The most recommended books about corruption

Who picked these books? Meet our 69 experts.

69 authors created a book list connected to corruption, and here are their favorite corruption books.
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What type of corruption book?


How Beautiful We Were

By Imbolo Mbue,

Book cover of How Beautiful We Were

Sari Fordham Author Of Wait for God to Notice

From the list on by African women.

Who am I?

I grew up in Uganda and Kenya, and when I moved to the United States, I felt separated from myself. Learning how to be American was exhausting and so I disappeared into books. I’m now more settled, but I still travel through fiction. These days, I am reading fiction by African women. You should be, too! There is so much stunning literature out there. These five books are just the beginning, but they are novels I can’t stop thinking about.

Sari's book list on by African women

Why did Sari love this book?

What does environmental racism look like? Read How Beautiful We Were by Imobolo Mbue for a vital, searing answer. An American oil company is destroying the land and water of the fictional village of Kosawa. Children are dying. The company does this because they can, spouting only empty words about restitution. The novel narrates the village’s fight back, using alternating points of view to electric, pulsing effect.

By Imbolo Mbue,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked How Beautiful We Were as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Sweeping and quietly devastating' New York Times
'A David and Goliath story for our times' O, the Oprah Magazine

Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, this is the story of a people living in fear amidst environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company. Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of clean-up and financial reparations are made - and broken. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back. But it will come at a steep price - one which generation after generation…

Flat Earth News

By Nick Davies,

Book cover of Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media

Norman Baker Author Of ...And What Do You Do?: What the Royal Family Don't Want You to Know

From the list on how the world works.

Who am I?

We all need to understand more about how the world ticks, who is in control, and why they act as they do. And we need to salute those of courage who refuse to go along with the flow in a craven or unthinking way. I was an MP for 18 years and a government minister at the Department for Transport with a portfolio that included rail, bus, active travel, and then at the Home Office as Crime Prevention minister. After leaving Parliament, I became managing director of The Big Lemon, an environmentally friendly bus and coach company in Brighton. I now act as an advisor to the Campaign for Better Transport, am a regular columnist and broadcaster, and undertake consultancy and lecturing work.

Norman's book list on how the world works

Why did Norman love this book?

A highly perceptive if rather depressing examination of how the British media works, how expensive investigative journalism has largely given way to opinion columns and trivia about so-called celebrities, how stories are often not stories, how papers dress up partisan opinion as fact. In short, an exposure of the falsehoods, distortion, and propaganda that have corrupted the media. Nick Davies was a journalist at the Guardian.

By Nick Davies,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Does 'fake news' really exist? Find out from the ultimate insider.

After years of working as a respected journalist, Nick Davies, in this shocking expose, reveals what really goes on behind the scenes of this contentious industry.

From a prestigious newspaper that allowed intelligence agencies to plant fiction in its columns, to the newsroom that routinely rejected stories due to racial bias, to the number of papers that accepted cash bribes. Gripping, thought-provoking and revelatory, this is an insider's look at one of the most tainted professions.

'Meticulous, fair-minded and utterly gripping' Telegraph

'Powerful and timely...his analysis is fair, meticulously…

Match Fixing and Sport

By Mike Huggins (editor), Rob Hess (editor),

Book cover of Match Fixing and Sport: Historical Perspectives

Wray Vamplew Author Of Games People Played: A Global History of Sports

From the list on history books to find out why sport matters.

Who am I?

I love sport. I played my last game of cricket when I was 69 and, as I approach my eightieth year, I continue to play golf, confusing my partners by switching from right to left hand when chipping and putting. I like watching sport but prefer to spectate via television rather than being there. I confess I do not fully understand American sports: I cannot fathom why a hit over the fence in baseball can score 1, 2, 3, or 4 rather than the undisputed 6 of cricket; and, while I admire the strategies of American football, I wonder why a ‘touchdown’ does not actually involve touching down.

Wray's book list on history books to find out why sport matters

Why did Wray love this book?

The uncertainty of the result is a bedrock of sport. Yet, although it should not be pre-determined, it does happen. Gambling interests, the very people who developed rules for many early sports, can persuade competitors (by threats or bribes) not to perform to the best of their abilities. The book shows that cheating to lose has a long history dating back to Antiquity, when fines on cheating competitors paid for statues to commemorate the gods. I have never believed in the purity of sport and its participants. Sport may well breed character, a mantra of the sports lobby, but, I suggest, not necessarily good character. The book appeals to me as it shows how historians can dig out evidence on activities which, to be successful, must be covert.

