97 books like To Catch a Dictator

By Reed Brody,

Here are 97 books that To Catch a Dictator fans have personally recommended if you like To Catch a Dictator. 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 Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

Naomi Roht-Arriaza Author Of The Pinochet Effect: Transnational Justice in the Age of Human Rights

From my list on bringing dictators and evil men to justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in part in Chile, and when the Pinochet dictatorship started killing and torturing people, I wanted to do something about it. Years later, as a professor of international law, I helped countries figure out what to do after mass atrocities. Seeing how trials in other countries – or in international criminal courts – could break through barriers and make it possible to bring those who killed, tortured, or disappeared thousands of people to justice gave me hope. I wanted to tell the stories of the brave people who overcame the odds to do justice, in a readable and exciting way that also explained the legal and political issues involved. 

Naomi's book list on bringing dictators and evil men to justice

Naomi Roht-Arriaza Why did Naomi love this book?

The grandmama of human rights-related trial accounts, and for good reason. Arendt covered the trial of Nazi official Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in the 1960s. Eichmann had been living in Argentina, and was kidnapped and taken to Israel, where he was tried and condemned for his role in the Holocaust. Arendt raises profound questions about the value of trials in the face of overwhelming evil, about how trials structure narratives, and about memory. Still issues we grapple with today.

By Hannah Arendt,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Eichmann in Jerusalem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A profound and documented analysis ... Bound to stir our minds and trouble our consciences' Chicago Tribune

Hannah Arendt's authoritative and stunning report on the trial of German Nazi SS leader Adolf Eichmann first appeared as a series of articles in The New Yorker in 1963. This revised edition includes material that came to light after the trial, as well as Arendt's postscript commenting on the controversy that arose over her book. A major journalistic triumph by an intellectual of singular influence, Eichmann in Jerusalem is as shocking as it is informative - a meticulous and unflinching look at one…


Book cover of Balkan Justice: The Story Behind the First International War Crimes Trial Since Nuremberg

Naomi Roht-Arriaza Author Of The Pinochet Effect: Transnational Justice in the Age of Human Rights

From my list on bringing dictators and evil men to justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in part in Chile, and when the Pinochet dictatorship started killing and torturing people, I wanted to do something about it. Years later, as a professor of international law, I helped countries figure out what to do after mass atrocities. Seeing how trials in other countries – or in international criminal courts – could break through barriers and make it possible to bring those who killed, tortured, or disappeared thousands of people to justice gave me hope. I wanted to tell the stories of the brave people who overcame the odds to do justice, in a readable and exciting way that also explained the legal and political issues involved. 

Naomi's book list on bringing dictators and evil men to justice

Naomi Roht-Arriaza Why did Naomi love this book?

Slobodan Milosevic’s trial by the first post-Cold War international court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, required the creation of a whole new court and set of procedures, and established many of the current rules on trying war crimes and crimes against humanity. There’s a lot written on the ICTY, but I like Scharf’s book because he tells the backstories, explains the different choices that the court could have made, and makes for a fascinating read.

By Michael P. Scharf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book is about the First International War Crime Trial since Nuremberg. Balkan Justice provides the inside story of the United Nations Yugoslavia War Crimes Tribunal charged with conducting the first international war crimes trials since World War11.


Book cover of The Condor Trials: Transnational Repression and Human Rights in South America

Debbie Sharnak Author Of Of Light and Struggle: Social Justice, Human Rights, and Accountability in Uruguay

From my list on human rights in Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked at the International Center for Transitional Justice in 2009 when Uruguay held a second referendum to overturn the country’s amnesty law that protected the police and military from prosecution for human rights abuses during the country’s dictatorship. Despite the country’s stable democracy and progressive politics in the 21st century, citizens quite surprisingly rejected the opportunity to overturn the state-sanctioned impunity law. My interest in broader accountability efforts in the world and that seemingly shocking vote in Uruguay drove me to want to study the roots of that failed effort, ultimately compelling a broader investigation into how human rights culture in Uruguay evolved, particularly during and after its period of military rule. 

Debbie's book list on human rights in Latin America

Debbie Sharnak Why did Debbie love this book?

Operation Condor is the coordination that occurred between military governments across borders in South America during the Cold War to repress those suspected of being subversives. Some fled their home countries, only to be apprehended, tortured, and sometimes killed by a neighboring regime.

