The most recommended books about social conflict

Who picked these books? Meet our 17 experts.

17 authors created a book list connected to social conflict, and here are their favorite social conflict books.
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What type of social conflict book?


Book cover of On the Reproduction of Capitalism: Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses

J. Moufawad-Paul Author Of Austerity Apparatus

From my list on the state and state repression.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of my long-standing interests, as a political philosopher, has been to examine the deployment of state power and the state forms (what I call states of affairs) the capitalist mode of production takes in order to preserve its economic order. Since I completed my doctorate, which was on the articulation of settler-colonial power in relationship to remaining settler states, I have largely been invested in thinking politics: how dominant politics maintain the current order, how counter-hegemonic politics disrupt this order. 

J.'s book list on the state and state repression

J. Moufawad-Paul Why did J. love this book?

Althusser’s (in)famous article “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses” was the result of copy and paste edits from this much longer manuscript. An extended philosophical investigation on how the capitalist mode of production’s duration over time requires a state formation, Althusser eventually ends up elaborating on Gramsci’s conception of hegemony so as to theorize the state machine according to “repressive” and “ideological” apparatuses. The former apparatuses concern the state’s coercive aspect; the latter apparatus concerns its aspect of “consent,” i.e. the promulgation of ideological norms. Although I go back and forth on my assessment of Althusser’s philosophical project as a whole, his work continues to challenge me and has marked the way I understand philosophy as, to quote Althusser from elsewhere, “class struggle in the terrain of theory.”

By Louis Althusser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Louis Althusser's renowned short text 'Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses' radically transformed the concept of the subject, the understanding of the state and even the very frameworks of cultural, political and literary theory. The text has influenced thinkers such as Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj i ek.

The piece is, in fact, an extract from a much longer book, On the Reproduction of Capitalism, until now unavailable in English. Its publication makes possible a reappraisal of seminal Althusserian texts already available in English, their place in Althusser's oeuvre and the relevance of his ideas for contemporary theory. On the…

Book cover of Oil Sparks in the Amazon: Local Conflicts, Indigenous Populations, and Natural Resources

Bruce E. Johansen Author Of Resource Devastation on Native American Lands: Toxic Earth, Poisoned People

From my list on Native Americans and lethal uranium mining.

Why am I passionate about this?

I retired in 2019 after 38 years of teaching journalism, environmental studies, and Native American Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. About half of my employment time was set aside for writing and editing as part of several endowed professorships I held sequentially between 1990 and 2018. After 2000, climate change (global warming) became my lead focus because of the urgency of the issue and the fact that it affects everyone on Earth. As of 2023, I have written and published 56 books, with about one-third of them on global warming. I have had an intense interest in weather and climate all my life.

Bruce's book list on Native Americans and lethal uranium mining

Bruce E. Johansen Why did Bruce love this book?

This book has worthwhile attributes, such as clear writing on the nature of uranium poisoning and its history, personal interviews, and vital coverage of local peoples’ reactions to damage done to their lands and their families, as well as their homelands by profit-mined mining companies.

Vasquez’s coverage centers on the Amazon with a focus on several extractive industries. This book stands alone in its coverage of resource extraction issues in the Amazon Valley because this area has so many other important issues to cover.

By Patricia I. Vasquez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Oil Sparks in the Amazon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For decades, studies of oil-related conflicts have focused on the effects of natural resource mismanagement, resulting in great economic booms and busts or violence as rebels fight ruling governments over their regions' hydrocarbon resources. In Oil Sparks in the Amazon, Patricia I. Vasquez writes that while oil busts and civil wars are common, the tension over oil in the Amazon has played out differently, in a way inextricable from the region itself.

Oil disputes in the Amazon primarily involve local indigenous populations. These groups' social and cultural identities differ from the rest of the population and the diverse disputes over…

Book cover of After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War

William A. Blair Author Of The Record of Murders and Outrages: Racial Violence and the Fight over Truth at the Dawn of Reconstruction

From my list on racial violence and more in the post-Civil War South.

Why am I passionate about this?

Racial violence has been on my mind for decades, ever since I encountered the Freedmen’s Bureau Record of Murders and Outrages as a grad student. I didn’t know what prompted the government to gather such data. Later, as a professor directing a Civil War-era research center at Penn State, I sponsored a teacher-training initiative, “Breaking the Silence,” a UNESCO project on the Atlantic Slave Trade. I became starkly aware that most white Americans, myself included, had a poor sense of the brutality enmeshed in our history. This is not meant as a condemnation: without a fuller recognition of this racial past, we will have problems reconciling such issues in our own polarized times.