By Mike Huggins (editor), Rob Hess (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Match-Fixing and Sport studies match-fixing in historical perspective, revealing how match-fixing has always been a major sporting continuity, alongside another longstanding continuity, a widely-held belief in a mythical recent past of pristine purity.

The volume begins with a brief overview of match-fixing's global contemporary contexts, the broad range of sports where it now surfaces, increased recognition of its moral, social, and economic threat, and the varied responses of leading sports organizations, legal gambling operators, police forces, governmental departments, and regulators. The following chapters explore the challenges of finding any reliable evidence of match-fixing in the past. An overview shows that…

Our Time Is Now

By Stacey Abrams,

Book cover of Our Time Is Now

Pat Libby Author Of The Empowered Citizens Guide: 10 Steps to Passing a Law that Matters to You

From the list on inspiring you to make a difference.

Who am I?

I’ve dedicated my life to repairing the world. This work has taken on many forms – helping low-income people grow community gardens for food and beauty, providing fuel subsidies that helped people combat frigid New England winters, and working on building affordable housing and economic development programs in rural and urban communities. Ultimately, these experiences brought me to create graduate programs where students could learn how to lead healthy nonprofit organizations. Part of their education involved learning how to pass laws based on my own successful experience. I realized then that I had a passion for providing everyday citizens with simple tools they too could use to make a difference.    

Pat's book list on inspiring you to make a difference

Why did Pat love this book?

Stacey Abrams writes in a style that is so personal and compelling, you feel as if she is nestled in a nearby chair talking directly to you. If you live in a part of the country where voting is easy as pie, this book will give you a front-row seat into some of the incredible hurdles that untold numbers of Americans endure to exercise that right. But Abrams doesn’t just focus on the “woe is me” unfairness of it all. She provides insights on why we should and how we can fix this broken system. The book makes you want to leap off your seat and do something. Don’t let the fact that Abrams lost her most recent election deter you from reaping these valuable lessons.    

By Stacey Abrams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Time Is Now as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times bestselling author of Lead From The Outside and political leader Stacey Abrams, a blueprint to end voter suppression, empower our citizens, and take back our country.

"With each page, she inspires and empowers us to create systems that reflect a world in which all voices are heard and all people believe and feel that they matter." —Kerry Washington

A recognized expert on fair voting and civic engagement, Abrams chronicles a chilling account of how the right to vote and the principle of democracy have been and continue to be under attack. Abrams would have been the…

Inside the Olympic Industry

By Helen Jefferson Lenskyj,

Book cover of Inside the Olympic Industry: Power, Politics, and Activism

Jacqueline Kennelly Author Of Olympic Exclusions: Youth, Poverty and Social Legacies

From the list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know.

Who am I?

I wasn’t really interested in the Olympics until they came knocking at my door. I lived in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics Bid. When a plebiscite was called, the Yes side plastered the city with billboards explaining why everyone should want the Olympics. Simultaneously, a much less resourced but vocal opposition argued that hosting would be an environmental, social, and economic disaster. The two sides were so far apart that my curiosity was piqued. When I began a postdoctoral fellowship in the UK, I realized that they, too, were in the midst of similar debates, as hosts of the 2012 Summer Olympics. From here a research project was born.

Jacqueline's book list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know

Why did Jacqueline love this book?

This is the grand-mere of contemporary critical Olympic literature.

Helen Lenskyj was one of the first scholars to draw attention to the problematics of the Games, including human rights abuses, displacement of homeless populations, and elite scandals that ought to send law-abiding citizens running. It continues to be a powerful and relevant read for anyone interested in peeking behind the curtains of the Olympic behemoth.

By Helen Jefferson Lenskyj,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Analysis from the perspective of those adversely affected by the social, economic, political, and environmental impacts of hosting an Olympic Games.


By Gerald Posner,

Book cover of Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America

Mikkael A. Sekeres Author Of Drugs and the FDA: Safety, Efficacy, and the Public's Trust

From the list on the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly in medicine.

Who am I?

