100 books like The Weekenders

By Alex Garland, W.F. Deedes, Tony Hawks , Irvine Welsh , Victoria Glendinning , Andrew O'Hagan , Giles Foden

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

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

Book cover of Emma's War: A True Story

Nicholas Coghlan Author Of Collapse of a Country: A Diplomat's Memoir of South Sudan

From my list on how it all went wrong for South Sudan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Britain and emigrated to Canada in 1981. I was a late starter in the Canadian Foreign Service, which I joined for the not-very-laudable reason that I wanted to travel to interesting places and get paid for it. Little by little, starting with the 1994 Zapatista uprising in Mexico, I found myself drawn to conflictive states—Colombia, Pakistan, Sudan, South Sudan—where, with growing seniority and responsibility, it fell to me to recommend Canadian government approaches to aid, development, human rights, and conflict resolution. South Sudan is a tragedy that I can’t help thinking about. I can see where everything went wrong, but it’s much more difficult to see how it can be fixed.  

Nicholas' book list on how it all went wrong for South Sudan

Nicholas Coghlan Why did Nicholas love this book?

Emma McCune was a beautiful young British aid worker who fell for—and married—Riek Machar, a rival of John Garang for most of the long years of Sudan’s second civil war (1983-2005), reluctant leader of a bloody post-independence revolt, and now one of the country’s five (sic) Vice-Presidents. Emma died in 1993 in a traffic accident in Kenya, but wherever I have been in both Sudan and South Sudan, hosted by aid workers, I have found echoes of her. Emma wanted to make the world a better place—who can knock that?—but her naivete allowed her to be easily manipulated and impressed by raw power, increasingly blind to the corruption and violence within the cause she had adopted. She is buried at Leer, South Sudan, the hometown of Riek Machar.

By Deborah Scroggins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Glamorous aid worker Emma McCune conformed to none of the stereotypes: although driven and committed to her work she was at least partially attracted to Africa because it enabled her to live in a style she could not achieve in Britain, and she was famous in East Africa for wearing mini-skirts and for her affairs with African men. Initially much admired, if also suspect for her social flair, she appalled the aid community with her marriage to a local warlord, who was deeply enmeshed in both rebellion and murder. She had fallen in love and, a rebel to the end,…


Book cover of Acts of Faith

Joanne Leedom-Ackerman Author Of The Far Side of the Desert

From my list on books combining international political intrigue, romance, and family drama.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career as a journalist, including working as a reporter on an international newspaper. I left full-time journalism to write fiction where I can combine an interest in international affairs with stories of characters and issues of the heart which drive individuals and often shape events. Over the years I’ve worked and traveled with international organizations, serving as Vice President of PEN International, and on the boards and in other roles focusing on human rights, education, and refugees. I’ve been able to travel widely and witness events up close, walking along the edge of worlds and discovering the bonds that keep us from falling off.

Joanne's book list on books combining international political intrigue, romance, and family drama

Joanne Leedom-Ackerman Why did Joanne love this book?

This story is set in Sudan among rebel leaders in a war-torn country with hardened guerillas, idealistic aid workers, evangelical young women, and a pilot responsible for bringing aid and people in and out of the area. I was quickly drawn into this complex world through the varied voices and life experiences of the characters, especially as an unlikely and tragic romance emerges.

History, politics, and the human heart are all in play. As a reader I struggled along with the characters as the narrative took on fraught moments of international intrigue and probed the hearts and emotions of the characters, suggesting that in the end, politics is an extension of the human heart in conflict, often in conflict with itself. 

By Philip Caputo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Acts of Faith as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Philip Caputo’s tragic and epically ambitious new novel is set in Sudan, where war is a permanent condition. Into this desolate theater come aid workers, missionaries, and mercenaries of conscience whose courage and idealism sometimes coexist with treacherous moral blindness. There’s the entrepreneurial American pilot who goes from flying food and medicine to smuggling arms, the Kenyan aid worker who can’t help seeing the tawdry underside of his enterprise, and the evangelical Christian who comes to Sudan to redeem slaves and falls in love with a charismatic rebel commander.

As their fates intersect and our understanding of their characters deepens,…


Book cover of The Dissent Channel: American Diplomacy in a Dishonest Age

Nicholas Coghlan Author Of Collapse of a Country: A Diplomat's Memoir of South Sudan

From my list on how it all went wrong for South Sudan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Britain and emigrated to Canada in 1981. I was a late starter in the Canadian Foreign Service, which I joined for the not-very-laudable reason that I wanted to travel to interesting places and get paid for it. Little by little, starting with the 1994 Zapatista uprising in Mexico, I found myself drawn to conflictive states—Colombia, Pakistan, Sudan, South Sudan—where, with growing seniority and responsibility, it fell to me to recommend Canadian government approaches to aid, development, human rights, and conflict resolution. South Sudan is a tragedy that I can’t help thinking about. I can see where everything went wrong, but it’s much more difficult to see how it can be fixed.  

