100 books like The Many-Headed Hydra

By Peter Linebaugh, Marcus Rediker,

Here are 100 books that The Many-Headed Hydra fans have personally recommended if you like The Many-Headed Hydra. 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 King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

Leif Wenar Author Of Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World

From my list on why oil is a curse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Stanford professor who became fascinated with oil and everything it does to for us and to us. For years I traveled the world talking to the people who know petroleum: executives in the big oil companies, politicians and activists, militants and victims, spies and tribal chiefs. Blood Oil explains what I learned and how we can make our oil-cursed world better for all of us. 

Leif's book list on why oil is a curse

Leif Wenar Why did Leif love this book?

Oil isn’t the only natural resource that can curse: the Belgian colonizers inflicted decades of extraordinary brutality on the peoples of the Congo while extracting their ivory and rubber.

Hochschild paints horrific vistas of extreme greed and violence, and also tells the stories of the heroic individuals who resisted it. I didn’t know much about real ‘The Heart of Darkness’ before reading this book—now I know that the true savages were the Europeans.

By Adam Hochschild,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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

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


Book cover of Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation

Jared Davidson Author Of Dead Letters: Censorship and Subversion in New Zealand 1914-1920

From my list on radical history that rocked my world.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a reader, I want to be thrown into the heady world of revolution, to learn how everyday people made history, to see what they saw and feel what they felt. And I want a book that challenges mainstream narratives of the past. Radical history does this through gripping storytelling and revealing hidden histories of power. As a writer that tries to shine a light on lesser-known aspects of New Zealand’s past, these five books are both my ‘how-to’ and inspiration. I love to share the stories of people who are often left out of history but nonetheless made it. And being an archivist means questions of power and memory are always lurking.

Jared's book list on radical history that rocked my world

Jared Davidson Why did Jared love this book?

If The Many-Headed Hydra revealed a hidden history of the revolutionary Atlantic, Caliban and the Witch totally upended my understanding of witches, gender, and the rise of capitalism. A landmark text that sent shockwaves across the history field, Silvia Federici’s writing on the role of unwaged and reproductive labour in the making of the modern world is unrivaled. In a testament to its power and reach, Penguin released a new edition in 2021. A book to give to every socialist dude-bro or those who doubt the importance of gender to profit and power. 

By Silvia Federici,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A groundbreaking work . . . Federici has become a crucial figure for . . . a new generation of feminists' Rachel Kushner, author of The Mars Room

A cult classic since its publication in the early years of this century, Caliban and the Witch is Silvia Federici's history of the body in the transition to capitalism. Moving from the peasant revolts of the late Middle Ages through the European witch-hunts, the rise of scientific rationalism and the colonisation of the Americas, it gives a panoramic account of the often horrific violence with which the unruly human material of pre-capitalist…


Book cover of Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History

Ari Joskowicz Author Of Rain of Ash: Roma, Jews, and the Holocaust

From my list on uncovering hidden and marginalized histories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of European history who spent the last twenty years studying how minorities relate to each other and how their efforts to communicate their silenced histories are entwined. I remain fascinated by the many ways we think we know—and so frequently fail—to grasp the suffering and ambitions of others. All of this makes me ultimately a historian of the hidden stories of marginalized people and of the struggle to document and understand them.

Ari's book list on uncovering hidden and marginalized histories

Ari Joskowicz Why did Ari love this book?

Trouillot explains like no other why we need to care about how history is made.

Whatever your area of expertise or level of knowledge about Haiti, Trouillot will make you care about the country’s forgotten history. Each essay in this volume demonstrates why we remember certain aspects of the past and ignore others and how those ignored parts are so often not just forgotten but actively silenced.

I teach this book to history undergraduates and graduate students alike. They always tell me that it was one of their favorites. It’s also a book that I wished I had known when I started studying history.

By Michel-Rolph Trouillot,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Silencing the Past as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now part of the HBO docuseries Exterminate All the Brutes, written and directed by Raoul Peck

The 20th anniversary edition of a pioneering classic that explores the contexts in which history is produced—now with a new foreword by renowned scholar Hazel Carby
 
Placing the West’s failure to acknowledge the Haitian Revolution—the most successful slave revolt in history—alongside denials of the Holocaust and the debate over the Alamo, Michel-Rolph Trouillot offers a stunning meditation on how power operates in the making and recording of history.

This modern classic resides at the intersection of history, anthropology, Caribbean, African-American, and post-colonial studies, and…


Book cover of Durruti in the Spanish Revolution

Jared Davidson Author Of Dead Letters: Censorship and Subversion in New Zealand 1914-1920

From my list on radical history that rocked my world.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a reader, I want to be thrown into the heady world of revolution, to learn how everyday people made history, to see what they saw and feel what they felt. And I want a book that challenges mainstream narratives of the past. Radical history does this through gripping storytelling and revealing hidden histories of power. As a writer that tries to shine a light on lesser-known aspects of New Zealand’s past, these five books are both my ‘how-to’ and inspiration. I love to share the stories of people who are often left out of history but nonetheless made it. And being an archivist means questions of power and memory are always lurking.

