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Fourth of July Reading List

On this 4th of July, we offer a reading list that explores three main topics: Settler Colonialism, Colonialism, and U.S. Imperialism.

It’s been 169 years since abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave one of his most famous speeches, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?,” before the Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society of Rochester, N.Y., and many of his most urgent questions remain unresolved. This Fourth of July we, like many of you, are thinking about what it means to be a part of this country at this time in history; a time we hope will prove to be a great unmasking and turning point, where the lies the United States has told about itself can no longer be told so easily by so many for so long. We hope that readers and activists will choose to learn the history and the stories that so many of us were not formally taught, but have been forced to carry in our bones, our cells, our hearts, our DNA, like a secret that people in power threaten us against telling.


If there is ever to be a reckoning of the harms the U.S. has committed on this land and throughout the world, it should be now. In fact, reckoning with those harms is the only way to make all of us free. We cannot seek to dismantle white supremacy domestically without understanding the true histories of how this land was stolen and also seek to know the stories of people outside of the United States whose histories and destinies continue to be shaped by U.S. colonial and imperial policies and projects. The U.S. was founded by a practice of what is now known as "Settler Colonialism." White people came to this land and killed or removed the Native people from their home lands and sought to completely eradicate their surviving culture. White people enslaved people from the continent of Africa and used their bodies and their unpaid labor to build a nation while also seeking to eradicate their surviving culture. Throughout the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries the U.S. has waged official and covert wars of colonization and territory expansion as well as economic imperialism throughout the globe--from Mexico to Puerto Rico to the Philippines to Hawaii to Alaska, American Samoa, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Haiti, The Dominican Republic, The Virgin Islands, Guam, The Northern Mariana Islands, South Korea, Cuba, Grenada, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Congo, Palestine, Somalia,Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, and likely more that we are forgetting or which are not yet known to our history books. Some of these wars have been fought more transparently in the name of U.S. expansion and prosperity, many more have been cloaked in the false flag of humanitarianism, the fight against Communism, the fight against terrorism. Our policies continue to force human migration throughout the world and separate family members from one another and from their homelands. When people migrate to the U.S. hoping for safety we regularly commit additional physical and emotional harms against them and seek to separate them from "true Americans."

Most of us know some or all of these truths and yet many of us, especially those of us who are white, act as though we don't. Because to act as though we understand our history and our nation's global and domestic policies would necessitate a deep thoughtfulness about what, exactly, it is we are celebrating on Independence Day. As Frederick Douglass wrote to his white audience in 1852, "This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony." We believe that the Fourth of July represents an opportunity for pause and reflection, a day of mourning, not of celebration.

Georges Erasmus, an Aboriginal Tlicho leader from Canada, said, “Where common memory is lacking, where people do not share in the same past, there can be no real community. Where community is to be formed, common memory must be created.” Books are one way to create a common memory; by listening to and learning from the human stories that make up our collective history, we can practice rejecting the lie of American exceptionalism and superiority and begin acting in ways that align with our desire to dismantle white supremacy wherever it manifests. We offer this list in the spirit of building a common memory so that we might yet build a truly common future.


An African American and Latinx History of the United States (REVISIONING HISTORY #4) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807005934
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Published: Beacon Press - December 11th, 2018

An intersectional history of the shared struggle for African American and Latinx civil rights

As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance (Indigenous Americas) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781517903879
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Published: Univ Of Minnesota Press - December 29th, 2020

Winner: Native American and Indigenous Studies Association's Best Subsequent Book 2017
Honorable Mention: Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award 2017

Across North America, Indigenous acts of resistance have in recent years opposed the removal of federal protections for forests and waterways in Indigenous lands, halted the expansion of tar san

The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism in 17th Century North America and the Caribbean Cover Image
ISBN: 9781583676639
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Published: Monthly Review Press - March 12th, 2018

Chronicles how American culture - deeply rooted in white supremacy, slavery and capitalism - finds its origin story in the 17th century European colonization of Africa and North America, exposing the structural origins of American looting

Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawai'i Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781478006497
Published: Duke University Press - November 8th, 2019

Many people first encounter Hawai'i through the imagination--a postcard picture of hula girls, lu'aus, and plenty of sun, surf, and sea. While Hawai'i is indeed beautiful, Native Hawaiians struggle with the problems brought about by colonialism, military occupation, tourism, food insecurity, high costs of living, and climate change.