As difficult as it has been to try those involved in national crimes, it has been even more challenging to do so in these legally complex cases that span numerous jurisdictions. Lessa, however, has been following these accountability efforts for over a decade, and writes a fantastic book about these battles, shedding light on not only the events that occurred but also the struggle to document them and have accountability for victims. 

By Francesca Lessa,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Condor Trials as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stories of transnational terror and justice illuminate the past and present of South America's struggles for human rights

Through the voices of survivors and witnesses, human rights activists, judicial actors, journalists, and historians, Francesca Lessa unravels the secrets of transnational repression masterminded by South American dictators between 1969 and 1981. Under Operation Condor, their violent and oppressive regimes kidnapped, tortured, and murdered hundreds of exiles, or forcibly returned them to the countries from which they had fled. South America became a zone of terror for those who were targeted, and of impunity for those who perpetuated the violence.

Lessa shows…


Book cover of Extraordinary Justice: Law, Politics, and the Khmer Rouge Tribunals

Naomi Roht-Arriaza Author Of The Pinochet Effect: Transnational Justice in the Age of Human Rights

From my list on bringing dictators and evil men to justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in part in Chile, and when the Pinochet dictatorship started killing and torturing people, I wanted to do something about it. Years later, as a professor of international law, I helped countries figure out what to do after mass atrocities. Seeing how trials in other countries – or in international criminal courts – could break through barriers and make it possible to bring those who killed, tortured, or disappeared thousands of people to justice gave me hope. I wanted to tell the stories of the brave people who overcame the odds to do justice, in a readable and exciting way that also explained the legal and political issues involved. 

Naomi's book list on bringing dictators and evil men to justice

Naomi Roht-Arriaza Why did Naomi love this book?

Etcheson has spent decades working for justice for survivors of the Khmer Rouge massacres of the 1970s. He tells the inside story of the diplomatic, legal, political, and social maneuvering behind the negotiation, setup, and operation of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia. That court, plagued by political interference, only managed to try three defendants, but its legacy went beyond the actual trials, sometimes in surprising ways. The book is engaging and has fascinating details on behind-the-scenes discussions.  

By Craig Etcheson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In just a few short years, the Khmer Rouge presided over one of the twentieth century's cruelest reigns of terror. Since its 1979 overthrow, there have been several attempts to hold the perpetrators accountable, from a People's Revolutionary Tribunal shortly afterward through the early 2000s Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, also known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Extraordinary Justice offers a definitive account of the quest for justice in Cambodia that uses this history to develop a theoretical framework for understanding the interaction between law and politics in war crimes tribunals.

Craig Etcheson, one of the world's foremost…


Book cover of The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State

Alesa Lightbourne Author Of The Kurdish Bike

From my list on the Kurds and their world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like the main character in my book, I went to Kurdish Iraq as a well-meaning (but admittedly naive) teacher, and fell in love with the Kurdish people and their culture. To be more specific, it was village women I really bonded with. Listening to their stories, and watching them try to cope with so many practical restrictions, tore at my heart. Part of me wanted to “liberate” them from the seemingly outdated traditions that held them back. Simultaneously, I couldn’t help but envy them for the solaces their tight community offered them -- and which Western society denied me. Rather than claiming to be an expert on Kurds, I am now someone who studies them with the greatest respect. The humble Kurdish villagers gave me moral examples that I wish every Westerner could be fortunate enough to have.

Alesa's book list on the Kurds and their world

Alesa Lightbourne Why did Alesa love this book?

I read newspaper reports about ISIS capturing and enslaving Yazidi women in Iraq, but had a hard time imagining day-to-day life within the Caliphate. Murad gives us an insider’s view. She was just 21 when ISIS overran her village. She survived repeated beatings, rapes, and other forms of degradation until risking a dare-devil escape. Although Yazidis are ethnically distinct from Kurds, they have lived surrounded and protected by Kurds for centuries. Murad’s story helps us understand why Kurds fought so valiantly against ISIS, and illustrates the tolerance for diversity in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan.

By Nadia Murad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

`Telling my story of first, surviving genocide and then, as a captive of ISIS is not easy, but people must know.' The remarkable and courageous story of Nadia Murad, a twenty-three-year-old Yazidi woman who is working with Amal Clooney to challenge the world to fight ISIS on behalf on her people.

