The best books about repatriation

8 authors have picked their favorite books about repatriation and why they recommend each book.

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Britain's Black Debt

By Hilary McD Beckles,

Book cover of Britain's Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide

The best book on the legal basis for reparations from the Caribbean’s foremost historian. It offers a historical examination of the justification for reparations for the cost and lost labor the British gained during enslavement and brings together African and indigenous people's rights.

Britain's Black Debt

By Hilary McD Beckles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Britain's Black Debt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since the mid-nineteenth-century abolition of slavery, the call for reparations for the crime of African enslavement and native genocide has been growing. In the Caribbean, grassroots and official voices now constitute a regional reparations movement. While it remains a fractured, contentious and divisive call, it generates considerable public interest, especially within sections of the community that are concerned with issues of social justice, equity, civil and human rights, education, and cultural identity. The reparations discourse has been shaped by the voices from these fields as they seek to build a future upon the settlement of historical crimes.

This is the…


Who am I?

I am a Caribbean-American literary scholar who has spent many years studying, lecturing and writing about the interrelated fields of African Diaspora literature and culture, meaning the creative and theoretical productions of writers from Africa, the United States, Latin America, Brazil, and the Caribbean. I teach a variety of these subjects and enjoy the combinations of politics, creativity, and cultural expression that they contribute. These books provide you with a good cross-section of what is available in the Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora.


I wrote...

Caribbean Spaces: Escapes from Twilight Zone

By Carole Boyce Davies,

Book cover of Caribbean Spaces: Escapes from Twilight Zone

What is my book about?

Caribbean Spaces reaches, beyond island fragmentations, small spaces, and geographic separations, for a much wider, more expansive internationalized understanding of how we see and understand the Caribbean and its impact on world cultures. Caribbean Space now broadened, incorporates contexts that come out of dance and carnival “taking space” and challenges us to see the in-between spaces as not empty spaces occupied only by water. The expanding scientific meanings of space provide us with additional opportunities to think of this space as well beyond geographical limitations. Caribbean Space has always reached for international circulations of ideas, people, political movements, cultural practices (carnival, music, dance, food), and lifestyles of freedom and joy.

From Here to Equality

By William A. Darity, A. Kirsten Mullen,

Book cover of From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century

From Here to Equality is a great companion to The Half Has Never Been Told. Through the lens of the contemporary discussion of reparations, it fills in the historical blanks that so many people have about the African American experience, going beyond slavery to Reconstruction and its aftermath, Jim Crow segregation, and modern-day discrimination, detailing the economic impact during each historical period. I was really impressed by the historical detail and the economic analysis, and I learned a lot from reading it. If you want to understand the national conversation about reparations, read this book!

From Here to Equality

By William A. Darity, A. Kirsten Mullen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From Here to Equality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Racism and discrimination have choked economic opportunity for African Americans at nearly every turn. At several historic moments, the trajectory of racial inequality could have been altered dramatically. Perhaps no moment was more opportune than the early days of Reconstruction, when the U.S. government temporarily implemented a major redistribution of land from former slaveholders to the newly emancipated enslaved. But neither Reconstruction nor the New Deal nor the civil rights struggle led to an economically just and fair nation. Today, systematic inequality persists in the form of housing discrimination, unequal education, police brutality, mass incarceration, employment discrimination, and massive wealth…


Who am I?

I am a clinical psychologist with a life-long research interest in racial identity development, particularly among Black adolescents. I began teaching about the psychology of racism in 1980, at the start of my academic career. That teaching experience was transformative for both my students and me. I was convinced that helping people understand how racism operates in our lives, and what we can do about it, was my calling. I have been teaching and writing about racism ever since. In 2014, I was deeply honored to receive the Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology in recognition of my work, the highest honor presented by the American Psychological Association.


I wrote...

Book cover of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations about Race

What is my book about?

This book is about the psychology of racism: what it is, how it shapes our view of ourselves and others, and ultimately what we can do about it. I translate psychological theory and research regarding racial identity and intergroup relations into accessible language, and apply it to daily experiences in school, at home, and at work. The answer to the title question comes from the latest research on Black adolescent identity development.

Also included are substantive discussions of the racial-ethnic-cultural identity development of White, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and multiracial youth, reflecting the changing U.S. demographics. You will gain a better understanding of the dynamics of race in America and find both inspiration and effective strategies to help you take anti-racist action.