Jared's book list on radical history that rocked my world

Jared Davidson Why did Jared love this book?

Durruti is a massive 800-page biography of a Spanish anarchist that carried “the future in is heart and a gun in each pocket” and, at the same time, portrays the twists and turns of the Spanish Revolution and the millions of people who made it. A model of how to place a radical, working-class life within a broader context, Durruti is also a blow-by-blow account of a revolution and its battles, trials, and upheavals. I shamelessly tried to re-create such a gripping biography when writing my own book. Who would have thought an 800-page brick could be such a page-turner?

Book cover of The Bloody Flag: Mutiny in the Age of Atlantic Revolution

Wim Klooster Author Of Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History

From my list on the Age of Revolutions.

Why am I passionate about this?

To an Atlantic historian like me, the era of revolutions is one of the most dramatic historical periods, which erased many of the structures on which the Atlantic world had been built for centuries. It raised many hopes, which were often defeated, but lasting advances were made nonetheless.  

Wim's book list on the Age of Revolutions

Wim Klooster Why did Wim love this book?

Beautifully written, this book focuses on the many mutinies that took place in the 1790s in the Dutch, English, and French navies. Some of the mutinies were massive and lasted for weeks. They were a consequence of the ever-growing exploitation of sailors as international rivalry increased. English mutineers tried but failed to set up a radical maritime republic. 

By Niklas Frykman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The global legacy of mutiny and revolution on the high seas.

Mutiny tore like wildfire through the wooden warships of the age of revolution. While commoners across Europe laid siege to the nobility and enslaved workers put the torch to plantation islands, out on the oceans, naval seamen by the tens of thousands turned their guns on the quarterdeck and overthrew the absolute rule of captains. By the early 1800s, anywhere between one-third and one-half of all naval seamen serving in the North Atlantic had participated in at least one mutiny, many of them in several, and some even on…


Book cover of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial

James G. Stavridis Author Of To Risk It All: Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision

From my list on to help you make decisions under extreme pressure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired 4-star Admiral who spent over forty years at sea, rising from Midshipman at the Naval Academy to Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. Along the way, I served in and commanded destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers in combat, and I have faced many very difficult decisions under extreme pressure. In addition, I’ve been in the Pentagon for many assignments, including as Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense – which also created countless high-pressure decisions. What I learned in the Navy has helped me again and again in calculating risk and making the right decisions. 

James' book list on to help you make decisions under extreme pressure

James G. Stavridis Why did James love this book?

A novel about a rusty old destroyer minesweeper, a supremely difficult captain, a mixed bag officers in a dysfunctional wardroom, a horrific typhoon, and a nail-biting court-martial. The seagoing and combat portions of the novel are very realistic, reflecting Wouk’s time in uniform on a similar class of ship in the Pacific during WWII. In my hand as I write this is a battered 1951 first edition of the novel, with a slightly tattered cover, which I treasure above almost any book in the five thousand volumes in my personal library. Over the years of my career, I’ve returned again and again to The Caine Mutiny, and the fundamental lesson of this sea novel is what both leaders and followers owe each other, especially in the demanding crucible of the sea.

By Herman Wouk,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The novel that inspired the now-classic film The Caine Mutiny and the hit Broadway play The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.

Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life—and mutiny—on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of World War II. In the intervening half century, The Caine Mutiny has become a perennial favorite of readers young and old, has sold millions of copies throughout the world, and has achieved the status…


Book cover of Paths of Glory

W.D. Wetherell Author Of A Century of November

From my list on unjustly forgotten books from World War One.

Why am I passionate about this?

Novelist, essayist, and short-story writer W. D. Wetherell is the author of over two dozen books. A visit to the World War One battlefields in Flanders led to his lasting interest in the human tragedies of l914-18, inspiring his novel A Century of November, and his critical study Where Wars Go to Die; The Forgotten Literature of World War One.

W.D.'s book list on unjustly forgotten books from World War One

W.D. Wetherell Why did W.D. love this book?

Film historians regard the movie version as one of Stanley Kubrick’s most powerful achievements, thanks in no small measure to Kirk Douglas, who, in the role of a French colonel desperate to preserve the life of his men in a suicidal attack, gives a performance for the ages. The l935 novel the film is based on stands on its own as one of the great anti-war books that followed in World War One’s wake.

By Humphrey Cobb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Familiar to many as the Stanley Kubrick film starring Kirk Douglas, "Paths of Glory" explores the perilous complications involved in what nations demand of their soldiers in wartime. Humphrey Cobb's protagonists are Frenchmen during the First World War whose nightmare in the trenches takes a new and terrible turn when they are ordered to assault a German position deemed all but invulnerable. When the attack fails, an inquiry into allegations of cowardice indicts a small handful of lower-ranked scapegoats whose trial exposes the farce of ordering ordinary men to risk their lives in an impossible cause. A chilling portrait of…


Book cover of Naval Mutinies of the Twentieth Century: An International Perspective

Keith Grint Author Of Mutiny and Leadership

From my list on mutiny, and how to lead or avoid them.

