Wednesday, November 30, 2011

40 Best Books About Human Rights

It may be something of a cliché, but college still stands as a period when many discover the world outside themselves. Professors, other students and special guests might very well introduce them to some of the injustices committed everywhere from their own neighborhoods to the furthest nations. Human rights obviously cover a far wider expanse of issues than room allows for here. But the following 40 can certainly help a budding (or even experienced!) activist either get started or better hone knowledge!

Genocide and Civil Rights

  1. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

    Hear about the American's mass murder of the continent's indigenous peoples straight from the marginalized tribal leaders and citizens themselves.

  2. Night by Eli Wiesel

    The Holocaust may not have been the largest genocide in the 20th century, but it certainly stands as the most infamous. Eli Wiesel's harrowing memoir Night offers up a first-person glimpse at the gruesome realities behind the walls of concentration camps.

  3. King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild

    Read all about the ways in which the eponymous Belgian royal ravaged the African continent and almost singlehandedly screwed up its peoples – actions which hold some nasty repercussions even today.

  4. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Step into the mind and actions of one of the American Civil Rights Movement's most impassioned activists, hopefully gaining some valuable lessons in how to approach major injustices without violence or hate.

  5. Gandhi: An Autobiography by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

    Another sterling glimpse into the philosophy of nonviolent resistance, this time from one of the men responsible for freeing India from cruel British imperialism and exploitation.

  6. The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang

    First-hand accounts and documentations of Japan's brutal massacre of China's then-capital collide here, shedding light on an oft-overlooked genocide occurring around the same time as the Holocaust.

  7. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We will be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch

    For three months, Rwanda's Hutu tribe slaughtered the Tutsis thanks to sick government encouragement and support. This nauseating but necessary read gives voice to the minorities crushed beneath senseless sanctioned violence and might inspire many up-and-coming human rights activists.

  8. Gulag by Anne Applebaum

    While the Allied Powers were battling it out with the Axis, Josef Stalin – one of their own – was guilty of the very same genocide they were trying to prevent. Gulag takes readers inside Soviet concentration camps, where political prisoners, the convicted and anyone the totalitarian ruler didn't like found themselves tortured and executed to keep the citizenry in fear-fueled subjugation.

  9. The Turner Diaries by William Luther Pierce

    Look, this is undoubtedly a sick, stomach-twisting novel, but for human rights activists promoting equality, it might prove a valuable insight into the enemy's mind. Although about racism, the bigoted perspectives white supremacist leader William Luther Pierce (pen name "Andrew MacDonald") can be applied to any hateful individuals persecuting others for senseless reasons.

  10. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

    Read The Turner Diaries to understand the deranged minds behind smaller-scale acts of hate, discrimination and injustice; read Mein Kampf to understand how hell happens comes to happen a national scale. Adolf Hitler was undoubtedly one of the 20th century's nastiest monsters, but learning exactly how his mind worked might very well help prevent another like him from gaining power.

Slavery and Sex Trafficking

  1. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

    The harrowing, dehumanizing truth of American slavery comes to eloquent life in this inspiring memoir of rising above abuse and bondage.

  2. Sex Trafficking by Siddharth Kara

    Sex trafficking brutalizes and objectifies hundreds of thousands of children and women (occasionally men) worldwide every year – often right in front of unsuspecting citizens.

  3. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

    For female slaves, servitude all too frequently meant sexual abuse in addition to physical. Although this memoir takes place in America, those from other countries likely experienced (or experience) similarly horrific marginalization and exploitation as well.

  4. Slavery: A World History by Milton Meltzer

    Over the span of 608 pages, Milton Meltzer explores the horrors of slavery from around the world, including forced labor camps. He peers more into the past, however, and only lightly touches upon the horrors committed more recently.

  5. Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave by Sibel Hodge

    Though fiction, author Sibel Hodge interviewed former sex slaves in order to paint the most realistic portrait possible. What results is a heartbreaking novella capturing the hopelessness, desperation and degrading horrors heaped upon innocent women and kids around the world.

  6. Not for Sale by David Batstone

    Today's global slave trade – oh yes, darlings, it still happens – keeps some of the world's largest corporations running. Not for Sale chronicles the hows and whys behind the terrors and discusses solutions for ending the inhumanity.

  7. Ending Slavery by Kevin Bales

    Like the title says, Kevin Bales' book outlines what individuals at all levels of society and in every afflicted nation can do to make sure no other humans end up treated like cattle.

  8. Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd

    An activist and former exploited sex worker blends memoir and manifesto into one necessary human rights read. Now the founder of a nonprofit focusing on rescuing girls from degradation and manipulation, she discusses how her terrifying experiences eventually led to discovering her life's true calling.

  9. A Crime So Monstrous by E. Benjamin Skinner

    These days, more enslaved individuals exist than in any other era, and they end up in neighborhoods around the world, even those in supposedly "enlightened" nations. Journalist E. Benjamin Skinner delves deeply into this underground world and exposes the myriad hypocrisies and greedy personalities what keep it going.

  10. The Slave Across the Street by Theresa Flores

    In a seemingly unassuming, upper-middle-class Detroit suburb, the author lived a truly terrifying life as a sex slave without anyone – not even her parents – ever knowing.

