The best books about social movements

Many authors have picked their favorite books about social movements and why they recommend each book.

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The Next American Revolution

By Grace Lee Boggs, Scott Kurashige,

Book cover of The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century

This book looks toward the future. A friend, leader, and hero to many in Detroit including myself, Grace Lee Boggs is one of the most important philosophers of the 20th and 21st centuries. However, this book is far from the stuffy philosophy you might remember from PHYL 101. Rather, it’s a road map to a better, brighter future, and a new way to live.

A resident of Detroit for almost 80 years, Boggs once wrote, “The most radical thing I ever did was to stay put.” Her thinking and activism underlie almost anything truly transformational happening in Detroit today, and this book will leave you with more hope than a dog looking at the thanksgiving dinner table.

The Next American Revolution

By Grace Lee Boggs, Scott Kurashige,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A world dominated by America and driven by cheap oil, easy credit, and conspicuous consumption is unraveling before our eyes. In this powerful, deeply humanistic book, Grace Lee Boggs, a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America, shrewdly assesses the current crisis - political, economical, and environmental - and shows how to create the radical social change we need to confront new realities. A vibrant, inspirational force, Boggs has participated in all of the twentieth century's major social movements - for civil rights, women's rights, workers' rights, and more. She draws from seven decades of activist experience, and…

Who am I?

I’ve lived in Detroit for nearly 15 years, where I built my house with my own two hands out of the shell of one I purchased for $500. A longtime journalist, I grew up in a small town in the countryside of Michigan. When I moved to Detroit after college people told me I was throwing my life away, but I looked at it as a moral decision, as “staying home” when it seemed like most other people were leaving. I’m glad I did—it offered me a look into a world more strange and beautiful than I could have imagined, potentially even a vision into a brave new future. I hope this world comes across in A $500 House in Detroit, and I hope we can make it last. 


I wrote...

A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City

By Drew Philp,

Book cover of A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City

What is my book about?

A $500 House in Detroit is a raw and earnest account of rebuilding everything but the frame of an abandoned house, nail by nail and room by room. But it’s also a tale of a young man finding his footing in the city, the country, and his own generation. We witness his concept of Detroit shift, expand, and evolve as his plan to save the city gives way to a life forged from political meaning, personal connection, and collective purpose. As he assimilates into the community of Detroiters around him, Philp guides readers through the city’s vibrant history and engages in urgent conversations about gentrification, racial tensions, and class warfare. “Philp is a great storyteller.” (Booklist)

Freedom Is an Endless Meeting

By Francesca Polletta,

Book cover of Freedom Is an Endless Meeting: Democracy in American Social Movements

Internal dynamics, especially decisionmaking, often become more important to protest groups than the impact they are having on the outside world. Through vivid cases in twentieth-century America, Polletta relates the internal and the external, showing that groups decide what to do and who they are -- strategy and identity -- at the same time. She is especially good on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee of the early 1960s.

Freedom Is an Endless Meeting

By Francesca Polletta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Freedom Is an Endless Meeting as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Freedom Is an Endless Meeting offers vivid portraits of American experiments in participatory democracy throughout the twentieth century. Drawing on meticulous research and more than one hundred interviews with activists, Francesca Polletta challenges the conventional wisdom that participatory democracy is worthy in purpose but unworkable in practice. Instead, she shows that social movements have often used bottom-up decision making as a powerful tool for political change.

Polletta traces the history of democracy in early labor struggles and pre-World War II pacifism, in the civil rights, new left, and women's liberation movements of the sixties and seventies, and in today's faith-based…

Who am I?

James M. Jasper has written a number of books and articles on politics and social movements since the 1980s, trying to get inside them to see what participants feel and think. In recent years he has examined the many emotions, good and bad, involved in political engagement. He summarizes what he has learned in this short book, The Emotions of Protest, taking the reader step by step through the emotions that generate actions, to those that link us to groups, down to the emotional and moral impacts of social movements. The book is hopeful and inspiring but at the same time also clear-eyed about the limitations of protest politics.