William's book list on racial violence and more in the post-Civil War South

William A. Blair Why did William love this book?

I know the author personally and had a chance to read portions of the manuscript before it went to press. It is by far the best account of the occupation of the former Confederacy by the U.S. Army during Reconstruction. Meticulously researched, it gives readers a firm sense of where the military was and when, as well as how it was forced to confront insurgent white Southerners determined to obstruct advances in equal rights through whatever means possible, including violence. That intransigence caused increases in military supervision of governments, leading the author to state, “Military Reconstruction therefore exposed the necessary interdependence of democracy and coercion. (180)” There’s the irony—that expanded freedom required military control of governments. The author is a very good writer, having won the Flannery O’Connor Award for a short story collection Spit Baths.

By Gregory P. Downs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On April 8, 1865, after four years of civil war, General Robert E. Lee wrote to General Ulysses S. Grant asking for peace. Peace was beyond his authority to negotiate, Grant replied, but surrender terms he would discuss. As Gregory Downs reveals in this gripping history of post-Civil War America, Grant's distinction proved prophetic, for peace would elude the South for years after Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

After Appomattox argues that the war did not end with Confederate capitulation in 1865. Instead, a second phase commenced which lasted until 1871-not the project euphemistically called Reconstruction but a state of genuine…

Book cover of The Hardhat Riot: Nixon, New York City, and the Dawn of the White Working-Class Revolution

Timothy N. Thurber Author Of Republicans and Race: The GOP's Frayed Relationship with African Americans, 1945-1974

From my list on Republicans and Democrats in the 1960s.

Why am I passionate about this?

I developed a strong interest in current events, especially politics, in high school. What the government does, or does not do, struck me as a vital piece of the puzzle in trying to explain why things are the way they are. That soon led, however, to seeing how the past continues to influence the present. No decade is more important than the 1960s for understanding our current political climate.

Timothy's book list on Republicans and Democrats in the 1960s

Timothy N. Thurber Why did Timothy love this book?

On May 8, 1970, just days after the killing of four college students at Kent State University, construction workers in New York City violently attacked a group that had gathered to protest the Vietnam War.

Kuhn offers a riveting account of the events (dubbed the “Hardhat Riot” by some and “Workers’ Woodstock” by others), but he also situates them into a broader story of how the war and other developments of the 1960s exacerbated divisions within the Democratic Party between white, heavily unionized blue-collar workers in the urban North and an emerging class of college-educated professionals. 

Nixon successfully courted many of the blue-collar workers on the way to his landslide victory in 1972. Kuhn is no apologist for the workers, but he also avoids facile stereotypes about the white working class, some of which persist to this day.  

By David Paul Kuhn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In May 1970, four days after Kent State, construction workers chased students through downtown Manhattan, beating scores of protestors bloody. As hardhats clashed with hippies, it soon became clear that something larger was happening; Democrats were at war with themselves. In The Hardhat Riot, David Paul Kuhn tells the fateful story-how chaotic it was, when it began, when the white working class first turned against liberalism, when Richard Nixon seized the
breach, and America was forever changed. It was unthinkable one generation before: FDR's "forgotten man" siding with the party of Big Business and, ultimately, paving the way for presidencies…

Book cover of Walking with the Comrades

Jeremy Seabrook Author Of People Without History: India's Muslim Ghettos

From my list on the daily lives of poor people in India.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child of a worker in the boot and shoe industry of the English Midlands, I have written for more than half a century about poverty in its many guises – from the want and misery of early industrialism in Britain to the modernised poverty of a form of affluence which mimics prosperity without providing either satisfaction or sufficiency. Writing about the landscapes of poverty in the 1980s, I went to India and Bangladesh, and saw there in patterns of urbanization familiar echoes of what we in Britain had experienced. It seems to me that poor people are always poor in the same way, although this may be hidden behind differences in culture, tradition, ethnicity, and faith.

Jeremy's book list on the daily lives of poor people in India

Jeremy Seabrook Why did Jeremy love this book?