Nicholas' book list on how it all went wrong for South Sudan

Nicholas Coghlan Why did Nicholas love this book?

Lizzie Shackleford, serving at the time as a junior Foreign Service Officer at the American Embassy in Juba, was of invaluable assistance to me as I tried to orchestrate the emergency evacuation of Canadian citizens (nearly all of them dual South Sudanese/Canadians) when Juba imploded in December 2013. With Canada declining to send evacuation aircraft I depended largely on her to secure seats on USAAF Hercules aircraft. She helped save dozens of lives. So, I read her account of the opening of South Sudan’s civil war with great interest.

It’s an eye-opening counterpoint to the glamour and sophistication that many outsiders associate with the diplomatic lifestyle, but it’s also an indictment of short-sighted and misguided American policy-making in the region. The eponymous Dissent Channel is the outlet US diplomats have to express their personal discomfort with official policy. More than once I have found myself wishing that the Canadian diplomatic…

By Elizabeth Shackelford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 2017, the State Department lost 60% of its career ambassadors. Hiring has been cut and the budget slashed. The idealistic women and men who chose to enter government service are leaving in record numbers, jeopardizing operations both domestically and internationally, and eroding the U.S. standing on the world stage.In There Are No Good Guys, former State Department official Lizzy Shackelford shows this erosion first-hand through her experience within the precarious rise and devastating fall of the world's newest country, South Sudan. Shackleford's excitement about the possibility of encouraging democracy from the ground up quickly turns to questioning, then to…


Book cover of The Child Soldiers of Africa's Red Army: The Role of Social Process and Routinised Violence in South Sudan's Military

Nicholas Coghlan Author Of Collapse of a Country: A Diplomat's Memoir of South Sudan

From my list on how it all went wrong for South Sudan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Britain and emigrated to Canada in 1981. I was a late starter in the Canadian Foreign Service, which I joined for the not-very-laudable reason that I wanted to travel to interesting places and get paid for it. Little by little, starting with the 1994 Zapatista uprising in Mexico, I found myself drawn to conflictive states—Colombia, Pakistan, Sudan, South Sudan—where, with growing seniority and responsibility, it fell to me to recommend Canadian government approaches to aid, development, human rights, and conflict resolution. South Sudan is a tragedy that I can’t help thinking about. I can see where everything went wrong, but it’s much more difficult to see how it can be fixed.  

Nicholas' book list on how it all went wrong for South Sudan

Nicholas Coghlan Why did Nicholas love this book?

Carol Berger is a Canadian journalist and anthropologist with decades of experience in Sudan/South Sudan. This book is a meticulously-documented dissection of one of the founding myths of South Sudan: the supposedly glorious deeds of the rebel SPLA’s Red Army (made up of child soldiers) and the associated romance of the phenomenon known as the Lost Boys, as featured by Hollywood (The Good Lie). The truth is that during the second Sudanese civil war (1985-2003) thousands of young boys were ruthlessly exploited and/or abandoned by warlords, many of whom now hold positions of power in South Sudan. A fascinating sidebar is the story of the Cuban Jubans: the young boys who made their way from displacement camps in Ethiopia, via a long sojourn in Cuba, eventually settling in Alberta, Canada. Some two dozen returned to South Sudan in 2011/12 to work as doctors, and I had the pleasure…

By Carol Berger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Child Soldiers of Africa's Red Army as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book examines the role of social process and routinised violence in the use of underaged soldiers in the country now known as South Sudan during the twenty-one-year civil war between Sudan's northern and southern regions. Drawing on accounts of South Sudanese who as children and teenagers were part of the Red Army-the youth wing of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA)-the book sheds light on the organised nature of the exploitation of children and youth by senior adult figures within the movement. The book also includes interviews with several of the original Red Army commanders, all of whom went…


Book cover of States of Disorder: Complexity Theory and UN State-building in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan

Peter T. Coleman Author Of The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization

From my list on navigating seemingly impossible conflicts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent more than 30 years in my lab at Columbia University studying how seemingly intractable conflicts develop and the conditions under which they change. I'm a professor at Columbia, a social psychologist who has studied, taught, and written about conflict for decades. I'm also a mediator, facilitator, and consultant who has worked with divided groups and communities around the world. I direct the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia, where we run the Difficult Conversations Lab, an audio/video/physio “capture lab” where we systematically study the dynamics of divisive moral conflicts to try to understand when encounters over them go well and when they go terribly wrong. 

