88 books like World as Laboratory

By Rebecca Lemov,

Here are 88 books that World as Laboratory fans have personally recommended if you like World as Laboratory. 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 The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control: The Secret History of the Behavioral Sciences

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

From my list on the history of torture.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Andreas' book list on the history of torture

Andreas Killen Why did Andreas love this book?

In the wake of Senate hearings into CIA scandals in the mid-1970s, former State Department official turned investigative reporter Marks used an FOIA request to gain access to a trove of agency files that he used to uncover the full story of the American intelligence community’s decade-long dive into research on LSD, hypnosis, and sensory deprivation during the first decade of the Cold war.

A marvelous example of how to uncover “secret history.” I also love the connections he draws between Fifties’ era mind control research and Sixties' era consciousness expansion.

By John D. Marks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Search for the Manchurian Candidate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 'Manchurian Candidate' is an unwitting assassin brainwashed and programmed to kill. In this book, former State Department officer John Marks tells the explosive story of the CIA's highly secret program of experiments in mind control. His curiosity first aroused by information on a puzzling suicide. Marks worked from thousands of pages of newly released documents as well as interviews and behavioral science studies, producing a book that 'accomplished what two Senate committees could not' (Senator Edward Kennedy).


Book cover of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

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

From my list on the history of torture.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Andreas' book list on the history of torture

Andreas Killen Why did Andreas love this book?

Klein’s first chapter tells the disturbing story of Dr. Ewan Cameron, the eminent psychiatrist who ran the Allan Memorial Institute associated with McGill University, and whose experimental treatment, partly funded by the CIA, incorporated ECT, sensory deprivation, LSD into a research program designed to erase patients’ memories.

Especially intriguing for the way it links this story to a bold account of how efforts to reprogram people at a deep level were linked to the spread of new forms of capitalism in the late 20th century. This is history as told by an activist, in ways that academic historians are not always comfortable with.

By Naomi Klein,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Shock Doctrine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Impassioned, hugely informative, wonderfully controversial, and scary as hell' John le Carre

Around the world in Britain, the United States, Asia and the Middle East, there are people with power who are cashing in on chaos; exploiting bloodshed and catastrophe to brutally remake our world in their image. They are the shock doctors.

Exposing these global profiteers, Naomi Klein discovered information and connections that shocked even her about how comprehensively the shock doctors' beliefs now dominate our world - and how this domination has been achieved. Raking in billions out of the tsunami, plundering Russia, exploiting Iraq - this is…


Book cover of A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror

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

From my list on the history of torture.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Andreas' book list on the history of torture

Andreas Killen Why did Andreas love this book?

One of the first accounts to connect the dots between the torture scandal that arose out the war on terror and the beginnings of the Cold War, when the United States first devised the interrogation techniques that became codified in the CIA’s interrogation manual KUBARK (1963), which provided the playbook for the “enhanced interrogation” of detainees in Guantanamo and elsewhere.

By Alfred W McCoy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"An indispensable and riveting account" of the CIA's development and use of torture, from the cold war to Abu Ghraib and beyond (Naomi Klein, The Nation)

In this revelatory account of the CIA's fifty-year effort to develop new forms of torture, historian Alfred W. McCoy locates the deep roots of recent scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo in a long-standing, covert program of interrogation. A Question of Torture investigates the CIA's practice of "sensory deprivation" and "self-inflicted pain," in which techniques including isolation, hooding, hours of standing, and manipulation of time assault the victim's senses and destroy the basis of…


Book cover of Torture and Democracy

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

From my list on the history of torture.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Andreas' book list on the history of torture

Andreas Killen Why did Andreas love this book?

In many ways the best account of the history of modern torture.

As Rejali shows, this has all too often been mis-remembered as the history of Soviet and Nazi torture. Torture, in his account, has been widely practiced by modern democracies.

He identifies the French (in the context of the Algerian War of Independence) as the real innovators in the field of modern “stealth” or invisible torture, ie. torture designed not to leave marks: waterboarding and electro-torture.

I particularly like this for the way it explodes many of the myths surrounding the history of modern torture.