Why am I passionate about this?

My academic writing is focused on leadership, and leading mutinies is probably the most dangerous thing any leader can do: the chances of success are slim and the likelihood of the leaders surviving even a successful mutiny are negligible. So why do it? The book suggests an answer through a typology of dissent that is rooted in the environment mutineers find themselves in, but that still doesn’t explain by very similar conditions generate very different outcomes. To explain that I turned to two ideas: the importance of the moral economy and the role of the puer robustus – the inveterate recalcitrant who takes it upon themselves to resolve the despotic situation.

Keith's book list on mutiny, and how to lead or avoid them

Keith Grint Why did Keith love this book?

This is the best collection for readers whose interests lie in the recent naval tradition of mutinies. It covers mutinies across the globe and includes some of the classic examples, such as the 1905 Battleship Potemkin, the 1931 Invergordon Royal Navy mutiny, and the 1944 Port Chicago mutiny. The first speaks to the importance of conditions on board ship, the second directly reflects the current wave of strikes in the UK, caused by the same phenomena: pay. The last is in a different category altogether and reminds us that mutinies are seldom isolated from their environment, indeed, the Port Chicago mutiny played a key role in the early post-war struggle for civil rights in the USA.

By Christopher Bell (editor), Bruce Elleman (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Naval Mutinies of the Twentieth Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume brings together a set of scholarly, readable and up-to-date essays covering the most significant naval mutinies of the 20th century, including Russia (1905), Brazil (1910), Austria (1918), Germany (1918), France (1918-19), Great Britain (1931), Chile (1931), the United States (1944), India (1946), China (1949), Australia, and Canada (1949).

Each chapter addresses the causes of the mutiny in question, its long- and short-term repercussions, and the course of the mutiny itself. More generally, authors consider the state of the literature on their mutiny and examine significant historiographical issues connected with it, taking advantage of new research and new methodologies…


Book cover of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Sally J. Pla Author Of The Fire, the Water, and Maudie McGinn

From my list on children’s novels depicting real adversity—and hope.

Why am I passionate about this?

I went through some very tough times growing up. I was an undiagnosed autistic teen, terribly shy, with no real guidance, and I was often bullied and bewildered. But my heart was filled with only goodwill and good intentions, and a yearning to connect meaningfully with others. So, stories of adversity, of characters making it through very tough times, through trauma—these stories were like shining beacons that said, “survival is possible.” Now that I’m a grownup writer, it’s at the root of what I want to offer—hope—to today’s kids who may be going through similar tough stuff. Survival is possible.

Sally's book list on children’s novels depicting real adversity—and hope

Sally J. Pla Why did Sally love this book?

I absolutely marveled at the strength Charlotte showed in this excellent, rollicking high-seas adventure.

It was terrible, it was life or death for her every day. And she found her way through it. The beautiful survivor strength of the main character is what inspired me. 

By Avi,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Avi's treasured Newbery Honor Book now with exclusive bonus content!

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!A Newbery Honor Book* "A thrilling tale, tautly plotted, vividly narrated." --Kirkus Reviews, starred reviewThirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle is excited to return home from her school in England to her family in Rhode Island in the summer of 1832. But when the two families she was supposed to travel with mysteriously cancel their trips, Charlotte finds herself the lone passenger on a long sea voyage with a cruel captain and a…


Book cover of Adam Smith: Father of Economics

Christopher J. Berry Author Of Adam Smith: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on who Adam Smith was and why he's still important.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve studied Smith and his Scottish contemporaries, off and on, for over fifty years. My whole professional career has been spent at Glasgow University where Smith was both a student and later professor. I thus have a personal affinity to him and his work, all the more so because his published writings were all trailed in his professorial classroom. While I have published extensively on Smith, the particular book of mine that I’ve selected was chosen because I wanted to distill all my scholarship into a volume that would be accessible to non-academics. 

Christopher's book list on who Adam Smith was and why he's still important

Christopher J. Berry Why did Christopher love this book?

This is a defence of Smith's continuing relevance. It combines an overview of Smith's life and writings together with an assessment of his long-term and enduring contribution.

What is distinctive is that second-half of the book takes up Smith's ideas thematically and analyses them in the light of contemporary issues. Norman's judgment is that mainstream academic discussion of 'economics' is too self-absorbed and would be improved by heeding Smith's inclusive insights.  Impressively what could have been a heavy read is conveyed in a readable, accessible style.

By Jesse Norman, Matthew Waterson (narrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A superb book' Financial Times, Books of the Year

Adam Smith is now widely regarded as 'the father of modern economics' and the most influential economist who ever lived. But what he really thought, and what the implications of his ideas are, remain fiercely contested. Was he an eloquent advocate of capitalism and the freedom of the individual? Or a prime mover of 'market fundamentalism' and an apologist for inequality and human selfishness? Or something else entirely? Jesse Norman's brilliantly conceived \book gives us not just Smith's economics, but his vastly wider intellectual project. Against the turbulent backdrop of Enlightenment…


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