account of colonialism's legacy--a bifurcated power that mediated racial domination through tribally organized local authorities, reproducing racial identity in citizens and ethnic identity in subjects. Many writers have understood colonial rule as either "direct" (French) or "indirect" (British), with a third variant--apartheid--as exceptional. This benign terminology, Mamdani shows, masks the fact that these were actually variants of a despotism. While direct rule denied rights to subjects on racial grounds, indirect rule incorporated them into a "customary" mode of rule, with state-appointed Native Authorities defining…


Book cover of The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis Author Of The Suicidal State in Somalia: The Rise and Fall of the Siad Barre Regime, 1969-1991

From my list on contemporary Africa and late colonialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Somali scholar in the field of Somali Studies and African Studies, specialising in anthropology, history, and the politics of Somali society and state(s). I am recognised as an authority and expert on the historical and contemporary Somali conflicts in the Diaspora and back home. I am a Research Fellow at the Conflict Research Programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where I am tasked to study the political economy of Mogadishu. I am also a visiting professor at the African Leadership Centre, King’s College London, where I deliver lectures about the genesis of the Cold War in the Horn of Africa and the Civil War in Somalia. 

Mohamed's book list on contemporary Africa and late colonialism

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis Why did Mohamed love this book?

This extraordinary book forces anyone who attempts at studying African politics during the post-colonial period (‘on the postcolony’ in Achile Mbembe’s term) as well as in the late Cold War to (re)consider the role of Africans in the shaping of post-colonial Africa. The author uses various examples to nuance the dilemma of the African state-building process. The notion of ‘the politics of the belly’ derived from a Cameroonian saying, not a Bayart’s creation, as many in the West would think of it.

By Jean-Francois Bayart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The State in Africa is one of the important and compelling texts of comparative politics and historical sociology of the last twenty years. Bayart rejects the assumption of African 'otherness' based on stereotyped images of famine, corruption and civil war. Instead he invites the reader to see that African politics is like politics anywhere else in the world, not an exotic aberration. Africans themselves speak of a 'politics of the belly' - an expression that refers not only to the necessities of survival but also to a complex array of cultural representations, notably those of the 'invisible' world of sorcery.…


Book cover of Travels in the Congo

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

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Edward Berenson 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.

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 The Mission Song

Peter Riva Author Of Kidnapped on Safari

From my list on the otherness that few get to experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been to, and loved, North, Central, and especially East Africa for over fifty years. Only six times have I been to Africa on holiday; more often, perhaps twenty or more times, as a television producer. Working in Africa gains a perspective of reality that the glories of vacation do not. Each has its place, each its pitfalls like stalled plane rides with emergency landings in the bush or attacks by wildlife. But, in the end, the magic of the “otherness,” what an old friend called “primitava” captures one’s soul and changes your life.

Peter's book list on the otherness that few get to experience

Peter Riva Why did Peter love this book?

A man bereft of connection to the modern world is used, agreeing to be so, by the spy world with consequences neither he nor his handlers predicted. A wonderful journey undercutting & exposing Western misuse of Africa and African rights. Nobody writes the ordinary man stepping up to a great task in thrillers better than Le Carré. Le Carré uses intellect as demonstration of character, and in so doing, he finds redemption in morals needed to achieve a thriller’s conclusion.

By John le Carré, John Le Carré,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Mesmerising' Sunday Times

As an interpreter of African languages, Bruno Salvador is much in demand. He makes it a principle to remain neutral - no matter what he hears. But when he is summoned on a secret job for British Intelligence, he is told he will have to get his hands dirty. His mission is to help bring democracy to the Congo - democracy that will be delivered at the end of a gun barrel.

The Mission Song is an excoriating depiction of a corrupt world where loyalty can be bought and war is simply an opportunity to settle old…


Book cover of How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

Marc Epprecht Author Of Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa

From my list on social justice in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first travelled to Zimbabwe in 1984, eager both to “build scientific socialism” but also to answer two big questions. How can people proclaim rage at certain injustices yet at the same time perpetuate them against certain other people? And, could I learn to be a better (more empathetic) man than my upbringing inclined me towards? Years of teaching in the rural areas, and then becoming a father taught me “yes” to the second question but for the first, I needed to continue to pursue that knowledge with colleagues, students, mentors, friends and family. Today, my big question is, how can we push together to get these monsters of capitalism, patriarchy, homophobia, racism, and ecocide off our backs?

Marc's book list on social justice in Africa

Marc Epprecht Why did Marc love this book?

The canon of anti-colonial, anti-racism writing from and about Africa includes many authors whose passion and insights are sometimes muddied by turgid or masculinist prose. For me, Rodney stands out – and stands the test of time – by the way he so masterfully weaves history into a compelling narrative that utterly demolishes the lies and conceits about supposed Western benevolence toward the continent. Scales fell from my eyes the first time (of many) I read this book. And yes, Rodney is almost as androcentric in his language, sources, and arguments as was the norm in those days. But his acknowledgment of the dignity of African women is implicit, and his discussion of the regressive elements of the colonial economy and education for African women and girls presaged a field of scholarly enquiry and activism that still intrigues me.

