The best books about revolution

9 authors have picked their favorite books about revolutions and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter this list by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Book cover of Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620–1914

Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620–1914

By J.R. McNeill,

Why this book?

McNeill, William McNeill’s son, examines the intersection of disease, ecology, race, and international politics to show how infectious disease shaped the fortunes of colonial empires in the Caribbean. In the wake of the encounter between Europeans and the New World which destroyed up to 90 percent of the Amerindian population, European empires restructured the region into a colonial economy of sugar and slavery. Mosquitos bearing malaria and yellow fever flourished in this environment and McNeill shows how anyone seeking power in the region had to reckon with both them and disease.

From the list:

The best books on how diseases shape society and can change the course of history

Book cover of Black Mass

Black Mass

By John Gray,

Why this book?

John Gray is an exceptional writer. In that respect alone, he is already reminiscent of the Stoics, who are some of the best writers among philosophers. Black Mass deals with the pitfalls of anger and ideology, when it comes to politics. The Stoics were famously skeptical of both, and urge practitioners to resist becoming too impassioned in political affairs—which reliably roil the soul.

From the list:

The best books on stoic themes, influence and inspiration

Book cover of The Lost Crown

The Lost Crown

By Sarah Miller,

Why this book?

It is generally not easy to find quality historical fiction, and this goes tenfold for fiction about the last Russian imperial family. This book is a definite exception to the rule. Historically accurate down to minute details, and at the same time very well written, the story in The Lost Crown starts just before the revolution and covers the events that lead up to the assassination of the Russian imperial family.

Seen through the eyes of the four historically neglected daughters of the last Tsar - Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia (OTMA), who are usually treated as a collective…
From the list:

The best historical fiction on royalty and Russia

Book cover of Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics; Civil Disobedience; On Violence; Thoughts on Politics and Revolution

Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics; Civil Disobedience; On Violence; Thoughts on Politics and Revolution

By Hannah Arendt,

Why this book?

At its core, whistleblowing is an act of truth-telling, often in response to official misrepresentation and lies. While not explicitly about whistleblowing, Hannah Arendt’s 1971 essay, “Lying in Politics” is an indispensable read for anyone interested in the subject. Written in the wake of the Pentagon Papers disclosure, it situates the official lies of the Vietnam War within a broader phenomenon of political propaganda. Exploring how propaganda aimed at the public ultimately took hold within senior policymaking circles, it reveals the blurry line between official lies and self-deception. Challenging simple precepts about whistleblowing and public transparency, Arendt explores whether or…

From the list:

The best books on U.S. national security culture and the exposure of secrets

Book cover of Age of Myth: Book One of the Legends of the First Empire

Age of Myth: Book One of the Legends of the First Empire

By Michael J. Sullivan,

Why this book?

Melatonin alert! If you start reading this book, you’re going to require a sleep aid to get some shuteye. Sullivan has a way of constructing characters and plotlines that, on their surface, are simple. And yet the more you read, the more complex and three-dimensional they become, until you realize that the characters and their motivations are never what they seem to be until the moment they are revealed, leaving you breathless and satisfied. Losing a little (or a lot) of sleep to read Age of Myth is well worth it!

From the list:

The best epic fantasy novels to deprive you of sleep

Book cover of Nonviolent Revolutions: Civil Resistance in the Late 20th Century

Nonviolent Revolutions: Civil Resistance in the Late 20th Century

By Sharon Erickson Nepstad,

Why this book?

When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989, it was just months after a similar peaceful protest calling for democracy was thoroughly smashed in Beijing.  Why did one non-violent protest succeed, while the other failed? Indeed, since 1989, a host of non-violent, so-called “color” revolutions have occurred in the Philippines, Ukraine, Georgia, Myanmar, Armenia, and elsewhere. In this book, Nepstad carefully describes how and why some nonviolent movements are able to disarm militaries and overthrow governments, while others fail to do so. Using cases from Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Asia, Nepstad gives a solid, systematic explanation that shows…

From the list:

The best books to discover the power and variety of revolutions across history

Book cover of The Shining Path: Love, Madness, and Revolution in the Andes

The Shining Path: Love, Madness, and Revolution in the Andes

By Orin Starn, Miguel La Serna,

Why this book?

Peru is often described as a country that is a combination of the coast, the Andes, and the Amazon, and this book on the origin of the Maoist Shining Path group in the Andes not only illuminates some of Peru’s recent political history, but also shines a light on many of the disparities that still exist between rural and urban Peru and between la costa, la sierra, and la Amazonia.

From the list:

The best books on the amazing country of Peru

Book cover of Before We Were Free

Before We Were Free

By Julia Alvarez,

Why this book?

I was fascinated by this gripping story about a twelve-year-old girl living in the Dominican Republic in 1960 because, while it is fiction, it is based on a very real and scary time in the history of the DR. My parents grew up in the DR under the dictatorship that was still in place in 1960, and Julia Alvarez does a beautiful job showing readers how young people and their families were impacted by that regime, as well as the bravery and hopefulness of those who fought for their country’s freedom.

From the list:

The best middle grade books about sensitive topics

Book cover of Indian and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution: Reform, Revolution, and Royalism in the Northern Andes, 1780–1825

Indian and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution: Reform, Revolution, and Royalism in the Northern Andes, 1780–1825

By Marcela Echeverri,

Why this book?

An important and original work that privileges the vantage point of blacks and indigenous people. Historians have often portrayed the royalist side in the Spanish American wars as conservative and backward, but by analyzing the political strategies of nonwhites, this book shows convincingly that their affiliation with the Spanish Crown was a sensible one. 

From the list:

The best books about the Age of Revolutions

Book cover of Foundryside

Foundryside

By Robert Jackson Bennett,

Why this book?

A lone thief, Sancia Grado is great at what she does. To be a skillful thief within the environment portrayed in Foundryside is something amazing in and of itself. This trilogy is heavy with corrupt politics, an unsavoury history, and a fascinating magic system, one that impacts Sancia in more ways than she ever imagined. But she handles them well, and it’s great to see her embrace a leadership role as the story progresses.

From the list:

The best fantasy books with badass female leads

Or, view all 10 books about revolutions

New book lists related to revolutions

All book lists related to revolutions

Bookshelves related to revolutions