100 books like Women, the State and Revolution

By Wendy Z. Goldman,

Here are 100 books that Women, the State and Revolution fans have personally recommended if you like Women, the State and Revolution. 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 Woman Under Socialism

Kristen R. Ghodsee Author Of Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence

From my list on women and socialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an ethnographer, I have been studying the lives of ordinary women in socialist and post-socialist countries in Eastern Europe for over twenty-five years. I have always been fascinated by the differences in women’s life options in the presence or absence of robust social safety nets. As a scholar, I’ve spent decades working in archives and interviewing people across the region, and I have written eight books about the various gendered experiences of everyday life in Eastern Europe. As a professor, I have taught a course called “Sex and Socialism,” almost every year for eighteen years and I am always reading widely in this field to look for new material for my syllabi.

Kristen's book list on women and socialism

Kristen R. Ghodsee Why did Kristen love this book?

Written while August Bebel was serving a jail term under Germany’s anti-socialist laws, Woman and Socialism was published in over fifty editions and in more than twenty languages between 1879 and 1914. The first English edition was published in 1908 and became something of a sensation in the United Kingdom and the United States. Unlike other men in the labor movement at the time, Bebel believed that women were the full equals of men and should have the same economic, social, and political rights. More importantly, he argued that socialism would give women economic independence, and that this would allow them more freedom in their personal lives, including in their choice of a sexual partner. The book sometimes feels as radical today as it was 150 years ago.

By August Bebel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This collection of literature attempts to compile many of the classic works that have stood the test of time and offer them at a reduced, affordable price, in an attractive volume so that everyone can enjoy them.


Book cover of The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State

Kristen R. Ghodsee Author Of Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence

From my list on women and socialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an ethnographer, I have been studying the lives of ordinary women in socialist and post-socialist countries in Eastern Europe for over twenty-five years. I have always been fascinated by the differences in women’s life options in the presence or absence of robust social safety nets. As a scholar, I’ve spent decades working in archives and interviewing people across the region, and I have written eight books about the various gendered experiences of everyday life in Eastern Europe. As a professor, I have taught a course called “Sex and Socialism,” almost every year for eighteen years and I am always reading widely in this field to look for new material for my syllabi.

Kristen's book list on women and socialism

Kristen R. Ghodsee Why did Kristen love this book?

Engels provides the canonical theoretical framework for understanding how capitalism uniquely impacts women’s lives and how a more collectivized economy lays the foundation for women’s full emancipation. While many subsequent feminist and socialist scholars have disagreed with this book, The Origin of the Family is a classic that has inspired countless generations of theorists and activists. 

By Friedrich Engels,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State: in the Light of the Researches of Lewis H. Morgan (German: Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigenthums und des Staats) is an 1884 historical materialist treatise by Friedrich Engels. It is partially based on notes by Karl Marx to Lewis H. Morgan's book Ancient Society (1877). The book is an early anthropological work and is regarded as one of the first major works on family economics.

Following the death of his friend and co-thinker Karl Marx in 1883, Friedrich Engels served as his literary executor, actively organizing and preparing for…


Book cover of Love in the Time of Communism: Intimacy and Sexuality in the GDR

Sean Eedy Author Of Four-Color Communism: Comic Books and Contested Power in the German Democratic Republic

From my list on everyday life and politics in the Soviet Bloc.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of modern European history. But before that, my first loves were Star Wars, heavy metal, and comic books. When I started my degree, it only made sense to combine my love of popular culture with my academic interest in the Soviet Bloc states. Cultural history and the history of everyday life, examining the world through cars, comics, film, food, music, or whatever, provide us with a lens through which to see how people understood themselves and came to terms with the society around them, and for my work, to understand how those living under dictatorship resisted and carved out their own niche within a police state.

Sean's book list on everyday life and politics in the Soviet Bloc

Sean Eedy Why did Sean love this book?

This is another book that drew me in with the title. I appreciated how McLellan fought the stereotype, advanced by some of her academic peers, of sexual repressiveness in East Germany. Though public discussions of sexuality were tightly controlled by the state, McLellan deftly shows that East Germany experienced a sexual revolution of its own.

Maybe not a revolution as loud and proud as in the West, challenging gender norms and sexual identities, but divorce rates soared as did birth rates outside marriage, nudism became a state-sanctioned activity, and erotica became increasingly available to the public and found in private collections.