Chasing Aphrodite

By Jason Felch, Ralph Frammolino,

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

This is a book about a smuggling racket of looted artifacts from Greece and Italy to the United States. But on a deeper level, I loved it because it’s about two reporters – the authors – standing up to powerful institutions by exposing their extremely unethical practices. Museums have been receiving looted artifacts for decades, turning a blind eye to theft and smuggling. This book exposes how that process works. It’s a brilliant, unsettling, and inspiring read and an example of crack investigative reporting. 

Chasing Aphrodite

By Jason Felch, Ralph Frammolino,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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


Who am I?

I’m a journalist, critic, and poet who has spent a career engaging with the world. I love telling stories, and I strive to put beauty and tension into everything I write. I’ve had great editors – they’ve published my work in The Guardian, National Geographic, ARTnews, The Washington Post, The Times Literary Supplement, and Archaeology, where I am a contributing editor, and many other places – but it always comes down to me and my computer. And often a plane ticket and a suitcase. 


I wrote...

Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World

By Roger Atwood,

Book cover of Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World

What is my book about?

Looters supply a global antiquities trade that swallows up heritage to feed distant, private collections. People have always looted ancient sites, but today it’s an efficient, demand-driven enterprise with the capacity to wipe out the remains of whole civilizations. That’s what happens in Peru, where I did the bulk of the research for this book, and Iraq and elsewhere where ancient peoples left rich material legacies. 

This book started as a hunch. A friend in Lima who collected artifacts introduced me to one of his suppliers – a looter extraordinaire, who dug up tombs and emptied them in minutes. In the book that followed, I used Peru as a case study to discuss an accelerating global phenomenon fed by corruption and greed and to suggest solutions.

Loot

By Sharon Waxman,

Book cover of Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World

The long history of pillage as an act of colonial conquest – Napoleon looting Egypt, Britain looting Greece, among many others – is well-told in this solid, historically grounded account. Why are so many of the world’s great museums filled with treasures from ancient civilizations? This book tells you how it happened, while also showing why countries stripped of their heritage are demanding it back. There are a few books out there entitled Loot: this is the one to read. 

Loot

By Sharon Waxman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For the past two centuries, the West has plundered the treasures of the ancient world to fill its great museums, but in recent years the countries where ancient civilizations originated have begun to push back, taking museums to court, prosecuting curators, and threatening to force the return of these priceless objects. Sharon Waxman brings us inside this high-stakes conflict, from the great cities of the West to Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy, as these countries face down the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum, the British Museum, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. She shows how the actions of a few determined…


Who am I?

I’m a journalist, critic, and poet who has spent a career engaging with the world. I love telling stories, and I strive to put beauty and tension into everything I write. I’ve had great editors – they’ve published my work in The Guardian, National Geographic, ARTnews, The Washington Post, The Times Literary Supplement, and Archaeology, where I am a contributing editor, and many other places – but it always comes down to me and my computer. And often a plane ticket and a suitcase. 


I wrote...

Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World

By Roger Atwood,

Book cover of Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World

What is my book about?

Looters supply a global antiquities trade that swallows up heritage to feed distant, private collections. People have always looted ancient sites, but today it’s an efficient, demand-driven enterprise with the capacity to wipe out the remains of whole civilizations. That’s what happens in Peru, where I did the bulk of the research for this book, and Iraq and elsewhere where ancient peoples left rich material legacies. 

This book started as a hunch. A friend in Lima who collected artifacts introduced me to one of his suppliers – a looter extraordinaire, who dug up tombs and emptied them in minutes. In the book that followed, I used Peru as a case study to discuss an accelerating global phenomenon fed by corruption and greed and to suggest solutions.

The Book Thieves

By Anders Rydell, Henning Koch (translator),

Book cover of The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe's Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance

The plundering of books by the Nazis, especially literature belonging to the Jewish community, is the topic of this novel. Many books are untraceable today and their legitimate owners are long since dead. Nazis confiscated literature for various reasons, some involving original manuscripts, others used to seek out the enemies of the Reich, and quantities were gathered as status indicators. Once the war was over, there were book collections taken for a second time and justified as “liberated” rather than “plundered!” 

