The most recommended politics books

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604 authors created a book list connected to politics, and here are their favorite politics books.
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The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-36

By R. W. Davies (editor), Oleg Khlevniuk (editor), E. A. Rees (editor), Liudmila P. Kosheleva (editor), Larisa A. Rogovaya (editor), Steven Shabad (translator)

Book cover of The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-36

Mark Harrison Author Of Secret Leviathan: Secrecy and State Capacity under Soviet Communism

From the list on working inside Soviet communism.

Who am I?

I visited Moscow for the first time in 1964. The Cold War was in full swing. I was still at school, learning beginners' Russian. I returned a few years later as a graduate student. By this point I was hopelessly infected with an incurable and progressive disease: curiosity about the Soviet Union under communism. I was full of questions, many of which could not be answered for decades, until communist rule collapsed. Becoming a professional scholar, I spent the next half-century studying the history, economics, and politics of communist societies. The biggest obstacle was always secrecy, so it seems fitting that the system of secrecy is the topic of my most recent book.

Mark's book list on working inside Soviet communism

Why did Mark love this book?

This is the other book I kept by my bedside during my three years as head of an academic department.

Every year (until 1937), Stalin took a long working holiday by the Black Sea. His secret line of communication with his subordinates in Moscow relied on daily handwritten letters and couriers. The letters were preserved and are translated and edited in this book. The collection taught me how a suspicious boss micromanages his subordinates and keeps close those he trusts least.

Stalin habitually complained that they overloaded him with trivia, but then complained and corrected them if they showed the smallest initiative. I learned a lot about how Stalin saw his enemies, and I was introduced to the concept of the “unconscious” enemy. For myself, I learned that trust is essential to effective delegation.

By R. W. Davies (editor), Oleg Khlevniuk (editor), E. A. Rees (editor), Liudmila P. Kosheleva (editor), Larisa A. Rogovaya (editor), Steven Shabad (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-36 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From 1931 to 1936, Stalin vacationed at his Black Sea residence for two to three months each year. While away from Moscow, he relied on correspondence with his subordinates to receive information, watch over the work of the Politburo and the government, give orders, and express his opinions. This book publishes for the first time translations of 177 handwritten letters and coded telegrams exchanged during this period between Stalin and his most highly trusted deputy, Lazar Kaganovich.

The unique and revealing collection of letters-all previously classified top secret-provides a dramatic account of the mainsprings of Soviet policy while Stalin was…

Book cover of Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America

Dean Hammer Author Of Rome and America: Communities of Strangers, Spectacles of Belonging

From the list on the connection of ancient Rome to an American identity.

Who am I?

My fascination with the relationship between Rome and America grows out of the work I have done on early American culture, contemporary political thought, and ancient Rome. My most recent work, Rome and America: Communities of Strangers, Spectacles of Belonging, took shape through a lot of conversations over the years with friends and colleagues about the different tensions I saw in Roman politics and culture around questions of national identity, tensions that I saw being played out in the United States. I don’t like tidy histories. I am drawn to explorations of politics and culture that reveal the anxieties and dissonance that derive from our own attempt to resolve our incompleteness. 

Dean's book list on the connection of ancient Rome to an American identity

Why did Dean love this book?

I am an academic writer, but I admire when someone is able to write a thoughtful book that is accessible to a popular audience. Are We Rome? made a big splash and launched a cottage industry of comparisons (and debates about comparisons) of America to Rome. In exploring parallels between Rome and America, Murphy serves up dire warnings about how America’s worldview could portend its own demise. My latest book approaches the question of Rome and America in a different way, but tries to blend scholarship with a more accessible style that everyone might find interesting. 

By Cullen Murphy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What went wrong in imperial Rome, and how we can avoid it: “If you want to understand where America stands in the world today, read this.”—Thomas E. Ricks

The rise and fall of ancient Rome has been on American minds since the beginning of our republic. Depending on who’s doing the talking, the history of Rome serves as either a triumphal call to action—or a dire warning of imminent collapse.