I wrote...

The Emotions of Protest

By James M. Jasper,

Book cover of The Emotions of Protest

What is my book about?

This is a book centered on protest, but James M. Jasper also points toward broader paths of inquiry that have the power to transform the way social scientists picture social life and action. Through emotions, he says, we are embedded in a variety of environmental, bodily, social, moral, and temporal contexts, as we feel our way both consciously and unconsciously toward some things and away from others. Politics and collective action have always been a kind of laboratory for working out models of human action more generally, and emotions are no exception.

Both hearts and minds rely on the same feelings racing through our central nervous systems. Protestors have emotions, like everyone else, but theirs are thinking hearts, not bleeding hearts. Brains can feel, and hearts can think.

Beautiful Trouble

By Andrew Boyd, Dave Oswald Mitchell,

Book cover of Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution

Have you heard of “Yes Men”, possibly the most inspiring and creative contemporary group of American activists? People who made powerful corporations like VW look ridiculous and excuse for their emission scandal cheating, and very same people who have shut down the WTO? If “yes”, learn about the coolest tools they and other pranksters have used to empower themselves to change the world. If “no” take this book, buckle up for a wild ride and find an activist toolbox for making your community a better place.

Beautiful Trouble

By Andrew Boyd, Dave Oswald Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Elegant and incendiary." Naomi Klein. Beautiful Trouble brings together dozens of seasoned artists and activists from around the world to distill their best practices into a toolbox for creative action. Sophisticated enough for veteran activists, accessible enough for newbies, this compendium of troublemaking wisdom is a must-have for aspiring changemakers. Showcasing the synergies between artistic imagination and shrewd political strategy, Beautiful Trouble is for everyone who longs for a more beautiful, more just, more livable world and wants to know how to get there.

Who am I?

I'm super passionate about educating people on how to empower themselves and change the world. I do a lot of different things for a living. And my organization CANVAS works with the groups who are involved in the pro-democracy struggles and “art of the revolution.” Starting as a student activist in my homeland, ruled by ruthless dictator Slobodan Milosevic, I was blessed to meet and work with some of the most courageous people. Throughout the last 25 years, I've tried to capture, share, and transfer successful tools common people may use in order to address injustice, inequality, or small tangible problems through mobilizing their peers – and thus make their communities or the world a better place.


I wrote...

Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World

By Srdja Popovic, Matthew Miller,

Book cover of Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World

What is my book about?

“With this wonderful book, Srdja Popovic is inspiring ordinary people facing injustice and oppression to use this tool kit to challenge their oppressors and create something much better. When I was growing up, we dreamed that young people could bring down those who misused their power and create a more just and democratic society. For Srdja Popovic, living in Belgrade in 1998, this same dream was potentially a much more dangerous idea. But with an extraordinarily courageous group of students that formed Otpor!, Srdja used imagination, invention, cunning, and lots of humor to create a movement that not only succeeded in toppling the brutal dictator Slobodan Milošević but has become a blueprint for nonviolent revolution around the world. Srdja rocks!”—Peter Gabriel

The Body Scout

By Lincoln Michel,

Book cover of The Body Scout

As independent genres, science fiction and noir are both interested in exploration, not only of plot mysteries or the rules of a new and different setting, but also of deeper truths about the human condition. The Body Scout has a futuristic NYC where body modification is the norm, and an affecting detective story, which both examine how we relate to our bodies. From labor to narcotics to aesthetics to sex and desire, the book explores how we view and treat our own bodies and others, and how our social structures exploit them.

The Body Scout

By Lincoln Michel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hong Kong society is often regarded as politically apathetic. Yet throughout its history, Hong Kong experienced periodic waves of social movement activity. In part, the perception of an apathetic populace stems from the colonial government's laissez-faire policies, the society's concentration on economic development, the maintenance of traditional Chinese culture, and a consensus that Hong Kong would revert to Chinese sovereignty. Since Hong Kong was a colony, instead of evolving into a democratic government, Great Britain instituted a system of elite consultation and absorption of the masses' political problems through indirect participation. Butenhoff addresses the question of why social movements emerged…


Who am I?

