100 books like Violent Land

By David T. Courtwright,

Here are 100 books that Violent Land fans have personally recommended if you like Violent Land. 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 When Men Murder Women

Martin Daly Author Of Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide

From my list on why people sometimes kill one another.

Why am I passionate about this?

When my late wife Margo Wilson suggested, over 40 years ago, that we should study homicides for what they might reveal about human motives and emotions, her idea seemed zany. But when we plunged into police investigative files and homicide databases, we quickly realized that we had struck gold, and homicide research became our passion. Our innovation was to approach the topic like epidemiologists, asking who is likely to kill whom and identifying the risk factors that are peculiar to particular victim-killer relationships. What do people really care about? Surveys and interviews elicit cheap talk; killing someone is drastic action.  

Martin's book list on why people sometimes kill one another

Martin Daly Why did Martin love this book?

Rebecca and Russell Dobash had studied men's violence against their female partners for decades and were already heroes of the women's movement when they began interviewing incarcerated killers in Britain. Two fine books have resulted, one focused on men who killed women, the other on men who killed men. It is the former, especially the section on intimate partner homicide, that I find most captivating. The Dobashes skilfully blend national statistics with the self-serving testimony of their interviewees, who minimize their lethal acts as things that "happened" rather than things that they did, and apparently believe themselves to be the victims. These insights are essential.    

By R. Emerson Dobash, Russell P. Dobash,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Men Murder Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the United States and Great Britain, 20-30% of all homicides involve the killing of a woman by a man, and it is far rarer when a woman is killed by another woman. Unfortunately, this is not a very well understood phenomenon. Most books on the topic discuss serial killings, but those only make up 2% of sexual murder-a sensationalist subset of a subset. There has never before been a comprehensive book that has covered the entire scope of homicide cases in which men
murder women.

Dobash and Dobash, two seasoned researchers and longtime collaborators in the study of violence…


Book cover of Killings

Martin Daly Author Of Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide

From my list on why people sometimes kill one another.

Why am I passionate about this?

When my late wife Margo Wilson suggested, over 40 years ago, that we should study homicides for what they might reveal about human motives and emotions, her idea seemed zany. But when we plunged into police investigative files and homicide databases, we quickly realized that we had struck gold, and homicide research became our passion. Our innovation was to approach the topic like epidemiologists, asking who is likely to kill whom and identifying the risk factors that are peculiar to particular victim-killer relationships. What do people really care about? Surveys and interviews elicit cheap talk; killing someone is drastic action.  

Martin's book list on why people sometimes kill one another

Martin Daly Why did Martin love this book?

It was Calvin Trillin's hilariously enthusiastic stories about the world's best restaurants (most of which seem to be situated in his hometown of Kansas City) that initially made me one of his many fans. Between 1967 and 1982, however, he also wrote a series of long articles for The New Yorker entitled "U.S. Journal," in which he used singular events, often homicides, as the launchpads for tales rich in local history and lifeways. Sixteen of Trillin's best are assembled here. Has anyone written more penetratingly about how rivalries and resentments are embedded in social settings?  

By Calvin Trillin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

True stories of sudden death in the classic collection by a master of American journalism

“Reporters love murders,” Calvin Trillin writes in the introduction to Killings. “In a pinch, what the lawyers call ‘wrongful death’ will do, particularly if it’s sudden.” Killings, first published in 1984 and expanded for this edition, shows Trillin to be such a reporter, drawn time after time to tales of sudden death. But Trillin is attracted less by violence or police procedure than by the way the fabric of people’s lives is suddenly exposed when someone comes to an untimely end.  As Trillin says, Killings…


Book cover of Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets

Geoffrey C. Fuller Author Of The WVU Coed Murders: Who Killed Mared and Karen?

From my list on crime exploring more than the crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m always intrigued by certain kinds of crime stories, but usually not by the crimes themselves. Straightforward whodunits bore me, and simplistic retellings of the hero myth just strike me as wrong. About thirty years ago, I began to wonder why—which crime stories intrigue me and which seem more like exercises in voyeurism. Turns out the stories I really get into wrap me in previously unseen worlds. They offer a fresh take, bring up unexpected considerations, present a new way to view the crime, or demonstrate why what I’d always thought was mistaken or insufficient. Such books present the crime, but contain much more than the crime.

Geoffrey's book list on crime exploring more than the crime

Geoffrey C. Fuller Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Baltimore Sun crime reporter David Simon practically lived with the Baltimore City police to produce Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.

