The Black Jacobins (1938) traces the remarkable history of the revolution in the French colony of San Domingo (modern day Haiti). It describes the events that helped the revolution become the first successful slave rebellion in history.
In particular, The Black Jacobins views the events through the prism of the revolution’s greatest figure, Toussaint L’Ouverture. It shows how he, a former slave who was inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution, successfully defeated the European empires and helped to destroy the brutal practice of slavery in San Domingo.
A People’s History of the United States (2015, first edition 1980) walks you through the United States’ past from the perspective of the marginalized, the disenfranchised and the oppressed. These blinks describe a history of uprisings, protests and activism in the face of a government built for the rich.
Stamped from the Beginning (2016) offers a powerful examination of the modern history of racism in the United States, including where racist ideas originate and how they spread. In particular, the author looks closely at how the presidential campaigns and administrations of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton have helped propagate racist thought and had a detrimental impact on America’s black communities.
Fantasyland (2017) takes readers on a journey through the past 500 years of American history to show just how often this land has been home to people with a bewildering take on reality. Through a wealth of examples, Andersen tells us how Americans have indulged in some far-fetched fantasies in their excuses for gun ownership, slavery and new religions.
The Soul of America (2018) takes readers on an enlightening tour of America’s tumultuous past. From the final moments of the Civil War to the long overdue civil rights and voting legislation of the 1960s, the book reveals the United States for what it has always been: a nation of deep and lasting conflict. By looking to America’s past, we can see both where today’s political divides stem from and why the nation will likely be able to persevere.
Songs of America (2019) explores the music that has shaped American History. From African American spirituals to Elvis Presley’s rock and roll, these blinks shine a light on the music that has defined the progress, defeats and protests of Americans from all walks of life, over the last three centuries.
A History of Nigeria (2008) documents the millennia-long history of the areas that make up the modern nation of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country. Going on an epic journey from the region’s precolonial past right up to the country’s recent transition toward democracy, the authors document the riveting history of a nation and, of course, its people – whose future looks bright.
Black and British (2016) traces Britain’s long and complex relationship with the people of Africa and the Caribbean. Reaching all the way back to Roman Britain, when the first Africans arrived in England, the book reveals that Black people have been at the heart of British history from the very start. A major player in the transatlantic slave trade, Britain further entwined its destiny with that of the Africans it enslaved. Ultimately, David Olusoga illustrates how the story of Black Britain is the story of all of Britain.
Four Hundred Souls (2021) is an innovative and insightful recounting of African American history. This collection brings together ninety different authors to reflect on four-hundred years of struggle, oppression, and hope.
The Souls of Black Folk (1903) details the conditions of African Americans in the years after the end of slavery. By examining issues such as education, economic opportunities, and the interaction between Black and White Americans, Du Bois highlights the challenging legacy of slavery and the disempowering effects of the racism and segregation that followed.
The Warmth of Other Suns (2010) tells the story of the Great Migration – the biggest inner-border mass migration in US history. From 1915 to 1970, millions of Black Americans left the Jim Crow South in search of a better life in Northern cities. Focusing on the lives of three of those migrants, these blinks paint a vivid picture of the fears, hopes, and dreams that shaped the movement.
Caste (2020) takes a revealing look at the caste system that continues to exist in American society, and its disturbing similarities to caste systems in India and WWII-era Germany. It explains how the attitudes of the dominant castes have become ingrained, on conscious and subconscious levels, through generations of subjugation. You’ll find out what it takes to maintain a caste system as well as what can be done to break free from it.
Begin Again (2020) looks back at the incomparable work of the writer James Baldwin, who spent decades dissecting America’s fundamental racism problem. His ideas may provide insights for us today, so Begin Again seeks to answer the question: What advice would Baldwin have on issues like Trumpism or Black Lives Matter?
Vanguard (2020) is a history of the struggle for justice in the United States, told from the perspective of the African American women who were so often at its cutting edge. In these blinks, we’ll see how these women defied racism and sexism in their quest to create a society that lived up to the ideals of the American Revolution. Along the way, we’ll explore the complicated alliances, heroic grassroots organizations, and remarkable individuals who won Black women the vote and forged a biracial democracy.