Women's Rights

  1. Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks

    For all its successes, even contemporary feminism often struggles with addressing the needs of women of color. bell hooks looks at the movement on narrow and broad scales alike, offering up a case for more inclusive activism.

  2. Stop Street Harassment by Holly Kearl

    Between 80% to 100% of women worldwide experience public sexual harassment and "mild" assault (like groping), and yet few law enforcement officials ever intervene. This important study peers into institutionalized misogyny and what needs doing to make sure women can enjoy public places alone just as often as their male family and friends.

  3. Feminism without Borders by Chandra Talpade Mohanty

    Women in more economically deprived areas of the world notorious for horrific human rights violations often end up left out of the feminist discussion – despite needing the movement's support most of all. Human rights activists must learn how to create more welcoming, heterogeneous spaces, and Feminism without Borders might prove a valuable starting point.

  4. Whipping Girl by Julia Serano

    Females don't have to be born with an XX chromosome structure to be considered women. Discussions regarding equality should include transwomen in the mix as well, and Julia Serano explains the biology and sociology behind their frequent shunting. And why, of course, such attitudes just aren't right.

  5. Do They Hear You When You Cry by Fauziya Kassindja

    Although kaika, or female genital mutilation, existed as the norm in her Togolese village, Fauziya Kassindja refused to take part and fled the country mere hours before the ceremony. But escaping one particular atrocity didn't necessarily mean a life free of discrimination, marginalization and stereotyping, either.

  6. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

    Women's rights activists should get to know their feminist history, which issued forth a call the action decades before the movement's second wave finally crashed.

  7. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft

    This feminist classic chastised "Western" society for its perceptions that women exist as delicate, inferior creatures and the ingrained actions perpetuating such hogwash.

  8. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

    Journalist Betty Friedan almost singlehandedly kick-started feminism's second wave with her in-depth exploration of the emotional, infantilizing prisons in which postwar American housewives felt themselves trapped.

  9. The Veil and the Male Elite by Fatima Mernissi

    Explore how the life of the prophet Mohammad and his views towards women clash with some (though by no means all) contemporary Islamic sects. This sociological work examines the faith from a feminist perspective, drawing up ideas as to making the more unequal corners quite the opposite.

  10. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

    Women's rights activists with a particular affinity for all things literary might want to pick up this popular memoir (rife with classic novel critique!) of forbidden education amongst some of the world's most socially suppressed women.

Workers' Rights

  1. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

    The Jungle may be fiction, but the journalist-cum-novelist's modus operandi revolved around very real examples of immigrant exploitation in America. Unfortunately, more readers wound up shocked (and understandably so!) by the super duper nasty depiction of substandard food processing.

  2. Workers' Rights as Human Rights edited by James A. Gross

    Everything one needs to know about this anthology can be found more or less in the title. Read up on how human rights activists must also consider employee safety and fair wages in their activities and why so many tend to overlook even the most egregious violations.

  3. Autobiography of Mother Jones by Mother Jones

    Once hailed as "The Most Dangerous Woman in America," Mother Jones passionately fought for the rights of industrial workers – particularly children – brutalized by the careless, thoughtless profiteers valuing money over basic humanity.

  4. Sweatshop Warriors by Miriam Ching Yoon Louie

    Part expose on exploited immigrant labor, part feminist manifesto, Sweatshop Warriors celebrates the women of color responsible for spearheading awareness campaigns fighting unsafe working conditions. Many (if not most) of the individuals featured have themselves experienced these hazardous spaces firsthand, sharing their frequently head shake-inducing stories here.

  5. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

    This investigative reporter earned a bevy of attention after spending a year and a half working nothing but minimum-wage and low-paying positions. Despite what so many politicians claim, earning so little honestly doesn't provide enough to meet most basic needs – particularly when supporting a family.

  6. Free the Children by Craig Kielburger and Kevin Major

    Free the Children founder Craig Kielburger's life receives a thorough summary here, chronicling his standard suburban childhood all the way through his activism. His work takes him around the world fighting for the rights of kids worldwide crammed into inhumane employment situations.

  7. Before Their Time by David L. Parker

    Both startling photographs and heartbreaking stories relay the horrific reality of kids and teens suffering from backbreaking labor inside cruel conditions and abuses. What makes the phenomenon so awful is the amount of legislation protecting their basic human rights that so often go entirely ignored.

  8. The Fight in the Fields by Susan Ferriss and Ricardo Sandoval

    Get inspired by Cesar Chavez's heavily influential unionizing of farm workers (many of them immigrants) screwed over by the American companies taking advantage of them.

  9. The Struggle and the Triumph by Lech Walesa

    Dockworker-turned-Polish-president Lech Walesa held illegal union meetings while his country floundered under Soviet rule. Learn all about the Solidarity movement and hopefully find some kernels of encouragement here.

  10. Slaves to Fashion by Robert J.S. Ross

    The fashion industry's notorious abuse of sweatshop labor is pretty common knowledge these days, though most people sadly seem to not really care who makes their clothes. Hopefully picking up this book will encourage compassion and a more humane, safe, and equal living for thousands (if not tens or hundreds of thousands) of workers worldwide.

Taken From Accredited Online Colleges

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