I enjoyed the novel because it covers an aspect of the Holocaust that is rarely addressed and offers insights into what happened to many books that disappeared from Jewish collections during Nazi times. We know there was a book store on the ground floor of the apartment block in my story and that the family belonged to a publishing dynasty. But no one survives today to tell us what…

The Book Thieves

By Anders Rydell, Henning Koch (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A most valuable book." —Christian Science Monitor

For readers of The Monuments Men and The Hare with Amber Eyes, the story of the Nazis' systematic pillaging of Europe's libraries, and the small team of heroic librarians now working to return the stolen books to their rightful owners.

While the Nazi party was being condemned by much of the world for burning books, they were already hard at work perpetrating an even greater literary crime. Through extensive new research that included records saved by the Monuments Men themselves—Anders Rydell tells the untold story of Nazi book theft, as he himself joins…


Who am I?

World War 2 has always interested me and my curiosity was strengthened a few years ago when my mother told me I was born illegitimate and my father had been the civil engineer building a nearby bomber airfield and a lodger with her parents. She was ashamed of what happened and lost contact with my father before I was born. Consequently, I wrote my first novel Unplanned. I then met the daughter of the Berlin mother in Abandoned in Berlin, and found it natural to pursue this story, given what I had discovered about my own upbringing. The effort has taught me to seek to forgive but never to forget.


I wrote...

Abandoned in Berlin: A True Story

By John R. Cammidge,

Book cover of Abandoned in Berlin: A True Story

What is my book about?

A true story of what happened to a block of Jewish-owned apartments in Berlin. A descendant of the family discovers the building during a visit to Berlin in 2016 and is determined to find out what took place. She learns that her mother, at age 11, became part-owner of the property, but because of her age and ownership, was forcibly placed under guardianship custody by the Nazis in 1933. Read how this arrangement is progressively used to seize the property and why the family flees to Vienna in late 1937.

The story ends in the 1950s when the family fights to recover the building. Judge whether or not justice is delivered. The descendant is advised that no new legal action can be taken.

Restitution

By Kathy Kacer,

Book cover of Restitution: A Family's Fight for Their Heritage Lost in the Holocaust

This is a story of retrieving fine art from Prague and returning it to its rightful owners in Canada. Four paintings were left in the care of a friend when the Reeser family fled Czechoslovakia as Hitler’s army arrived on March 15, 1939. For 50 years, the family was denied access to their property. Here is an account of determination and love that combines accurate descriptions of history with fictional speculation on how the paintings were retrieved. The Reeser family was fortunate to know what they had and where it was.

I enjoyed the plot in this book and the persistence of the protagonists. It is gratifying to read a story where a family who lost everything at the start of the War, persevered to become reunited with the family treasures once Communism fell in Eastern Europe. The story blends accurate history with imaginative fiction, making it a delight to…

Restitution

By Kathy Kacer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The story of the Reesers, a Jewish family who emigrated to Canada from Czechoslovakia on the eve of WWII. They fled the Nazis and left behind four valuable oil paintings. It would take years for the Reeser family, led by matriarch Mari Reeser, and then her son Karl, to retrieve them. Along the way they had help from two unlikely sources - a mid-level diplomat at the Canadian embassy in Prague, and a daring Dutch-Canadian art smuggler.


Who am I?

World War 2 has always interested me and my curiosity was strengthened a few years ago when my mother told me I was born illegitimate and my father had been the civil engineer building a nearby bomber airfield and a lodger with her parents. She was ashamed of what happened and lost contact with my father before I was born. Consequently, I wrote my first novel Unplanned. I then met the daughter of the Berlin mother in Abandoned in Berlin, and found it natural to pursue this story, given what I had discovered about my own upbringing. The effort has taught me to seek to forgive but never to forget.


I wrote...

Abandoned in Berlin: A True Story

By John R. Cammidge,

Book cover of Abandoned in Berlin: A True Story

What is my book about?

A true story of what happened to a block of Jewish-owned apartments in Berlin. A descendant of the family discovers the building during a visit to Berlin in 2016 and is determined to find out what took place. She learns that her mother, at age 11, became part-owner of the property, but because of her age and ownership, was forcibly placed under guardianship custody by the Nazis in 1933. Read how this arrangement is progressively used to seize the property and why the family flees to Vienna in late 1937.

The story ends in the 1950s when the family fights to recover the building. Judge whether or not justice is delivered. The descendant is advised that no new legal action can be taken.

