Books and Writing

5 Great Non-Fiction Books (#3)

Fun fact: I read all these books as part of my undergrad career. They were assigned predominantly in my Peace & Justice Studies classes – namely, Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies, Introduction to Human Rights, and Introduction to Conflict Resolution. While reading dictated by a syllabus can feel forced or tedious at the time, I’m grateful I had to read these books, because they were fascinating, informative, and compassionate.

On Killing by: Dave Grossman

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Blurb: “The good news is that most soldiers are loath to kill. But armies have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming that instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as evidenced by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The psychological cost for the rest of us is even greater: contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army’s conditioning techniques and directly contributes to our rising rate of violent crime, especially among the young.”

A Long Way Gone by: Ishmael Beah

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Blurb: “This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.”

Occupied with Nonviolence by: Jean Zaru

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Blurb: “Occupied with Nonviolence brings home the pain and central convictions that animate Christian nonviolence and activity today. Here Jean Zaru vividly paints the complex realities faced by all parties in Palestine – Jews and Muslims and Christians, Israelis and Palestinians, women and men. Yet even as Zaru eloquently names the common misunderstandings of the history, present situation, and current policies of the parties there, she vividly articulates an alternative: a religiously motivated nonviolent path to peace and justice in the world’s most troubled region.”

Half the Sky by: Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

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Blurb: “From the first married couple to win the Pulitzer Prize for journalism, here is a passionate call to arms against the oppression of women around the globe – “the central moral challenge” of our time. Through inspiring stories of extraordinary women, Kristof and WuDunn show that the most effective way to fight global poverty is to unleash the potential of women. They also offer an uplifting, do-it-yourself tool kit for those who want to help.”

The New Jim Crow by: Michelle Alexander

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Blurb: “As the United States celebrates the nation’s “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status – much like their grandparents before them. In this incisive critique, formal litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice symptoms functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community – and all of us – to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.”

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