The best politics books

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589 authors created a book list connected to politics, and here are their favorite politics books.
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Portraits of the Queen Mother

By Catherine de Medicis, Leah L. Chang (translator), Katherine Kong (translator)

Book cover of Portraits of the Queen Mother: Polemics, Panegyrics, Letters

Kathleen Wellman Author Of Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France

From the list on women in early modern France.

Who am I?

As a historian of early modern France and a professor at Southern Methodist University, I have taken students to Paris on a study abroad program for more than twenty summers. Students were invariably intrigued by the relationship of Henry II, Catherine de Medici, and Diane de Poitiers. The young prince married Catherine de Medici at the age of fourteen but the thirty-six-year-old Diane de Poitiers became his mistress when he was sixteen and remained so for the rest of his life. The complexities of that relationship and the significance of both women led me to conclude that the history of the Renaissance could be told through the lives of the queens and mistresses.

Kathleen's book list on women in early modern France

Discover why each book is one of Kathleen's favorite books.

Why did Kathleen love this book?

From her arrival as a fourteen-year-old bride to her death as queen mother fifty-five years later, Catherine de Medici was praised as a devoted wife and mother and able ruler but also condemned as a foreigner, a poisoner, and murderer of Protestants. This rare collection of primary sources translated into English allows readers to become familiar with the sources of such positive and negative assessments of this controversial queen. The letters included here, selected from her many volumes of correspondence, reveal her concerns as a mother and as a political figure.

Excerpts from Venetian ambassadors' gossipy reports bring to light principal figures of the French court--their character, their motives, and political interests. Other sources in the collection extravagantly praise the character and actions of the queen. The several polemical sources included in the collection offer a sharp contrast. The vehement charges leveled against Catherine allow readers to recognize and understand…

By Catherine de Medicis, Leah L. Chang (translator), Katherine Kong (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Catherine de Medicis was portrayed in her day as foreign usurper, loving queen and queen mother, patron of the arts, and Machiavellian murderer of Protestants. Leah L. Chang and Katherine Kong assemble a diverse array of scathing polemic and lofty praise, diplomatic reports, and Catherine's own letters, which together show how one extraordinary woman's rule intersected with early modern conceptions of gender, maternity, and power.

Innovative State

By Aneesh Chopra,

Book cover of Innovative State

Jaideep Prabhu Author Of How Should a Government Be?: The New Levers of State Power

From the list on what modern governments can do for their citizens.

Who am I?

A professor of business at the University of Cambridge, I've spent over two decades studying innovation. I've been particularly interested in “frugal innovation”: how small teams now use ubiquitous tools and technologies to achieve what only large corporations or governments could a decade ago. I've written two books about this phenomenon: Jugaad Innovation and Frugal Innovation about the private sector. Whenever I gave talks about them, there was always the question: What does this mean for governments? I began to study how the state could use new technologies and ways of organizing to deliver services to its citizens better, faster and cheaper, and how governments should regulate and cultivate such tools used by the private sector.

Jaideep's book list on what modern governments can do for their citizens

Discover why each book is one of Jaideep's favorite books.

Why did Jaideep love this book?

The author of this book, Aneesh Chopra, became the first chief technology officer of the United States government in 2009. Prior to that, he was the Secretary of Technology for Virginia and managing director for a health care think tank. As CTO for the US government, Chopra led the administration’s attempts to create a more open, tech-savvy government. In this book, he draws on his experience and interviews with policy experts and tech insiders to show how government can establish a new paradigm for the internet era, one that allows us to tackle the most challenging problems, from economic development to veteran affairs. Once again, it was a source of inspiration for me. My own book extends his discussion of the US federal government to the state and city level, as well as looks at many other countries around the world, both developed and developing.

By Aneesh Chopra,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Over the last twenty years, our economy and our society have been completely revolutionized by technology. As Aneesh Chopra shows in Innovative State, once it became clear how much this would change America, a movement arose around the idea that these same technologies could reshape and improve government. But the idea languished, and while the private sector innovated, our government stalled. The election of Barack Obama offered a new opportunity. In 2009, Aneesh Chopra was named the first Chief Technology Officer of the United States. Previously the Secretary of Technology for Virginia and managing director for a health care think…

The Sorrows of Mexico

By Lydia Cacho, Juan Villoro, Marcela Turati, Anabel Hernández, Emiliano Ruiz Parra

Book cover of The Sorrows of Mexico

Marcus Sedgwick Author Of Saint Death

From the list on the USA / Mexico border, drug cartels, and misery.

Who am I?