Discourse on Colonialism Cover Image
ISBN: 9781583670255
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Published: Monthly Review Press - January 1st, 2001

C saire's essay stands as an important document in the development of
third world consciousness--a process in which he] played a prominent

Fantasy Island: Colonialism, Exploitation, and the Betrayal of Puerto Rico Cover Image
ISBN: 9781568588995
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Published: Bold Type Books - September 10th, 2019

A crucial, clear-eyed accounting of Puerto Rico's 122 years as a colony of the US.

The Forging of the American Empire Cover Image
ISBN: 9781608468157
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Published: Haymarket Books - November 22nd, 2016

This is the story of a nation--the United States--that has conducted more than 160 wars and other military ventures while insisting it loves peace.

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa Cover Image
By Walter Rodney, Angela Davis (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781788731188
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Published: Verso - November 27th, 2018

The classic work of political, economic, and historical analysis, powerfully introduced by Angela Davis

Medicine Stories: Essays for Radicals Cover Image
ISBN: 9781478003090
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Published: Duke University Press - April 26th, 2019

In this revised and expanded edition of Medicine Stories, Aurora Levins Morales weaves together insights and lessons learned over a lifetime of activism to offer a new theory of social justice.

A People's History of American Empire: The American Empire Project, A Graphic Adaptation Cover Image
ISBN: 9780805087444
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Published: Metropolitan Books - April 1st, 2008

Adapted from the bestselling grassroots history of the United States, the story of America in the world, told in comics form

Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism Cover Image
ISBN: 9781788735711
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Published: Verso - November 19th, 2019

A passionately urgent call for all of us to unlearn imperialism and repair the violent world we share, from one of our most compelling political theorists

In this theoretical tour-de-force, renowned scholar Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences.

The Wretched of the Earth Cover Image
By Frantz Fanon, Richard Philcox (Translator), Homi K. Bhabha (Foreword by)
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ISBN: 9780802141323
Published: Grove Press - March 12th, 2005

First published in 1961, Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth is a masterful and timeless interrogation of race, colonialism, psychological trauma, and revolutionary struggle. In 2020, it found a new readership in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests and the centering of narratives interrogating race by Black writers.

Black Skin, White Masks Cover Image
By Frantz Fanon, Richard Philcox (Translator)
ISBN: 9780802143006
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Published: Grove Press - September 10th, 2008

Few modern voices have had as profound an impact on the black identity and critical race theory as Frantz Fanon, and Black Skin, White Masks represents some of his most important work. Fanon's masterwork is now available in a new translation that updates its language for a new generation of readers.

The New Age of Empire: How Racism and Colonialism Still Rule the World Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781645036920
Published: Bold Type Books - March 2nd, 2021

A damning exploration of the many ways in which the effects and logic of anti-black colonialism continue to inform our modern world.

Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel's Liberal Settler State (Stanford Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic Societies and) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780804788007
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Published: Stanford University Press - October 9th, 2013

Following the 1948 war and the creation of the state of Israel, Palestinian Arabs comprised just fifteen percent of the population but held a much larger portion of its territory.

Colonialism in Global Perspective Cover Image
ISBN: 9781108441360
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Published: Cambridge University Press - May 7th, 2020

Kris Manjapra weaves together the study of colonialism over the past 500 years, across the globe's continents and seas.