With a foreword by Amal Clooney

A Nobel Peace Prize nominee and the first Goodwill Ambassador the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the United Nations and winner of the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, Nadia Murad is a courageous young woman who has endured unimaginable tragedy (losing…


Book cover of Omar Khadr, Oh Canada

Valentina Capurri Author Of Not Good Enough for Canada: Canadian Public Discourse Around Issues of Inadmissibility for Potential Immigrants with Diseases And/Or Disabilities

From my list on belonging and exclusion in Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and a social geographer whose main interest is in examining why some of us are embraced (legally, politically, economically, culturally) by the society we live in while some others are excluded. Probably due to my status as someone who is an immigrant to Canada and also a person with a disability, the topic of belonging and exclusion fascinates me. 

Valentina's book list on belonging and exclusion in Canada

Valentina Capurri Why did Valentina love this book?

Omar Khadr is a personal friend of mine, the gentlest soul I have met since setting foot on Canadian soil. This collection has been essential to my understanding of Canada’s unwillingness to stand up for one of its own citizens. It highlights how belonging in the nation is not necessarily a right all citizens enjoy, and invites a serious reflection on what citizenship means in this country.  

By Janice Williamson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Omar Khadr, Oh Canada as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2002 a fifteen-year-old Canadian citizen was captured in Afghanistan for allegedly killing an American soldier. A badly wounded Omar Khadr was transferred to the US Bagram Air Force base and then Guantanamo Bay detention camp. He would remain there without trial until October 2010, when a military commission admitted evidence considered tainted by Canadian courts. A plea bargain and guilty plea initiated his promised return to Canada a year later. Some Canadians see Khadr as a symbol of terrorism in action. For others he is the victim of a jihadist father and Canadian complicity in the unjust excesses, including…


Book cover of Boats, Borders, and Bases: Race, the Cold War, and the Rise of Migration Detention in the United States

Nancy Hiemstra Author Of Detain and Deport: The Chaotic U.S. Immigration Enforcement Regime

From my list on why the U.S. has the biggest immigration detention system.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first became aware of harms of immigration enforcement policies while volunteering to tutor kids of undocumented migrant farmworkers in the 1990s. Through a variety of jobs in the U.S. and Latin America, my eyes were opened to reasons driving people to migrate and challenges immigrants face. I eventually went to graduate school in Geography to study local to transnational reverberations of immigration policies. A project in Ecuador where I helped families of people detained in the U.S. led me to realize how huge, cruel, and ineffective U.S. immigration detention is. I hope these books help you break through myths about detention and make sense of the chaos.

Nancy's book list on why the U.S. has the biggest immigration detention system

Nancy Hiemstra Why did Nancy love this book?

While most academic work on detention focuses on immigration enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border or in the U.S. interior, this book traces the origin of detention to U.S. efforts to deter the Cuban and Haitian migration that occurred as part of U.S. Cold War dealings.

With fascinating, painstaking historical research, Loyd and Mountz argue that the legal and infrastructural foundations of the contemporary detention system were established through the U.S. response to Caribbean migration in the 1990s and the goal of preventing migrants from claiming the international right to asylum.

The book also shows how racism—especially anti-Black racism—has been at the core of immigration detention since the beginning, as have abhorrent, shocking conditions of detention facilities.

By Jenna M. Loyd, Alison Mountz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discussions on U.S. border enforcement have traditionally focused on the highly charged U.S.-Mexico boundary, inadvertently obscuring U.S.-Caribbean relations and the concerning asylum and detention policies unfolding there. Boats, Borders, and Bases offers the missing, racialized histories of the U.S. detention system and its relationship to the interception and detention of Haitian and Cuban migrants. It argues that the U.S. response to Cold War Caribbean migrations actually established the legal and institutional basis for contemporary migration and detention and border deterrent practices in the U.S. This book promises to make a significant contribution to a truer understanding of the history and…


Book cover of Migrating to Prison: America's Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants

Nancy Hiemstra Author Of Detain and Deport: The Chaotic U.S. Immigration Enforcement Regime

From my list on why the U.S. has the biggest immigration detention system.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first became aware of harms of immigration enforcement policies while volunteering to tutor kids of undocumented migrant farmworkers in the 1990s. Through a variety of jobs in the U.S. and Latin America, my eyes were opened to reasons driving people to migrate and challenges immigrants face. I eventually went to graduate school in Geography to study local to transnational reverberations of immigration policies. A project in Ecuador where I helped families of people detained in the U.S. led me to realize how huge, cruel, and ineffective U.S. immigration detention is. I hope these books help you break through myths about detention and make sense of the chaos.

