100 books like Whose Heaven, Whose Earth?

By Thomas Melville, Marjorie Melville,

Here are 100 books that Whose Heaven, Whose Earth? fans have personally recommended if you like Whose Heaven, Whose Earth?. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Faith & Joy: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Priest

Theresa Keeley Author Of Reagan's Gun-Toting Nuns: The Catholic Conflict Over Cold War Human Rights Policy in Central America

From my list on Catholics who joined revolutionary movements in Central America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by the relationship between people’s religious and political identities. As a kindergartner, I heard about the hunger strikers at our local Irish Center, I was taught anti-communist songs at my Catholic Ukrainian school, and I listened as my dad explained Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers as we passed by the grapes while grocery shopping. Catholicism was not something I saw as just happening inside the walls of a church. It was about how one related to the world and was part of a global community. Those early experiences inspired me to become a human rights lawyer and activist, and later, a U.S. foreign relations historian.

Theresa's book list on Catholics who joined revolutionary movements in Central America

Theresa Keeley Why did Theresa love this book?

What led a priest to join the Sandinista revolution?

In sharing his story, Nicaraguan Jesuit Fernando Cardenal details how his views regarding what it means to serve the poor and his understanding of sin as societal placed him on a collision course with both the government and many in the church. For a time, Cardenal was expelled from the Jesuits because he refused to resign his post in the Nicaraguan government. He also recounts what led him to later break with the Sandinista party.

By Fernando Cardenal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fernando Cardenal, a Nicaraguan Jesuit priest, oversaw a national literacy campaign and served as minister of education in the revolutionary Sandinista government. The Sandinista revolution was unusual for the wide participation of Christians, including priests, in the struggle. However, the role of priests in the revolutionary government (including Ernesto Cardenal, Fernando's brother, a famous poet), was a source of bitter controversy with the Vatican. When he declined to resign his government post (judging that it would be ""a grave sin if I were to abandon my priestly option for the poor""), Cardenal was suspended from the priesthood and expelled from…


Book cover of The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War

Theresa Keeley Author Of Reagan's Gun-Toting Nuns: The Catholic Conflict Over Cold War Human Rights Policy in Central America

From my list on Catholics who joined revolutionary movements in Central America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by the relationship between people’s religious and political identities. As a kindergartner, I heard about the hunger strikers at our local Irish Center, I was taught anti-communist songs at my Catholic Ukrainian school, and I listened as my dad explained Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers as we passed by the grapes while grocery shopping. Catholicism was not something I saw as just happening inside the walls of a church. It was about how one related to the world and was part of a global community. Those early experiences inspired me to become a human rights lawyer and activist, and later, a U.S. foreign relations historian.

Theresa's book list on Catholics who joined revolutionary movements in Central America

Theresa Keeley Why did Theresa love this book?

What prompted an upper-class, Catholic mother to become an armed revolutionary in Nicaragua?

The poet and writer Gioconda Belli shares her journey, including her time living in exile and her later break with the Sandinistas. She details how her experiences differed from her comrades because of her status as a woman and a mother and how they often underestimated and mistreated her because of her gender. Although Belli does not center faith as her primary motivation, she often references her Catholic upbringing and schooling.

By Gioconda Belli,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Country Under My Skin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lives don't get much more quixotic or passionately driven than that of the Nicaraguan revolutionary Gioconda Belli. She may have been educated by nuns and dazzled all as a well-heeled society girl, but Gioconda lifted her "guilt of privilege" by joining the Sandinistas in her twenties, to serve and then lead in their underground resistance. If part of her wanted to fulfil society's classic code of femininity and produce four children (which she did), there was also part which wanted the privileges of men - the freedom to carry out clandestine operations, to forge the Sandinista resistance effort even with…


Book cover of Priest Under Fire: Padre David Rodríguez, the Catholic Church, and El Salvador's Revolutionary Movement

Theresa Keeley Author Of Reagan's Gun-Toting Nuns: The Catholic Conflict Over Cold War Human Rights Policy in Central America

From my list on Catholics who joined revolutionary movements in Central America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by the relationship between people’s religious and political identities. As a kindergartner, I heard about the hunger strikers at our local Irish Center, I was taught anti-communist songs at my Catholic Ukrainian school, and I listened as my dad explained Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers as we passed by the grapes while grocery shopping. Catholicism was not something I saw as just happening inside the walls of a church. It was about how one related to the world and was part of a global community. Those early experiences inspired me to become a human rights lawyer and activist, and later, a U.S. foreign relations historian.