Decolonization: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780199340491
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Published: Oxford University Press, USA - May 2nd, 2016

Millions of Africans, Asians, and other peoples were the subjects of colonial rule by overseas empires through the mid-twentieth century. By the end of the century, however, nearly all of these peoples had become citizens of independent nation-states. The United Nations grew from 51 member

Dissident Friendships: Feminism, Imperialism, and Transnational Solidarity (Dissident Feminisms) Cover Image
By Elora Chowdhury, Liz Philipose (Editor), Lori E. Amy (Contributions by), Himika Bhattacharya (Contributions by), Kabita Chakma (Contributions by), Elora Chowdhury (Contributions by), Laurie R. Cohen (Contributions by), Esha Niyogi De (Contributions by), Eglantina Gjermeni (Contributions by), Glen Hill (Contributions by), Alka Kurian (Contributions by), Meredith Madden (Contributions by), Angie Mejia (Contributions by), Chandra Talpade Mohanty (Contributions by), A. Wendy Nastasi (Contributions by), Nicole Nguyen (Contributions by), Liz Philipose (Contributions by), Anya Stanger (Contributions by), Shreerekha Subramanian (Contributions by), YuanFang Dai (Contributions by)
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ISBN: 9780252040412
Published: University of Illinois Press - September 8th, 2016

Often perceived as unbridgeable, the boundaries that divide humanity from itself--whether national, gender, racial, political, or imperial--are rearticulated through friendship. Elora Halim Chowdhury and Liz Philipose edit a collection of essays that express the different ways women forge hospitality in deference to or defiance of the structures meant to keep them apart.

Exceptional State: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the New Imperialism (New Americanists) Cover Image
By Ashley Dawson (Editor), Malini Johar Schueller (Editor)
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ISBN: 9780822338208
Published: Duke University Press - July 1st, 2007

Exceptional State analyzes the nexus of culture and contemporary manifestations of U.S. imperialism. The contributors, established and emerging cultural studies scholars, define culture broadly to include a range of media, literature, and political discourse. They do not posit September 11, 2001 as the beginning of U.S.

Feminism and War: Confronting US Imperialism Cover Image
ISBN: 9781848130197
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Published: Zed Books - October 1st, 2008

Women across the globe are being dramatically affected by war as currently waged by the USA.

Feminism for the Americas: The Making of an International Human Rights Movement (Gender and American Culture) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781469661520
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Published: University of North Carolina Press - August 1st, 2020

Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures (Thinking Gender) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780415912129
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Published: Routledge - November 20th, 1996

Feminist Geneaologies, Colonial Legacies, DemocraticFutures provides a feminist anaylsis of the questions of sexual and gender politics, economic and cultural marginality, and anti-racist and anti-colonial practices both in the West and in the Third World.

For Indigenous Eyes Only: A Decolonization Handbook (School of American Research Native America) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781930618633
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Published: School for Advanced Research Press - December 1st, 2005

Recognizing an urgent need for Indigenous liberation strategies, Indigenous intellectuals met to create a book with hands-on suggestions and activities to enable Indigenous communities to decolonize themselves.

For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook Cover Image
By Waziyatawin (Editor), Michael Yellow Bird (Editor)
ISBN: 9781934691939
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Published: School for Advanced Research Press - December 3rd, 2012

For Indigenous Minds Only features Indigenous scholars, writers, and activists who have collaborated for the creation of a sequel to For Indigenous Eyes Only (SAR Press, 2005).

How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250251091
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Published: Picador - March 3rd, 2020

Named one of the ten best books of the year by the Chicago Tribune
A Publishers Weekly best book of 2019 | A 2019 NPR Staff Pick

A pathbreaking history of the United States’ overseas possessions and the true meaning of its empire

Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781788735094
Published: Verso - September 24th, 2019

Winner of the British Academy’s Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2020

Highly commended for PEN Hessell–Tiltman Prize 2020

A haunting and evocative history of British empire, told through one woman’s family story

Imperialism, Neoliberalism, and Social Struggles in Latin America (Studies in Critical Social Sciences) Cover Image
By Richard A. Dello Buono (Editor), José Bell Lara (Editor)
ISBN: 9781608460403
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Published: Haymarket Books - September 1st, 2009

This collection of works by prominent Latin Americanists explores the social and political dynamics of this important region in transition to a post-neoliberal era. The first part deals with the intensifying regional crisis created by neoliberal policies, showing how regime stability has been broadly undermined, with specific attention given to the cases of Panama and Argentina.