In this “provocative and lively” book, Cullen Murphy points out that today we focus less on the Roman Republic than on the empire that took its place, and reveals a…


By Marquis Bey,

Book cover of Anarcho-Blackness: Notes Toward a Black Anarchism

Jesse Cohn Author Of Underground Passages: Anarchist Resistance Culture, 1848-2011

From the list on how might one live an anarchist life.

Who am I?

I knew I was an anti-authoritarian before I had words for it, and my education in social justice has been long and slow. I have been researching and writing about anarchism for the better part of three decades, and am now a board member of the Institute for Anarchist Studies. Anarchy is a subject that engages me both at the level of intellectual passion, what lights up my mind, and on a visceral level, in my revulsion at the inequalities and iniquities in this world and my yearning for a fully emancipated way of life.

Jesse's book list on how might one live an anarchist life

Why did Jesse love this book?

Reading Anarcho-Blackness as a white cismale reader was an experience of discombobulation—a certain disorientation followed by a surprising re-orientation. Bey’s Black anarchism, “indebted to... Black queer and trans feminisms” dramatically reorganizes the priorities of an anarchist tradition that is sometimes still too indebted to hollow universalisms and pinched humanisms that don’t sufficiently include everyone. This is an anarchism specifically for Black queer and trans people which ends up—in a sense that is only “paradoxical” for those of us not paying enough attention—being for everyone. The prose is both philosophical and playful, inviting us to imagine a life that is by turns “ungovernable,” “unpropertied,” “uncouth,” “unhinged,” and “uncontrolled.”

By Marquis Bey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Anarcho-Blackness seeks to define the shape of a Black anarchism. Classical anarchism tended to avoid questions of race—specifically Blackness—as well as the intersections of race and gender. Bey addresses this lack, not by constructing a new cannon of Black anarchists but by outlining how anarchism and Blackness already share a certain subjective relationship to power, a way of understanding and inhabiting the world. Through the lens of Black feminist and transgender theory, he explores what we can learn by making this kinship explicit, including how anarchism itself is transformed by the encounter. If the state is predicated on a racialized…

Fishing in Africa

By Andrew Buckoke,

Book cover of Fishing in Africa: A Guide to War and Corruption

Iain Parke Author Of The Liquidator

From the list on African set political thrillers.

Who am I?

Looking for an adventure in the mid-90s I found myself in East Africa helping wind up a failed African bank, locked out of a t-shirt manufacturing plant, chasing down missing bulldozers (which turned up creating Rwandan refugee camps), taking over a toilet paper manufacturer which couldn’t manage to perforate the paper, and running a match factory on the slopes of Kilimanjaro before selling it to a Nigerian chief who turned up in his private jet. Meanwhile feeling like an alien who really didn’t understand what was really going on around me, and uncomfortable with much of the hard-drinking and arrogant expat culture, drove me to start to write as a way of making sense of what I was seeing and feeling.    

Iain's book list on African set political thrillers

Why did Iain love this book?

A revealing portrait of 80s/90s Africa from a journalist who had covered many of the continent’s trouble spots for major British newspapers. Through his journeys you get to meet a wide range of players from fighters in the bush to aid executives and politicians in executive suites. A fascinating mix of travel writing and political analysis (and yes with some fishing thrown in). 

By Andrew Buckoke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For ten years Andrew Buckoke wrote articles about Africa for many of the major newspapers including "The Guardian", "The Times" and "The Observer". He brings his experience and knowledge of the African continent to bear in a book which attempts to open up this often romanticized and little understood land to the general reader. "Fishing in Africa" concentrates interest on the people of the continent rather than the animals, while looking at the ways in which these peoples are governed. The author follows the antics of governments, rebels, aid agencies and fellow journalists and while persuing his interest in fishing,…

Pipe Dreams

By Maya K. Peterson,

Book cover of Pipe Dreams: Water and Empire in Central Asia's Aral Sea Basin

Shoshana Keller Author Of Russia and Central Asia: Coexistence, Conquest, Convergence

From the list on modern Central Asia.

Who am I?