I love the writing, which is clean but descriptive. In the thirty years since it came out, this book has often been imitated but is still without rival. He wasn’t reporting stories I’d heard before (good guys chasing bad guys), and the social forces that the book explored (individual and institutional) were palpably real and never drawn in one dimension.

The contents inspired decades of television, from network TV’s Homicide: Life on the Street to The Wire, arguably the best police procedural ever produced. As a fan of both shows, I was drawn to this source material, which was layered with cynicism, hope, and dark humor.

By David Simon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the creator of HBO's The Wire, the classic book about homicide investigation that became the basis for the hit television show

The scene is Baltimore. Twice every three days another citizen is shot, stabbed, or bludgeoned to death. At the center of this hurricane of crime is the city's homicide unit, a small brotherhood of hard men who fight for whatever justice is possible in a deadly world.

David Simon was the first reporter ever to gain unlimited access to a homicide unit, and this electrifying book tells the true story of a year on the violent streets of…


Book cover of Maria Murder and Suicide

Martin Daly Author Of Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide

From my list on why people sometimes kill one another.

Why am I passionate about this?

When my late wife Margo Wilson suggested, over 40 years ago, that we should study homicides for what they might reveal about human motives and emotions, her idea seemed zany. But when we plunged into police investigative files and homicide databases, we quickly realized that we had struck gold, and homicide research became our passion. Our innovation was to approach the topic like epidemiologists, asking who is likely to kill whom and identifying the risk factors that are peculiar to particular victim-killer relationships. What do people really care about? Surveys and interviews elicit cheap talk; killing someone is drastic action.  

Martin's book list on why people sometimes kill one another

Martin Daly Why did Martin love this book?

People share a complex core of humanity that transcends cultural differences. Rather than being incomprehensibly strange, the passions that move people in "exotic" societies are all too familiar. Compendia of homicide cases in tribal societies that are in many ways different from the one we inhabit support this claim, and my 5th pick is a particularly readable example. Anthropologist Verrier Elwin amassed court records on 107 homicides among the "Bison-Horn Maria" of central India in the first half of the 20th century. The Maria then lived as slash-and-burn horticulturalists and part-time hunter-gatherers, and were, like other "tribals," left to their own devices by the British Raj unless a violent death provoked state intervention. The killings described here are tragic, and the protagonists, though sparsely introduced, fully human.     

By Verrier Elwin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Maria Murder and Suicide as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After providing a brief sketch of Maria life and custom, Elwin goes on to examine the records of one hundred cases of murder and fifty cases of suicide, and finally makes valuable suggestions for improving the treatment of aboriginal in jail. The commonest motives for crime among the Bison-horn Maria were found to be sexual jealousy and resentment or shame caused by public rebuke; fatigue and the use of alcohol were also found to be factors.


Book cover of Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History

Mark Koyama Author Of How the World Became Rich: The Historical Origins of Economic Growth

From my list on politics and economics in preindustrial societies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been fascinated with history. The study of economic history allows me to combine my passion for understanding the past with a rigorous and systematic set of analytical tools. In my own work I'm interested in understanding the economic, political, and institutional transformations that have created the modern world. The books I've selected here help us better understand quite how different the past and they have proven to be invaluable to me as inspirations. 

Mark's book list on politics and economics in preindustrial societies

Mark Koyama Why did Mark love this book?

This is a landmark book in political economy and economic history. 

Douglass North won the Noble Prize in Economics in part for the study of institutions in economic history. 

This was his final work (coauthored with Wallis and Weingast). And while the lessons of North's earlier work on institutions have been incorporated into the wider body of scholarship in economic history and development economics, I think the lessons of this book haven't been fully absorbed.  

The fundamental idea is that all societies face "the problem of violence". They have to deter individuals from resorting to violence in order to take what they want. But the means through which society limits violence vary and are often detrimental to long-run economic growth. There is thus a "natural" form of government that is common throughout history, capable of producing social order but not widespread prosperity.