Theresa's book list on Catholics who joined revolutionary movements in Central America

Theresa Keeley Why did Theresa love this book?

What persuaded a priest to join El Salvador’s largest guerilla organization, the FPL (Popular Liberation Forces)?

This biography explains the metamorphosis of “Padre David,” as he was known. The book also places his experience within the larger context of the role progressive priests and nuns played in helping the poor to realize their worth, which inspired many to then demand change in society. Because the state crushed all peaceful opposition, especially through violence, many Salvadorans concluded that the only way to work for change – and to simultaneously protect themselves – was to join an armed movement. Padre David was no different. He felt an added sense of responsibility because he trained catechists to work for change who were later killed because the state saw them as threats to the status quo.

By Peter M. Sánchez,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

David Rodriguez, or Padre David as he is known throughout El Salvador, is a diocesan priest who followed the Second Vatican Council's doctrinal mandate to advocate for the poor and oppressed. Along with other progressive clergy committed to liberation theology,Padre David helped drive forward the country's popular movement.

In the 1970s, Padre David joined the largest guerilla organization in El Salvador, the FPL (Popular Liberation Forces). At first, he supported the FPL clandestinely, helping to organize Christian Base Communities, autonomous religious groups dedicated to spreading liberationist ideas and to giving the Salvadoran poor a clear understanding of why their lives…


Book cover of I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala

Jorge Aguilar Mora, Josefa Salmón, and Barbara C. Ewell Author Of Anthology of Spanish American Thought and Culture

From my list on seeing the world from a Latin American perspective.

Why are we passionate about this?

As professors of Latin American Studies, with more than 35 years of teaching experience on these topics, and as Latin Americanists who have lived experiences in our countries of origin, we can connect to themes of social justice as well as the wonders that indigenous cultures can offer globally in the fight against climate change as well as social and racial injustices. When we were students in the US, these texts gave us ways to reconnect to our roots; as professors, they offered us ways to connect with today’s students searching for global justice and service to others. These books help us to realize that there are other ways of looking at the world.

Jorge's book list on seeing the world from a Latin American perspective

Jorge Aguilar Mora, Josefa Salmón, and Barbara C. Ewell Why did Jorge love this book?

As a Latin American from a country of such diverse cultures as Mexico, I recommend this book by Rigoberta Menchú because it is the first 20th-century voice from an indigenous woman who has taken up arms in defense of her people. For me this connection also touches my family’s past, because I too, lost a brother to armed conflict, just like Rigoberta. A biography from an author that speaks so personally of this struggle stirs the pages in this book and makes this testimony overwhelmingly moving for any reader. But this deep connection with the reader also creates an international concern for justice. Menchú’s voice puts forward in book form a Maya tradition of community where the collective “we” is stressed in the testimony, as well as a history where experience is one, uniting the writer with the events that are being reported.  

By Rigoberta Menchú,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked I, Rigoberta Menchú as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a global bestseller, the remarkable life of Rigoberta Menchu, a Guatemalan peasant woman, reflects on the experiences common to many Indian communities in Latin America. Menchu suffered gross injustice and hardship in her early life: her brother, father and mother were murdered by the Guatemalan military. She learned Spanish and turned to catechistic work as an expression of political revolt as well as religious commitment. Menchu vividly conveys the traditional beliefs of her community and her personal response to feminist and socialist ideas. Above all, these pages are illuminated by the enduring courage and passionate sense of justice of…


Book cover of Rural Guatemala, 1760-1940

James Dunkerley Author Of Power in the Isthmus

From my list on Central American history and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for Central American politics and history derived quite directly from the conflicts in the region from the late 1970s onwards. Previously I had worked in Bolivia, where I had studied as a doctoral student, and although many people still view Latin American countries as pretty homogenous, I quickly discovered that they are very far from being so. I had to unlearn quite a bit and acquire new skills, although luckily, indigenous languages are really only dominant in Guatemala. Now we can be rather less partisan although many injustices remain.

James' book list on Central American history and politics

James Dunkerley Why did James love this book?