I am a historian of Russia and Eurasia at Hamilton College. I teach courses on Russian history, Central Asia, and the modern Middle East. We usually think of these as separate regions of the world, but in fact they are all connected across the vast Eurasian continent. Russians, Turks, Iranians, Mongols and more have been intertwined with each other throughout their histories. My formal research specialty is Soviet Central Asia. I have written on Stalin’s attempt to destroy Islam, on education and creating a historical narrative for Uzbekistan, and on cotton and manual labor under Khrushchev.

Many people are fascinated by the ancient Silk Road, but don’t know much about how we got from there to the “Stans” that emerged out of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. These books showcase the most recent scholarship on how Central Asia was gradually taken over by the Russian and Chinese empires, and how the republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan were created, as well as Xinjiang Province in the People’s Republic of China.

Shoshana's book list on modern Central Asia

Why did Shoshana love this book?

Since the 1960s Central Asia has been the center of the largest man-made water crisis in history with the drying up of the Aral Sea. Peterson’s book, based on work in Central Asian and Russian archives, provides a long-term environmental history of irrigation and its effects in the imperial and Soviet periods up to World War II. She includes a profile of the eccentric Grand Duke Nikolai Konstantinovich Romanov, who set himself up as a local “sultan” near Tashkent, and rich material on the steep challenges that irrigation engineers faced.

By Maya K. Peterson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The drying up of the Aral Sea - a major environmental catastrophe of the late twentieth century - is deeply rooted in the dreams of the irrigation age of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a time when engineers, scientists, politicians, and entrepreneurs around the world united in the belief that universal scientific knowledge, together with modern technologies, could be used to transform large areas of the planet from 'wasteland' into productive agricultural land. Though ostensibly about bringing modernity, progress, and prosperity to the deserts, the transformation of Central Asia's landscapes through tsarist- and Soviet-era hydraulic projects bore the…

Evil Geniuses

By Kurt Andersen,

Book cover of Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History

Bill Kuhn Author Of Facts & Fury: An Unapologetic Primer on How the GOP Has Destroyed American Democracy

From the list on to understand the American political system.

Who am I?

I write about politics. I grew up in a political household. My mother was a key fundraiser for the Democratic Party and my stepfather served as a White House counsel to President Clinton. Politics and the Washington experience were the air I breathed during my formative years. I followed in their footsteps and co-founded Fight for a Better America, an organization that invests in key battleground districts and states throughout the US, with the goal of either flipping them blue or maintaining a Democratic incumbent. Through my travels with the organization, I have made hundreds of contacts with folks in local civic clubs and organized hundreds of volunteers on the ground. 

Bill's book list on to understand the American political system

Why did Bill love this book?

In his characteristically funny and sardonic style, Andersen guides us through the historical connection between corporate America and the Republican Party. Needless to say, the relationship has been strong and fruitful (Democrats are guilty as well, but it’s hardly a comparison). He reports on the key conservative figures in both the private and public spheres who have funded and enabled the transformation of our laws and society. It is a remarkable story of power and greed written in concise witty prose. Highly recommend!

By Kurt Andersen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • When did America give up on fairness? The author of Fantasyland tells the epic history of how America decided that big business gets whatever it wants, only the rich get richer, and nothing should ever change—and charts a way back to the future.
“Essential, absorbing . . . a graceful, authoritative guide . . . a radicalized moderate’s moderate case for radical change.”—The New York Times Book Review

During the twentieth century, America managed to make its economic and social systems both more and more fair and more and more prosperous. A huge, secure, and…


By Ben Hubbard,

Book cover of MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed Bin Salman

Simon Henderson Author Of After King Fahd: Succession in Saudi Arabia

From the list on understanding modern Saudi Arabia.

Who am I?

British by birth, American by naturalization, Simon Henderson started in journalism as a trainee at the BBC before becoming its correspondent in Pakistan. Joining the Financial Times a year later, he was promptly sent to Iran to cover the 1979 Islamic revolution and went back again for the U.S. embassy hostage crisis. He now analyzes the Gulf states, energy, and the nuclear programs of Iran and Pakistan as the Baker fellow and director of the Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Simon's book list on understanding modern Saudi Arabia

Why did Simon love this book?

The assiduous New York Times reporter digs deeply into the persona of the Saudi crown prince, and is rewarded with many anecdotes. Unsurprisingly, most are anonymous. A revealing one is: “One foreign official recalled that the prince’s leg never stopped bouncing during their meeting, making him wonder if the prince was nervous or on some sort of stimulant.”