Achieving sustained economic growth in the long-run requires…

By Douglass C. North, John Joseph Wallis, Barry R. Weingast

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Violence and Social Orders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All societies must deal with the possibility of violence, and they do so in different ways. This book integrates the problem of violence into a larger social science and historical framework, showing how economic and political behavior are closely linked. Most societies, which we call natural states, limit violence by political manipulation of the economy to create privileged interests. These privileges limit the use of violence by powerful individuals, but doing so hinders both economic and political development. In contrast, modern societies create open access to economic and political organizations, fostering political and economic competition. The book provides a framework…


Book cover of Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

Rebecca Langston-George Author Of The Booth Brothers: Drama, Fame, and the Death of President Lincoln

From my list on little-known US history for children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught for more than 26 years in classes ranging from first grade through college. No matter the age of the students, I used children’s books to introduce topics in history. I never shied away from using a picture book with older students and often found they were more engaged in a picture book than in an article. I also used historical fiction as a hook to lure students into picking up a related non-fiction book. In fact, historical fiction was the gateway that taught this writer of 13 nonfiction children’s books to love non-fiction history. 

Rebecca's book list on little-known US history for children

Rebecca Langston-George Why did Rebecca love this book?

Weatherford depicts a vibrant and thriving Black Wall Street in Tulsa until one elevator ride brings it all crashing down.

Unspeakable has received numerous starred reviews and awards—all richly deserved for shining a light on this horrifying history and reminding us at the book’s conclusion that it is the responsibility of us all to reject hatred and choose hope. It’s a stunning work from a powerhouse author and illustrator team.

Don’t let its picture book format keep you from sharing this important book with teens and adults. The format makes the difficult subject both more accessible and more relatable.  

By Carole Boston Weatherford, Floyd Cooper (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Unspeakable as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards for Author and Illustrator

A Caldecott Honor Book

A Sibert Honor Book

Longlisted for the National Book Award

A Kirkus Prize Finalist

A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book

"A must-have"―Booklist (starred review)

Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation's history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa's Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community.

News of…


Book cover of Applying Anthropology to Gender-Based Violence: Global Responses, Local Practices

Allison Bloom Author Of Violence Never Heals: The Lifelong Effects of Intimate Partner Violence for Immigrant Women

From my list on domestic violence from a cross-cultural perspective.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a researcher, educator, and practitioner of domestic violence services for over 15 years, and am extremely passionate about this topic. After having worked in the domestic violence field, I then pursued my PhD to study this problem, which I now continue to research and teach about as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Moravian University. In our ever-globalizing world, I believe it's especially important for us to consider domestic violence from a cross-cultural perspective, and having studied this issue in Latin America and among Latina women in the U.S., I hope to spread that knowledge even further. More than ever, it is important for everyone to gain knowledge on this worldwide problem.

Allison's book list on domestic violence from a cross-cultural perspective

Allison Bloom Why did Allison love this book?

If you’re interested in learning about domestic violence from a cross-cultural perspective, the literature on domestic violence in anthropology is an excellent place to look.

This is the second book by Jennifer Wies and Hillary Haldane, two anthropologists who have carved out a space for understanding how to apply anthropological insights to actual domestic violence work. This book offers cross-cultural ideas for how to do just that from a variety of anthropologists working all around the world who continue to work together on this issue from an applied anthropological perspective.

Both Wies and Haldane are mentors of mine, and Haldane was a huge support in the development of my own research. I have also collaborated with several of the authors in this book and can attest to the excellence of their research.

By Jennifer R. Wies (editor), Hillary J. Haldane (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Applying Anthropology to Gender-Based Violence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Applying Anthropology to Gender-Based Violence: Global Responses, Local Practices addresses the gaps in theory, methods, and practices that are currently used to engage the problem of gender-based violence. This book complements the work carried out in the legal, human services, and health fields by demonstrating how a focus on local issues and responses can better inform a collaborative global response to the problem of gender-based violence. With chapters covering Africa, Asia, Latin and North America, and Oceania, the volume illustrates the various ways scholars, practitioners, frontline workers, and policy makers can work together to end violence in their local communities.…


Book cover of The Calculus of Violence: How Americans Fought the Civil War

George C. Rable Author Of Conflict of Command: George McClellan, Abraham Lincoln, and the Politics of War

From my list on the American Civil War beyond the usual battles.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been researching and writing about the era of the American Civil War for something over half a century. My passion for the subject remains strong today, having just published my seventh book. Given the seemingly endless amounts of material from soldiers and civilians alike, I have enjoyed deeply researching neglected subjects and writing about them in a way that appeals to both historians and general readers. For me the Civil War never grows stale, there are always little-used sources to research and fresh ideas to consider. The American Civil is omnipresent in my life—not excluding weekends and holidays!   

George's book list on the American Civil War beyond the usual battles

George C. Rable Why did George love this book?

From its wonderfully apropos title to its cautionary final paragraph, The Calculus of Violence is a deeply thoughtful and original analysis of who was killed and did the killing in the American Civil War—and why. 