McLellan’s narrative is fascinating, illuminating, and at times humorous, drawing on interviews, magazine publications, heterosexual and queer photography collections, films, and state-sponsored information guides and handbooks.  

By Josie McLellan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Love in the Time of Communism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the aftermath of the reunification of Germany one former dissident recalled nostalgically that under the East German regime 'we had more sex and we had more to laugh about'. Love in the Time of Communism is a fascinating history of the GDR's forgotten sexual revolution and its limits. Josie McLellan shows that under communism divorce rates soared, abortion become commonplace and the rate of births outside marriage was amongst the highest in Europe. Nudism went from ban to state-sponsored boom, and erotica became common currency in both the official economy and the black market. Public discussion of sexuality was,…


Book cover of Sexual Liberation, Socialist Style: Communist Czechoslovakia and the Science of Desire, 1945-1989

Kristen R. Ghodsee Author Of Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence

From my list on women and socialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an ethnographer, I have been studying the lives of ordinary women in socialist and post-socialist countries in Eastern Europe for over twenty-five years. I have always been fascinated by the differences in women’s life options in the presence or absence of robust social safety nets. As a scholar, I’ve spent decades working in archives and interviewing people across the region, and I have written eight books about the various gendered experiences of everyday life in Eastern Europe. As a professor, I have taught a course called “Sex and Socialism,” almost every year for eighteen years and I am always reading widely in this field to look for new material for my syllabi.

Kristen's book list on women and socialism

Kristen R. Ghodsee Why did Kristen love this book?

Katerina Liskova’s intriguing sociological and historical study provides a deep dive into the creation of “expert knowledge” by progressive sexologists in the former socialist state of Czechoslovakia. She argues convincingly that while American housewives pottered around their kitchens in the 1950s, Czechoslovak women experienced a sexual revolution after abortion was legalized, same sex love was decriminalized, and scientists focused on how to improve women’s sex lives. State efforts to promote the ideal of full gender equality within romantic relations gave women new opportunities for education and professional advancement that their mothers and grandmothers could scarcely have dreamed of.

By Kateřina Lisková,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sexual Liberation, Socialist Style as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the first account of sexual liberation in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. Katerina Liskova reveals how, in the case of Czechoslovakia, important aspects of sexuality were already liberated during the 1950s - abortion was legalized, homosexuality decriminalized, the female orgasm came into experts' focus - and all that was underscored by an emphasis on gender equality. However, with the coming of Normalization, gender discourses reversed and women were to aspire to be caring mothers and docile wives. Good sex was to cement a lasting marriage and family. In contrast to the usual Western accounts highlighting the importance…


Book cover of Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation

Monica Black Author Of A Demon-Haunted Land: Witches, Wonder Doctors, and the Ghosts of the Past in Post-WWII Germany

From my list on for historians who wish they were anthropologists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by the things people do and the reasons they give for doing them. That people also do things in culturally specific ways and that their culturally specific ways of doing things are related to their culturally specific ideas about what makes sense and what does not inspires in me a sense of awe. As a professor and historian, thinking anthropologically has always been an important tool, because it helps me look for the hidden, cultural logics that guided the behavior of people in history. It helps me ask different questions. And it sharpens my sense of humility for the fundamental unknowability of this world we call home.

Monica's book list on for historians who wish they were anthropologists

Monica Black Why did Monica love this book?

Alexei Yurchak was part of the last Soviet generation—the last citizens born in the USSR who also lived through its collapse as adults. As the title suggests, Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More is a profound and poetic work about truth and what we come to accept as real. Yurchak wants to explain the paradox that, while Soviet people knew by the 1970s that their government was telling them almost nothing but untruths, they were still shocked to their core by their country’s demise. What I loved most about the book was Yurchak’s descriptions of ordinary life among his generation (their intriguing taste for the operatic qualities of metal, the elaborate public pranks they staged, the way they treated life like performance art). With pathos and humor in equal measure, Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More paints a brilliant portrait of a world that millions of…

By Alexei Yurchak,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soviet socialism was based on paradoxes that were revealed by the peculiar experience of its collapse. To the people who lived in that system the collapse seemed both completely unexpected and completely unsurprising. At the moment of collapse it suddenly became obvious that Soviet life had always seemed simultaneously eternal and stagnating, vigorous and ailing, bleak and full of promise. Although these characteristics may appear mutually exclusive, in fact they were mutually constitutive. This book explores the paradoxes of Soviet life during the period of "late socialism" (1960s-1980s) through the eyes of the last Soviet generation. Focusing on the major…