As a cancer doctor, I have spent two decades dedicated to understanding the causes and therapy of cancer, how my patients experience their diagnosis and treatment, and how meaningful improvements in their experience should be reflected in the criteria we use to approve cancer drugs approval in the U.S., to improve their lives. In over 100 essays published in outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post and in two books, I sing the stories of my patients as I learn from their undaunted spirits and their utter humanity, as I try to figure out how to be a better doctor, and a better person.

Mikkael's book list on the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly in medicine

Why did Mikkael love this book?

There’s a seedy side to the pharmaceutical industry that started well before the creation of the FDA, and continues through the modern era, fueling the epidemic of opioid drug dependency.

In Pharma, Posner’s comprehensive reporting introduces us to brilliant scientists, incorruptible government regulators, and brave whistleblowers facing off against company executives often blinded by greed.

We learn how the Sacklers built a culture of pain relief on the shoulders of oxycontin – one that ultimately led to the lowest survival rates for Americans in a century.

By Gerald Posner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Gerald Posner traces the heroes and villains of the trillion-dollar-a-year pharmaceutical industry and uncovers how those once entrusted with improving life have often betrayed that ideal to corruption and reckless profiteering-with deadly consequences.

Pharmaceutical breakthroughs such as anti biotics and vaccines rank among some of the greatest advancements in human history. Yet exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs, safety recalls affecting tens of millions of Americans, and soaring rates of addiction and overdose on pre scription opioids have caused many to lose faith in drug companies. Now, Americans are demanding a national reckoning…

Shady Acres

By Lesley Muir,

Book cover of Shady Acres: Politicians, Developers & Sydney's Public Transport Scandals 1872-1895

Maggie Joel Author Of The Unforgiving City

From the list on to uncover Sydney’s past.

Who am I?

I arrived in Sydney in the 90s knowing as much as one brief peruse the Berlitz Guide could provide me. For the next 25 years I immersed myself in its beautiful harbour and beaches whilst writing four novels, all set in my hometown of London. But when I sat down to write my fifth novel, The Unforgiving City, set in 1890s Sydney, I drew a complete blank. What was my adopted city’s history? Did it even have one? If so, where was it? By the time I’d finished the novel I’d unearthed a whole other, hidden, Sydney. I will never view my new home town the same way again. 

Maggie's book list on to uncover Sydney’s past

Why did Maggie love this book?

A librarian friend recommended Lesley Muir’s explosive exposé of the scandal and corruption that underpinned the development of Sydney’s transport networks in the late Nineteenth Century. Spanning the decades immediately preceding Australia’s Federation, Shady Acres uncovers, as Elizabeth Farrelly says in her introduction, "the perennial crookedness of Sydney’s planning." As I immersed myself in 1890s Sydney for my own novel – and with my story and characters focussed on these very men who sat in the New South Wales’  parliament - I found the book provided the sort of rich vein of detail that allowed me to really bring this time and these people to life. 

By Lesley Muir,

Why should I read it?

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

They Eat Our Sweat

By Daniel E. Agbiboa,

Book cover of They Eat Our Sweat: Transport Labor, Corruption, and Everyday Survival in Urban Nigeria

Aili Mari Tripp Author Of Changing the Rules: The Politics of Liberalization and the Urban Informal Economy in Tanzania

From the list on the economy as if people mattered.

Who am I?

I grew up in Tanzania, where I discovered the importance of learning first-hand from ordinary people about their lives by accompanying my mother, who was an anthropologist, when she carried out participant observation among coastal people. Much later in my own research, I could see how essential it was to interact with people face-to-face and learn about their aspirations, joys, fears, daily struggles, and creative ways of coping with the challenges of an economy in free fall. I learned to look beyond the “economic data” to more fully appreciate the humanity of the people involved. All of these books I selected are by people who learned about the real urban economy in this way.

Aili's book list on the economy as if people mattered

Why did Aili love this book?

In this riveting account, Agbiboa dispels the myth that corruption is a culturally accepted norm in Nigeria.

He spent months behind the wheel as a minibus conductor in the informal settlements of Lagos, Nigeria, and experienced first-hand the stark realities of the corrupt interactions between drivers, police, and members of the transport workers union.

Nigerians reject, and simultaneously have little choice, but to participate in the petty corruption that arises from the systematic, violent, and exploitative relationship between the state and union on the one hand, and transport operators and passengers on the other.