Aaron Sheehan-Dean argues that a very bloody civil war could have been much bloodier. The book is powerful but never preachy because complex human beings with complex beliefs and motivations are always at the forefront. This superb work forces readers to rethink many supposedly settled questions about the American Civil War.

By Aaron Sheehan-Dean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Jefferson Davis Award
Winner of the Johns Family Book Award
Winner of the Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award

"A work of deep intellectual seriousness, sweeping and yet also delicately measured, this book promises to resolve longstanding debates about the nature of the Civil War."
-Gregory P. Downs, author of After Appomattox

Shiloh, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg-tens of thousands of soldiers died on these iconic Civil War battlefields, and throughout the South civilians suffered terrible cruelty. At least three-quarters of a million lives were lost during the American Civil War. Given its seemingly indiscriminate mass destruction, this conflict is…


Book cover of The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America

Kevin Kenny Author Of The Problem of Immigration in a Slaveholding Republic: Policing Mobility in the Nineteenth-Century United States

From my list on US immigration in the nineteenth century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write and teach about nineteenth-century US history, and I am interested in immigration for both personal and professional reasons. A native of Dublin, Ireland, I did my undergraduate work in Edinburgh, Scotland, completed my graduate degree in New York City, moved to Austin, Texas for my first academic job and to Boston for my second job, and then returned to New City York to take up my current position at NYU, where I teach US immigration history and run Glucksman Ireland House. The key themes in my work—migration, diaspora, and empire—have been as central to my life journey as to my research and teaching. 

Kevin's book list on US immigration in the nineteenth century

Kevin Kenny Why did Kevin love this book?

Why did anti-Chinese violence continue to rise even after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, reaching a terrible peak in 1885 and 1886?

In a powerful reinterpretation of Chinese exclusion, Beth Lew-Williams reveals how the 1882 act was deliberately limited in scope, poorly funded, and loosely enforced—because immigration policy at this time was still governed by diplomacy. Only in the late 1880s, with China perceived as weak, did the US unilaterally abrogate its treaty obligations and move toward outright exclusion.

The chronology really matters here: for Chinese immigrants it was a question not just of entry or exclusion, but of life and death. Deftly situating anti-Chinese violence in overlapping regional, national, and international contexts, Lew Williams shows how the idea of the immigrant “alien” emerged in tandem with national citizenship during the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction. 

By Beth Lew-Williams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Ray Allen Billington Prize
Winner of the Ellis W. Hawley Prize
Winner of the Sally and Ken Owens Award
Winner of the Vincent P. DeSantis Book Prize
Winner of the Caroline Bancroft History Prize

"A powerful argument about racial violence that could not be more timely."
-Richard White

"A riveting, beautifully written account...that foregrounds Chinese voices and experiences. A timely and important contribution to our understanding of immigration and the border."
-Karl Jacoby, author of Shadows at Dawn

In 1885, following the massacre of Chinese miners in Wyoming Territory, communities throughout California and the Pacific Northwest harassed,…


Book cover of I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her

Rebecca McKanna Author Of Don't Forget the Girl

From my list on true crime that still honor the victims.

Why am I passionate about this?

After writing a novel about the toll true crime can take on victims’ loved ones and the risk it runs of glamourizing killers while overshadowing victims, I’ve been on the hunt for true crime books that don’t fall into these traps. The titles on this list showcase beautiful writing and tell compelling stories without dehumanizing the victims or glamourizing the perpetrators. 

Rebecca's book list on true crime that still honor the victims

Rebecca McKanna Why did Rebecca love this book?

While on assignment for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Connors was raped by a man recently released from prison. Before, he lets her go, he tells her not to contact the police, warning her, “[…] I will find you.”

The phrase becomes the through line of Connors’ book, which is both about her quest to find a way forward after the assault and about her journey to uncover her assailant’s past and the reasons he might have committed this crime. The result is a poignant look at both the trauma left in crime’s wake as well as the societal influences that cause crime to occur in the first place.

By Joanna Connors,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Will Find You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A hard-hitting memoir about a woman's search to understand the man who raped her

Joanna Connors was thirty years old when she was raped at knifepoint by a stranger.

Many years later she realised she had to confront the fear that had ruled her life ever since that day. She needed, finally, to understand. So she went in search of her rapist's story, determined to find out who he was, where he came from, what his life was like - and what leads a person to do something as destructive as what he did to her.

'More chilling than a…


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