Prelude to Nuremberg

By Arieh J. Kochavi,

Book cover of Prelude to Nuremberg: Allied War Crimes Policy and the Question of Punishment

Kochavi’s book gave me a more complete and nuanced understanding of how the Nuremberg war crimes court came to be, how defendants were selected, and what law to apply. Based on copious research, Kochavi uncovers the inside story of how the Allies ultimately agreed to establish an international court to hold Nazi officials accountable for mass atrocities instead of summarily executing them, which Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin favored. Initial U.S. and British resistance to including crimes against German nationals (extermination of the Jews among them) was overcome by strong public, especially Jewish, opposition.

Prelude to Nuremberg

By Arieh J. Kochavi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Between November 1945 and October 1946, the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg tried some of the most notorious political and military figures of Nazi Germany. The issue of punishing war criminals was widely discussed by the leaders of the Allied nations, however, well before the end of the war. As Arieh Kochavi demonstrates, the policies finally adopted, including the institution of the Nuremberg trials, represented the culmination of a complicated process rooted in the domestic and international politics of the war years.Drawing on extensive research, Kochavi painstakingly reconstructs the deliberations that went on in Washington and London at a time…


Who am I?

I am a tired activist and recovering attorney. My professional focus on violence and humanity’s response to it began when, as a seven-year-old, the nuns at my Catholic school showed us newsreels of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. This led me to adopt as my life’s guiding principle Julian Beck’s admonition “to redeem our share of the universal cruelty.” After 20 years in the U.S. Violence Against Women Movement, I absconded to the former Yugoslavia and found myself in the middle of a war during which I ran a war crimes documentation project (memoir in progress). I later reported on the international war crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic.


I wrote...

Twilight of Impunity: The War Crimes Trial of Slobodan Milosevic

By Judith Armatta,

Book cover of Twilight of Impunity: The War Crimes Trial of Slobodan Milosevic

What is my book about?

Twilight of Impunity is based on the 300-plus dispatches I wrote while monitoring the war crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the first such trial since Nazis faced justice at Nuremberg. The book brings to life the stories of survivors, makes complex legal theories understandable, and argues that the trial created a framework for other international war crimes trials and the permanent International Criminal Court. I show how Milosevic attempted to highjack the trial and use it as a vehicle for his propaganda about the Balkan wars and his role in them. For all its flaws, the trial provided a step forward in the quest for international justice as a replacement for impunity and the eternal cycle of hatred and violence. 

The Ground Breaking

By Scott Ellsworth,

Book cover of The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice

The Ground Breaking takes a look at the work Tulsa is doing to repair damage from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre—to make reparation. Specifically, the book examines Tulsa's commitment to investigating longstanding accounts of mass graves containing Black bodies hastily buried in the wake of the massacre. Collective trauma from historical events must be addressed. Answering the answerable questions that linger from the past is part of the healing process. 

The Ground Breaking

By Scott Ellsworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

2021 National Book Award Longlist

2022 Carnegie Medal Nonfiction Longlist

One of The New York Times' “11 New Books We Recommend This Week” | One of Oprah Daily's “20 of the Best Books to Pick Up This May” | One of The Oklahoman's“15 Books to Help You Learn About the Tulsa Race Massacre as the 100-Year Anniversary Approaches” |A The Week book of the week

As seen in documentaries on the History Channel, CNN, and Lebron James’s SpringHill Productions

And then they were gone.

More than one thousand homes and businesses. Restaurants and movie theaters, churches and doctors’ offices, a…


Who am I?

The Black Experience is my experience. Through living that experience, and with the benefit of education, my passion for storytelling—for sharing oft-neglected Black history from a Black perspective—evolved. Professionally, I am a Harvard-educated attorney who writes, lectures, teaches, and coaches in the general area of the Black experience and in the broader realm of diversity, equity, and inclusion. My ten books focus on aspects of the Black experience in America. I have received many honors and accolades for my professional and community work, including induction into both the Tulsa Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.


I wrote...

Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma

By Hannibal B. Johnson,

Book cover of Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma

What is my book about?

Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma offers updates on developments in Tulsa generally and in Tulsa’s Greenwood District specifically since the publication of Hannibal B. Johnson’s Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District

The book reflects on Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District in all its splendor and squalor, from the prodigious entrepreneurial spirit that pervaded it to the carnage that characterized the 1921 massacre to the post-massacre rebound and rebuilding that raised the District to new heights to the mid-twentieth-century decline that proved to be a second near-fatal blow to the current recalibration and rebranding of a resurgent, but differently configured, community.

