The Great Escape: A True Story of Forced Labor and Immigrant Dreams in America, Saket Soni

In late 2006, Saket Soni, a 28-year-old Indian-born community organiser, received an anonymous phone call from an Indian migrant worker in Mississippi. He was one of five hundred men trapped in squalid Gulf Coast “man camps,” surrounded by barbed wire, watched by guards, crammed into cold trailers with putrid toilets, forced to eat mouldy bread and frozen rice. Recruiters had promised them good jobs and green cards. The men had scraped up $20,000 each for this “opportunity” to rebuild hurricane-wrecked oil rigs, leaving their families in impossible debt. During a series of clandestine meetings, Soni and the workers devised a bold plan.

In The Great Escape, Soni traces the workers’ extraordinary escape, their march on foot to Washington, DC, and their 23-day hunger strike to bring attention to their cause. Along the way, ICE agents try to deport the men, company officials work to discredit them, and politicians avert their eyes. But none of this shakes the workers’ determination to win their dignity and keep their promises to their families.

Judgement at Tokyo: World War II on Trial and the Making of Modern Asia, Gary J Bass

In the weeks after Japan finally surrendered to the Allies to end the Second World War, the victorious powers turned to the question of how to move on from years of carnage and destruction. To them, it was clear that Japan’s militaristic leaders needed to be tried and punished for their crimes.

For the Allied powers, the trials were an opportunity both to render judgment on their vanquished foes and to create a legal framework to prosecute war crimes and prohibit the use of aggressive war. For the Japanese leaders on trial, it was their chance to argue that their war had been waged to liberate Asia from Western imperialism and that the court was no more than victors’ justice.

Judgement at Tokyo is the product of a decade of research, a magnificent, riveting story of wartime action, dramatic courtroom battles, and the epic formative years that set the stage for the postwar era in the Asia-Pacific.

Witchcraft: A History in Thirteen Trials, Marion Gibson

Witchcraft is a dramatic journey through 13 witch trials across history, some famous – like the Salem witch trials – and some lesser-known: on Vardø island, Norway, in the 1620s, where an indigenous Sami woman was accused of murder; in France in 1731, during the country’s last witch trial, where a young woman was pitted against her confessor and cult leader; in Pennsylvania in 1929 where a magical healer was labelled a “witch”; in Lesotho in 1948, where British colonial authorities executed local leaders.

Exploring how witchcraft became feared, decriminalised, reimagined, and eventually reframed as gendered persecution, Witchcraft takes on the intersections between gender and power, indigenous spirituality and colonial rule, and political conspiracy and individual resistance.

The Furies: Women, Vengeance, and Justice, Elizabeth Flock

In The Furies, Elizabeth Flock examines how three real-life women have used violence to fight back, and how views of women who defend their lives are often distorted by their depictions in media and pop culture. These three immersive narratives follow Brittany Smith, a young woman from Stevenson, Alabama, who killed a man she said raped her but was denied the protection of the Stand-Your-Ground law; Angoori Dahariya, leader of a gang in Uttar Pradesh, India, dedicated to avenging victims of domestic abuse; and Cicek Mustafa Zibo, a fighter in a thousands-strong all-female militia that battled ISIS in Syria. Each woman chose to use lethal force to gain power, safety, and freedom when the institutions meant to protect them – government, police, courts – utterly failed to do so. Each woman has been criticized for their actions by those who believe that violence is never the answer.

Through Flock’s propulsive prose and remarkable research on the ground – embedded with families, communities, and organizations in America, India, and Syria – The Furies examines whether the fight for women’s safety is fully possible without force. Do these women’s acts of vengeance help or hurt them, and ultimately, all women? Did they create lasting change in entrenched misogynistic and paternalistic systems? And ultimately, what would societies in which women have real power look like?

The End of Enlightenment: Empire, Commerce, Crisis, Richard Whatmore

The Enlightenment is popularly seen as the Age of Reason, a key moment in human history when ideals such as freedom, progress, natural rights and constitutional government prevailed. In this radical re-evaluation, historian Richard Whatmore shows why, for many at its centre, the Enlightenment was a profound failure.

By the early 18th century, hope was widespread that Enlightenment could be coupled with tolerance, the progress of commerce and the end of the fanatic wars of religion that were destroying Europe. At its heart was the battle to establish and maintain liberty in free states – and the hope that absolute monarchies such as France and free states like Britain might even subsist together, equally respectful of civil liberties. Yet all of this collapsed when states pursued wealth and empire through war. Xenophobia was rife and liberty itself turned fanatic.

The End of Enlightenment traces the changing perspectives of economists, philosophers, politicians and polemicists around the world, including figures as diverse as David Hume, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke and Mary Wollstonecraft. They had strived to replace superstition with reason, but witnessed instead terror and revolution, corruption, gross commercial excess and the continued growth of violent colonialism.

From the River to the Sea: Essays for a Free Palestine, edited by Sai Englert, Michal Schatz, and Rosie Warren

From the River to the Sea is a collection of personal testimonies from within Gaza and the West Bank, along with essays and interviews that collectively provide crucial histories and analyses to help us understand how we got to the nightmarish present. They place Israel’s genocidal campaign within the longer history of settler colonialism in Palestine, and Hamas within the longer histories of Palestinian resistance and the so-called ‘peace process”. They explore the complex history of Palestine’s relationship with Jordan, Egypt, and the broader Middle East, the eruption of unprecedented anti-Zionist Jewish protest in the US, the alarming escalation in state repression of Palestine solidarity in Britain and Europe, and more. Taken together, the essays provide important grounding for the urgent discussions taking place across the Palestine solidarity movement.