100 books like Travels in the Congo

By Andre Gide,

Here are 100 books that Travels in the Congo fans have personally recommended if you like Travels in the Congo. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ 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 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 Heart of Darkness

John Klawitter Author Of Foul

From my list on strong men and women attempting survival in a less moral environment.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a wild card in the industry heavy town where I was born and raised, destined to burn out my days early in a factory or steel mill. But I worked my way through college, survived several close calls in Vietnam and bull headed my way into a series of jobs that pushed me toward Hollywood assignments as a writer, producer and director.

John's book list on strong men and women attempting survival in a less moral environment

John Klawitter Why did John love this book?

I liked this hundred-year-old novel because it explores some darker doubts and concerns I have always had about “the hidden heart of mankind unrestrained.” What’s more, the theme of Heart Of Darkness is reflected in the movie Apocalypse Now, with stark modern-day observations on the wounds the violence of war can inflict on the hearts and minds of humans.

By Joseph Conrad,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Heart of Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although Polish by birth, Joseph Conrad (1857–1924) is regarded as one of the greatest writers in English, and Heart of Darkness, first published in 1902, is considered by many his "most famous, finest, and most enigmatic story." — Encyclopaedia Britannica. The tale concerns the journey of the narrator (Marlow) up the Congo River on behalf of a Belgian trading company. Far upriver, he encounters the mysterious Kurtz, an ivory trader who exercises an almost godlike sway over the inhabitants of the region. Both repelled and fascinated by the man, Marlow is brought face to face with the corruption and despair…


Book cover of In the Forest of No Joy: The Congo-Océan Railroad and the Tragedy of French Colonialism

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?

JP Daughton tells the horrifying story of the Congo-Océan railroad, a massive, ill-conceived construction project (1921-34) whose French overseers doomed some 20,000 African workers to die. This story, revealing as it does France’s imperial hubris and callous disregard of human suffering, should have been told a long time ago. But it has been buried by bureaucrats, overlooked by historians, and made invisible to those who chose not to see. We owe Daughton a great debt for bringing it to light and for masterfully adding a new chapter to the tragic history of Central Africa under European colonial rule.

By J.P. Daughton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Forest of No Joy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Congo-Ocean railroad stretches across the Republic of Congo from Brazzaville to the Atlantic port of Pointe-Noir. It was completed in 1934, when Equatorial Africa was a French colony, and it stands as one of the deadliest construction projects in history. Colonial workers were subjects of an ostensibly democratic nation whose motto read "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," but liberal ideals were savaged by a cruelly indifferent administrative state.

African workers were forcibly conscripted and separated from their families, and subjected to hellish conditions as they hacked their way through dense tropical foliage-a "forest of no joy"; excavated by hand thousands of…


Book cover of Citizenship Between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945-1960

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?

In this superb, prize-winning book, Cooper shows that despite France’s often gruesome treatment of its African colonies, its postwar leaders tried to make amends. After taking power in 1958, Charles de Gaulle gave each of France’s African territories three choices: 1) full departmental status within the French Republic (à la Martinique and Guadeloupe); 2) internal autonomy and democratic self-government in a newly dubbed French Community modeled on the British Commonwealth; 3) complete independence with a cutoff of all financial assistance. Every territory voted for option 2, except Guinea, which chose independence. Although the Community option ultimately fell apart, Cooper shows nonetheless that there was nothing inevitable about the devolution of France’s African empire into a series of independent nation-states.

By Frederick Cooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Citizenship Between Empire and Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the French public debates its present diversity and its colonial past, few remember that between 1946 and 1960 the inhabitants of French colonies possessed the rights of French citizens. Moreover, they did not have to conform to the French civil code that regulated marriage and inheritance. One could, in principle, be a citizen and different too. Citizenship between Empire and Nation examines momentous changes in notions of citizenship, sovereignty, nation, state, and empire in a time of acute uncertainty about the future of a world that had earlier been divided into colonial empires. Frederick Cooper explains how African political…


Book cover of The Black Man’s Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State

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?

Whenever I see suddenly this remarkable book on my bookshelves, I wonder how the author, writing in later years of his life, was able of combining his practical experience in Africa with his theoretical engagement of Africa. The author narrates sympathetically how African political elites who embraced Western alien institutions and state ideals failed to reconsider the reconfiguration of the nation-state on their continent.

By Basil Davidson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Black Man’s Burden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Basil Davidson on the nation-state in Africa and its huge disappointments, its relationship to the colonial years and the parallels with events in Eastern Europe.

North America: Times/Random House


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 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 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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in colonialism, Africa, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about colonialism, Africa, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Colonialism Explore 99 books about colonialism
Africa Explore 260 books about Africa
The Democratic Republic Of The Congo Explore 15 books about the Democratic Republic of the Congo