The War of Return

By Adi Schwartz, Einat Wilf,

Book cover of The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Has Obstructed the Path to Peace

What is the core of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and what is the key to its solution? In this groundbreaking work, Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf argue that the answer is not settlements or holy places or even the absence of a Palestinian state. Instead, the core of the conflict is the Palestinian national movement’s insistence on “right of return” of millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees to what is now the state of Israel – rather than resettlement in a future Palestinian state. What Palestinian leaders have effectively done, argue the authors, is link the end of the conflict to a “solution” that will mean the end of a sovereign Jewish state. The authors, who support the creation of a Palestinian state, argue that its creation depends on the willingness of Palestinian leaders to give up their dream of destroying Israel through a shift in its demographic balance. Until that…

The War of Return

By Adi Schwartz, Einat Wilf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two prominent Israeli liberals argue that for the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians to end with peace, Palestinians must come to terms with the fact that there will be no "right of return."

In 1948, seven hundred thousand Palestinians were forced out of their homes by the first Arab-Israeli War. More than seventy years later, most of their houses are long gone, but millions of their descendants are still registered as refugees, with many living in refugee camps. This group―unlike countless others that were displaced in the aftermath of World War II and other conflicts―has remained unsettled, demanding to…


Who am I?

In books, essays and reportage, I've been writing about Israel and the conflict since moving from the U.S. to Israel in 1982. Even as I write from within my Israeli consciousness, I have tried to understand and convey other perspectives. For Israelis and Palestinians, there is nothing abstract about this conflict; it is, instead, a matter of life and death. My writing is an attempt to simultaneously convey the passions of this conflict and offer an empathic voice for all those caught in this seemingly hopeless situation.

I wrote...

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

By Yossi Klein Halevi,

Book cover of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

What is my book about?

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor is a series of letters to an imaginary Palestinian neighbor, in which I attempt to explain who the Jews are and how Israelis experience the conflict. The book was translated into Arabic and placed online for free downloading. Thousands of Palestinians and other Arabic speakers throughout the region downloaded the book, and hundreds wrote me in response. The paperback edition ends with an extensive epilogue of Palestinian responses, modelling a respectful disagreement over conflicting narratives, and sharing visions of an end to the conflict. 

The Long Road Home

By Ben Shephard,

Book cover of The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War

The greatest challenge to the Allies in the aftermath of the war in Europe was how to repatriate the millions of people from all countries who had been displaced by the violence. This included prisoners of war, Holocaust survivors, and eastern European slave laborers, many of whom no longer had homes or even countries to return to. For several years after 1945, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration ran the greatest humanitarian operation Europe has ever seen. They not only fed, clothed, and housed millions of refugees but gave them hope for a better future. Ben Shephard’s history of how they achieved this is truly inspiring. The history of World War II is one of violence and killing, and my bookshelves are heaving with stories of atrocities – but beautifully-written, compassionate books like this one are enough to restore anyone’s faith in human nature.

The Long Road Home

By Ben Shephard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After the Great War, the millions killed on the battlefields were eclipsed by the millions more civilians carried off by disease and starvation when the conflict was over. Haunted by memories, the Allies were determined that the end of the Second World War would not be followed by a similar disaster, and they began to lay plans long before victory was assured.

Confronted by an entire continent starving and uprooted, Allied planners devised strategies to help all 'displaced persons', and repatriate the fifteen million people who had been deprived of their homes and in many cases forced to work for…


Who am I?

Keith Lowe is the author of several works on postwar history. His international bestseller, Savage Continent, won the English PEN/Hessell Tiltman Prize and Italy’s Cherasco History Prize. His book on the long-term legacy of World War II, The Fear and the Freedom, was awarded China’s Beijing News Annual Recommendation and was shortlisted for the Historical Writers Association Non-Fiction Crown. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages.


I wrote...

Book cover of Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II

What is my book about?

Savage Continent is the story of post-war Europe, from the close of the war right to the establishment of an uneasy stability at the end of the 1940s. This is the chronicle of a world gone mad, the standard history of post–World War II Europe for years to come. The story of a continent where individual Germans and collaborators were rounded up and summarily executed, where concentration camps were reopened and violent anti-Semitism was reborn.

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