This book, part polemic, part reportage, is an account of Arundhati Roy’s journey into the forests of Chattisgarh, where groups of ‘Naxalites’ or Maoists have taken up arms against the Indian state, in defence of Adivasis, the indigenous inhabitants of India, for whom the forests, rivers, and hills are sacred. Unhappily these are cover vast deposits of minerals and precious resources required as ‘raw materials’ by a rapidly industrializing India. As a result, the State, which throughout the colonial period and in the early years of Independence, had, in turn, neglected and cheated the forest-dwellers, has now turned upon them with militaristic intensity to wrest resources from them. I found this narrative so powerful because Arundhati Roy makes us understand the violence of the despairing, without overtly supporting it.

By Arundhati Roy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the award-winning author of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness and The God of Small Things comes a searing frontline exposé of brutal repression in India

In this fiercely reported work of nonfiction, internationally renowned author Arundhati Roy draws on her unprecedented access to a little-known rebel movement in India to pen a work full of earth-shattering revelations. Deep in the forests, under the pretense of battling Maoist guerillas, the Indian government is waging a vicious total war against its own citizens-a war undocumented by a weak domestic press and fostered by corporations eager to exploit the rare minerals buried…

Book cover of Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict

James Tamm and Ronald Luyet Author Of Radical Collaboration: Five Essential Skills to Overcome Defensiveness and Build Successful Relationships

From my list on creating collaborative relationships and organizations.

Why are we passionate about this?

Jim Tamm was a Senior Administrative Law Judge for the State of California with jurisdiction over workplace disputes. In that role, he mediated more school district labor strikes than any other person in the United States. Ron Luyet is a licensed psychotherapist who has worked with group dynamics pioneers such as Carl Rogers and Will Schutz.  He has advised Fortune 500 companies for over forty years specializing in building high-performance teams. Together they wrote Radical Collaboration and are excited to share this list with you today.

James' book list on creating collaborative relationships and organizations

James Tamm and Ronald Luyet Why did James love this book?

The author provides evidence that treating one another with dignity, encourages people to become more connected and more capable of creating meaningful and collaborative relationships. Drawing on her extensive experience in international conflict resolution along with insights from evolutionary biology, psychology, and neuroscience, she explains what the elements of dignity are and how violating them triggers defensiveness. Defensiveness makes cooperation and collaboration unlikely in any situation often leading to resistance, aggression, sabotage and even violence.

By Donna Hicks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first comprehensive exploration of dignity, its role in human conflict, and its power to improve relationships of all kinds

"This book is a must read for those who want to experience peace in their everyday lives and peace in the world around them. Without an understanding of dignity, there is no hope for such change. If you want to find the weak links in a democracy, look for where people are suffering. You will most likely see a variety of violations. If you want peace, be sure everyone's dignity is intact."-Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The desire for dignity is universal…

Book cover of If I Were You

Tracy Crump Author Of Health, Healing, and Wholeness: Devotions of Hope in the Midst of Illness

From Tracy's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Christian Former ICU nurse Caregiver

Tracy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Tracy Crump Why did Tracy love this book?

This was my summer vacation fiction read and my first from Lynn Austin. It definitely won’t be the last.

Widowed war bride Audrey Clarkson arrives in America with her young son to seek help from her husband’s parents only to find her best friend, Eve Dawson, has been impersonating her for the last four years. The story weaves back and forth between the horrific WWII years in London and the post-war present to show the complicated relationship between best friends from two different classes.

Austin artfully shows love, loss, and jealousy that leads to life-altering decisions. 

By Lynn Austin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If I Were You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A stunning historical saga of hardship and desire in wartime. . . . Readers won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough [in this] . . . unique take on the traditional World War 2 tale.” ―Library Journal

From bestselling and eight-time Christy Award–winning author Lynn Austin comes a remarkable novel of sisterhood, self-discovery, and romance set against the backdrop of WW2.

1950. In the wake of the war, Audrey Clarkson leaves her manor house in England for a fresh start in America with her young son. As a widowed war bride, Audrey needs the support of her American…

Book cover of Repression And Resistance: The Struggle For Democracy In Central America

James Dunkerley Author Of Power in the Isthmus

From my list on Central American history and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for Central American politics and history derived quite directly from the conflicts in the region from the late 1970s onwards. Previously I had worked in Bolivia, where I had studied as a doctoral student, and although many people still view Latin American countries as pretty homogenous, I quickly discovered that they are very far from being so. I had to unlearn quite a bit and acquire new skills, although luckily, indigenous languages are really only dominant in Guatemala. Now we can be rather less partisan although many injustices remain.