Nancy's book list on why the U.S. has the biggest immigration detention system

Nancy Hiemstra Why did Nancy love this book?

This book explicitly ties the explosion in immigration detention to goals of political gain and corporate profit, pairing careful historical and legal analysis with piercing personal stories of detention.

After laying out how U.S. foreign policy has triggered the migration patterns that now send lawmakers and the public into a nativist frenzy, legal scholar García Hernández breaks down how laws have been warped to make more people detainable.

He zeroes in on the role of private prison companies, and he explains how Latino immigrants have been turned into fodder for the detention system through lobbying and manipulation of the public narrative. The book finishes by laying out a framework for curbing this corrupt and abusive system.

By César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A powerful, in-depth look at the imprisonment of immigrants, addressing the intersection of immigration and the criminal justice system, with a new epilogue by the author

"Argues compellingly that immigrant advocates shouldn't content themselves with debates about how many thousands of immigrants to lock up, or other minor tweaks." -Gus Bova, Texas Observer

For most of America's history, we simply did not lock people up for migrating here. Yet over the last thirty years, the federal and state governments have increasingly tapped their powers to incarcerate people accused of violating immigration laws.

Migrating to Prison takes a hard…


Book cover of Inventing Human Rights: A History

Duncan Jepson Author Of All the Flowers in Shanghai

From my list on about protest.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been an activist working on issues relating to human rights and youth protection for over fifteen years and during that time I worked as a lawyer and was lucky enough to make films and write two novels. Eventually, I would concentrate solely on activism and my reading would become very specific and as the focus of my activism changed and I directed my energies to corporate accountability my reading changed course again. The list I offer is from talented writers on important subjects, all write extremely well about things that matter to a human rights activist.  

Duncan's book list on about protest

Duncan Jepson Why did Duncan love this book?

Many human rights activists have to be focused intensely on the events of today and the consequences for tomorrow, this often allows little time for broader reading. Lynn Hunt offers a detailed and very readable analysis and argument of the history and development of contemporary human rights. I found all of her book illuminating and the connections she described eye-opening.

By Lynn Hunt,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Inventing Human Rights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How were human rights invented, and how does their tumultuous history influence their perception and our ability to protect them today? From Professor Lynn Hunt comes this extraordinary cultural and intellectual history, which traces the roots of human rights to the rejection of torture as a means for finding the truth. She demonstrates how ideas of human relationships portrayed in novels and art helped spread these new ideals and how human rights continue to be contested today.


Book cover of World as Laboratory: Experiments with Mice, Mazes, and Men

Andreas Killen Author Of Nervous Systems: Brain Science in the Early Cold War

From my list on the history of torture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by this topic ever since the first newspaper stories exposing American involvement in torture began to appear in the early years of the so-called War on Terror. This fascination has persisted up to the present, as it remains clear – given recent accounts of Ron DeSantis’ time at Guantanamo – that this story refuses to die. Equally fascinating to me have been accounts revealing the extent to which this story can be traced back to the origins of the Cold War, to the birth of the National Security State, and to the alliance between that state and the professions (psychology and behavioral science) that spawned “enhanced interrogation.”

Andreas' book list on the history of torture

Andreas Killen Why did Andreas love this book?

Harvard historian of science professor Lemov’s account of the history of behavioral science includes a chapter analyzing the work of three of the central figures in MKUltra, the CIA’s decade-long program of classified research into “mind control.”

Excellent on the scientific context out of which that research arose.

By Rebecca Lemov,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



Deeply researched, World as Laboratory tells a secret history that’s not really a secret. The fruits of human engineering are all around us: advertising, polls, focus groups, the ubiquitous habit of “spin” practiced by marketers and politicians. What Rebecca Lemov cleverly traces for the first time is how the absurd, the practical, and the dangerous experiments of the human engineers of the first half of the twentieth century left their laboratories to become our day-to-day reality.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in torture, politics, and human rights?

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