Peter's book list on navigating seemingly impossible conflicts

Peter T. Coleman Why did Peter love this book?

If you are interested in gaining a better understanding of why the UN fails so miserably at building and sustaining peace – read this new book. Adam Day works at the UN and uses ideas from complexity science to both explain why the UN is so challenged in its ultimate mission to sustain peace, and what it should do to move in the right direction. Day uses two current case studies on some of the most challenging situations faced by the international community and applies new ideas in useful and practical ways. This is the state-of-the-art of complexity-informed peacebuilding.

By Adam Day,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Today's vision of world order is founded upon the concept of strong, well-functioning states, in contrast to the destabilizing potential of failed or fragile states. This worldview has dominated international interventions over the past 30 years as enormous resources have been devoted to developing and extending the governance capacity of weak or failing states, hoping to transform them into reliable nodes in the global order. But with very few exceptions, this
project has not delivered on its promise: countries like Somalia, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remain mired in conflict despite decades of international…


Book cover of Dinka Folktales: African Stories from the Sudan

Harriet Levin Millan Author Of How Fast Can You Run

From my list on astonishing idealism and survival in East Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first met Michael Majok Kuch and he asked me if I was interested in writing his life story, I knew nothing about South Sudan. Over the next several years, we met weekly. I’d interview him, write a chapter, research it, and then show it to him for his approval. I read everything I could find on South Sudan and the adjacent countries. In fact, I became so obsessed with Michael's culture that once I read Francis Mading Deng's Dinka Folktales, Mike’s sister arranged a meeting between Francis Mading Deng and me. These books prepared me for writing How Fast Can You Run, helping other “Lost Boys” of Sudan reunite with their mothers.

Harriet's book list on astonishing idealism and survival in East Africa

Harriet Levin Millan Why did Harriet love this book?

Prolific author and intellectual Francis Mading Deng became South Sudan’s first ambassador to the United Nations. Meeting Dr. Deng in person was one of the highlights of my life. To read any of his 40-some books is a privilege. It is possible to read Dinka Folktales as astonishing anthropological events, but Francis Mading Deng provides an introduction that reveals the “truth” in storytelling. These folktales contain the philosophical, religious, and day-to-day practices of the Dinka, who are the largest ethnic tribe in South Sudan. Given the civil war with north Sudan and the south’s dramatic victory in establishing their own country, these extraordinary stories belong in the ranks of world literature. 

By Francis Mading Deng,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Text: English (translation)


Book cover of Arts of Ancient Nubia: MFA Highlights

Solange Ashby Author Of Calling Out to Isis: The Enduring Nubian Presence at Philae

From my list on ancient Nubia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in the art and written language of ancient Egypt due to its beauty and antiquity. Writing is art and art often contains text in this oldest written African language. I am fascinated with the process of religious change, intercultural interaction, and resistance to colonization. All of these themes are present in the study of the last functioning Egyptian temple, Philae, which is dedicated to the worship of Isis. What is often omitted from the history of this exceptional Egyptian temple is the fact that it was Nubians who defended and sustained the traditional religious practices long after most Egyptians had converted to Christianity. I wrote my book to research and share this neglected history.

Solange's book list on ancient Nubia

Solange Ashby Why did Solange love this book?

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has the best Nubian collection in the United States and one of the very best in the world. This publication of Nubian jewelry held by the MFA is exceptional in its breadth: ceramics, stelae, figurines, faience and ivory inlays, and jewels of gold, silver, precious stones, and beadwork. The artifacts span 3000 years of Nubian history produced during the three Kushite kingdoms: Kerma (2650-1550 BCE), Napata (750-332 BCE), and Meroe (332 BCE - 300 CE).

By Denise Doxey (contributor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ancient Nubia was home to a series of civilizations between the sixth millennium BCE and 350 CE that produced towering monuments, including more pyramids than in neighboring Egypt, and artifacts of enduring beauty and significance. Nubia's trade network reached across the Mediterranean and far into Africa. At the time that Nubian kings conquered Egypt, in the middle of the eighth century BCE, they controlled one of the largest empires of the ancient world.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has the most extensive and important collection of ancient Nubian art outside of Khartoum, mostly gathered during the pioneering Harvard University–Boston…


Book cover of The Cambridge Companion to Human Rights and Literature

Christopher Krentz Author Of Elusive Kinship: Disability and Human Rights in Postcolonial Literature

From my list on disability human rights in the Global South.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach and write about literature and disability at the University of Virginia. I’m also late deafened and have worked in the field of disability studies for over twenty years. In 2002, a scholar pointed out that literature from the former British colonies includes a lot of disabled characters. In 2006, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I began to wonder if the two are related. In Elusive Kinship, I wound up arguing that they are. Not much work has been done on this. I tried to emphasize that I’m just advancing a critical conversation, not giving the final word at all.

