Looking for good mass atrocity books to read this summer? STAND’s got you covered. We reached out to current and past members to get their recommendations. This blog post doesn’t have every relevant book or every conflict zone (more comprehensive lists with every recommendation and all our conflict zones are on their way), but this has what past and present STAND students had to say about books that really stood out to them. Similar blog posts on more books, films, blogs, and twitter accounts will be out soon.
A Problem from Hell by Samantha Power-
STAND members really like A Problem from Hell. Recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill Danielle Allyn, a former STAND Education Task Force member, says “given our audience, many have probably already read this. But if you haven’t, this is a must-read. Ambassador Power’s book examines a century of mass atrocities and U.S. foreign policy complicity or neglect in response.” Current STAND Campaigns Coordinator Jake Ramirez says “of course,” while last year’s West Regional Organizer Heather Klain accompanied her recommendation with “need I say more?” Last year’s student director Natasha Kieval also recommended the book.
Surviving the Angel of Death by Eva Moses Kor and Lisa Rojany-Buccieri-
Rising junior at Purdue University and STAND chapter leader Hannah Long says “Surviving the Angel of Death tells the story of Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor, who was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau when she was 9 years old. Her parents and older sisters were taken to be killed upon arrival, and she and her twin sister were only spared because they were twins and Nazi doctor Josef Mengele was very interested in performing his sadistic experiments on twin subjects. This book tells the story of their time in the camp and beautifully showcases the power of the human spirit because to endure such hardship and emerge with as much grace as she did is nothing short of an absolute inspiration.”
Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing by James Waller-
STAND’s former Education Coordinator Sean Langberg says “James Waller provides my favorite analysis of the perpetrators of the Holocaust by examining a theory about motivation: why did people participate in the Nazi-led killing? His conclusions made me see perpetrators radically differently and transformed the way I perceive my relationship with violence.”
Fighting for Darfur by Rebecca Hamilton-
STAND Policy Intern and chapter leader Timmy Hirschel-Burns says “What I find so interesting about Fighting for Darfur is that it is in many ways about STAND. The book chronicles the Save Darfur Movement, focusing on American anti-genocide activists with a particular focus on college students. STAND itself even gets a few mentions. By looking at the movement that STAND evolved out of, we can learn about our strengths, challenges, and how to be more effective in the future.”
King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild-
Former STAND Student Director Hannah Finnie says “This is a great book for someone just entering the genprev/maprev field. It provides a great understanding of the complexity of colonialism’s impact, and though the story is specific to the DRC, its lessons are broad.” Danielle Allyn calls it “a merciless portrait of the horrors of colonialism in King Leopold II’s Congo. A must-read for anyone looking to understand the history and contemporary landscape of central Africa.”
Final Solutions by Benjamin Valentino-
Former STAND Policy Coordinator Danny Hirschel-Burns says “hands down, it’s the most comprehensive book on why atrocities happen and how they work.”
A Long Way Gone by Ismael Beah-
Rising senior at Emory Julia Zukin says “In A Long Way Gone Beah recounts the horrors of his childhood during the child fought civil war in Sierra Leone. As a child soldier, Beah brings an unusual insight into the atrocious and vastly under documented world of child soldiers.” Heather Klain also recommended A Long Way Gone.
Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco-
Jake Ramirez says “it’s a fascinating graphic novel written by a journalist who traveled to Gorazde after the war in Bosnia ended. He talks to people who experienced the war and recounts their stories. The writing is top notch, and the imagery adds another layer to the story.”
Maus I by Art Spiegleman-
Julia Zukin also recommends a graphic novel, saying “through the seemingly lighthearted use of cartoon strips, Spiegleman tells the harrowing story of his father’s experience as a Jew during World War II while simultaneously trying to grasp the atrocities of history himself by jumping between the past and present.”
Can Intervention Work? by Rory Stewart and Gerald Knaus-
Danny Hirschel-Burns says “Why do international interventions fail? Is there a way out? This short book elegantly answers these questions in a very readable fashion.”
The Enough Moment by John Prendergast and Don Cheadle-
Recent graduate of Boston University and founder of Boston for Congo Garrett Moore says “I committed my career to atrocity prevention after reading The Enough Moment by John Prendergast and Don Cheadle. I recommend it to all from policymakers to casual activists.” Jessica Goldstein, STAND’s summer intern, also included the book in her list.
Dancing in the Glory of Monsters by Jason Stearns-
Danielle Allyn says “Stearns goes a long way in distilling what is often presented as a complex and unfathomable conflict by Western media. I highly recommend this for any student of the Congo and the Great Lakes Region of Africa.” Jessica Goldstein and Danny Hirschel-Burns are also fans of this one.
The Terrorist’s Son by Zak Ebrahim-
Rising senior at Brandeis University Mijal Tenenbaum says “It’s a book written by a man whose dad was (is) a terrorist. He has chosen to be a spokesperson for peace and change instead. I’m a former participant and current staff member at project common bond, a program for those who have lost a family member to terrorism. Zak visited us a few years ago, and donates a portion of this book’s profits to our organization.”
Look out for more comprehensive lists, as well as lists of movies, blogs, and twitter accounts, coming in the next few weeks! Thanks to everyone for their recommendations! We are so excited to start reading. We will have a selection of these books that the STAND Managing Committee will read throughout the summer. We will blog about these books, hold google hangout discussions, and whatever else you would like to see us do! Contact Francesca Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or with any ideas. Special shout outs to Heather Klain, Jessica Goldstein, and Danielle Allyn for not being able to stop at 1, 2, or even 10 recommendations!