I became passionate about the Mexico/US border question after meeting someone who is now a close friend, a Mexican academic who introduced me to some of the issues. She helped me write Saint Death as a way to explore the politics of ultra-capitalism, in the form of multinational business, and the action of drug cartels.

Marcus' book list on the USA / Mexico border, drug cartels, and misery

Discover why each book is one of Marcus' favorite books.

Why did Marcus love this book?

Seven esteemed Mexican writers: analyse and dissect the repeated failings of their country’s government. Uncomfortable but necessary reportage for anyone who wants to understand the situation in modern Mexico.

By Lydia Cacho, Juan Villoro, Marcela Turati, Anabel Hernández, Emiliano Ruiz Parra

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With contributions from seven of Mexico's finest journalists, this is reportage at its bravest and most necessary - it has the power to change the world's view of their country, and by the force of its truth, to start to heal the country's many sorrows.

Supported the Arts Council Grant's for the Arts Programme and by PEN Promotes

Veering between carnival and apocalypse, Mexico has in the last ten years become the epicentre of the international drug trade. The so-called "war on drugs" has been a brutal and chaotic failure (more than 160,000 lives have been lost). The drug cartels…

How to Do Nothing

By Jenny Odell,

Book cover of How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy

Blythe Roberson Author Of America the Beautiful?: One Woman in a Borrowed Prius on the Road Most Traveled

From the list on nature and freedom.

Who am I?

Since I was a kid I’ve loved being outdoors, scrambling up rocks and smelling trees, exploring. But during the years I worked an office job in New York City, I was able to hike and feel truly free only rarely. So I quit my job to go on a Great American Road Trip to national parks and other natural areas in our country. Here are some of the books that, to me, best encapsulate that feeling of loving nature so much it opens up whole worlds inside of you.

Blythe's book list on nature and freedom

Discover why each book is one of Blythe's favorite books.

Why did Blythe love this book?

If you have ever felt alienated by our capitalist society which tells us we do not deserve any sort of freedom or any sort of safety net, and which encourages us to use all of our time laboring and being “productive” – Jenny Odell’s book is for you.

I had already quit my job and started planning my road trip the week before How To Do Nothing came out, but if I hadn’t, I would have! The way Odell writes about paying attention to nature – she calls herself not a bird watcher but a “bird noticer” – has shaped the way I pay attention, too.

And Odell’s writing on “meeting the bioregion” of wherever you are, or learning about its plants, animals, and human history, was a direct influence on my book.

By Jenny Odell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked How to Do Nothing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

** A New York Times Bestseller **

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY: Time • The New Yorker • NPR • GQ • Elle • Vulture • Fortune • Boing Boing • The Irish Times • The New York Public Library • The Brooklyn Public Library

"A complex, smart and ambitious book that at first reads like a self-help manual, then blossoms into a wide-ranging political manifesto."—Jonah Engel Bromwich, The New York Times Book Review

One of President Barack Obama's "Favorite Books of 2019"
Porchlight's Personal Development & Human Behavior Book of the Year

In a…

Book cover of In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu's Congo

Alex Finley Author Of Victor in the Rubble

From the list on adventures in Africa.

Who am I?

I have traveled throughout Africa and had the great opportunity to live in West Africa for two years, while I was working for the CIA. That experience was wild and challenging, but also transforming. West Africa became the setting for my first novel, Victor in the Rubble, because I loved the absurdity and adventure I experienced there, where nothing is logical but everything makes sense. I have read a number of novels that take place in different parts of Africa, as well as a wide array of nonfiction books about various African countries, their history, and their leaders. There are so many great stories there that pique my interest and inspire me.

Alex's book list on adventures in Africa

Discover why each book is one of Alex's favorite books.

Why did Alex love this book?

This is one of the books that sparked my interest in the cult of personality that dictators cultivate in order to secure their own power.

It helped inspire a number of essays I later wrote about dictators and informed some of the characters in my own books. In fact, Mobutu is one of the most interesting dictators to me because he chose as his mistress his wife’s identical twin.

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up!

By Michela Wrong,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Known as "the Leopard," the president of Zaire for thirty-two years, Mobutu Sese Seko, showed all the cunning of his namesake -- seducing Western powers, buying up the opposition, and dominating his people with a devastating combination of brutality and charm. While the population was pauperized, he plundered the country's copper and diamond resources, downing pink champagne in his jungle palace like some modern-day reincarnation of Joseph Conrad's crazed station manager.