James' book list on Central American history and politics

James Dunkerley Why did James love this book?

These days you can’t move for all the travel guides published on Central America, very few of which provide the contemporary tourist with much sense of the political conflicts in the region in the late 20th century. Today, it is important to hold at least a sense of that as one marvels at Maya ruins and enjoys the mountain trails and beaches that draw in visitors from around the world. But neither they nor coffee and bananas provide the principal source of revenue for most countries. That comes through remittances from family members who have emigrated to the USA for work. Torres Rivas, one of the region’s most distinguished scholars, makes a sober review in modulated language that has important things to say across the political spectrum although the author is firmly on the left.

By Edelberto Torres Rivas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book summarizes the multiple origins of the crisis that Central Americans are suffering today. It focuses on an analysis of the revolutionary popular movements as a form of social movement capable of joining together a diversity of class-based groups.

Book cover of Catch-67: The Left, the Right, and the Legacy of the Six-Day War

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Author Of Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By: How One Woman Confronted the Greatest Humanitarian Crisis of Our Time

From my list on the shifting dynamics in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

Conflict resolution and intergroup relations are my passions. Perhaps because I’m a child of the Holocaust. My parents and I arrived in the U.S. as stateless refugees. The Holocaust primed me to explore why religion inspires so much hate. My career as a criminologist got me interested in the link between religion and violence. My refugee roots led me to an International Rescue Committee report on the Syrian crisis. That report hit me hard and felt very personal because it echoed my own family’s suffering in the Holocaust. I saw an opportunity to build bridges between enemies—Israel and Syria, Jews and Muslims—while also saving lives.  

Georgette's book list on the shifting dynamics in the Middle East

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Why did Georgette love this book?

This is the best book I’ve ever read on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Goodman does a deep dive into why both Israelis and Palestinians are locked into their positions. He posits that the conflict may be irreconcilable. However, just because the conflict can’t be resolved doesn’t mean that it can’t be shrunk—and ways to shrink the conflict are the focus of his book. He makes numerous practical, doable policy recommendations about how to make life better for Palestinians and how to live together despite differences that can’t be overcome. Ultimately, I found the book to be hopeful.

By Micah Goodman, Eylon Levy (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Catch-67 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A controversial examination of the internal Israeli debate over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a best-selling Israeli author

"A must for anyone who wants to understand the tectonic forces underlying Israeli politics."-Rabbi Robert Orkand, Reform Judaism

"An eloquent expression of the distant hope that deeply committed human beings can stop, inhale deeply, listen, change, and compromise."-Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Since the Six-Day War, Israelis have been entrenched in a national debate over whether to keep the land they conquered or to return some, if not all, of the territories to Palestinians. In 2017, best-selling Israeli author Micah Goodman published a balanced…

Book cover of Democracy: A Case Study

John G. Matsusaka Author Of Let the People Rule: How Direct Democracy Can Meet the Populist Challenge

From my list on understanding why American democracy is struggling.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an economist by training, who has researched and taught classes related to business, governance, and democracy for more than 30 years at the University of Southern California. My work is multidisciplinary, spanning economics, finance, law, and political science, with a grounding in empirical analysis. In addition to two books and numerous scholarly articles, I am a frequent op-ed contributor and media commentator on topics related to democracy. I also direct the Initiative and Referendum Institute, a nonpartisan education organization focused on direct democracy.

John's book list on understanding why American democracy is struggling

John G. Matsusaka Why did John love this book?

This unconventional book contains a series of business-school-style case studies about critical episodes in American democracy that forms the basis for a class taught by the author at Harvard Business School. The cases are interesting and an enjoyable way to learn history—but more than that, by putting the reader in the shoes of key decision-makers in each episode, they build an appreciation for the complexity of real political decisions, in contrast to public discourse these days which too often treats our policy challenges as black and white issues.

By David A. Moss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Foreign Affairs Best Book of the Year

"This absolutely splendid book is a triumph on every level. A first-rate history of the United States, it is beautifully written, deeply researched, and filled with entertaining stories. For anyone who wants to see our democracy flourish, this is the book to read."
-Doris Kearns Goodwin

To all who say our democracy is broken-riven by partisanship, undermined by extremism, corrupted by wealth-history offers hope. Democracy's nineteen cases, honed in David Moss's popular course at Harvard and taught at the Library of Congress, in state capitols, and at hundreds of high schools across…