By Ben Hubbard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Financial Times Book Best Book of the Year 2020

A Foreign Affairs Best Book of the Year 2020

The gripping, untold story of how Saudi Arabia's secretive and mercurial new ruler rose to power.

Even in his youth as a prince among thousands of princes, Mohammed bin Salman nurtured sweeping ambitions. He wanted power - enough of it to reshape his hyper-conservative, insular Islamic kingdom.

When his elderly father took the throne in 2015, MBS got his chance. As the hands-on-ruler, he made seismic changes, working doggedly to overhaul the kingdom's economy, loosen its strict Islamic social codes and…


By Bob Woodward, Robert Costa,

Book cover of Peril

Kevin James Shay Author Of Operation Chaos: The Capitol Attack and the Campaign to Erode Democracy

From the list on the January 6th Capitol attack.

Who am I?

I was born in Washington, D.C., in a hospital not far from the U.S. Capitol. I remember being awestruck walking through its halls on tours as a kid. As a journalist, I covered some hearings and interviewed Congress representatives and staff there. The attack on January 6, 2021, was more than a breach of a landmark, historic building representing the top legislative body in the country; it was an assault on the fabric of democracy itself. A tragic crime occurred there that left several people dead and many injured, both physically and emotionally. We must hold everyone involved, especially those at the top who planned this invasion, accountable for what occurred that day.

Kevin's book list on the January 6th Capitol attack

Why did Kevin love this book?

There is probably no journalist in Washington more revered and connected than Bob Woodward. From his Watergate fame five decades earlier, the Washington Post legendary reporter and editor has continued his eye-opening, impressive work. Peril is his final book in a trilogy on the Trump administration. He and fellow Post journalist Robert Costa interviewed more than 200 administrative players who provide this account with the deep-sourced material that Woodward fans have come to expect. 

While numerous interviews are off the record and the focus of the book is more on officials than foot soldiers who carried out the attack, the result is a revealing tome that does not disappoint.

By Bob Woodward, Robert Costa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The storming of the Capitol on 6 January 2021 revealed the transition from President Trump to President Biden to be one of the most dangerous periods in American history, with the result of the election called into question by the sitting president.

But, as internationally bestselling author Bob Woodward and acclaimed reporter Robert Costa reveal for the first time, it was far more than just a domestic political crisis. At the highest level of the US military, secret action was taken to prevent Trump from possibly starting…

Sherwood Nation

By Benjamin Parzybok,

Book cover of Sherwood Nation

Michael J. DeLuca Author Of Night Roll

From the list on community-building amid the ruins of capitalism.

Who am I?

I've been in love with ecological writing, the effort to communicate love for and grief over the destruction of the profound beauty of the natural world, since I wrote my first play about rainforest clear-cutting in fifth grade—if not before. In 2016, I started Reckoning, a nonprofit journal of creative writing about environmental justice, because I wanted to encourage others doing this work, to provide an independent platform for it in ways profit-driven traditional publishing wasn't, and to build a community where those writers could share and inspire each other. Seven years later, that community defines me; it's the most rewarding thing I've ever done.

Michael's book list on community-building amid the ruins of capitalism

Why did Michael love this book?

A ridiculously fun and eerily prescient folktale, about the rise of a Robin Hood figure and the community that rallies around her in a droughted, post-warming Portland, Oregon, I can basically never not recommend this book. Like Brown Girl in the Ring, this is one of the books that made me want to read and write about speculative community-building and environmental justice. Parzybok's clever, inviting prose makes this substantial novel a deceptively fast and joyful read, and I'm never not sad when it's over.

By Benjamin Parzybok,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Chosen for the 2016 Silicon Valley Reads program.