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man (2020) is an introduction to race and race-related issues in America. Talking about these issues can be uncomfortable, but by being unafraid of dialogue, we can learn that the difficulties Black people in America face today are best understood through US history.
The Black Church (2021) tells the story of Christianity in the Black community, from the conversion of enslaved people in the 1600s to the founding of Black denominations and today’s COVID-19 pandemic. The book highlights how the Black church evolved over centuries, and the various social and political roles it has played.
How the Word Is Passed (2021) is a travelogue that underscores how slavery has shaped America’s collective history and its reality today. Nine locations serve as gateways to important stories that are hidden in plain sight. They exemplify how communities have reckoned, or not, with their roles in the history of slavery and invite us all to dig deeper into what we believe – and why.
The 1619 Project (2021) is an anthology of essays investigating the origins of the slave trade in America, and how it has shaped what the country would become. It’s also an exploration of how we create history, and how these stories shape our political present. The essays are accompanied by fictional excerpts and poetry, bringing to life the experiences of enslaved people in America.
Forget the Alamo (2021) charts the history of the Alamo, both real and imagined. It looks at how a popular, heroic mythology sprung from the events of 1836 and came to represent both a noble version of Texas independence and a metaphor for American valor. Find out how the Alamo became a touchstone in American culture wars, and discover how the real story paints a not-so-virtuous picture of American history.
Women, Race and Class (1981) is a collection of essays that expose how racism, sexism, and classism intertwined in the struggle for women’s suffrage in the United States. With special emphasis on the historical missteps of the mainstream feminist movement, it charts a path for an anti-racist and anti-classist feminism.
And There Was Light (2022) is a biography of Abraham Lincoln that takes a nuanced look at a complex leader. Focusing especially on Lincoln’s evolving views on and actions around slavery, it’s a picture of a man who wrestled with his moral convictions while attempting to hold together a divided nation. Echoes of that struggle still ring out today, making it essential to keep Lincoln’s story at the forefront of American consciousness.
The Making of Modern South Africa (2012) traces the history of South Africa from the colonial conquests of the eighteenth century to the birth of an inclusive democracy in 1994. Along the way, it unpacks how struggles over land, natural resources, and belonging shaped the country’s development.
Devil in the Grove (2012) tells the true story of four young Black men falsely accused of rape in 1949 Florida. It follows lawyer Thurgood Marshall’s tireless efforts to save their lives in the face of racial hatred, obstruction, violence, and injustice at every turn. Ultimately, Marshall exposed devastating flaws in the case, achieving some semblance of justice despite a system aligned against the defendants.
King (2023) is a compelling biography of Martin Luther King. It tells the story of a man, not a saint, who had a remarkable career. His life was cut short at the age of 39, but in his 13-year career King’s vision of a United States based on equality and justice for all, lives on.
What Napoleon Could Not Do (2023) explores the contrasting experiences of two Ghanaians, Jacob and Belinda, and their aspirations in the United States. Jacob, an awkward computer programmer who still lives with his father, wants to join his wife in America but is foiled by visa denials. His sister, Belinda, meanwhile, has studied in the US and married an American – Wilder, a prosperous Black Texan businessman. But she, too, contends with disappointment: as she waits for her green card, her perception of America is soured by racism. Their journeys reflect the allure and letdowns of life in a foreign land, and the narrative insightfully captures how each grapples with dreams both realized and thwarted.
All the Sinners Bleed (2023) is a work of crime fiction, focused on main character Titus Crown’s efforts to investigate several recent killings in his hometown. To solve the crime, Crown must contend with the town’s racist history, a far-right group, and a long-undiscovered serial killer.
Malcolm X by Manning Marable delves into the life and legacy of the influential civil rights leader. Through meticulous research and interviews, Marable presents a comprehensive account of Malcolm X's journey, from his childhood to his transformation into a charismatic advocate for racial justice. The book not only sheds light on the man behind the myth, but also examines the social and political contexts that shaped his ideas and actions.