Michela Wrong, a correspondent who witnessed Mobutu's last days, traces the rise and fall of the idealistic young journalist who became the stereotype of an African despot. Engrossing, highly…

Book cover of The Savage Freud and Other Essays on Possible and Retrievable Selves

Mark Juergensmeyer Author Of Terror in the Mind of God

From the list on religious violence.

Who am I?

Though religious violence is an odd obsession for a nice guy like me, the topic was forced on me. Having lived for years in the Indian Punjab, I was struck by the uprising of Sikhs in the 1980s. I wanted to know why, and what religion had to do with it. These could have been my own students. It is easy to understand why bad people do bad things, but why do good people—often with religious visions of peace—employ such savage acts of violence? This is the question that has propelled me through a half-dozen books, including the recent When God Stops Fighting: How Religious Violence Ends. 

Mark's book list on religious violence

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

Those who know the field of religious violence may find my choice of Ashis Nandy’s book of essays to be a peculiar one since it deals with a variety of issues besides religious violence. But one of his essays, “The Discrete Charms of Indian Terrorists,” is worth the price of the book. In it, Nandy describes the remarkably civil behavior of young Sikh activists who hijacked an Indian plane in the 1980s. He then goes on to disagree with Gandhi that terrorism necessarily absolutizes a conflict, and he rejects the common perspective, especially in the West, that terrorism is always evil. Though Nandy’s analysis does not fit all, or perhaps most, instances of religion-related terrorism it makes us reconsider our assumptions about the use of violence in certain situations.

By Ashis Nandy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Savage Freud and Other Essays on Possible and Retrievable Selves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of India's leading public intellectuals, Ashis Nandy is a highly influential critic of modernity, science, nationalism, and secularism. In this, his most important collection of essays so far, he seeks to locate cultural forms and languages of being and thinking that defy the logic and hegemony of the modern West. The core of the volume consists of two ambitious, deeply probing essays, one on the early success of psychoanalysis in India, the other on the justice meted out by the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal to the defeated Japanese. Both issues are viewed in the context of the psychology of…


By Ryan Busse,

Book cover of Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry That Radicalized America

Pamela Haag Author Of The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture

From the list on new or surprising on American guns and gun culture.

Who am I?

I got interested in American guns and gun culture through the backdoor. I’d never owned a gun, participated in gun control politics, or thought too much about guns at all. Guns might not have interested me—but ghosts did. I was beguiled by the haunting legend of the Winchester rifle heiress Sarah Winchester, who believed in the late 1800s that she was being tormented by the ghosts of all those killed by Winchester rifles. As I scoured the archives for rare glimpses of Sarah, however, it dawned on me that I was surrounded by boxes and boxes of largely unexplored sources about a much larger story, and secretive mystery: that of the gun industry itself.

Pamela's book list on new or surprising on American guns and gun culture

Discover why each book is one of Pamela's favorite books.

Why did Pamela love this book?

Busse offers the new perspective of an insider—an erstwhile gun executive. I’ve always held that the gun industry has gotten far too little attention historically, and that commercial forces substantially helped to create and then maintain the American gun mystique and culture long after the “frontier” closed. Busse’s work shows just how explicitly the gun industry today, since 9/11 and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, relies on “manufactured fear” to push products. The book teems with examples of fear marketing, including endorsements from social media celebrities that created a new breed of “couch commandos,” steeped in the “glorification of violence, the utter rejection of political correctness, and the freewheeling masculinity and objectification of women.” And in Busse’s view it’s not just that gun marketing has changed, but that the gun industry has transformed American culture itself, radicalizing it and shifting it toward authoritarianism.

We’ve seen and felt this malevolence of…

By Ryan Busse,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A former firearms executive pulls back the curtain on America's multibillion-dollar gun industry, exposing how it fostered extremism and racism, radicalizing the nation and bringing cultural division to a boiling point.
As an avid hunter, outdoorsman, and conservationist–all things that the firearms industry was built on–Ryan Busse chased a childhood dream and built a successful career selling millions of firearms for one of America’s most popular gun companies.

But blinded by the promise of massive profits, the gun industry abandoned its self-imposed decency in favor of hardline conservatism and McCarthyesque internal policing, sowing irreparable division in our politics and society.…

Book cover of Met His Every Goal? James K. Polk and the Legends of Manifest Destiny

Bob Brill Author Of The Tattoo Murder

From the list on solving historical mysteries.

Who am I?

My entire life I’ve been a historian, a treasure hunter, and a crime solver, which is likely why I became a broadcast journalist and investigative reporter. Having worked cases, worked with police, and asked the questions I believe the public wanted answered, there isn’t much which gets by me. I see every story as a movie and every scene in life as a story that needs telling. One of my passions has always been genealogy which fits right into all of the above. I live by a simple saying, “Be a student of history, not a victim of it.”

