Want to expand your knowledge and understanding of current events? Check out some books we recommend.

Disclaimer: not all of these books are inherently anti-imperialist. So some may contain material that conflicts with certain narratives on our website. We still consider these books to all be good reads at least as jumping-off points.



Hizbullah (Hezbollah): The Story from Within (Paperback)

“Naim Qassem offers an insider’s view of the workings of the party from its inception until now, providing a comprehensive guide to the mandate of one of the Middle East’s major political forces.”—Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs

Hizbullah Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem provides an unparalleled insider’s view of the workings of this Shi’ite resistance group-turned-political party.

Formed in 1982 in response to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, Hizbullah was instrumental in eventually forcing Israel to withdraw its troops in 2000, thus ending a twenty-two-year military occupation. In the summer war of 2006, Hizbullah proved to the world that it is much more than a political party—it is a force to be reckoned with.

This updated paperback includes a new introduction covering the 2006 war and the spring 2008 events in Beirut.

Naim Qassem was born in Lebanon in 1953. He holds degrees in chemistry and religious studies and taught chemistry for many years at college level. A founding member of Hizbullah in 1982 and the party’s deputy secretary-general since 1991, he is the author of numerous books on political and religious issues.

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Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (Paperback)

The Arab Spring captivated the planet. Mass action overthrew Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. The revolutionary wave spread to the far corners of the Arab world, from Morocco to Bahrain. It seemed as if all the authoritarian states would finally be freed, even those of the Arabian Peninsula. People’s power had produced this wave, and continued to ride it out.

In Libya, though, the new world order had different ideas. Social forces opposed to Muammar Qaddafi had begun to rebel, but they were weak. In came the French and the United States, with promises of glory. A deal followed with the Saudis, who then sent in their own forces to cut down the Bahraini revolution, and NATO began its assault, ushering in a Libyan Winter that cast its shadow over the Arab Spring.

This brief, timely analysis situates the assault on Libya in the context of the winds of revolt that swept through the Middle East in the Spring of 2011. Vijay Prashad explores the recent history of the Qaddafi regime, the social forces who opposed him, and the role of the United Nations, NATO, and the rest of the world’s superpowers in the bloody civil war that ensued.

Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History, and professor and director of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books, including Karma of Brown Folk and, most recently, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World.

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United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists (Hardcover)

A riveting, panoramic look at “homegrown” Islamist terrorism from 9/11 to the present
Since 9/11, more than three hundred Americans—born and raised in Minnesota, Alabama, New Jersey, and elsewhere—have been indicted or convicted of terrorism charges. Some have taken the fight abroad: an American was among those who planned the attacks in Mumbai, and more than eighty U.S. citizens have been charged with ISIS-related crimes. Others have acted on American soil, as with the attacks at Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon, and in San Bernardino. What motivates them, how are they trained, and what do we sacrifice in our efforts to track them?
Paced like a detective story, United States of Jihad tells the entwined stories of the key actors on the American front. Among the perpetrators are Anwar al-Awlaki, the New Mexico-born radical cleric who became the first American citizen killed by a CIA drone and who mentored the Charlie Hebdo shooters; Samir Khan, whose Inspire webzine has rallied terrorists around the world, including the Tsarnaev brothers; and Omar Hammami, an Alabama native and hip hop fan who became a fixture in al Shabaab’s propaganda videos until fatally displeasing his superiors.
Drawing on his extensive network of intelligence contacts, from the National Counterterrorism Center and the FBI to the NYPD, Peter Bergen also offers an inside look at the controversial tactics of the agencies tracking potential terrorists—from infiltrating mosques to massive surveillance; at the bias experienced by innocent observant Muslims at the hands of law enforcement; at the critics and defenders of U.S. policies on terrorism; and at how social media has revolutionized terrorism.
Lucid and rigorously researched, United States of Jihad is an essential new analysis of the Americans who have embraced militant Islam both here and abroad.

Washington Post, Notable Non-Fiction Books in 2016

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All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror (Paperback)

With a thrilling narrative that sheds much light on recent events, this national bestseller brings to life the 1953 CIA coup in Iran that ousted the country’s elected prime minister, ushered in a quarter-century of brutal rule under the Shah, and stimulated the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and anti-Americanism in the Middle East. Selected as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post and The Economist, it now features a new preface by the author on the folly of attacking Iran.
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Jihad Academy: The Rise of Islamic State (Hardcover)