When McCreery’s book was published the literature on the region was overwhelmingly dominated by books on politics, with the great majority written from a left-wing perspective. Even long after the fighting has ceased, many in the global North had an unnuanced vision of rural society in which oligarchic landlords exercised feudal control over an undifferentiated ‘peasantry.’ This book shows that for decades an element of that vision was borne out in everyday life, but the volume also shows on the basis of outstanding research that rural Guatemala was dynamic, riven with class competition and negotiation, far from binary in its social structure, and possessed of a rich cultural life.

By David McCreery,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rural Guatemala, 1760-1940 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This comprehensive study of rural development in Guatemala extends from the late colonial period through the transformation of the economy by the introduction of larger-scale coffee production.


Book cover of Secure the Soul: Christian Piety and Gang Prevention in Guatemala

Chad E. Seales Author Of Religion Around Bono: Evangelical Enchantment and Neoliberal Capitalism

From my list on American evangelicalism and neoliberal religion.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been fascinated by the ways religion reconciles contradiction. Both of my parents were public school teachers in the panhandle of Florida, and I now work at a public university in Texas, yet the culture in which I was raised, of white evangelicalism, supported economic policies of neoliberalism that defunded public life. My interest in American religion is motivated by the question of why we participate in systems that harm us. This is an economic question, but sufficient answers must address the power of religion to shape what we see as morally good and bad. These books all do that.

Chad's book list on American evangelicalism and neoliberal religion

Chad E. Seales Why did Chad love this book?

No other book better encapsulates the evangelical spirit of neoliberal policies in the details of everyday life, including what it feels like to be arrested in the United States for being part of a gang, and ending up in a call center in Central America, only to be morally shamed for not working hard enough, as your corporate employer leverages the power of religion, and the threat of danger, to keep you trapped there. 

By Kevin Lewis O'Neill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"I'm not perfect," Mateo confessed, "Nobody is. But I try." Secure the Soul shuttles between the life of Mateo, a born-again, ex-gang member in Guatemala and the gang prevention programs that work so hard to keep him alive. Along the way, this poignantly written ethnography uncovers the Christian underpinnings of Central American security. In the streets of Guatemala City - amid angry lynch mobs, overcrowded prisons, and paramilitary death squads - millions of dollars empower church missions, faith-based programs, and seemingly secular security projects to prevent gang violence through the practice of Christian piety. With Guatemala increasingly defined by both…


Book cover of Time Among the Maya: Travels in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico

Ryan Murdock Author Of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America

From my list on Central America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ryan Murdock is Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Outpost, Canada’s national travel magazine, and a weekly columnist for The Shift, an independent Maltese news portal. His feature articles have taken him across a remote stretch of Canada’s Northwest Territories on foot, into the Central Sahara in search of prehistoric rock art, and around Wales with a drug squad detective hunting for the real King Arthur.

Ryan's book list on Central America

Ryan Murdock Why did Ryan love this book?

Far from being an extinct people swallowed by the jungle-like their famous temples, the Maya make up a significant percentage of the population of southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, with vibrant ancient languages that are still spoken today. This beautifully written account of contemporary Maya culture will help you understand a remarkable people who explored the world through arithmetic and time.

By Ronald Wright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Time Among the Maya as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Cut Stones and Crossroads" and "On Fiji Island" are previous books by Ronald Wright, author of this book concerned with the Maya, who in the first millennium AD, created the most intellectually and artistically advanced civilization native to the Americas. Despite a mysterious collapse in the ninth century and Spanish invasion in the 16th century, some five million people throughout Guatemala, Belize and south-eastern Mexico still speak Maya languages and preserve a Maya identity today. Ronald Wright set out to discover the roots of the Maya and the extent of their survival after centuries of invasion and a recent civil…


Book cover of Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone

Judy Reeves Author Of When Your Heart Says Go: My Year of Traveling Beyond Loss and Loneliness

From my list on by women who travel the world in search of themselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father introduced me to the world as we paged through his old pre-WWII atlas. We traced borders and rivers with our fingers and he spoke names that were magical incantations and invitations to a world more exciting and mysterious than our midwestern home. As a reader, I was drawn to books about travel and as a budding writer, I was inspired by the adventures of “Brenda Starr, Girl Reporter” featured in the Sunday comics of my youth. I packed my bags early and my passport is never out of date. I continue to read traveloirs, and I write in my journal every day. Oh! The places I will go. 