Bob's book list on solving historical mysteries

Discover why each book is one of Bob's favorite books.

Why did Bob love this book?

Polk was one of the most important presidents, considered Top 10, and he only served one term. He didn’t set out to be president. He got nominated because the bigwigs at the time couldn’t win their party's votes. Polk kept getting more votes as the ballots were turned in and became his party’s nominee. He won the election and set out three goals; get rid of the bank of the US, which was ripping the country off, expand the country to the west coast, and get rid of tariffs, all three of which he accomplished. He did it all in four years, chose not to run again, went home, and died. Talk about logical? Get it done, get it over with, and leave the future to someone else. 

By Tom Chaffin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Met His Every Goal? James K. Polk and the Legends of Manifest Destiny as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon after winning the presidency in 1845, according to the oft-repeated anecdote, James K. Polk slapped his thigh and predicted what would be the ""four great measures"" of his administration: the acquisition of some or all of the Oregon Country, the acquisition of California, a reduction in tariffs, and the establishment of a permanent independent treasury. Over the next four years, the Tennessee Democrat achieved all four goals. And those milestones--along with his purported enunciation of them--have come to define his presidency. Indeed, repeated ad infinitum in U.S. history textbooks, Polk's bold listing of goals has become U.S. political history's…

All Bound Up Together

By Martha S. Jones,

Book cover of All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830-1900

Nancy A. Hewitt Author Of Radical Friend: Amy Kirby Post and Her Activist Worlds

From the list on racial politics and women’s activism in the US.

Who am I?

In Rochester, New York, where I was raised, Susan Anthony and Frederick Douglass are local heroes. But in the late 1960s, I was drawn more to grassroots movements than charismatic leaders. Despite dropping out of college—twice—I completed a B.A. in 1974 and then pursued a PhD in History. My 1981 dissertation and first book focused on three networks of mainly white female activists in nineteenth-century Rochester. Of the dozens of women I studied, Amy Post most clearly epitomized the power of interracial, mixed-sex, and cross-class movements for social justice. After years of inserting Post in articles, textbooks, and websites, I finally published Radical Friend in hopes of inspiring scholars and activists to follow her lead. 

Nancy's book list on racial politics and women’s activism in the US

Discover why each book is one of Nancy's favorite books.

Why did Nancy love this book?

By 2007, I had been studying movements for women’s rights and racial justice for 4 decades. This book inspired me to rethink the chronology and trajectory of both. All Bound Up Together highlights the ways, beginning in 1830, that Black women’s rights efforts were central to the Black freedom struggle and early American feminism. It recasts both stories by putting Black women’s concerns, ideas, and organizing at the center.    

By Martha S. Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Bound Up Together as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The place of women's rights in African American public culture has been an enduring question, one that has long engaged activists, commentators, and scholars. ""All Bound Up Together"" explores the roles black women played in their communities' social movements and the consequences of elevating women into positions of visibility and leadership. Martha Jones reveals how, through the nineteenth century, the ""woman question"" was at the core of movements against slavery and for civil rights. Unlike white women activists, who often created their own institutions separate from men, black women, Jones explains, often organized within already existing institutions - churches, political…


By Clive Ponting,

Book cover of Churchill

Anthony Tucker-Jones Author Of Churchill, Master and Commander: Winston Churchill at War 1895-1945

From the list on Winston Churchill and which book to start with.

Who am I?

Anthony Tucker-Jones, a former intelligence officer, is an author, commentator, and writer who specializes in military history, with well over 60 books to his name. His work has also been published in an array of magazines and online. He regularly appears on television and radio commenting on current and historical military matters.

Anthony's book list on Winston Churchill and which book to start with

Discover why each book is one of Anthony's favorite books.

Why did Anthony love this book?

Left-wing historian Ponting has his detractors for what many regarded as a critical revisionist approach to Churchill’s life. However, there is no denying the depth of his research. Furthermore, far from coming over as an overt critic, his study is far more balanced than often thought.

By Clive Ponting,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ponting's text challenges the Churchill myth, declaring that much of the accepted interpretation of Churchill's life stems from his own writings about himself. Using source material released during the past 25 years, it questions his competence as a war leader and the true level of his popularity.

Book cover of The Last Liberal Republican: An Insider's Perspective on Nixon's Surprising Social Policy

Geoff Shepard Author Of The Nixon Conspiracy: Watergate and the Plot to Remove the President

From the list on recent books about Richard Nixon.

Who am I?