A former Islamic State hostage and veteran Middle East journalist explores misperceptions of Islamic State and their consequences.For more than a decade, French journalist Nicolas Henin has reported from the front lines of conflict in the Middle East, much of his time spent in Iraq and Syria. He witnessed the events leading to the rise of Islamic State, and in June 2013, he was himself captured by IS and spent ten months in captivity with James Foley and others who were beheaded soon after Henin was released. Those barbarities and the first strikes against Islamic State prompted Henin to present in Jihad Academy what he knows IS to be, in contrast to the misperceptions he sees perpetuated on an ongoing basis.Henin sees Islamic State as a political entity, having arisen out of a sense of injustice and lack of hope and as the natural result of the Western inability to support Syrian democracy activists. The West, however, sees IS only as a terrorist organization, ignoring its political message and goals; by doing so, we act as a recruitment agent for Islamic State and largely overlook the greatest victims of IS violence: civilians on the ground. IS will only be ultimately defeated, he argues, by the people of the region, just as others have overthrown groups that practiced political violence on their people.Jihad Academy is a fresh and powerful assessment by a writer with the perspective of a historian, the passion of a journalist long committed to the region, and the credibility of someone who has witnessed terrorism firsthand. Henin’s is an important new voice in the ongoing debate about our role in the Middle East.
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Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS (Paperback)


“A Best Book of 2015”—The New York Times, The Washington PostPeople Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Kansas City Star, and Kirkus Reviews

In a thrilling dramatic narrative, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Joby Warrick traces how the strain of militant Islam behind ISIS first arose in a remote Jordanian prison and spread with the unwitting aid of two American presidents. Drawing on unique high-level access to CIA and Jordanian sources, Warrick weaves gripping, moment-by-moment operational details with the perspectives of diplomats and spies, generals and heads of state, many of whom foresaw a menace worse than al Qaeda and tried desperately to stop it. Black Flags is a brilliant and definitive history that reveals the long arc of today’s most dangerous extremist threat.

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The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency (Paperback)

The eruption of the anti-Assad revolution in Syria has had many unintended consequences, among which is the opportunity it offered Sunni jihadists to establish a foothold in the heart of the Middle East. That Syria’s ongoing civil war is so brutal and protracted has only compounded the situation, as have developments in Iraq and Lebanon. Ranging across the battlefields and international borders have been dozens of jihadi Islamist fighting groups, of which some coalesced into significant factions such as Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic State.

This book assesses and explains the emergence since 2011 of Sunni jihadist organizations in Syria’s fledgling insurgency, charts their evolution and situates them within the global Islamist project. Unprecedented numbers of foreign fighters have joined such groups, who will almost certainly continue to host them. Thus, external factors in their emergence are scrutinized, including the strategic and tactical lessons learned from other jihadist conflict zones and the complex interplay between Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and how it has influenced the jihadist sphere in Syria. Tensions between and conflict within such groups also feature in this indispensable volume.

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The War Against Putin: What the Government-Media Complex Isn’t Telling You About Russia (Paperback)

In the West, politicians and journalists of all stripes have referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “thug”, a “tyrant”, a “murderer”, a “Communist”, a “Nazi”, the next “Hitler” and more. But amongst the Russian people, his popularity rating has reached levels as high as 85%. There is even a very popular hit ‘disco’ song about him – ‘A Man Like Putin’. So, who’s right? Why such hatred for Vladimir Putin? Is it justified? Or has Putin been targeted merely for standing up the US-EU Axis of Internationalism? In clear, simple, powerful and concise language – supported by more than 100 illustrations – ‘The War Against Putin’ takes readers on an exciting ‘crash course’ journey from Russia’s Medieval founding, through the days of the Czars, through the Communist Revolution and bloody Civil War, through Stalin & World War II, through the Cold War, through the Soviet collapse, through the Yeltsin disaster, and finally the Putin-led rebirth of the Russian nation. It is one of the “greatest stories never told”, and will shed badly needed light on the new Russia, its dynamic leader, the dark forces aiming to bring about its demise, and maybe even World War III. Says Dr. William Carlucci: “I was glued to the edge of my seat with jaw wide open as I read this gem of a book from start to finish, in a single sitting. The clarity and simplicity with which King’s masterpiece demystifies current events represents a rare ability to speak to the reader with entertaining and understandable prose. This piece really needs to go viral, and fast. 5 Huge Stars!”
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The Freedom: Shadows And Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq (Paperback)

Consistently compared with the work of Hunter S. Thompson and Michael Herr, The Freedom provides a fearless and unsanitized tour of the disastrous occupation of Iraq, in all its surreal and terrifying detail. Drawing on the best tradition of war reporting, here is a rare book that “embeds” with both sides—the U.S. military and the Iraqi resistance.

Acclaimed journalist Christian Parenti takes us on a high-speed ride along treacherous roads to the centers of the ongoing conflict in Fallujah, Ramadi, and Sadr City through the first year of the occupation. He introduces us to relatives waiting anxiously outside the holding fortress of Abu Ghraib and takes a night drive around Baghdad with the insurgents. He recounts the military’s use of drugs and prostitutes, the imperial buffoonery of the Green Zone, and the religious ecstasy of the Shiites. And he allows us to witness, close up and in riveting detail, the cataclysmic violence, rampant gangsterism, and quotidian heroism that is today’s Iraq.

As predicted by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, when “historians of tomorrow start writing, they will doubtless have copies of The Freedom close at hand.”