My debut novel, The Sleepless, is a sci-fi noir story born out of my passion for both speculative fiction and crime fiction. I grew up devouring Marvel comics and Ray Bradbury and Agatha Christie, and those were some of my strongest influences when I finally decided to write my own stories. As a queer immigrant and a person of color, I was also influenced by the lives of people who live these identities, as much as I was influenced by my career as a lawyer in the immigration, criminal, and civil rights fields. 


I wrote...

The Sleepless

By Victor Manibo,

Book cover of The Sleepless

What is my book about?

A mysterious pandemic causes a quarter of the world to permanently lose the ability to sleep—without any apparent health implications. The outbreak creates a new class of people who are both feared and ostracized, most of whom optimize their extra hours to earn more money. Jamie Vega, an investigative journalist, is one of the Sleepless. When his mentor dies in a suicidal overdose, Jamie doesn’t buy this too-convenient explanation—especially given its suspicious timing during a controversial merger—and investigates. 

As Jamie delves deeper into his mentor's final days, he tangles with extremist organizations and powerful corporate interests, and must confront past traumas. But he soon faces the most dangerous decision of all, as he uncovers a terrifying truth about Sleeplessness that imperils him—and all of humanity.

Undrowned

By Alexis Pauline Gumbs,

Book cover of Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals

Alexis Pauline Gumbs, a “queer, black feminist love evangelist and a marine mammal apprentice,” has created an exuberant book—impossible to categorize. Undrowned is everything—a dramatic account of marine mammals’ struggles, a meditation, a call for action, a manifesto, a workbook with activities. Referencing the middle passage as a Black feminist, Gumbs considers the enmeshment of breathing, drowning, and undrowning, looking to “marine mammal kindred” as “teachers, mentors, guides.” I was deeply moved by how this book passionately voices love for whales, dolphins, and seals. But this love isn’t sentimental—it is active. The chapters call readers to do things, such as “listen,” asking how can we “listen across species, across extinction, across harm?” I marvel at Gumbs’ fierce, unabashed love for marine mammals. Gumbs inspires me to take more risks for others.

Undrowned

By Alexis Pauline Gumbs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Undrowned is a book-length meditation for social movements and our whole species based on the subversive and transformative guidance of marine mammals. Our aquatic cousins are queer, fierce, protective of each other, complex, shaped by conflict, and struggling to survive the extractive and militarized conditions our species has imposed on the ocean. Gumbs employs a brilliant mix of poetic sensibility and naturalist observation to show what they might teach us, producing not a specific agenda but an unfolding space for wondering and questioning. From the relationship between the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale and Gumbs’s Shinnecock and enslaved ancestors to…


Who am I?

I’ve been passionate about animals, the environment, and social justice since I was a child. As an adult I have been frustrated—even enragedthat so many products and practices are considered safe and “normal” even though they harm wildlife, pets, and people. I think it's bizarre that people imagine themselves as separate from the chemicals they spray in their homes and their yards, even as they breathe in the toxins. I hope that the concept of “transcorporeality,” which urges us to see our own bodies as literally part of the environment, will convince people that environmentalism isn’t optional but is a vital part of human health and social justice.


I wrote...

Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self

By Stacy Alaimo,

Book cover of Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self

What is my book about?

What does it mean to understand your own body as “nature,” that is, as physically interconnected with the material world? How does understanding ourselves as part of the environment transform ethics, politics, and daily practices? Focusing on feminist, environmentalist, and new materialist theory as well as environmental health and environmental justice movements, this book analyzes a broad range of memoirs, activism, film, art, and philosophy in order to propose the concept of trans-corporeality, which calls us to think of ourselves as the very stuff of the wider world. While Western culture has divided body and mind, nature and culture, science and daily life, this book calls each of us to understand environmental issues in new paradigms in which human beings are intermeshed with the world.