I joined the Nixon administration as a White House Fellow upon Harvard Law School graduation in 1969, so I wasn’t part of Nixon’s 1968 campaign. I served for five years, rising to associate director of the Domestic Council and ending as deputy counsel on Nixon’s Watergate defense team. Given my personal involvement at the time, coupled with extensive research over the past fifteen years, I’m among the foremost authorities on the Watergate scandal, but essentially unknowledgeable about people and events preceding the Nixon presidency. My five recommended books have nicely fill that gap – principally by friends and former colleagues who were actually “in the arena” during those heady times. 

Geoff's book list on recent books about Richard Nixon

Discover why each book is one of Geoff's favorite books.

Why did Geoff love this book?

John Price is a liberal Republican, in the old-fashioned sense of the word, but choosing to self-identify today as a moderate. This book details his political coming to age, including being co-founder of the Ripon Society. Following Nixon’s 1968 election, Price joined his White House staff as one of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s deputies, serving as director of the Urban Affairs Council. Nixon attended twenty-one of its twenty-three Cabinet Room meetings. Nixon was adamantly anti-Communist, but what John shows is that, far from being a die-hard conservative, his approach to governing was that of a pragmatist, asking how best can the government help to address this issue? John and I served on the same Domestic Council but were assigned different public policy responsibilities. I’m impressed by his personal story – and by his political insights.

By John Roy Price,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Last Liberal Republican is a memoir from one of Nixon's senior domestic policy advisors. John Roy Price-a member of the moderate wing of the Republican Party, a cofounder of the Ripon Society, and an employee on Nelson Rockefeller's campaigns-joined Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and later John D. Ehrlichman, in the Nixon White House to develop domestic policies, especially on welfare, hunger, and health. Based on those policies, and the internal White House struggles around them, Price places Nixon firmly in the liberal Republican tradition of President Theodore Roosevelt, New York governor Thomas E. Dewey, and President Eisenhower.

Price makes a…


By Benny Morris,

Book cover of 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Author Of Israeli Institutions at the Crossroads

From the list on Israel studies.

Who am I?

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, DPhil, St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, is Professor of Politics, Founding Director of the Middle East Study Centre, University of Hull; Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Vice President of The Association for Israel Studies. Raphael taught, inter alia, at Oxford (UK), Jerusalem, Haifa (Israel), UCLA, Johns Hopkins (USA), and Nirma University (India). He was twice a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Distinguished Visiting Professor, Faculty of Laws, University College London. Raphael Has published extensively about Israel, including Basic Issues in Israeli Democracy (Hebrew), Israeli Democracy at the Crossroads, and Public Responsibility in Israel (with Ori Arbel-Ganz and Asa Kasher Hebrew).

Raphael's book list on Israel studies

Discover why each book is one of Raphael's favorite books.

Why did Raphael love this book?

History is often in the eye of the beholder. There are many histories, not just one. This is true in general and this statement is particularly apt when we discuss the first Arab-Israeli war. When I teach about the conflict, students ask me for an objective account of the war. My answer is that none is in existence but the closest to the truth, in my opinion, is Morris’ account. It is the best book about the war, based on maticulate survey of documents. It provides a thorough explanation of the war in each and every stage.

Morris paid a price for his honesty. I was happy to pave his way into Israeli academia.

By Benny Morris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked 1948 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Benny Morris demolishes misconceptions and provides a comprehensive history of the Israeli-Arab war of 1948

This history of the foundational war in the Arab-Israeli conflict is groundbreaking, objective, and deeply revisionist. A riveting account of the military engagements, it also focuses on the war's political dimensions. Benny Morris probes the motives and aims of the protagonists on the basis of newly opened Israeli and Western documentation. The Arab side-where the archives are still closed-is illuminated with the help of intelligence and diplomatic materials.

Morris stresses the jihadi character of the two-stage Arab assault on the Jewish community in Palestine. Throughout,…

The Rope

By Kanan Makiya,

Book cover of The Rope

Emma Sky Author Of The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq

From the list on what the Iraq War was like for Iraqis.

Who am I?

I served in Iraq as Governorate Co-ordinator of Kirkuk for the Coalition Provisional Authority, 2003-2004; and as advisor to the Commanding General of US Forces in Iraq from 2007-2010. I retain a deep love of the country and am a regular visitor. I teach about the Middle East and Global Affairs at Yale University. 

Emma's book list on what the Iraq War was like for Iraqis

Discover why each book is one of Emma's favorite books.

Why did Emma love this book?