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A Tale Of Grand Resistance: Yemen, the Wahhabi, and the House of Saud (Kindle Edition)

If Yemen managed to resist the Ottomans, the British Empire and pretty much all other imperial powers which ever attempted to subdue and control its people, the sons of Hamdan almost lost their freedom and national identity to the hegemonic ambitions of the House of Saud. Today
Yemen is breaking free from the shackles of covert imperialism, learning once more to stand tall in the face of oppression.
And though the impoverished nation is undergoing the growing pain of political empowerment, stumbling at times as a new generation of leaders are being made in the trenches of the Resistance movement, the sons of Hamdan are defiantly reclaiming their history, their land, their nation.
As Yemen rises once more, it is a nation-state which will reclaim its place at the world table – with Yemen, Southern Arabia could witness the rise not of a political giant but a liberation movement echoing of the hopes first enounced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1979), when he first proposed an alternative to western capitalism as the only democratic model.
Betrayed by their leadership, lost to corruption and bogged down by poverty Yemen’s long descent to the abyss can be traced back to 1994, when former President Ali Abdullah Saleh made a pact with Riyadh – military and financial support against the Southern Secessionist Movement – in exchange for Yemen’s heart and soul.
Those Highlands the kingdom knew it could not militarily over-run, it chose to insidiously transform through the export of Wahhabism and Salafism. Former President Saleh opened Yemen up to Al Saud’s ideological devolution in the name of territorial unity.
And if Yemen’s house stood united for a while, forced into a marriage of political and economic convenience by those ambitious men who failed to see past Saudi Arabia’s imperial manipulations, the poison of sectarianism came to undo.

Yemen’s road to freedom would come by way of a counter-revolution, or rather a liberation, as the rise of the Houthis would mark the country’s real democratic awakening.
Often dismissed by local political observers as they carry the stigma of the former regime, the Houthis, a Zaidi group organised under the leadership of Abdel-Malek Al-Houthi with a tribal base in northern Sa’ada, have long shed their “rebel group” label. They have been reborn as a powerful and popular political movement.
If the Houthis, a formerly obscure band of tribal fighters, could be sneered at back in 2009 and shrugged off as wannabe Shia rebels by Yemen’s high and mighty, the 2011 uprising levelled the political field to such an extent that they have come out of the revolutionary storm like a shiny new penny.

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The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia (Paperback)

“The best new book on al Qaeda . . . and the best book on Yemen in years.”?Bruce Riedel, Daily Beast

Far from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States and al-Qaeda are fighting a clandestine war of drones and suicide bombers in an unforgiving corner of Arabia.

The Last Refuge charts the rise, fall, and resurrection of al-Qaeda in Yemen over the last thirty years, detailing how a group that the United States once defeated has now become one of the world’s most dangerous threats. An expert on Yemen who has spent years on the ground there, Gregory D. Johnsen uses al-Qaeda’s Arabic battle notes to reconstruct their world as they take aim at the United States and its allies. Johnsen brings readers in-side al-Qaeda’s training camps and safe houses as the terrorists plot poison attacks and debate how to bring down an airliner on Christmas Day. The Last Refuge is an eye-opening look at the successes and failures of fighting a new type of war in one of the most turbulent countries in the world.

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Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (Paperback)

The unfolding crisis in Ukraine has brought the world to the brink of a new Cold War. As Russia and Ukraine tussle for Crimea and the eastern regions, relations between Putin and the West have reached an all-time low. How did we get here? Richard Sakwa here unpicks the story of Russo-Ukrainian relations and traces the path to the recent disturbances through the events which have forced Ukraine, a country internally divided between East and West, to choose between closer union with Europe or its historic ties with Russia. As the first full account of the Ukraine crisis from the Euromaidan Protests to the catastrophe of MH17 and up to the October 2014 parliamentary elections, Frontline Ukraine explains the origins, developments and global significance of the internal and external battle for Ukraine. With all eyes focused on the region, Sakwa unravels the myths and misunderstandings of the situation, providing an essential and highly-readable account of the struggle for Europe’s contested borderlands.
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Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, Second Edition (Paperback)

Correspondent Ahmed Rashid brings the shadowy world of the Taliban—the world’s most extreme and radical Islamic organization—into sharp focus in this enormously insightful book. Rashid offers the only authoritative account of the Taliban available to English-language readers, explaining the Taliban’s rise to power, its impact on Afghanistan and the Middle East and Central Asia, its role in oil and gas company decisions, and the effects of changing American attitudes toward the Taliban. He also describes the new face of Islamic fundamentalism and explains why Afghanistan has become the world center for international terrorism.

New to this updated edition of the #1 New York Times Bestseller with more than 1.5 million copies sold worldwide:

•How the Taliban has regained its strength
•How and why the Taliban has spread across Central Asia
•How the Taliban has helped Al’Qaida’s spread into Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East
•Why the Afghan people feel the United States is losing the war
•A major new introduction and an all-new final chapter

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