"Parzybok does this thing where you think, 'this is fun!' and then you are charmed, saddened, and finally changed by what you have read. It's like jujitsu storytelling."—Maureen F. McHugh, author of After the Apocalypse

In drought-stricken Portland, Oregon, a Robin Hood-esque water thief is caught on camera redistributing an illegal truckload of water to those in need. Nicknamed Maid Marian—real name: Renee, a twenty-something barista and eternal part-time college student—she is an instant folk hero. Renee rides her swelling popularity and the public's disgust at how the city has abandoned its…

No Votes for Women

By Susan Goodier,

Book cover of No Votes for Women: The New York State Anti-Suffrage Movement

Nancy C. Unger Author Of Belle La Follette: Progressive Era Reformer

From the list on the fight for American women’s suffrage.

Who am I?

History is my passion as well as my profession. I love a good story! Because understanding the past can be a powerful tool to improving the future, I have written dozens of op-eds and give public talks (some of which can be found in the C-SPAN online library as well as on YouTube). Most of my work focuses on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1877-1920) and includes two award-winning biographies, Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer, and Belle La Follette Progressive Era Reformer. I’m also the co-editor of A Companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and author of Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History.

Nancy's book list on the fight for American women’s suffrage

Why did Nancy love this book?

It’s easy to forget that many women, as well as men, actively opposed women’s suffrage. Susan Goodier details the anti-suffrage movement in New York State, but her analysis of its motives, victories, and ultimate defeat reveals much about the philosophies and implications of conservative movements nationwide. This is a fascinating study of the women who joined together in a political movement to keep women out of politics. A highlight is how these women fared after the vote was won.

By Susan Goodier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Votes for Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No Votes for Women explores the complicated history of the suffrage movement in New York State by delving into the stories of women who opposed the expansion of voting rights to women. Susan Goodier finds that conservative women who fought against suffrage encouraged women to retain their distinctive feminine identities as protectors of their homes and families, a role they felt was threatened by the imposition of masculine political responsibilities. She details the victories and defeats on both sides of the movement from its start in the 1890s to its end in the 1930s, acknowledging the powerful activism of this…


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

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,…

Blood Struggle

By Charles F. Wilkinson,

Book cover of Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations

Jim Carrier Author Of A Traveler’s Guide to the Civil Rights Movement

From the list on understanding the South’s Civil Rights Movement.

Who am I?

As a journalist who learned his craft on the job in the tumultuous 1960s, I happened to find myself living in states where racial history was being written. Reporting that story required me to understand why discrimination, poverty, and violence remained so deeply rooted in modern America. I wrote Ten Ways to Fight Hate, I made a movie about civil rights martyrs, and, after seeing people from around the world making a pilgrimage to the sites of the civil rights struggle, published my guidebook. Over the course of a 50-year career, I have written a million words. I am proudest of those that tried to right wrongs, and sometimes did.

Jim's book list on understanding the South’s Civil Rights Movement

Why did Jim love this book?

Often forgotten in the study of the U.S. civil rights movement is the even longer, and less successful, effort by Native Americans to regain the sovereignty that they once enjoyed in North America. In 1976 when I was transferred by the Associated Press from Connecticut to South Dakota as a correspondent, I found the state bleeding from its history. The year before, two FBI agents had been murdered on the Pine Ridge Reservation, remnant violence of the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee. Drive-by shootings were common, discrimination and poverty were rampant, and I felt as if I had walked into an earlier century.

As I came to learn, from this book and its author, Indian tribes were beginning to challenge America’s betrayal of treaties signed in the 1800s – and winning back rights guaranteed in writing. Wilkinson, a friend, attorney, and emeritus history professor at the University of Colorado, helped…

By Charles F. Wilkinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For generations, Indian people suffered a grinding poverty and political and cultural suppression on the reservations. But tenacious and visionary tribal leaders refused to give in. They knew their rights and insisted that the treaties be honored. Against all odds, beginning shortly after World War II, they began to succeed. Blood Struggle explores how Indian tribes took their hard-earned sovereignty and put it to work for Indian peoples and the perpetuation of Indian culture. This is the story of wrongs righted and noble ideals upheld: the modern tribal sovereignty movement deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as…

Book cover of Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea's Elite

Wendy Bashant Author Of The Same Bright Moon: Teaching China's New Generation During Covid

From the list on teaching abroad.

Who am I?