Book cover of Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies

Andrei Znamenski Author Of Socialism as a Secular Creed: A Modern Global History

From my list on the history of socialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Andrei Znamenski spent 35 years exploring religions, ideologies, and utopias. Formerly Associate Professor at Alabama State University, a resident scholar at the US Library of Congress, and then a visiting professor at Hokkaido University in Japan, he is currently Professor of History at the University of Memphis. Znamenski studied indigenous religions of Siberia and North America, including Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism. At some point, he became intrigued with Western idealization and romanticization of non-Western cultures and spiritualities, the topic that he covered in his The Beauty of the Primitive: Shamanism and Western Imagination. His Socialism as a Secular Creed, which is a logical follow-up to that project, is an attempt to examine the socialist phenomenon as a political religion of the modern age.

Andrei's book list on the history of socialism

Andrei Znamenski Why did Andrei love this book?

This volume complements well the Muravchik book. Written in an easy user-friendly language, the text represents a set of short essays that deal with socialist construction in various countries (Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Kim Il Sung North Korea, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Castor’s Cuba, Chavez Venezuela). Besides these well-known cases of socialism, Niemietz, a libertarian scholar of a German extract, gives an excellent succinct analysis of the Eastern German communist regime from 1945 to its collapse in 1989.  The reader should also benefit from reading his comprehensive introductory chapter on the enduring appeal of socialism. Both high and home school and college instructors, who want to challenge the dominant socialism-friendly educational mainstream, may want to use Muravchik’s book and this one as textbooks.

By Christian Niemietz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Socialism is strangely impervious to refutation by real-world experience.
Over the past hundred years, there have been more than two dozen attempts to build a socialist society, from the Soviet Union to Maoist China to Venezuela. All of them have ended in varying degrees of failure.
But, according to socialism's adherents, that is only because none of these experiments were "real socialism".
This book documents the history of this, by now, standard response.
It shows how the claim of fake socialism is only ever made after the event. As long as a socialist project is in its prime, almost nobody…


Book cover of Gleaning for Communism: The Soviet Socialist Household in Theory and Practice

Brandon M. Schechter Author Of The Stuff of Soldiers: A History of the Red Army in World War II Through Objects

From my list on books about Soviet stuff.

Why am I passionate about this?

Things have always been a window into the past for me, and from an early age I was fascinated by communism as a rejection of the world in which I was raised. Looking at how people from a very different society made and used stuff allows you to access aspects of their experience that are deeply human. As such my research has focused on how people interacted with things as a way to examine how politics, ideology, and major historical events play out on the ground – as a way of capturing individual human experience.

Brandon's book list on books about Soviet stuff

Brandon M. Schechter Why did Brandon love this book?

Cherkaev also offers us a series of amazing stories informed by theory but written in a highly readable fashion. Many of her cases are about things that weren’t supposed to exist – about the stuff gleaned from the Soviet economy that allowed people to go on expeditions into nature, bury their loved ones, and make do in an economy infamous for its shortages.

You meet a lot of fascinating people, and she throws in some very provocative, well-argued, and cogently written discussion of the Soviet leadership’s changing understanding of how to build communism and the place of stuff in the project and its aftermath.

My consistent criticism of this book is that it ends too quickly – I wanted at least fifty more pages of Cherkaev’s witty prose and fascinating tales. 

By Xenia A. Cherkaev,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gleaning for Communism is a historical ethnography of the property regime upon which Soviet legal scholars legislated a large modern state as a household, with guaranteed rights to a commons of socialist property, rather than private possessions. Starting with former Leningrad workers' everyday stories about smuggling industrial scrap home over factory fences, Xenia Cherkaev traces collectivist ethical logic that was central to this socialist household economy, in theory and practice: from its Stalin-era inception, through Khrushchev's major foregrounding of communist ethics, to Gorbachev's perestroika, which unfurled its grounding tension between the interests of any given collective and of the socialist…


Book cover of Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy

Michael Khodarkovsky Author Of Russia's 20th Century: A Journey in 100 Histories

From my list on Russia and USSR in the 20th Century.

Why am I passionate about this?