By Darius Rejali,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the most comprehensive, and most comprehensively chilling, study of modern torture yet written. Darius Rejali, one of the world's leading experts on torture, takes the reader from the late nineteenth century to the aftermath of Abu Ghraib, from slavery and the electric chair to electrotorture in American inner cities, and from French and British colonial prison cells and the Spanish-American War to the fields of Vietnam, the wars of the Middle East, and the new democracies of Latin America and Europe. As Rejali traces the development and application of one torture technique after another in these settings, he…


Book cover of I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Tara Laskowski Author Of One Night Gone

From my list on thrillers with incredibly spooky atmosphere and mood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born on Halloween, so I’m officially a card-carrying member of all things creepy, right? However, I’m definitely drawn to books with mood and atmosphere over outright horror and gore. I find the subtle aspects of fear so much more interesting—how is it that one person’s reality can be so different than another’s? I write domestic suspense because I think the people we are closest to and the places we think are safest are often the ones that can hurt us the most. Where a story takes place is so very important. I need to know the geography, the feel, the history of a place—then I can put people in it and make bad things happen.

Tara's book list on thrillers with incredibly spooky atmosphere and mood

Tara Laskowski Why did Tara love this book?

Before it was a Netflix movie (psst! The book is way better), this slim little book creeped me the hell out. It’s a simple premise: A woman is driving with her boyfriend to meet his parents for the first time, only she’s not really sure the relationship is going to work out. However, this psychological thriller will have you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning—only you won’t know why until the very end. I’m shivering just thinking about it.

By Iain Reid,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked I'm Thinking of Ending Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOW A NETFLIX ORIGINAL FILM DIRECTED BY CHARLIE KAUFMAN
AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR 2016

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things is one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read. Iain Reid has crafted a tight, ferocious little book, with a persistent tenor of suspense that tightens and mounts toward its visionary, harrowing final pages” (Scott Heim, award-winning author of Mysterious Skin and We Disappear).

I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always.

Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an…


Book cover of Inventing Human Rights: A History

Duncan Jepson Author Of All the Flowers in Shanghai

From my list on about protest.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Duncan's book list on about protest

Duncan Jepson Why did Duncan love this book?

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

By Lynn Hunt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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


Book cover of Last Argument of Kings

Lee Hunt Author Of Bed of Rose and Thorns

From my list on fantasy with the most beautiful endings.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first two lessons as a geophysicist were confusing opposites. My supervisor told me that I must carry my investigations to professional conclusions, while the very best physicists showed me that good scientists are the most parsimonious about what they conclude. It's a battle between humility and the need to tell a story. We human beings crave a nice, neat ending, and we often only get one in fantasy, for the real world is complex. It was this insight that led me to start every story I ever wrote with at least a concept for the ending. If we are going to go anywhere with our narratives, we better first consider where that is.

Lee's book list on fantasy with the most beautiful endings

Lee Hunt Why did Lee love this book?

Sometimes we think we are reading fiction as an exercise in entertainment, and fantasy as a guilty pleasure. Abercrombie is a favorite writer of mine because his work does all that, but he also surprises with sharp insight every single time. Last Argument of Kings ends his First Law Trilogy with the most surprising reveal of all—that the moral center does not exist. Not at all. All the blood and death that his characters have dealt out and survived are not in service to some higher good. More than just an exercise in cynicism or a service to violence, this story shines a light on power, politics and the people who stand atop the heap. And somehow Abercrombie does this all while making you laugh and shake your head in amazement.

By Joe Abercrombie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The end is coming.

Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him - but it's going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the King of the Northmen still stands firm, and there's only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend, and his oldest enemy. It's past time for the Bloody-Nine to come home.

With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no-one is safe, and no-one can be trusted. His days with a sword are far behind him.…


Book cover of The Shadow of the Torturer

Matt Weber Author Of Brimstone Slipstream

From my list on fantasy that reimagines society.

Why am I passionate about this?

Science fiction is rightly famous for experimenting with new and strange social worlds, but fantasy tends to fall back on the usual feudal tropes: the whims of kings, the valor of knights, the always-temporary powerlessness of farm boys, the technicalities of succession. Which is a shame, because fantasy provides just as much opportunity to reimagine what society could look like. That’s what I try to do in my books, and at my job, where I’m working to bring 21st-century data literacy and quantitative reasoning to a state government stuck resolutely in the ’90s. When I think of books that have done what I’m trying to do, these five are at the front of my mind.

Matt's book list on fantasy that reimagines society

Matt Weber Why did Matt love this book?

The action in this book begins when Severian, an apprentice in the Torturers’ Guild, gives a convict a weapon to kill herself rather than be tortured.