Agbiboa shows that binary understandings of formality/informality, public/private, and legal/illegal derived from Western thought do not adequately capture the way that petty corruption is embedded in the state and is driven by elite corruption.

This resonated strongly with my research on the informal economy in Tanzania.

By Daniel E. Agbiboa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked They Eat Our Sweat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Accounts of corruption in Africa and the Global South are generally overly simplistic and macro-oriented, and commonly disconnect everyday (petty) corruption from political (grand) corruption. In contrast to this tendency, They Eat Our Sweat offers a fresh and engaging look at the corruption complex in Africa through a micro analysis of its informal transport sector, where collusion between state and nonstate actors is most rife. Focusing on Lagos, Nigeria's
commercial capital and Africa's largest city, Daniel Agbiboa investigates the workaday world of road transport operators as refracted through the extortion racket and violence of transport unions acting in complicity with…

It's Our Turn to Eat

By Michela Wrong,

Book cover of It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower

Irina Filatova Author Of The Hidden Thread. Russia and South Africa in the Soviet Era

From the list on to understand what is wrong and right with Africa.

Who am I?

I am a South African historian of Russian origin, who has studied and taught African history since the late 1960s. For us, the Russians, Africa was then an alluring terra incognita of wild nature, adventure, human suffering, struggles, and tenacity. I have studied how Africa became what it is for 50 years and lived in it for 30. I have learnt a lot about it, but for me it is still a land of human suffering, struggles and tenacity, wild nature, and adventure, and it is still alluring. 

Irina's book list on to understand what is wrong and right with Africa

Why did Irina love this book?

Michela Wrong’s story centres on one country, Kenya, and one person, but it resonates throughout the continent and far beyond it – everywhere, where corruption is as systemic, as it is in Kenya. John Githongo, a journalist who fought corruption, was appointed to head an anti–corruption unit by a new president. As in every decent detective novel, involving corruption, the hero discovers that the roots lead to the very top, finds the proof and, after many adventures, publicizes it. Only this is not a novel, though it certainly reads like one. Wrong’s hero is a real person, who did what he did and who suffered for it. This is a story of personal honesty, decency, and courage. But this is also an inside story of how many African societies work. 

By Michela Wrong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It's Our Turn to Eat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gripping account of both an individual caught on the horns of an excruciating moral dilemma and a continent at a turning point.

When Michela Wrong's Kenyan friend John Githongo appeared one cold February morning on the doorstep of her London flat, carrying a small mountain of luggage, it was clear something had gone very wrong in a country regarded until then as one of Africa's few budding success stories.

Two years earlier, in the wave of euphoria that followed the election defeat of long-serving President Daniel arap Moi, John had been appointed Kenya's new anti-corruption czar. In choosing this…

Adjustment Day

By Chuck Palahniuk,

Book cover of Adjustment Day

Andre Soares Author Of America is a Zoo

From the list on highly political satirical.

Who am I?

Some creative writers believe that stories carry a responsibility. The duty to entertain, of course, but also to educate, challenge and question the character(s) of the most powerful, the wealthiest. I am one of them. As an author, screenwriter, stage, and film actor, I’ve always believed in using stories as a platform to convey positively disruptive ideas, to highlight potentially destructive ideologies, to combat imperialism, expansionism, racism, and other toxic practices while delivering a neutral message devoid of political affiliations and emotional responses with no logical ground. Not unlike my latest novel, America is a Zoo, I am the product of a passionate soul, one who’s apolitical by design, yet political by conviction.

Andre's book list on highly political satirical

Why did Andre love this book?

Satires are mostly identified with laughter and larger-than-life figures moving in equally absurd settings with this… theatrical tone used to amplify, highlight very real issues. But satirical novels also demand change. Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, Adjustment Day, is both fun and challenging, and expertly executed. 

What is it about? A mysterious blue-black book carries directives leading to an “Adjustment Day.” It is shared among private circles, triggering a countdown to an earth-shattering schism. 

Brilliant, layered, and complex, a must-read: a nightmarish vision of our twisted and fractured societal body.

By Chuck Palahniuk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Adjustment Day is an ingenious darkly comic work in which Chuck Palahniuk does what he does best: skewer the absurdities in our society. Geriatric politicians bring the nation to the brink of a third world war to control the burgeoning population of young males, while working-class men dream of burying the elites. Adjustment Day's arrival makes real the logical conclusion of every separatist fantasy, alternative fact, and conspiracy theory lurking in the American psyche.