No Common Ground

By Karen L. Cox,

Book cover of No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice

For anyone who wants a clear and concise overview of the Confederate monument issue, this is your book. Cox, a historian, goes through the historical twists and turns of monument construction in the South and, importantly, shows how this was closely intertwined with issues of race. I particularly like the way she spotlights a long history of black Southerners who expressed outrage, and sometimes secretly defiled, these monuments that had sprung up in some of the most prominent public spaces across the South.

No Common Ground

By Karen L. Cox,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When it comes to Confederate monuments, there is no common ground. Polarizing debates over their meaning have intensified into legislative maneuvering to preserve the statues, legal battles to remove them, and rowdy crowds taking matters into their own hands. These conflicts have raged for well over a century--but they've never been as intense as they are today.

In this eye-opening narrative of the efforts to raise, preserve, protest, and remove Confederate monuments, Karen L. Cox depicts what these statues meant to those who erected them and how a movement arose to force a reckoning. She lucidly shows the forces that…

Who am I?

Having grown up visiting lots of historic sites – and hearing my father sing old Civil War tunes (frequently off-key!) on long car trips – I gravitated pretty quickly to studying the Civil War, and its aftermath, when I was in college and then in graduate school. I was particularly interested in the way Americans experienced the Civil War after it was over: the sentimental novels they read; the romantic movies they watched; the reconstructed battlefields they visited. In my work as a professor at Boston University, I try to get students to think about the stories that do, and do not, get told about the Civil War and other events from the past. I suppose the question that always piqued my interest was why people might find the often wildly inaccurate versions of the past so appealing.


I wrote...

This War Ain't Over: Fighting the Civil War in New Deal America

By Nina Silber,

Book cover of This War Ain't Over: Fighting the Civil War in New Deal America

What is my book about?

Nina Silber deftly examines the often conflicting and politically contentious ways in which Americans remembered the Civil War era during the years of the Depression, the New Deal, and World War II. In doing so, she reveals how the debates and events of that earlier period resonated so profoundly with New Deal rhetoric about state power, emerging civil rights activism, labor organizing and trade unionism, and popular culture in wartime.

At the heart of this book is an examination of how historical memory offers people a means of understanding and defining themselves in the present. Silber reveals how, during a moment of enormous national turmoil, the events and personages of the Civil War provided a framework for reassessing national identity, class conflict, and racial and ethnic division. 

Book cover of The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics

Lilla’s goal in this book is to show how identity politics threatens the electoral prospects of the Democratic Party. He argues that the party has thrown citizenship—the “we” in political conversation—out the window in favor of “personal identities in terms of the inner homunculus, a unique little thing composed of parts tinted by race, sex, and gender,” and that this will be electorally disastrous for the Democrats. But Lilla’s arguments show that it is disastrous for our national conversation as well. When we give personal identity weight in an argument (Lilla is superb at eviscerating the shopworn phrase “speaking as an X”) we turn the intellectual clock back to premodern times when arguments were settled by power and force.

The Once and Future Liberal

By Mark Lilla,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From one of the most internationally admired political thinkers, a controversial polemic on the failures of identity politics and what comes next for the left — in America and beyond.

Following the shocking results of the US election of 2016, public intellectuals across the globe offered theories and explanations, but few were met with such vitriol, panic, and debate as Mark Lilla’s. The Once and Future Liberal is a passionate plea to liberals to turn from the divisive politics of identity and develop a vision of the future that can persuade all citizens that they share a common destiny.

Driven…


Who am I?

I’m an emeritus professor living in Portland, Oregon, officially retired, but still writing articles and books. Although I am a lifelong US citizen, I spent the heart of my career as the Canada Research Chair of Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Toronto. Most of my books are about aspects of rationality, especially cognitive biases. I have also worked on tools for measuring individual differences in rationality. Lately, I have focused on ways to reduce political polarization by taming the myside bias that plagues all human thought, and by reforming institutions (especially universities) that are currently failing in their role as knowledge adjudicators. 


I wrote...

Book cover of The Bias That Divides Us: The Science and Politics of Myside Thinking

What is my book about?