I’ve been a teacher for over 30 years and a traveler for longer. As a child, I lived in Germany and Japan. When I grew up, I continued to travel, teaching and living in Thailand, London, and China. I’ve written book chapters, poetry, travel pieces, and won a number of writing prizes: the 2023 New York Book Festival prize and a finalist for both the Peter Taylor Prize for Literature and the Gival Press Novel Award. A graduate of Middlebury College (BA) and University of Rochester (PhD), I now live in San Diego with my husband and two cats, teach adult literacy, and work as a volunteer at the San Diego Zoo.

Wendy's book list on teaching abroad

Why did Wendy love this book?

Whereas Hessler’s book is about a country gradually opening up to the west, Suki Kim’s book is about a country completely isolated.

Kim works for six months in North Korea at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a school for the boys of the ruling elite. While living there, rather than connecting with her students, she is unsettled by how deep the country’s deceptions are.

The university, although claiming to be a school for science and industry, has neither labs nor modern technology. Her travel is circumscribed and carefully scripted. The students lie effortlessly about things of little consequence. The entire country seems to be built on holograms and shadows. She travels as teacher, but in the end serves as journalist, seeking the truth behind a country that the world barely understands. 

By Suki Kim,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Without You, There Is No Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, except for the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. This is where Suki Kim has accepted a job teaching English. Over the next six months she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them to write, all under the watchful eye of the regime.

Life at the university is lonely and claustrophobic. Her letters are read by censors and she must hide her notes and photographs not only from her minders but also from her…

Book Uncle and Me

By Uma Krishnaswami, Julianna Swaney (illustrator),

Book cover of Book Uncle and Me

Michelle Mulder Author Of After Peaches

From the list on kids’ stories about speaking up.

Who am I?

As a kid, I rarely spoke up, and I certainly didn’t think I had much influence. As a young adult, though, I came across true stories of kids who stood up for what they believed in. These kids inspired many of my own books, and now whenever I’m looking for something to read, I look for novels about kids who screw up their courage to speak up for a fairer, more inclusive, richer world.

Michelle's book list on kids’ stories about speaking up

Why did Michelle love this book?

Yasmin is a bookworm, so I immediately felt like we had an important bond. Also, I could totally relate to her feeling insignificant in the face of big adult decisions. Yasmin doesn’t stay in that spot, though. She looks around at her resources – dear friends, family, neighbours, and a great idea – and realises that she can have influence in the world around her. This book is a brilliant celebration of community activism, books, and friendship that had me cheering on the characters right to the end. 

By Uma Krishnaswami, Julianna Swaney (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the International Literacy Association Social Justice Literature Award
An award-winning middle-grade novel about the power of grassroots activism and how kids can make a difference.

Every day, nine-year-old Yasmin borrows a book from Book Uncle, a retired teacher who has set up a free lending library on the street corner. But when the mayor tries to shut down the rickety bookstand, Yasmin has to take her nose out of her book and do something.

What can she do? The local elections are coming up, but she’s just a kid. She can’t even vote!

Still, Yasmin has friends ―…

Governing the Soul

By Nikolas Rose,

Book cover of Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self

Bonnie Evans Author Of The Metamorphosis of Autism: A History of Child Development in Britain

From the list on the making of the modern self.

Who am I?

My interest in this topic began after my father died when I was a young teenager and I was left looking for answers, explanations, and meanings. My dad was an architect and had written a book on Jeremy Bentham’s panoptican and prison architecture published before the French philosopher Michel Foucault’s famous Discipline and Punish. A small collection of Foucault’s books stood prominently on my father’s bookshelves and I really wanted to understand them. At university I studied all of Foucault’s works and many authors inspired by him. These are the best books that explain how we have developed philosophical and psychological theories to understand ourselves in the contemporary world.

Bonnie's book list on the making of the modern self

Why did Bonnie love this book?

Nikolas Rose’s exceptional book Governing the Soul expanded Foucault’s arguments, focusing on how government networks were created in collaboration with psychological specialists in the 20th century to create unique webs of expertise that helped individuals to manage and govern themselves. The result is an excellent exposition of the theory of governmentality. Rose begins with a discussion of how the Second World War encouraged new forms of ‘psychological warfare,’ where strength of mind could be assessed and selected to create the most successful fighting subjects. This created a group of professionals who also advised on the organisation of labour forces and who could teach the population to be productive and contented workers.