Bad City

By Paul Pringle,

Book cover of Bad City: Peril and Power in the City of Angels

Jean E. Rhodes Author Of Older and Wiser: New Ideas for Youth Mentoring in the 21st Century

From the list on understanding the psychology of deception.

Who am I?

I'm clinical psychology professor at UMass Boston and expert on mentoring relationships. When I was a senior in high school, my dad left behind thirty years of marriage, four kids, and a complicated legal and financial history to start a new life. I couldn't fully comprehend the FBI investigation that forced his departure—any more than I could've fathomed the fact that my classmate Jim Comey would eventually lead that agency. I was also reeling from a discovery that my dad had “shortened” his name from Rosenzweig to Rhodes, a common response to anti-Semitism. It was during that period that I experienced the benefits of mentors and the joy of books about hidden agendas and subtexts.

Jean's book list on understanding the psychology of deception

Why did Jean love this book?

Bad City: Peril and Power in the City of Angels, written by investigative reporter Paul Pringle is another gem of this literary genre.

What began as Pringle’s investigation of a young woman’s overdose, led him to the prominent dean of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC). Once on this trail, he uncovered the corruption at USC, the incompetence of the Pasadena Police Department, and a coverup at the Los Angeles Times.

After reading the first few pages, I was forced to cancel all meetings and plans. Pringle investigative reporting not only helped to uncover the toxic mix of money and power, but the mechanics and drudgery of getting to the bottom of things.

By Paul Pringle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Pringle’s fast-paced book is a master class in investigative journalism... when institutions collude to protect one another, reporting may be our last best hope for accountability."
―The New York Times

For fans of Spotlight and Catch and Kill comes a nonfiction thriller about corruption and betrayal radiating across Los Angeles from one of the region's most powerful institutions, a riveting tale from a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who investigated the shocking events and helped bring justice in the face of formidable odds.

On a cool, overcast afternoon in April 2016, a salacious tip arrived at the L.A. Times that reporter Paul…

Chasing Aphrodite

By Jason Felch, Ralph Frammolino,

Book cover of Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum

Gail Levin Author Of Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography

From the list on the fate of the Edward Hopper Estate.

Who am I?

I’m a Distinguished Professor of art history at CUNY and biographer of artists. I grew up in Atlanta, attended college in Boston, and have worked in New York since my twenties. With a new Ph.D. in art history from Rutgers, I began as curator of the Hopper Collection at the Whitney Museum, assigned to produce a definitive catalogue of all Edward Hopper’s authentic art. His papers were missing except for his record books that recorded every time a work left for sale, loan, or gift. I traced each work as it left Hopper’s possession and discovered a massive number of undocumented artworks stolen from the estate, which the Whitney still wants to cover up.

Gail's book list on the fate of the Edward Hopper Estate

Why did Gail love this book?

This very well-researched and gripping book taught me the meaning of the term “laundering” in the art market and revealed the duplicity of the late art dealer, Larry Fleischman, who both collected and sold stolen antiquities and marketed undocumented works taken from Edward Hopper’s estate.

He didn’t care about provenance or history of ownership and is quoted in this book as saying: “Everything comes from somewhere.”

Although I knew and dealt with Fleishman, I trusted him and was tricked by him.

By Jason Felch, Ralph Frammolino,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A “thrilling, well-researched” account of years of scandal at the prestigious Getty Museum (Ulrich Boser, author of The Gardner Heist).
In recent years, several of America’s leading art museums have voluntarily given up their finest pieces of classical art to the governments of Italy and Greece. Why would they be moved to such unheard-of generosity? The answer lies at the Getty, one of the world’s richest and most troubled museums, and scandalous revelations that it had been buying looted antiquities for decades. Drawing on a trove of confidential museum records and candid interviews, these two journalists give us a fly-on-the-wall…

The Constant Gardener

By John Le Carré, John le Carré,

Book cover of The Constant Gardener

Robert Craven Author Of A Kind of Drowning

From the list on spies, spying and cold war thrillers.

Who am I?

I am the author of six espionage books, 5 featuring allied spy, Eva Molenaar operating at the highest levels of Hitler’s Reich. The 6th The Road of a Thousand Tigers, is my homage to le Carre and Ian Fleming. I have loved the spy genre since I first read The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers and grew up seeing every Bond movie since The Man with the Golden Gun at the cinema.