Christopher's book list on disability human rights in the Global South

Christopher Krentz Why did Christopher love this book?

This collection of academic essays gives an incisive overview of the newly emergent field of literature and human rights, which I build upon in my book. Contributors include pioneering scholars like James Dawes, Elizabeth Swanson, and Alexandra S. Moore. They have chapters exploring the relationship between literature and rights, the role of emotions in the process, and more. The collection does not consider disability much, but is a good introduction for someone who wants to learn more about an exciting academic field.

By Crystal Parikh (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cambridge Companion to Human Rights and Literature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Literature has been essential to shaping the notions of human personhood, good life, moral responsibility, and forms of freedom that have been central to human rights law, discourse, and politics. The literary study of human rights has also recently generated innovative and timely perspectives on the history, meaning, and scope of human rights. The Cambridge Companion to Human Rights and Literature introduces this new and exciting field of study in the humanities. It explores the historical and institutional contexts, theoretical concepts, genres, and methods that literature and human rights share. Equally accessible to beginners in the field and more advanced…


Book cover of Girl Who Loved Giraffes: And Became the World's First Giraffologist

Jill Heinerth Author Of The Aquanaut

From my list on young explorers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a world-class underwater explorer, writer, photographer, speaker, and filmmaker. A pioneer of technical rebreather diving, I have led expeditions into icebergs in Antarctica, volcanic lava tubes, and submerged caves worldwide. As a child, these fanciful places were just a part of my wildest dreams. The Aquanaut tells the story of how I turned my imaginative journeys into reality and became a celebrated underwater explorer.

Jill's book list on young explorers

Jill Heinerth Why did Jill love this book?

When Anne Innis Dagg was a little girl, she longed to study giraffes in Africa. Many obstacles including gender discrimination stood in her way, so she hide her female identity to get a job and then traveled to Africa on her own. Anne fulfilled her dream and became the world's leading scientific expert on giraffes, inspiring the next generation of women scientists to pursue their dreams.

By Kathy Stinson, Francois Thisdale (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Girl Who Loved Giraffes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

When Anne Innis Dagg saw her first giraffe in a zoo she was entranced. So much so that a love for giraffes shaped her whole life. She decided at a young age that she would one day travel from her home in Canada to study giraffes in their natural environment in Africa.

After overcoming obstacles based on her gender, Anne succeeded in fulfilling her dream in 1956 and became the world's leading scientific expert on giraffes.

In The Girl Who Loved Giraffes, Kathy Stinson and Francois Thisdale have created a beautiful picture book that captures the dramatic story of Anne's…


Book cover of Red Sea Spies: The True Story of Mossad's Fake Diving Resort

Helen Fry Author Of Spymaster: The Man Who Saved Mi6

From my list on spies and their greatest stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Helen is an ambassador for the Museum of Military Intelligence, President of the Friends of the National Archives, and a trustee of the Medmenham Collection. Her history of MI9 – the first such history for over 40 years – was shortlisted for The Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History 2021. Her latest book is ‘Spymaster: The Man Who Saved MI6’ about one of the greatest spies of the 20th century.

Helen's book list on spies and their greatest stories

Helen Fry Why did Helen love this book?

Who would have imagined that a fake diving resort on the Red Sea would become the focus of a clandestine operation by the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad? Raffi Berg’s book tells the epic story of a mission behind enemy lines by Israeli spies to secretly rescue thousands of Ethiopian Jews and bring them to Israel. It was a clandestine operation sparked by a single cryptic message pleading for help from the Ethiopian Jewish community. During his research, Raffi Berg was given rare permission to interview the Mossad agents involved in the mission, including the commander Dani. He also gathered testimonies from those who were brought out of Ethiopia and narrates this human story with honesty and openness.

Rare video footage of the operation has now been released. It uses night vision technology and provides deeply moving footage of the exodus of these people in the middle of the night to…

By Raffi Berg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE TRUE STORY THAT INSPIRED THE NETFLIX FILM THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT.

'Secret missions, brazen deceptions and thrilling, clandestine operations - Red Sea Spies has it all. But it has something more important, too - a genuine human mission that made a difference.' David Hoffman, author of The Billion Dollar Spy

'[A] thrilling and meticulous account.' The Times

In the early 1980s on a remote part of the Sudanese coast, a new luxury holiday resort opened for business. Catering for divers, it attracted guests from around the world. Little did the holidaymakers know that the staff were undercover spies,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Sudan, Africa, and human rights?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Sudan, Africa, and human rights.

Sudan Explore 23 books about Sudan
Africa Explore 251 books about Africa
Human Rights Explore 67 books about human rights