This expertise was extended to training children as young citizens who had to adapt to government needs via schools and social services. Rose’s point is that this created a system of power and government that was not top-down…

By Nikolas Rose,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This work is now widely recognised as one of the founding texts in a new approach to analyzing the links between political power, expertise and the self. This "governmentality" perspective has had important implications for a range of academic disciplines including criminology, political theory, sociology and psychology and has generated much theoretical innovation and empirical investigation. This second edition adds a new introduction setting out the methodological and conceptual bases of this approach and a new final chapter that considers some of the implications of recent developments in the government of subjectivity.

Book cover of The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII

Kirsten Claiden-Yardley Author Of The Man Behind the Tudors: Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk

From the list on everyday life in Tudor England.

Who am I?

I am a historian and historic buildings consultant with a longstanding interest in 15th and 16th century England. In addition to my own work on memorials, funerals, and the Howard family, I have worked as a researcher and consultant for television and books, including being a production researcher for the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall. 

Kirsten's book list on everyday life in Tudor England

Why did Kirsten love this book?

Rather than examining Henry VIII’s wars as military engagements or part of international politics, this book looks at the impact war had on the English people. How were towns and villages affected by the need to provide men for the royal army? What was the impact of war on trade and agriculture? How were ordinary men persuaded to enact the violence required by war, and what was the physical and mental impact on them? How were wars justified and linked to a sense of Englishness? Originally given as a series of lectures, the chapters are connected but can be dipped into as stand-alone articles.

By Steven Gunn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Henry VIII fought many wars, against the French and Scots, against rebels in England and the Gaelic lords of Ireland, even against his traditional allies in the Low Countries. But how much did these wars really affect his subjects? And what role did Henry's reign play in the long-term transformation of England's military capabilities?

The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII searches for the answers to these questions in parish and borough account books, wills and memoirs, buildings and paintings, letters from Henry's captains, and the notes readers wrote in their printed history books. It looks…

Policing Los Angeles

By Max Felker-Kantor,

Book cover of Policing Los Angeles: Race, Resistance, and the Rise of the LAPD

Clarence Taylor Author Of Fight the Power: African Americans and the Long History of Police Brutality in New York City

From the list on race and policing.

Who am I?

I am Professor Emeritus of History at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  I grew up in Brooklyn, New York during the turbulent decades of the 1950s and 1960s where there were numerous social protest movements against the War in Vietnam, school segregation, and police brutality.  My books explore the men and women who battled institutional racism.

Clarence's book list on race and policing

Why did Clarence love this book?

Between 1960 and the 1990s, the budget, size, and power of LAPD dramatically grew in spite of attempts to use regulatory powers of the government to control the police. “Racial targeting was central to the LAPD’s expansion despite twenty years of liberal leadership of the city. The problem in LA, similar to most urban centers, was a reliance on the police to manage social problems that were “rooted in Los Angeles’ history of segregation, inequality, and poverty.” But such an approach “led to disciplinary practices of surveillance, harassment, and arrest that criminalized and excluded black and Latino/a residents.”

Black Los Angeles citizens were seen by the police as threats to public safety and not deemed worthy of the protection of the law. In its battle against crime, social movements, and drug gangs, the Los Angeles Police Department was able to legitimate their authority to use coercive power to control the…

By Max Felker-Kantor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts erupted in violent protest in August 1965, the uprising drew strength from decades of pent-up frustration with employment discrimination, residential segregation, and poverty. But the more immediate grievance was anger at the racist and abusive practices of the Los Angeles Police Department. Yet in the decades after Watts, the LAPD resisted all but the most limited demands for reform made by activists and residents of color, instead intensifying its power.

In Policing Los Angeles, Max Felker-Kantor narrates the dynamic history of policing, anti-police abuse movements, race, and politics in Los Angeles from the…


By Andrew Roberts,

Book cover of Churchill: Walking with Destiny

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

Why did Anthony love this book?