Robert's book list on spies, spying and cold war thrillers

Why did Robert love this book?

Published in 2001, The Constant Gardener is my favorite le Carre Novel. A British diplomat in Nairobi, Justin Quayle, is informed his activist wife, Tess has been killed in a remote part of Kenya along with a doctor friend. As Quayle investigates her life (in a similar way to Eric Ambler unfolds Dimitrios’s life), he uncovers her work exposing large pharmaceutical companies’ unethical experiments in the poorest regions of Africa. This leads to her brutal death and cover-up at a diplomatic and political level. It is an exceptional book that makes you rethink how medicine and the industry behind it operates. After the collapse of the USSR, le Carre seemed to struggle with his work, The Constant Gardener though, kick-started another two decades of great writing from him.

By John Le Carré, John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Constant Gardener as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The book breathes life, anger and excitement' Observer

Tessa Quayle, a brilliant and beautiful young social activist, has been found brutally murdered by Lake Turkana in Nairobi. The rumours are that she was faithless, careless, but her husband Justin, a reserved, garden-loving British diplomat, refuses to believe them. As he sets out to discover what really happened to Tessa, he unearths a conspiracy more disturbing, and more deadly, than he could ever have imagined.

A blistering expose of global corruption, The Constant Gardener is also the moving portrayal of a man searching for justice for the woman he has barely…

The Burglary

By Betty Medsger,

Book cover of The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI

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

From the list on crime exploring more than the crime.

Who am I?

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

Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Somehow, I’d never heard of the crime The Burglary details: the 1971 burglary of FBI field offices. And somehow, the burglars remained anonymous for decades.

A reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer at the time, Medsger was one of journalists who received copies of the FBI files stolen by three professors, a daycare worker, a social worker, and others who called themselves The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI. The stolen files exposed COINTELPRO and other illegal FBI investigations, and fundamentally altered the FBI.

The Burglary told me the value of detailed research, especially relating a 50-year-old crime, and showed me the essential importance of understanding the society surrounding the crime in order to fully comprehend the crime.

By Betty Medsger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The never-before-told full story of the history-changing break-in at the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, by a group of unlikely activists—quiet, ordinary, hardworking Americans—that made clear the shocking truth and confirmed what some had long suspected, that J. Edgar Hoover had created and was operating, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, his own shadow Bureau of Investigation.

It begins in 1971 in an America being split apart by the Vietnam War . . . A small group of activists—eight men and women—the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI, inspired by Daniel Berrigan’s rebellious Catholic peace movement, set out to use…

Notes on a Silencing

By Lacy Crawford,

Book cover of Notes on a Silencing

Emily Franchini Author Of Lyra

From the list on a catharsis tea party for your book club.

Who am I?

I have such a passion for people that share powerful stories. Growing up was particularly rough for me due to the depression, anxiety, and isolation that I endured. When I wasn’t throwing myself into books to escape my reality, I wrote poetry. My love for mental health and cathartic stories didn’t start until about 2017 when I was trying to figure out the next chapter of my life. I had exited survival mode and entered into a thriving part of my life where my old habits and way of thinking did not serve me. I hope this list of book recommendations touches your soul as they have mine. 

Emily's book list on a catharsis tea party for your book club

Why did Emily love this book?

When I think of cathartic books, this book’s story always rolls around in my memories. The memoir is about a young woman’s struggle to regain her sense of self after trauma. And by trauma, I mean rape. This book angers me just as much as it saddens me with how Crawford had been treated by the school, her friends, and people she thought she could trust. The sheer amount of virtue signaling and victim blaming makes me sick with rage. But ultimately Crawford’s story gave me the power to voice about my own sexual trauma. I hope this book changes the world in the same way it changed mine. 

By Lacy Crawford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Notes on a Silencing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A "powerful and scary and important and true" memoir of a young woman's struggle to regain her sense of self after trauma, and the efforts by a powerful New England boarding school to silence her—at any cost (Sally Mann, author of Hold Still).

Shortlisted for the 2022 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

When Notes on a Silencing hit bookstores in the summer of 2020, even amidst a global pandemic, it sent shockwaves through the country. Not only did this intimate investigative memoir usher in a media storm of coverage, but it also prompted the elite St. Paul's School to…

Stasi Child

By David Young,

Book cover of Stasi Child

Michelle Barker Author Of The House of One Thousand Eyes

From the list on showing East Germany really was like a spy movie.