Judy's book list on by women who travel the world in search of themselves

Judy Reeves Why did Judy love this book?

With this “traveloir,” Mary Morris showed me how to do it: How to travel alone as a single woman when you didn’t have a plan or an agenda; how to write about people and places that bring them alive; how to find your own story in your travels and in your writing.

Mary Morris published this book in 1989, the year before I set off on my own—a (much older) single woman traveling without a plan or agenda. As I opened the yellowed pages again, after many years, I read this line: “I settled into loneliness once again.” Next year I’ll be traveling to San Miguel de Allende, one of the settings in Nothing to Declare. I may take this book with me and read it again. 

By Mary Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nothing to Declare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chronicling her travels throughout Central America, the author offers an unvarnished view of the precarious realitie's of everyday life in a harsh and ruthless land


Book cover of Skywatchers: Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico

Giulio Magli Author Of Archaeoastronomy: Introduction to the Science of Stars and Stones

From my list on archaeoastronomy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started my scientific career as an Astrophysicist. However, I have always been interested in Archaeology. This finally led me to conjugate the two passions when I started working in Archaeoastronomy, in 2003. Working in Archaeoastronomy first means having a direct experience of the sites (preferably, of every single stone, although in places like Giza they count in the millions…). So I have made fieldworks in Italy, Egypt, Cambodia, and, recently, on Chinese imperial necropolises. I currently teach Archaeoastronomy as a professor at the Politecnico of Milan. I have always been interested also in scientific communication on TV and social media, and my introductive Archaeoastronomy course is available for free on the Coursera platform.

Giulio's book list on archaeoastronomy

Giulio Magli Why did Giulio love this book?

Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico, although a bit dated on some arguments, is a must-read book on the Archaeoastronomy of the Meso-American people. It includes a fascinating description of the role of astronomical alignments in places like Teotihuacan and the Aztec capital (modern Mexico City), as well as an in-depth exploration of Maya astronomy and of the Maya astronomically-driven architecture.

By Anthony F. Aveni,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico helped establish the field of archaeoastronomy, and it remains the standard introduction to this subject. Combining basic astronomy with archaeological and ethnological data, it presented a readable and entertaining synthesis of all that was known of ancient astronomy in the western hemisphere as of 1980.

In this revised edition, Anthony Aveni draws on his own and others' discoveries of the past twenty years to bring the Skywatchers story up to the present. He offers new data and interpretations in many areas, including:

The study of Mesoamerican time and calendrical systems and their unprecedented continuity in contemporary…


Book cover of Empire by Invitation: William Walker and Manifest Destiny in Central America

Robert E. May Author Of Manifest Destiny's Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America

From my list on U.S. filibustering.

Why am I passionate about this?

I discovered the “filibusters” during my very first weeks in graduate school and have been learning and writing books and articles about them ever since. I think that what initially intrigued me was that they had outsized importance in U.S. politics and diplomacy, and were often front-page news before the Civil War, and yet I had never heard about them growing up. I was also intrigued because these men were so unlike myself. I can’t in my wildest moments even imagine joining a tiny bunch of armed men in an illegal expedition to a foreign land, risking death in the field or jail if I ever made it back home!

Robert's book list on U.S. filibustering

Robert E. May Why did Robert love this book?

Though he’s hardly a household name, William Walker, the most significant of the American filibusters, has been the subject of a surprising number of biographies. What is special about Michel Gobat’s book is his in-depth look at the actual government Walker set up to rule Nicaragua in the mid-1850s, the people he enlisted to run it, and his government’s ambitions and programs. Gobat suggests, importantly, that prior historians have underestimated Walker’s popular support in Nicaragua and overstated his ties to White southerners’ plans to expand U.S. slavery. 

By Michel Gobat,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Michel Gobat traces the untold story of the rise and fall of the first U.S. overseas empire to William Walker, a believer in the nation's manifest destiny to spread its blessings not only westward but abroad as well.

In the 1850s Walker and a small group of U.S. expansionists migrated to Nicaragua determined to forge a tropical "empire of liberty." His quest to free Central American masses from allegedly despotic elites initially enjoyed strong local support from liberal Nicaraguans who hoped U.S.-style democracy and progress would spread across the land. As Walker's group of "filibusters" proceeded to help Nicaraguans battle…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Central America, the Catholic Church, and Guatemala?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Central America, the Catholic Church, and Guatemala.

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