History has always been my passion. Since I was 16, I tried to understand the world around me and the forces that shaped it. I thought that history as a discipline provided the best answers. In the 1970s, because of the official anti-Semitism, it was impossible to get into the history department programs at the Soviet universities. Nonetheless, I resolved to study history after my emigration to the US in 1979 and joined a graduate program at the University of Chicago. For four decades I have been writing about Russian history, although I also read, teach, and write on global history.

Michael's book list on Russia and USSR in the 20th Century

Michael Khodarkovsky Why did Michael love this book?

Beautifully written, the book follows the lives of Russia’s two great aristocratic families in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution. Their fate was typical of the entire Russian aristocracy. It is a story of the Bolsheviks' cruelty and a painful survival of their many victims.

By Douglas Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The riveting and harrowing story of the Russian nobility caught in the upheaval of the Revolution

Winner of the Pushkin House Russian Book Prize
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Kansas City Star and Salon

Epic in scope, precise in detail, and heartbreaking in its human drama, Former People is the first book to recount the history of the aristocracy caught up in the maelstrom of the Bolshevik Revolution and the creation of Stalin's Russia. It is the story of how a centuries-old elite, famous for its glittering wealth, its service to the tsar and empire, and…


Book cover of Better to Have Loved: the Life of Judith Merril

Lavie Tidhar Author Of The Circumference of the World

From my list on science fiction’s golden age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by the Golden Age of science fiction, when a group of young dreamers formed the genre as we know it today. I grew up far away from their world, on a small kibbutz in Israel, and the lives of those god-like beings seemed as remote and as impossible as the moon. I grew up to eventually write stories of my own, and even got to meet some of my childhood heroes, and eventually I thought it would be fun to write a book that was partially about them. I read every book I could get my hands on to try and better understand that time when science fiction was born.

Lavie's book list on science fiction’s golden age

Lavie Tidhar Why did Lavie love this book?

Merrill, a brilliant editor and writer in her own right, was a rare woman to cut through the chauvinistic world of the Golden Age writers.

The book recounts her journey as a writer (she wrote the classic SF story “That Only a Mother”), editor (as in the ground-breaking 60s anthology England Swings SF), her short-lived marriage to Fred Pohl and her fascination with socialism. It certainly gives you a different view of the male-dominated world of science fiction at the time, and an insight into one of SF’s important practitioners.

By Judith Merril, Emily Pohl-Weary,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Judith merril was a pioneer of twentieth-century science fiction, a proflific author, and editor. She was also a passionate social and political activist. In fact, her life was a constant adventure within the alternative and experimental worlds of science fiction, left politics, and Canadian literature.


Book cover of Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis

Xenia A. Cherkaev Author Of Gleaning for Communism: The Soviet Socialist Household in Theory and Practice

From my list on the possibility of collectivist modern life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am interested in how regimes of ethics and property interrelate, and how this interrelation informs political thought: in questions of cooperatives and collectives, customary use-rights, and household economies. I'm an anthropologist by training and geographically I work in Russia. I've written about socialist property law and stolen late-Soviet penguins, Stalin-era mine-detection dogs and perestroika-era saints, möbius bands, 19th-century Russian cheese-making co-operatives, New World Order theories of “The Golden Billion” and other important matters.

Xenia's book list on the possibility of collectivist modern life

Xenia A. Cherkaev Why did Xenia love this book?

Mises' warnings about socialism bringing about the end of civilization have entered popular lore a sort of common sense, so it's worthwhile to read the original.

This book is less a scientific analysis than an ode to market liberalism: to “the desperate struggle of lovers of freedom prosperity and civilization against the rising tide of totalitarian barbarism.” At stake is the very possibility of non-market modernity.

Mises argues that modern society cannot function without a market defined by acquisitive trade: individuals' peaceful cooperation hinges on their ability to make rational choices about their production and consumption of things, and such choices are possible only when a system of competitive market price expresses the true value of every commodity.

“The socialist order of society,” he warns, “is not realizable” and will lead to the collapse of (western) civilization itself: “Nomad tribes from the Eastern steppes would again raid and pillage Europe,…

By Ludwig Von Mises,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is a newly annotated edition of the classic first published in German in 1922. It is the definitive refutation of nearly every type of socialism ever devised. Mises presents a wide-ranging analysis of society, comparing the results of socialist planning with those of free-market capitalism in all areas of life. Friedrich Hayek's foreword comments on the continuing relevance of this great work: "Most readers today will find that Socialism has more immediate application to contemporary events than it had when it first appeared."


5 book lists we think you will like!

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