Who am I?

My mother grew up in Germany during World War Two and her family (or what was left of it) settled in the Soviet Zone that eventually became East Germany. She managed to get out in 1953 by sneaking across the border with a weekend pass, but other members of the family remained. This history has been close to my heart as a result and is what inspired me to write my novel, The House of One Thousand Eyes. I had to do a lot of research to evoke an authentic setting for my novel. This reading list comes from my research of, and fascination with, that time in history.

Michelle's book list on showing East Germany really was like a spy movie

Why did Michelle love this book?

This is a police procedural set in the 1970s in East Berlin. The author successfully evokes an atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion, as the main character, a female detective, must try to solve the murder of a young girl who seems to have been killed fleeing from West to East Germany (not the usual direction). The feeling that everyone is watching, everyone is a potential informer, everything is potentially corrupt, corresponds to all the research I did on East Germany. Plus, it’s a great story that’s hard to put down.

By David Young,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the shadow of the Berlin Wall, murder is never an open-and-shut case . . .

The award-winning, critically acclaimed Cold War crime thriller set in East Berlin - perfect for fans of Tom Rob Smith, Phillip Kerr and Joseph Kanon.

East Berlin, 1975 - When Oberleutnant Karin Muller is called to investigate a teenage girl's body at the foot of the Wall, she imagines she's seen it all before. But when she arrives she realises this is a death like no other. It seems the girl was trying to escape - but from the West.

Muller is a…

The Missing American

By Kwei Quartey,

Book cover of The Missing American

Michael Stanley Author Of A Deadly Covenant

From the list on African noir thrillers.

Who are we?

Michael Stanley is actually two people—Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip both South Africans, passionate about Africa and its cultures. We read a lot of books set in or concerning Africa. We think of African thrillers as Sunshine Noir—things are always at their most deadly in the glare of the sun! The diverse cultures generate complex character clashes and intriguingly original plots. We believe some of the best thrillers anywhere are set in Africa and written by African writers. Michael writes an article every month titled Africa Scene for the International Thrillers Writers magazine (The Big Thrill) where he interviews an author about a new thriller set in Africa.

Michael's book list on African noir thrillers

Why did Michael love this book?

Emma Djan is a policewoman turned private investigator in Ghana. Her assignment is to track down the missing American who came out to Ghana to meet a woman who is almost certainly the fictional creation of internet scammers—the sakawa boys. We love Emma Djan’s combination of commitment and naiveté as she takes on the scammers, and the way Quartey weaves the local culture—complete with fetish priests and celebrities—into an intriguing plot. If you like to travel, visit Ghana. Great lead character, great plot, great sense of place. What’s not to like? A worthy Shamus Award winner.

By Kwei Quartey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Gordon Tilson falls victim to an online scam, he finds himself alone in the whirlwind city of Accra. But his decision to confront those responsible leads him into unimaginable danger. Now his son Derek has lost all contact with him and has no choice but to travel into the heart of Ghana to begin a near impossible search for his father.

Frustrated by the inadequate local police, Derek turns to Emma Djan, a young private detective desperate to prove her worth. In a heart-stopping race against time, they must expose those at the very centre of Accra's power who…

Book cover of The Billionaire's Apprentice

Claire A. Hill Author Of Better Bankers, Better Banks: Promoting Good Business through Contractual Commitment

From the list on bankers, especially bankers behaving badly.

Who am I?

I’ve always been interested—a vast understatement to anyone who knows me—in what makes people tick. I’ve focused on analyzing business actors – bankers, lawyers, investors, executives, shareholders, and others. What do they want? Some combination of money, power, or prestige? How does loving to win fit in? How about hating to lose? When is enough (money/power/prestige) enough? What do they think is ok to do to get what they want? What do they think is not ok? Amazingly, as a law professor, I can pursue that interest as part of my job, and – I think and hope – do so in a way that might help lawmakers, regulators, and policymakers do better.

Claire's book list on bankers, especially bankers behaving badly

Why did Claire love this book?

This is a beautifully written story about bankers who rise, and fall spectacularly – into crime, in this case insider trading, with the loss of money, status, and prestige that followed.

