The best books on The Civil Rights Era, recommended by Lerone Martin

The struggle for Black freedom in America has been going on since the first enslaved Africans were brought to the continent, but it was the civil rights era of 1954 to 1968 that finally resulted in a raft of legislation that gave equal citizenship to Black people in the United States. Here, Professor Lerone Martin of Stanford University recommends the best books to understand the American civil rights movement, with a focus on some of the individuals who were key to its success.

The best books on Human Rights and Literature, recommended by Lyndsey Stonebridge

The connections between human rights and literature are profound and we ignore the humanities and reading at our peril, says Lyndsey Stonebridge, Interdisciplinary Professor of Humanities at the University of Birmingham. She recommends books that best show the complex relationship between literature and human rights, from Auschwitz to Manus Island.

The best books on The First Amendment, recommended by Suzanne Nossel

Frequently appealed to, less frequently understood, and by no means a free pass to say or write whatever you feel like: Suzanne Nossel, chief executive of PEN America, the nonprofit dedicated to free expression, talks us through the best books to better understand America's venerated First Amendment.

The best books on Transitional Justice, recommended by Colleen Murphy

When a period of war or oppression draws to a close, how should a country face up to past wrongdoing while creating a future free of conflict? Colleen Murphy—professor of law, philosophy and political science at the University of Illinois—discusses five books that examine the issues at the heart of ‘transitional justice.’

The best books on Free Speech, recommended by Timothy Garton Ash

Free speech is the bedrock of a healthy society, but how do we deal with the torrents of horrible comments—and worse—we see on the internet every day? Timothy Garton Ash, author of Free Speech: Ten Principles for A Connected World, outlines a plan for navigating the complexities and recommends the best books to help us think about free speech.

The best books on North Korea, recommended by Hyeonseo Lee

Kim Jong-un’s posturing over nuclear weapons is a distraction from more pressing concerns: the extreme poverty and disenfranchisement of his people, says North Korean defector Hyeonseo Lee.  She chooses five books for understanding the hermit kingdom.

The best books on June 4th, 1989, recommended by Jeffrey Wasserstrom

In contrast to Eastern Europe, the 1989 protests in China did not lead to the overthrow of the Communist Party. But if China’s leaders chose the right course on June 4th, 1989, why are they still frightened to come to terms with it? Sinologist and historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom picks the best books to understand events at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and around China on that hot summer night.

The best books on Genocide, recommended by Norman Naimark

Genocide isn’t the preserve of fanatics and racist thugs – it’s part of human nature, says Stanford historian Norman Naimark. He tells us how genocide happens, who denies it, where it could return, and the best books to read about it.

The best books on Trial By Jury, recommended by Alex McBride

Alex McBride, criminal barrister and author of Defending the Guilty, chooses books that illustrate the history of trial by jury. He points to influential cases in British legal history, and shows how poor regulation of the legal profession in the 19th century resulted in some questionable practices.  

The best books on North Korea, recommended by Andrei Lankov

North Korea expert, Andrei Lankov, says that although North Korea is a brutal dictatorship, many people nonetheless manage to lead relatively normal lives. He recommends the best books on North Korea. (NB You can buy all our expert recommendations on North Korea by clicking here.)