Kanan is an Iraqi exile who was very supportive of the US invasion of Iraq. In The Rope, he provides a fictional account of what happened in the country, placing responsibility for the rise of sectarianism and the descent into civil war at the feet of Iraqi Shia leaders. It’s a brave and honest book. 

By Kanan Makiya,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the best-selling author of Republic of Fear, here is a gritty and unflinching novel about Iraqi failure in the wake of the 2003 American invasion, as seen through the eyes of a Shi‘ite militiaman whose participation in the execution of Saddam Hussein changes his life in ways he could never have anticipated.
When the nameless narrator stumbles upon a corpse on April 10, 2003, the day of the fall of Saddam Hussein, he finds himself swept up in the tumultuous politics of the American occupation and is taken on a journey that concludes with the discovery of what happened…

Our Lady of the Islands

By Shannon Page, Jay Lake,

Book cover of Our Lady of the Islands

Jak Koke Author Of Liferock

From the list on debut sci-fi and fantasy with immersive worlds.

Who am I?

I've been a book doctor and acquiring editor for almost twenty years. I've read hundreds of debut novels, both published and not. I've always been amazed and impressed when an author is able to create a unique and internally consistent universe for their story. I also know—as a writer of ten fantasy and science fiction novels—that building a vivid, alternate world is a very difficult thing to do well. In the best stories the fictional world defines the characters in it, shapes them, and gives their struggle meaning. It's why we relate to their journey and make their success our own. 

Jak's book list on debut sci-fi and fantasy with immersive worlds

Discover why each book is one of Jak's favorite books.

Why did Jak love this book?

Unlike many fantasy novels, the protagonist, Sian Katte isn't an adolescent. When I read this book in my 40s, I identified with the main characters. They've already come of age, but their lives are nonetheless turned upside when Sian gains an unexpected and unwanted magical ability. She is forced out of her routine and becomes a lynchpin in the political turnings of the tropical island nation of Alizar – a fantasy setting that resonates with the familiar while maintaining its uniqueness and rich history. 

By Shannon Page, Jay Lake,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set in the lush and dangerous world of Jay Lake's Green, Our Lady of the Islands is a vibrant, enchanting tale of political intrigue and divine mystery."Our Lady, heal us ..."Sian Katte is a successful middle-aged businesswoman in the tropical island nation of Alizar. Her life seems comfortable and well-arranged...until a violent encounter one evening leaves her with an unwanted magical power.Arian des Chances is the wife of Alizar's ruler, with vast wealth and political influence. Yet for all her resources, she can only watch helplessly as her son draws nearer to death.When crisis thrusts these two women together, they…

Desired States

By Lessie Jo Frazier,

Book cover of Desired States: Sex, Gender, and Political Culture in Chile

Natalia Milanesio Author Of Destape: Sex, Democracy, and Freedom in Postdictatorial Argentina

From the list on the history of sexuality in modern Latin America.

Who am I?

I am a historian of twentieth-century Argentina and a professor of modern Latin American history currently teaching at the University of Houston. Born and raised in Argentina, I completed my undergraduate studies at the National University of Rosario and moved to the United States in 2000 to continue my education. I received my M.A. in history from New York University and my Ph.D. in history from Indiana University, Bloomington. I have written extensively about gender, working-class history, consumer culture, and sexuality in Argentina. I am the author of Workers Go Shopping in Argentina: The Rise of Popular Consumer Culture and Destape! Sex, Democracy, and Freedom in Postdictatorial Argentina.

Natalia's book list on the history of sexuality in modern Latin America

Discover why each book is one of Natalia's favorite books.

Why did Natalia love this book?

Using a truly interdisciplinary approach anchored in queer studies and affect theory, Frazier subverts the common approach to sex as privatized and located in individual subjectivity by looking at desire as a central component of political culture and power. The book explores a variety of Chilean political projects and actors throughout the twentieth century including feminists, the revolutionary left, and the military dictatorship to understand the ways in which both sexual and non-sexual practices and ideologies were intrinsically connected to emotions and ideas of pleasure and to sexualized and gendered discourses and experiences.

By Lessie Jo Frazier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Desired States challenges the notion that in some cultures, sex and sexuality have become privatized and located in individual subjectivity rather than in public political practices and institutions. Instead, the book contends that desire is a central aspect of political culture. Based on fieldwork and archival research, Frazier explores the gendered and sexualized dynamics of political culture in Chile, an imperialist context, asking how people connect with and become mobilized in political projects in some cases or, in others, become disaffected or are excluded to varying degrees. The book situates the state in a rich and changing context of transnational…

The Shadow of the Sun

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Book cover of The Shadow of the Sun

Susan Lewallen Author Of Distorted Vision

From the list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners.

