10 books like Wretched Refuse?

By Alex Nowrasteh, Benjamin Powell,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Wretched Refuse?. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Ethics of Immigration

By Joseph H. Carens,

Book cover of The Ethics of Immigration

This is the single best book on the political philosophy of immigration. Canadian political philosopher Joseph Carens makes a wide-ranging philosophical defense of  “open borders” migration rights – not just from the standpoint of some one particular political theory, but from that of many. Whether you are a free-market libertarian, an egalitarian liberal, or a moderate, Carens has a case to make to you. He also has compelling responses to a variety of objections. A key strength of the book is that Carens defends his seemingly radical conclusion based on relatively uncontroversial premises of liberty and equality that are widely accepted by supporters of liberal democracy around the world.

The Ethics of Immigration

By Joseph H. Carens,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Ethics of Immigration, Joseph Carens synthesizes a lifetime of work to explore and illuminate one of the most pressing issues of our time. Immigration poses practical problems for western democracies and also challenges the ways in which people in democracies think about citizenship and belonging, about rights and responsibilities, and about freedom and equality.

Carens begins by focusing on current immigration controversies in North America and Europe about access to citizenship, the integration of immigrants, temporary workers, irregular migrants and the admission of family members and refugees. Working within the moral framework provided by liberal democratic values, he…


Open Borders

By Bryan Caplan, Zach Weinersmith (illustrator),

Book cover of Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration

Before reading this book, I would never have believed that you can effectively address an important political issue by writing a… graphic novel. But economist Bryan Caplan did just that. Whereas Carens’ book makes a philosophical case for open borders, Caplan excels at addressing a variety of practical policy issues. With a combination of eloquent words and powerful images, he shows how immigration can greatly expand freedom and prosperity for migrants and natives alike. He also effectively goes over a wide range of potential downsides of immigration, such as overburdening the welfare state, environmental damage, and much else. 

Open Borders

By Bryan Caplan, Zach Weinersmith (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Economist Bryan Caplan makes a bold case for unrestricted immigration in this fact-filled graphic nonfiction.

American policy-makers have long been locked in a heated battle over whether, how many, and what kind of immigrants to allow to live and work in the country. Those in favor of welcoming more immigrants often cite humanitarian reasons, while those in favor of more restrictive laws argue the need to protect native citizens.

But economist Bryan Caplan adds a new, compelling perspective to the immigration debate: He argues that opening all borders could eliminate absolute poverty worldwide and usher in a booming worldwide economy--greatly…


Strangers in Our Midst

By David Miller,

Book cover of Strangers in Our Midst: The Political Philosophy of Immigration

I don’t agree with most of this book. But nonetheless it's a must-read for anyone who wants a great overview and defense of standard arguments to the effect that nation-state governments should enjoy broad power to exclude potential migrants. Miller puts the case well, and it’s easily grasped by experts and laypeople alike.

Strangers in Our Midst

By David Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strangers in Our Midst as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How should Western democracies respond to the many millions of people who want to settle in their societies? Economists and human rights advocates tend to downplay the considerable cultural and demographic impact of immigration on host societies. Seeking to balance the rights of immigrants with the legitimate concerns of citizens, Strangers in Our Midst brings a bracing dose of realism to this debate. David Miller defends the right of democratic states to control their borders and decide upon the future size, shape, and cultural make-up of their populations.

"A cool dissection of some of the main moral issues surrounding immigration…


Immigration and Democracy

By Sarah Song,

Book cover of Immigration and Democracy

Another book I don’t agree with, that is nonetheless invaluable. Traditional defenses of migration restrictions assert either that the right to exclude belongs to a specific ethnic or cultural group or that nations are entitled to exclusion rights analogous to those enjoyed by homeowners or members of private clubs. Song takes a very different tack, by arguing that exclusion is inherent in the nature of democratic “self-determination,” regardless of whether current voters are an ethnically or culturally distinct group or not. I think she’s wrong and explain why in my own book, Free to Move. But hers is an important contribution to the debate.

Immigration and Democracy

By Sarah Song,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How should we think about immigration and what policies should democratic societies pursue? Sarah Song offers a political theory of immigration that takes seriously both the claims of receiving countries and the claims of prospective migrants.

Immigration is one of the most polarizing issues in contemporary politics. It raises questions about identity, economic well-being, the legitimacy of state power, and the boundaries of membership and justice. How should we think about immigration and what policies should democratic societies pursue?

Some contend that borders should generally be open and people should be free to migrate in search of better lives. Others…


Streets of Gold

By Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan,

Book cover of Streets of Gold: America's Untold Story of Immigrant Success

When I began researching the economics of immigration, I expected to find that my prejudice in favor of immigrants needed more nuance. However, even more than I suspected, the economic literature is resounding in describing the many large economic benefits of immigration. Streets of Gold describes how essential immigration has been to American economic success, and it provides a strong argument for a more open immigration policy. 