What’s particularly fascinating is the historical, ethnic, and sociological backdrop. The book begins with a scene in which Indian-born Rajat Gupta, having come to the US and ascended to the highest echelons of the US business world, was attending a White House dinner for India’s Prime Minister.

The book ends as some people who had been on top are dealing with the aftermath of trials that went very badly for them. The word “Shakespearean” has been used to describe this book, and aptly so.

By Anita Raghavan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Billionaire's Apprentice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Just as WASPs, Irish-Catholics and Our Crowd Jews once made the ascent from immigrants to powerbrokers, it is now the Indian-American's turn. Citigroup, PepsiCo and Mastercard are just a handful of the Fortune 500 companies led by a group known as the "Twice Blessed." Yet little is known about how these Indian emigres (and children of emigres) rose through the ranks. Until now...The collapse of the Galeon Group--a hedge fund that managed more than $7 billion in assets--from criminal charges of insider trading was a sensational case that pitted Preet Bharara, himself the son of Indian immigrants, against the best…

Escape from Sunset Grove

By Minna Lindgren,

Book cover of Escape from Sunset Grove

Kate Darroch Author Of Death in Paris

From the list on humorous murder mysteries.

Who am I?

Living on Devon's gorgeous coast, I'm melding my lifelong love of reading Cozy Sleuths with my love of writing and years of living in foreign climes to write Travel Cozies. I also have a Vella Heist serial Found Money starting on Vella soon, and a Cozy Spy series They Call Him Gimlet coming out in the Autumn.

Kate's book list on humorous murder mysteries

Why did Kate love this book?

In Escape from Sunset Grove, Minna Lindgren gives us a delightful contemporary cozy murder mystery whose protagonists, the nonagenarian amateur sleuths of the Lavender Ladies Detective Agency, live in a Finnish Retirement Apartments complex. When their quiet lives are quite literally broken to bits by unskilful plumbers, Siiri and Irma innocently go in search of a quieter place to drink a cup of coffee—and find a murderer.

The humour in Lindgren’s delightful cozy series, excellently translated by Kristian London, is quieter than Caudwell’s sparkling masterpieces but just as enjoyable. Called with some justice “The Finnish Miss Marple” the Lavender Ladies appeal to all age groups.

By Minna Lindgren,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Escape from Sunset Grove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's not easy sharing a flat. Especially when you're 95 years old . . .

Escape from Sunset Grove is the second hilarious and heartwarming crime caper in Minna Lindgren's Lavender Ladies Detective Agency trilogy. Perfect for fans of Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club and M.C. Beaton

Change is afoot at Sunset Grove retirement home, and its residents aren't impressed.

Under threat from falling masonry, best friends Irma and Siiri are forced out of their home to negotiate twenty-first-century living in the centre of Helsinki. Their new surroundings throw up an endless number of daily challenges, from caring for…

The Smartest Guys in the Room

By Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind,

Book cover of The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron

John V. Petrocelli Author Of The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit

From John's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Professor Experimental social psychologist Keynote speaker Business analyst Research

John's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did John love this book?

I love this book because it provides all the detail a reader interested in the cornucopia of bullshit that was the Enron scandal of the 1990s, desires. 

The book reveals the fates of all the key players in the scandal by delving into their thinking and flawed reasoning.  This comprehensive case study examines the downfall of one of the most revered companies in America. It reveals that while the Enron failure was undoubtedly facilitated by the common corporate vices of greed and moral indifference, its core problem laid in its exceptional proficiency in the very skill that garnered it the most admiration: corporate finance. 

McLean and Elkins demonstrate that Jeff Skilling, a Harvard Business School alumnus who swiftly climbed the ranks at McKinsey, possessed a fervent dedication to corporate finance. 

He instilled this mindset as the prevailing ethos of the company and successfully promoted it to the financial entities that…

By Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Smartest Guys in the Room as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What went wrong with American business at the end of the 20th century?

Until the spring of 2001, Enron epitomized the triumph of the New Economy. Feared by rivals, worshipped by investors, Enron seemingly could do no wrong. Its profits rose every year; its stock price surged ever upward; its leaders were hailed as visionaries.

Then a young Fortune writer, Bethany McLean, wrote an article posing a simple question - how, exactly, does Enron make its money?

Within a year Enron was facing humiliation and bankruptcy, the largest in US history, which caused Americans to lose faith in a system…