Who am I?

I’ve lived and worked intensely in the medical field for over two decades in many countries in Africa. I’ve seen global health programs from the academic, research, developmental, and humanitarian viewpoints of both Africans and Europeans. It’s a complicated mix of politics, good intentions, and, sometimes, egos. There’s much to be learned from both fiction and nonfiction about the complexity of it all. 

Susan's book list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners

Discover why each book is one of Susan's favorite books.

Why did Susan love this book?

Don’t try to rush through this. And don’t expect to “find out what happened.” It’s a slow wander back and forth across the continent, with missives penned in over a dozen countries over the course of forty years. Every description, whether of something mundane or momentous, is worth savoring. Kapuscinski is an eastern European who grew up in poverty and he expects the Africans he meets to be neither better nor worse than his European compatriots. He marvels at the cockroaches in Monrovia and witnesses the politics and people behind uprisings and coups. He delights in the fluid, elasticity of time in everyday life: When will the meeting start? It will start when the people get here! He revels in the diversity he sees and understands that there’s no such thing as “African” culture; yet an overall love for and delight in the continent shine through the extraordinary, honey-smooth prose. 

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Only with the greatest of simplifications, for the sake of convenience, can we say Africa. In reality, except as a geographical term, Africa doesn't exist'. Ryszard Kapuscinski has been writing about the people of Africa throughout his career. In astudy that avoids the official routes, palaces and big politics, he sets out to create an account of post-colonial Africa seen at once as a whole and as a location that wholly defies generalised explanations. It is both a sustained meditation on themosaic of peoples and practises we call 'Africa', and an impassioned attempt to come to terms with humanity itself…

Moments of Silence

By Thongchai Winichakul,

Book cover of Moments of Silence: The Unforgetting of the October 6, 1976, Massacre in Bangkok

Shane Strate Author Of The Lost Territories: Thailand's History of National Humiliation

From the list on how states manipulate historical memory.

Who am I?

As a teacher and historian, I’m interested in the collision of cultures that resulted from western intervention in Asia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For young Asian nationalists, historical writing was a weapon to be wielded in the fight against imperialism. It is equally important for us to understand the forces that shape our collective memories and to recognize that historians don’t just uncover the past—they produce it. 

Shane's book list on how states manipulate historical memory

Discover why each book is one of Shane's favorite books.

Why did Shane love this book?

What happens when a society is unwilling to acknowledge acts of barbarism in its past? In 1976, while leading a student protest at Thammasat University, Thongchai Winichakul watched in horror as government forces and rightist elements stormed the campus, killing over eighty of his fellow students and committing unspeakable acts on the living and the dead. He wrote this book to help process memories of an atrocity that took the lives of his friends and haunted his career as a Thai historian. To this day, the Thammasat massacre is marked only by silence from official sources. As a result, Thongchai observes that Thai society is trapped in a state of ‘unforgetting,’ unable to either remember or forget the trauma.

By Thongchai Winichakul,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The massacre on October 6, 1976, in Bangkok was brutal and violent, its savagery unprecedented in modern Thai history. Four decades later there has been no investigation into the atrocity; information remains limited, the truth unknown. There has been no collective coming to terms with what happened or who is responsible. Thai society still refuses to confront this dark page in its history.

Moments of Silence focuses on the silence that surrounds the October 6 massacre. Silence, the book argues, is not forgetting. Rather it signals an inability to forget or remember-or to articulate a socially meaningful memory. It is…

Oh, Florida!

By Craig Pittman,

Book cover of Oh, Florida!: How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country

Jason Vuic Author Of The Swamp Peddlers: How Lot Sellers, Land Scammers, and Retirees Built Modern Florida and Transformed the American Dream

From the list on modern Florida.

Who am I?

Originally from Punta Gorda, Florida, I am an exiled Florida Man, living in Texas, and specialize in creative nonfiction. I love the absurd, the unusual, and enjoy finding ways to examine and teach history through unexpected topics and sometimes maligned or ridiculed things. My first book, for example, was on the infamous Yugo car. I then wrote a history of the ill-starred Sarajevo Olympics and the oh-for-twenty-six 1976-1977 Tampa Bay Bucs, and most recently a book on the wild heydays of Florida land development in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. I have a PhD in history from Indiana University Bloomington and have appeared on NPR’s "Weekend Edition," APM’s "Marketplace," and C-SPAN’S "Book TV."

Jason's book list on modern Florida

Discover why each book is one of Jason's favorite books.

Why did Jason love this book?