By Walter Rodney,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How Europe Underdeveloped Africa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic work of political, economic, and historical analysis, powerfully introduced by Angela Davis In his short life, the Guyanese intellectual Walter Rodney emerged as one of the leading thinkers and activists of the anticolonial revolution, leading movements in North America, South America, the African continent, and the Caribbean. In each locale, Rodney found himself a lightning rod for working class Black Power. His deportation catalyzed 20th century Jamaica's most significant rebellion, the 1968 Rodney riots, and his scholarship trained a generation how to think politics at an international scale. In 1980, shortly after founding of the Working People's Alliance…


Book cover of North of South

Riccardo Orizio Author Of Lost White Tribes, Journeys Among the Forgotten

From my list on post colonial life in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write about unusual places, unusual people, and unusual stories. Places, people, and stories that are rough, different, authentic, often forgotten, full of troubled history and a magical present. 

Riccardo's book list on post colonial life in Africa

Riccardo Orizio Why did Riccardo love this book?

The “other Naipaul”, the younger brother who died too young to compete with VS, managed to leave behind some extraordinary examples of his talent. North of South discovers what 'liberation', 'revolution,' and 'socialism' meant to the ordinary people of Africa and it is the book of a contrarian who, brutally honest to the point of being dismissive, travels across a continent on a brink of change, but instead of adopting the easy line of praising it explains why he is not impressed. If you like irony that verges into sarcasm, you can’t miss it.

By Shiva Naipaul,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the 1970s Shiva Naipaul travelled to Africa, visiting Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia for several months. Through his experiences, the places he visited and his various encounters, he aimed to discover what 'liberation', 'revolution' and 'socialism' meant to the ordinary people. His journey of discovery is brilliantly documented in this intimate, comic and controversial portrayal of a continent on the brink of change.


Book cover of A Bend in the River

Riccardo Orizio Author Of Lost White Tribes, Journeys Among the Forgotten

From my list on post colonial life in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write about unusual places, unusual people, and unusual stories. Places, people, and stories that are rough, different, authentic, often forgotten, full of troubled history and a magical present. 

Riccardo's book list on post colonial life in Africa

Riccardo Orizio Why did Riccardo love this book?

Set in an unnamed and quintessential African country that after independence is descending into chaos, this is one of the most unforgettable books about Africa, but also often classified as one of the best novels of the English language of the last 40 years. A portrait that will never be dated, written in a Conrad type of dry yet very rich style, the Africa of Nobel laureate Naipaul is not for those who want to see things through rose-tinted lenses, but is a profoundly human portrait where the there is no space for clichés.  

By V.S. Naipaul,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set in an unnamed African country, V. S. Naipaul's A Bend in the River is narrated by Salim, a young man from an Indian family of traders long resident on the coast. He believes The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it. So he has taken the initiative; left the coast; acquired his own shop in a small, growing city in the continent's remote interior and is selling sundries - little more than this and that, really - to the natives.

This spot, this 'bend in the…


Book cover of States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control

Irina Filatova Author Of The Hidden Thread. Russia and South Africa in the Soviet Era

From my list on to understand what is wrong and right with Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a South African historian of Russian origin, who has studied and taught African history since the late 1960s. For us, the Russians, Africa was then an alluring terra incognita of wild nature, adventure, human suffering, struggles, and tenacity. I have studied how Africa became what it is for 50 years and lived in it for 30. I have learnt a lot about it, but for me it is still a land of human suffering, struggles and tenacity, wild nature, and adventure, and it is still alluring. 

Irina's book list on to understand what is wrong and right with Africa

Irina Filatova Why did Irina love this book?

Jeffrey Herbst also looks at the past and present of the African continent, and ecology and demography also come into his story. But his main subject is the specific nature of power and state in Sub–Saharan Africa and the inter-relations between the two. He traces this defining aspect of Africa’s reality through several centuries and presents it within the global context by drawing in experiences of self-organisation of power and state in other continents and regions. Continuity is for him the key to understanding the precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial past and even the future of the continent.

By Jeffrey Herbst,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Theories of international relations, assumed to be universally applicable, have failed to explain the creation of states in Africa. There, the interaction of power and space is dramatically different from what occurred in Europe. In States and Power in Africa, Jeffrey Herbst places the African state-building process in a truly comparative perspective. Herbst's bold contention--that the conditions now facing African state-builders existed long before European penetration of the continent--is sure to provoke controversy, for it runs counter to the prevailing assumption that colonialism changed everything. This revised edition includes a new preface in which the author links the enormous changes…


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