The reason there’s a Torturers’ Guild is, allegedly, that it beats prison: Better to deliver a punishment and then let the punished person return to their life, the thinking goes, than confine them to a useless existence as a ward of the state. Severian is expelled from the Guild, but not from the profession, and wanders the world plying his trade, at least until the plot can’t spare him.

It’s a constant dissonance, looking through the eyes of a character whose training and purpose is the infliction of pain, who seems so decent and forthright in the story he narrates. (But don’t be fooled.)

By Gene Wolfe, Don Maitz (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a thoroughly decadent world of the future, Severian the torturer is cast out from the torturer's guild when he falls in love with one of his victims and allows her to die


Book cover of The Dew Breaker

Michele Wucker Author Of Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola

From my list on understanding Haiti.

Why am I passionate about this?

A love of literature and a summer with relatives in Belgium—a country divided by language and culture—inspired me to travel to Santo Domingo in 1988 to learn Spanish and study the fraught dynamics of two countries speaking different languages but sharing an island. My time in the Dominican Republic and Haiti inspired a lifelong exploration of complex issues. Today I write about risk, drawing on psychology, culture, policy, and economics, as in Why the Cocks Fight. My third book, The Gray Rhino, calls for a fresh look at obvious, looming threats. The sequel, You Are What You Risk, explores risk perceptions and attitudes through a comparative, socio-cultural lens.

Michele's book list on understanding Haiti

Michele Wucker Why did Michele love this book?

The work of this rightfully acclaimed Haitian-American writer spans nonfiction and fiction, weaving historical memory in with present-day Haiti. This 2004 novel, told through related short stories, draws its title from the name of torturers under the regimes of the Duvaliers, father and son: François “Papa Doc” from 1957 to 1971 and Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” from 1971 until a popular uprising sent him into exile in 1986. Danticat draws on that period as well as contemporary issues like the ordeals of immigrants; the police killing of Haitian immigrant Patrick Dorismond in New York in 2000; the FRAPH government thugs who terrorized Haitians after the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide; the experiences of Haitian women; and the impact of trauma on families and relationships.

By Edwidge Danticat,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We meet him late in life: a quiet man, a good father and husband, a fixture in his Brooklyn neighborhood, a landlord and barber with a terrifying scar across his face. As the book unfolds, moving seamlessly between Haiti in the 1960s and New York City today, we enter the lives of those around him, and learn that he has also kept a vital, dangerous secret. Edwidge Danticat’s brilliant exploration of the “dew breaker”--or torturer--s an unforgettable story of love, remorse, and hope; of personal and political rebellions; and of the compromises we make to move beyond the most intimate…


Book cover of The Shell: Memoirs of a Hidden Observer

Sam Dagher Author Of Assad or We Burn the Country: How One Family's Lust for Power Destroyed Syria

From my list on people of the Levant region.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sam Dagher is a Lebanese-American journalist and author with more than 15 years of experience reporting on the Middle East and its people. He has lived in Baghdad, Beirut, and Damascus and worked throughout the region. Sam has been committed to telling the region’s stories from the ground up and in the process shedding new light on the root causes of war, extremism, and migration.

Sam's book list on people of the Levant region

Sam Dagher Why did Sam love this book?

The Shell is a peek into both the horrors and absurdities of totalitarian regimes told in the form of a prison diary kept by the author. Khalifa, a Christian by birth and an atheist, was mistaken (or perhaps not, given what I learned about the Assad regime in the course of my work) for a radical Islamist, arrested and locked up in the notorious Tadmor desert prison, more accurately a death camp. The book reveals the horrific consequences of the logic and methods of the Assad family and other dictators in the Middle East and beyond: Anyone suspected of harboring a hint of opposition to the ruler will be labeled a terrorist and traitor, crushed and turned into an example to instill fear in the wider population.

By Paul Starkey, Moustafa Khalifa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The work of a moder-day Sozhenitsyn that exposes acts of violence and brutality committed by the Syrian regime. This compelling first novel is the astonishing story of a Syrian political prisoner of conscience—an atheist mistaken for a radical Islamist—who was locked up for 13 years without trial in one of the most notorious prisons in the Middle East. The novel takes the form of a diary which Musa keeps in his head and then writes down upon his release. In Tadmur prison, the mood is naturally bleak and yet often very beautifully captured. The narrator, a young graduate, is defiant…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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