To outsiders, Florida seems baffling. It's a state where the voters went for Barack Obama twice, yet elected a Tea Party candidate as governor. Florida is touted as a carefree paradise, yet it's also known for its perils—alligators, sinkholes, pythons, hurricanes, and sharks, to name a few.  It attracts 90 million visitors a year, some drawn by its impressive natural beauty, others bewitched by its man-made fantasies. Oh, Florida!, by award-winning journalist Craig Pittman, explores those contradictions and shows how they fit together to make this the most interesting state.

By Craig Pittman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

To some people, Florida is a paradise; to others, a punch line. As Oh, Florida! shows, it's both of these and, more important, it's a Petri dish, producing trends that end up influencing the rest of the country. Without Florida there would be no NASCAR, no Bettie Page pinups, no Glenn Beck radio rants, no USA Today, no "Stand Your Ground," get the idea.

To outsiders, Florida seems baffling. It's a state where the voters went for Barack Obama twice, yet elected a Tea Party candidate as governor. Florida is touted as a carefree paradise, yet it's also known for…

We're Still Here

By Jennifer M. Silva,

Book cover of We're Still Here: Pain and Politics in the Heart of America

Andrew J. Cherlin Author Of Labor's Love Lost: The Rise and Fall of the Working-Class Family in America

From the list on what has happened to the American working class.

Who am I?

I’m a sociologist who studies American family life. About 20 years ago, I began to see signs of the weakening of family life (such as more single-parent families) among high-school educated Americans. These are the people we often call the “working class.” It seemed likely that this weakening reflected the decline of factory jobs as globalization and automation have proceeded. So I decided to learn as much as I could about the rise and decline of working-class families. The books I am recommending help us to understand what happened in the past and what’s happening now.

Andrew's book list on what has happened to the American working class

Discover why each book is one of Andrew's favorite books.

Why did Andrew love this book?

While a lot of attention has been paid to the industrial decline in cities, the loss of jobs in industries such as mining has caused distress in rural areas. Recently, we have seen rises in drug abuse, overdose deaths, and suicides in rural America. Jennifer Silva did fieldwork in a rural Pennsylvania area that has experienced these shocks to its system, and she shows us the difficulties its residents are having.

By Jennifer M. Silva,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We're Still Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A deep, multi-generational story of pain, place, and politics.

The economy has been brutal to American workers for several decades. The chance to give one's children a better life than one's own - the promise at the heart of the American Dream - is withering away. While onlookers assume those suffering in marginalized working-class communities will instinctively rise up, the 2016 election threw into sharp relief how little we know about how the working-class translate their grievances into politics.

In We're Still Here, Jennifer M. Silva tells a deep, multi-generational story of pain, place, and politics that will endure long…

Ambling Into History

By Frank Bruni,

Book cover of Ambling Into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush

Jason Emerson Author Of Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln

From the list on presidential children.

Who am I?

I'm an independent historian and journalist who has spent over 25 years studying Abraham Lincoln and his family. My fascination with the Great Emancipator began when I worked first as a student volunteer and then as a park ranger at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois. As I writer who has always loved history, I decided I should start writing about history. I've authored or edited eight books (seven on Lincoln and his family) as well as numerous articles. My big break came when I discovered a cache of Mary Lincoln’s missing letters, written during her time in a sanitarium in 1875, which had been missing for nearly 100 years.

Jason's book list on presidential children

Discover why each book is one of Jason's favorite books.

Why did Jason love this book?

George W. Bush, even today, 14 years after leaving the presidency, is a controversial president. But as with all presidents, to understand their politics and policies you have to first understand their personality and character. That’s what I like about this book: Bruni seeks to explain and understand who Bush was as a man—a man who, although the son of a president, never seemed destined to lead a nation and the world and yet ultimately faced one of the greatest crises in US history. Bruni, a former New York Times reporter who covered Bush as presidential nominee and president, shows W.’s weaknesses and strengths, his somewhat surprising life journey of serious endeavors for an often less-than-serious man, and ultimately how the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, changed Bush’s entire outlook and demeanor, thrusting him into an unprecedented challenge that elevated the laid-back good-time guy to a serious and dedicated leader.…

By Frank Bruni,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush. As the principal New York Times reporter assigned to cover George W. Bush's presidential campaign from its earliest stages - and then as a White House correspondent - Frank Bruni has spent as much time around Bush over the last two years as any other reporter. In Ambling Into History, Bruni paints the most thorough, balanced, eloquent and lively portrait yet of a man in many ways ill-suited to the office he sought and won, focusing on small moments that often escaped the news media's notice. From the author's initial introduction to Bush…