Myside bias is the tendency to evaluate evidence, generate evidence, and test hypotheses in a manner biased toward our own beliefs. When studying the cognitive biases that indicate poor thinking, my research group discovered that myside bias was the strangest of all the cognitive biases. Unlike virtually all the other biases, the avoidance of myside bias is not correlated with high intelligence, education, or knowledge. It is just as prevalent among the cognitive elites of society as it is among nonelites.

Faculty in universities don’t recognize their own biases, and this has contributed to declining public trust in university research. It is also a factor in fueling our current ideologically polarized politics. 

Public Goods Versus Economic Interests

By Freia Anders (editor), Alexander Sedlmaier (editor),

Book cover of Public Goods Versus Economic Interests: Global Perspectives on the History of Squatting

Histories of squatting mainly focus on radical activists in Europe during the 1970s and 1980s, ignoring the fact that squatting has always been a global phenomenon. Anders and Sedlmaier have responded by creating a collection of chapters that highlight the global and historical nature of squatting. Their volume is the first to initiate an in-depth discussion of the similarities between first world and third world squatting, and thus covers cases from Seoul to Bucharest and Bangkok, and from Turkey to Brazil and the UK. In doing so, the book raises fascinating questions on how squatting oscillates between being a self-help and a collective protest strategy, on the relationship between migration and squatting, and on the influence of squatter movements on urban development. 

Public Goods Versus Economic Interests

By Freia Anders (editor), Alexander Sedlmaier (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Public Goods Versus Economic Interests as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Squatting is currently a global phenomenon. A concomitant of economic development and social conflict, squatting attracts public attention because - implicitly or explicitly - it questions property relations from the perspective of the basic human need for shelter. So far neglected by historical inquiry, squatters have played an important role in the history of urban development and social movements, not least by contributing to change in concepts of property and the distribution and utilization of urban space. An interdisciplinary circle of authors demonstrates how squatters have articulated their demands for participation in the housing market and public space in a…

Who am I?

Ever since I was young, I have been fascinated by – and worked with - people protesting injustice and inequality. By standing up, following through, and letting their voice be heard, people have the potential to change the world for the better. As a researcher, I have studied the history of various European protest movements – from labor activists to squatters and direct action groups. I have published on radical philosophers, Dutch Trotskyists, and even a socialist astronomer - but my main focus has always been radical squatters in the Netherlands and Germany.


I wrote...

City Is Ours: Squatting and Autonomous Movements in Europe from the 1970s to the Present

By Bart Van Der Steen (editor), Ask Katzeff (editor), Leendert Van Hoogenhuijze (editor)

Book cover of City Is Ours: Squatting and Autonomous Movements in Europe from the 1970s to the Present

What is my book about?

Squatters are people who occupy houses and empty dwellings – so why do we even care? Well, actually, squatters have been at the forefront of campaigns to reclaim the city for common people - by fighting speculation, gentrification, and government-led ‘urban renewal’ projects. Who are the squatters, what drives them, and what are the keys to their success?

To answer these questions, we present eight local histories of squatter activism from European cities such as Amsterdam, London, and Berlin. Together, the histories paint a picture of a radical movement and lively subculture capable of effectively fighting for A City of All. 

Missing Class

By Betsy Leondar-Wright,

Book cover of Missing Class

Meetings are one of the main activities of social movements, and plenty of misunderstandings occur based on the way people talk due to different backgrounds. This amusing book focuses on the effects of social class, which both activists and scholars have tended to forget about in recent years. If nothing else, it will give you something to think about during your next meeting.

Missing Class

By Betsy Leondar-Wright,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Many activists worry about the same few problems in their groups: low turnout, inactive members, conflicting views on racism, overtalking, and offensive violations of group norms. But in searching for solutions to these predictable and intractable troubles, progressive social movement groups overlook class culture differences. Missing Class looks through a class lens and discovers that members with different class life experiences tend to approach these problems differently. Using this class lens enables readers to envision new solutions, solutions that draw on the strengths of all class cultures to form the basis of stronger cross-class and multiracial movements.