Streets of Gold

By Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Immigration is one of the most fraught, and possibly most misunderstood, topics in American social discourse-yet, in most cases, the things we believe about immigration are based largely on myth, not facts. Using the tools of modern data analysis and ten years of pioneering research, new evidence is provided about the past and present of the American Dream, debunking myths fostered by political opportunism and sentimentalized in family histories, and draw counterintuitive conclusions, including:

* Upward Mobility: Children of immigrants from nearly every country, especially those of poor immigrants, do better economically than children of U.S.-born residents - a pattern…


Next Ship Home

By Heather Webb,

Book cover of Next Ship Home: A Novel of Ellis Island

I personally enjoyed this book for the courage found by the Heroine in a world where women were considered 2nd class citizens, but she, through strength of character and love of a sister she loses due to illness and no monies to save her, gives her that impetus to forge ahead through unconventional, but effective ways and new friends of wealth in America. It could be called a Cinderella story with illegal immigrants as heroines.

A book of 1902, about a young woman who had been abused by her father to the point that a nun suggested she find refuge elsewhere. From Italy, she proceeds to save enough money to book passage with a ship for both herself and her younger sister who is already ill from similar abuse. She looks forward to Ellis Island, knowing she then will be on the safe harbor of America, until she learns that…

Next Ship Home

By Heather Webb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ellis Island, 1902: Two women band together to hold America to its promise: "Give me your tired, your poor ... your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."
A young Italian woman arrives on the shores of America, her sights set on a better life. That same day, a young American woman reports to her first day of work at the immigration center. But Ellis Island isn't a refuge for Francesca or Alma, not when ships depart every day with those who are refused entry to the country and when corruption ripples through every corridor. While Francesca resorts to desperate measures…


Comrades and Chicken Ranchers

By Kenneth L. Kann,

Book cover of Comrades and Chicken Ranchers

This book is a true labor of love, an oral history about a community of Eastern European Jewish chicken ranchers that lived in Petaluma, California for decades. The voices ring with the cadence and language of my own childhood although the era is older and the political leanings of those interviewed are different than those in my own neighborhood. What distinguishes this book from many is that the community has no wish to assimilate.

Comrades and Chicken Ranchers

By Kenneth L. Kann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Given its tumultuous history, one would hardly have expected Petaluma, California, to become transformed into the San Francisco bedroom suburb that it is today. It had been a small-town agricultural community, where Jewish chicken ranchers and radicals enjoyed a vigorous Yiddish cultural life, maintained intense political commitments, and took part in sharp conflicts among themselves and with the society beyond.

In this unique work of oral history, Kenneth Kann has ingeniously arranged and edited interviews with more than two hundred people, some of them telling their life stories in their own Yiddishized English. We meet an array of striking characters…


The Arrival

By Shaun Tan,

Book cover of The Arrival

I will remain forever astonished at the epic feat of world-building in The Arrival. It thoroughly pulls me into an immersive experience where I am learning along with the main character how to navigate the new world into which he has immigrated. As he learns, we learn. I find myself so emotionally involved with his success in his hopeful new reality. The art is amazingly detailed and conveys the complex and richly visual world, yet also sets a strong emotional tone that brings us into the action.

The Arrival

By Shaun Tan,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Arrival as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What drives so many to leave everything behind and journey alone to a mysterious country, a place without family or friends, where everything is nameless and the future is unknown. This silent graphic novel is the story of every migrant, every refugee, every displaced person, and a tribute to all those who have made the journey.

THE ARRIVAL has become one of the most critically acclaimed books of recent years, a wordless masterpiece that describes a world beyond any familiar time or place.

Sited as No 35 in The Times 100 Best Books of all time. It has sold over…


Becoming Americans

By Ilan Stavans (editor),

Book cover of Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing

Ilan Stavans’s edited volume, Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing demonstrates how immigration is central to the origin story of the United States. In compiling selections from over 400 years of first-generation immigrant accounts, Stavans is able to shed light on the immigration experience—starting at Jamestown—from the perspective of the immigrant, as opposed to those already living in the destination country.

Becoming Americans

By Ilan Stavans (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Immigration is the essential American story. From London or Lvov, Bombay or Beijing, Dublin or Dusseldorf, people have come to America to remake themselves, their lives, and their identities. Despite political obstacles, popular indifference, or hostility, they put down roots here, and their social, cultural, and entrepreneurial energies helped forge the open and diverse society we live in. The history of American immigration has often been told by those already here. Becoming Americans tells this epic story from the inside, gathering for the first time over 400 years of writing—from seventeenth-century Jamestown to contemporary Brooklyn and Los Angeles—by first-generation immigrants…


La Frontera

By Deborah Mills,

Book cover of La Frontera: El Viaje Con Papa / My Journey with Papa

I learned from this story why families make the difficult decision to split up and send a father and a child on a dangerous journey for a better life. This family lives in Mexico, facing hunger and destitution. The father and his son became migrants. They walked to America, knowing that they could be split up or one of them die.

In this book, I learned about the Mexican-American War, and the atrocious US policy of splitting migrant children from their parents.

La Frontera

By Deborah Mills,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Join a young boy and his father on a daring journey from Mexico to Texas to find a new life. They'll need all the resilience and courage they can muster to safely cross the border - la frontera - and to make a home for themselves in a new land. AGES: 8 to 10 AUTHORS: Alfredo Alva is a stonemason from La Ceja, Mexico. He and his family live in Texas, where he designs architectural details from stone for local architects. He met Deborah Mills while working on a local architecture project, and they worked together to write his story…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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