Indigenous and Popular Thinking in América (Latin America Otherwise: Languages) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780822346418
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Published: Duke University Press - April 7th, 2010

Originally published in Mexico in 1970, Indigenous and Popular Thinking in Am rica is the first book by the Argentine philosopher Rodolfo Kusch (1922-79) to be translated into English.

King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa Cover Image
ISBN: 9780358212508
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Published: Mariner Books - March 3rd, 2020

 "An enthralling story . . . A work of history that reads like a novel." — Christian Science Monitor
“As Hochschild’s brilliant book demonstrates, the great Congo scandal prefigured our own times . . .

Melancholia Africana: The Indispensable Overcoming of the Black Condition (Creolizing the Canon) Cover Image
By Nathalie Etoke, Bill Hamlett (Translator), Lewis R. Gordon (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781786613011
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Published: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers - June 18th, 2019

Melancholia Africana argues that in the African and Afro-diasporic context, melancholy is rooted in collective experiences such as slavery, colonization, and the post-colony. From these experiences a theme of loss resonates-loss of land, of freedom, of language, of culture, of self, and of ideals born from independence.

New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America Cover Image
ISBN: 9781631493249
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Published: Liveright - May 9th, 2017

Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History
A New York Times Notable Book
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice Selection
A Providence Journal Best Book of the Year
Winner of the Organization of American Historians Merle Curti Award for Social History
Finalist for the Harriet Tubman Prize

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent Cover Image
By Eduardo Galeano, Isabel Allende (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780853459910
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Published: Monthly Review Press - January 1st, 1997

The classic survey of Latin America's social and cultural history, with a new introduction by Isabel Allende

Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Blackness Cover Image
By Tiffany Lethabo King (Editor)
ISBN: 9781478008385
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Published: Duke University Press - May 18th, 2020

The contributors to Otherwise Worlds investigate the complex relationships between settler colonialism and anti-Blackness to explore the political possibilities that emerge from such inquiries.

Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, Memory, and the Sacred (Perverse Modernities) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780822336457
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Published: Duke University Press - January 1st, 2006

M. Jacqui Alexander is one of the most important theorists of transnational feminism working today. Pedagogies of Crossing brings together essays she has written over the past decade, uniting her incisive critiques, which have had such a profound impact on feminist, queer, and critical race theories, with some of her more recent work.

Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat from Mayflower to Modern (Kersplebedeb) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781629630373
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Published: PM Press - September 11th, 2014

A uniquely important book in the canon of the North American revolutionary left and anticolonial movements, Settlers was first published in the 1980s.

Speaking Face to Face (Suny Series) Cover Image
By Pedro J. Dipietro (Editor), Jennifer McWeeny (Editor), Shireen Roshanravan (Editor)
ISBN: 9781438474526
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Published: State University of New York Press - January 2nd, 2020

Speaking Face to Face provides an unprecedented, in-depth look at the feminist philosophy and practice of the renowned Argentinian-born scholar-activist Mar a Lugones.

Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis Cover Image
By Katherine McKittrick (Editor)
ISBN: 9780822358343
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Published: Duke University Press - January 7th, 2015

The Jamaican writer and cultural theorist Sylvia Wynter is best known for her diverse writings that pull together insights from theories in history, literature, science, and black studies, to explore race, the legacy of colonialism, and representations of humanness.

The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679724674
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Published: Vintage - October 23rd, 1989

A classic and impassioned account of the Haitian Revolution—the first revolution in the Third World and the model for the liberation movements from Africa to Cuba. 

“One of the seminal texts about the history of slavery and abolition. . . . Provocative and empowering.” –The New York Times Book Review

The Broken Spears 2007 Revised Edition: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807055007
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Published: Beacon Press - November 15th, 2006

For hundreds of years, the history of the conquest of Mexico and the defeat of the Aztecs has been told in the words of the Spanish victors. Miguel León-Portilla has long been at the forefront of expanding that history to include the voices of indigenous peoples.