In Missing Class,…


Who am I?

James M. Jasper has written a number of books and articles on politics and social movements since the 1980s, trying to get inside them to see what participants feel and think. In recent years he has examined the many emotions, good and bad, involved in political engagement. He summarizes what he has learned in this short book, The Emotions of Protest, taking the reader step by step through the emotions that generate actions, to those that link us to groups, down to the emotional and moral impacts of social movements. The book is hopeful and inspiring but at the same time also clear-eyed about the limitations of protest politics.


I wrote...

The Emotions of Protest

By James M. Jasper,

Book cover of The Emotions of Protest

What is my book about?

This is a book centered on protest, but James M. Jasper also points toward broader paths of inquiry that have the power to transform the way social scientists picture social life and action. Through emotions, he says, we are embedded in a variety of environmental, bodily, social, moral, and temporal contexts, as we feel our way both consciously and unconsciously toward some things and away from others. Politics and collective action have always been a kind of laboratory for working out models of human action more generally, and emotions are no exception.

Both hearts and minds rely on the same feelings racing through our central nervous systems. Protestors have emotions, like everyone else, but theirs are thinking hearts, not bleeding hearts. Brains can feel, and hearts can think.

The Harriet Jacobs Family Papers

By Jean Fagan Yellin, Joseph M Thomas, Scott Korb

Book cover of The Harriet Jacobs Family Papers

As the Union Army penetrated into Confederate territory, enslaved men, women, and children fled bondage to take refuge with the army. Roughly half a million formerly enslaved people exited slavery in this way, spending the war in encampments appended to the army or in Union occupied cities. They influenced the progress and outcome of the war as well as emancipation. They also encountered conditions that amounted to a humanitarian crisis, one that soldiers tasked with fighting a war were ill-equipped to meet. Civilians from the North made their way to camps and occupied cities to serve as relief workers. Harriet Jacobs headed South as just such a worker. Jacobs herself had been born a slave and made a harrowing escape decades earlier, but when war broke out, she braved the South again. She made her way to Alexandria, Virginia where she worked among the many freedom seekers who came to…

The Harriet Jacobs Family Papers

By Jean Fagan Yellin, Joseph M Thomas, Scott Korb

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the only collection of papers of an African American woman held in slavery.Although millions of African American women were held in bondage over the 250 years that slavery was legal in the United States, Harriet Jacobs (1813-97) is the only one known to have left papers testifying to her life. Her autobiography, ""Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl"", holds a central place in the canon of American literature as the most important slave narrative by an African American woman.Born in Edenton, North Carolina, Jacobs escaped from her owner in her mid-twenties and hid in the cramped…

Who am I?

Despite what my kids think, I am not actually old enough to have “been there” during the Civil War itself, but I have spent my entire professional career studying it. Years in archives reading other people’s mail, old newspaper accounts, dusty diaries, and handwritten testimonies, along with sifting through records books and ledgers of all descriptions have taught me exactly how intertwined slavery, Civil War, and emancipation all were, and I am dedicated to trying to explain the connections to anyone who reads my books, stumbles across my digital history work, or sits in my classroom at Georgetown University, where I teach history. Two good places to see the results of my efforts include What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War which won the Avery Craven Award for best book on the Civil War and was a finalist for the Lincoln Prize and Frederick Douglass Prize, and Troubled Refuge: Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War, which won the Jefferson Davis Prize and was also a finalist for the Lincoln Prize.


I wrote...

What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War

By Chandra Manning,

Book cover of What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War

What is my book about?

In this unprecedented account, Chandra Manning uses letters, diaries, and regimental newspapers to take the reader inside the minds of Civil War soldiers-black and white, Northern and Southern-as they fought and marched across a divided country. With stunning poise and narrative verve, Manning explores how the Union and Confederate soldiers came to identify slavery as the central issue of the war and what that meant for a tumultuous nation. This is a brilliant and eye-opening debut and an invaluable addition to our understanding of the Civil War as it has never been rendered before.

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