When approaching Churchill, it is often very difficult to know quite where to start. That dilemma is solved by Roberts’ scholarly study. He is extremely balanced and nuanced in his approach to the country’s most famous prime minister and wartime leader. His depth of research is breath-taking and Roberts’ work will rightly remain a standard text for years to come.

By Andrew Roberts,

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?


One of The Wall Street Journal's Ten Best Books of 2018
One of The Economist's Best Books of 2018
One of The New York Times's Notable Books of 2018

"Unarguably the best single-volume biography of Churchill . . . A brilliant feat of storytelling, monumental in scope, yet put together with tenderness for a man who had always believed that he would be Britain's savior." -Wall Street Journal

In this landmark biography of Winston Churchill based on extensive new material, the true genius of the man, statesman and leader can finally be fully seen and understood--by…

The Argonauts

By Maggie Nelson,

Book cover of The Argonauts

Amy Hassinger Author Of After the Dam

From the list on flawed, fierce, and fascinating mothers.

Who am I?

Becoming a mother reshaped me in ways I’m still wondering at now, two decades on. I’ve had to find ways to resist the repressive cultural mythology surrounding motherhood—the pressure I felt to suddenly become a perfect, self-sacrificing vessel for my children’s optimized development. When I read stories about flawed mothers—women, queer and straight, struggling beneath the magnitude of the job, yet fiercely loving their children all the way through—I felt I could breathe a little bit, could handle the task with a little more good humor and forgiveness, for myself, my partner, and my kids. Read a book, bust a myth, go hug your mom.  

Amy's book list on flawed, fierce, and fascinating mothers

Why did Amy love this book?

Maggie Nelson just dazzles me. Her prose is so sharp and thoughtful, her thinking so idiosyncratically brilliant, her images filled with light. The Argonauts is both memoir and inquiry, a story of how Nelson and her partner Harry, who is in the midst of a gender transition, became parents, a story fraught with obstacles and veined with wisdom. Nelson’s voice mixes erudition, visceral power—especially when she writes about sex and the body—and formal innovation. The Argonauts caused a splash when it came out, and for good reason—its unflinchingly honest portrayal of one queer couple’s creation of family together is beautiful, brave, and yes, deeply fierce. 

By Maggie Nelson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family

Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of "autotheory" offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. It binds an account of Nelson's relationship with her partner and a journey to and through a pregnancy to a rigorous exploration of sexuality, gender, and "family." An insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry for this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.

Jacqueline Kennedy

By Caroline Kennedy, Michael Beschloss,

Book cover of Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy

Barbara A. Perry Author Of Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier

From the list on Jacqueline Kennedy’s creation of Camelot’s magic.

Who am I?

My passion for the Kennedy family dates to seeing JFK in person as a young child. Shortly after his death, my mother purchased a children’s book about the 35th president, which I read repeatedly and still have in my extensive “Kennedy library.” It led me to pursue a professional career as a political scientist, specializing in the presidency and First Ladies. I now direct Presidential Studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, am a member of the Advisory Board of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation, and serve on the Board of the White House Historical Association, founded by Mrs. Kennedy in 1961.

Barbara's book list on Jacqueline Kennedy’s creation of Camelot’s magic

Why did Barbara love this book?

This set of 8 CDs and corresponding transcripts, with hours of interviews between Jackie Kennedy and the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., brings alive the First Lady’s memories of her husband, their marriage, and life in the White House, only a few months after JFK’s assassination. I will never forget listening to Jackie’s authentic voice as if I were sitting in the room with her as she relived the triumphs and tragedies of Camelot. Her description of the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example, when she told her husband, “I want to die with you,” is riveting.

By Caroline Kennedy, Michael Beschloss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

To mark John F. Kennedy's centennial, celebrate the life and legacy of the 35th President of the United States.

In 1964, Jacqueline Kennedy recorded seven historic interviews about her life with John F. Kennedy. Now, for the first time, they can be read in this deluxe, illustrated eBook.

Shortly after President John F. Kennedy's assassination, with a nation deep in mourning and the world looking on in stunned disbelief, Jacqueline Kennedy found the strength to set aside her own personal grief for the sake of posterity and begin the task of documenting and preserving her husband's legacy. In January of…