The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America Cover Image
ISBN: 9781479806898
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Published: New York University Press - September 1st, 2016

Illuminates how the preservation of slavery was a motivating factor for the Revolutionary War

The Dawning of the Apocalypse: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, Settler Colonialism, and Capitalism in the Long Sixteenth Century Cover Image
ISBN: 9781583678725
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Published: Monthly Review Press - June 30th, 2020

Acclaimed historian Gerald Horne troubles America's settler colonialism's creation myth

The Decolonial Imaginary: Writing Chicanas Into History Cover Image
ISBN: 9780253212832
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Published: Indiana University Press - September 22nd, 1999

The Decolonial Imaginary is a smart, challenging book that disrupts a great deal of what we think we know . . . it will certainly be read seriously in Chicano/a studies. --Women's Review of Books

A Decolonial Feminism Cover Image
By Francoise Verges, Ashley J. Bohrer (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780745341125
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Published: Pluto Press - April 20th, 2021

For too long feminism has been co-opted by the forces they seek to dismantle. In this powerful manifesto, Francoise Verges argues that feminists should no longer be accomplices of capitalism, racism, colonialism and imperialism: it is time to fight the system that created the boss, built the prisons and polices women’s bodies.

The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017 Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250787651
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Published: Picador - January 26th, 2021

A landmark history of one hundred years of war waged against the Palestinians from the foremost US historian of the Middle East, told through pivotal events and family history

The Selected Works of Edward Said, 1966 - 2006 Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525565314
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Published: Vintage - February 12th, 2019

The renowned literary and cultural critic Edward Said was one of our era’s most provocative and important thinkers. This comprehensive collection of his work, expanded from the earlier Edward Said Reader, now draws from across his entire four-decade career, including his posthumously published books, making it a definitive one-volume source.

Undoing Border Imperialism (Anarchist Interventions #6) Cover Image
By Harsha Walia, Andrea Smith (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781849351348
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Published: AK Press - November 12th, 2013

"Harsha Walia has played a central role in building some of North America's most innovative, diverse, and effective new movements. That this brilliant organizer and theorist has found time to share her wisdom in this book is a tremendous gift to us all."--Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine

Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism Cover Image
By Harsha Walia, Robin D. G. Kelley (Foreword by), Nick Estes (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9781642592696
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Published: Haymarket Books - February 9th, 2021

In Border and Rule, one of North America's foremost thinkers and immigrant rights organizers delivers an unflinching examination of migration as a pillar of global governance and gendered racial class formation.

Unsettling the Commons: Social Movements Against, Within, and Beyond Settler Colonialism (Semaphore #14) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781894037976
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Published: Arp Books - February 1st, 2018

Drawing on interviews with 51 anti-authoritarian organizers to investigates what it means to struggle for "the commons" within a settler colonial context, Unsettling the Commons interrogates a very important debatethat took place within Occupy camps and is taking place in a multitude of movements in North America around what it means to claim "the commons" on stolen land.

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America's Colony Cover Image
ISBN: 9781568585611
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Published: Bold Type Books - March 29th, 2016

The powerful, untold story of the 1950 revolution in Puerto Rico and the long history of U.S. intervention on the island, that the New York Times says "could not be more timely." In 1950, after over fifty years of military occupation and colonial rule, the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico staged an unsuccessful armed insurrection against the United States.

Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and Resistance Cover Image
By Nupur Chaudhuri (Editor), Margaret Strobel (Editor)
ISBN: 9780253207050
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Published: Indiana University Press - May 22nd, 1992

Western Women and Imperialism] provides fascinating insights into interactions and attitudes between western and non-western women, mainly in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (REVISIONING HISTORY #3) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807057834
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Published: Beacon Press - August 11th, 2015

New York Times Bestseller

Now part of the HBO docuseries "Exterminate All the Brutes," written and directed by Raoul Peck

Recipient of the American Book Award

The first history of the United States told from the perspective of indigenous peoples


A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316022361
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Published: Back Bay Books - December 8th, 2008

Ronald Takaki's beloved classic is a "brilliant revisionist history of America" (Publishers Weekly) that dramatically retells our nation's story from the perspective of minorities.   Upon its first publication, A Different Mirror was hailed by critics and academics everywhere as a dramatic new retelling of our nation's past.