6 Amazing Book Recommendations for About Human Rights

Happy International Human Rights Day!

 

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. December 10th 2018 marked the 70th anniversary.

 

For Human Rights Day, here are some books we recommend to add to your reading list (synopsis’ from Amazon):

 

Inventing Human Rights by Lynn Hunt

 

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How were human rights invented, and how does their tumultuous history influence their perception and our ability to protect them today? From Professor Lynn Hunt comes this extraordinary cultural and intellectual history, which traces the roots of human rights to the rejection of torture as a means for finding the truth. She demonstrates how ideas of human relationships portrayed in novels and art helped spread these new ideals and how human rights continue to be contested today. — “A tour de force.” Gordon S. Wood, New York Times Book Review

 

Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee

 

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Waiting for the Barbarians centers on the crisis of the conscience of the Magistrate—a loyal servant of the Empire working in a tiny frontier town, doing his best to ignore an inevitable war with the “barbarians.” After he witnesses the cruel and unjust treatment of prisoners of war, he reconsiders his role in the regime and carries out a quixotic act of rebellion.

 

Mark Rylance (Wolf HallBridge of Spies), Ciro Guerra, and producer Michael Fitzgerald are teaming up to to bring J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians to the big screen.

 

Guantánamo Diary by Mohamedou ould Slahi

 

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When Guantánamo Diary was first published–heavily redacted by the U.S. government–in 2015, Mohamedou Ould Slahi was still imprisoned at the detainee camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, despite a federal court ruling ordering his release, and it was unclear when or if he would ever see freedom. In October 2016, he was finally released and reunited with his family. During his fourteen-year imprisonment, the United States never charged him with a crime.

 

Now for the first time, he is able to tell his story in full, with previously censored material restored. This searing diary is not merely a vivid record of a miscarriage of justice, but a deeply personal memoir—terrifying, darkly humorous, and surprisingly gracious. Guantánamo Diary is a document of immense emotional power and historical importance.

 

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

 

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After 103 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and with four million copies of The Kite Runnershipped, Khaled Hosseini returns with a beautiful, riveting, and haunting novel that confirms his place as one of the most important literary writers today.

 

Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul-they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.

 

A stunning accomplishment, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a haunting, heartbreaking, compelling story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love.

 

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

 

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The true story of an individual’s struggle for self-identity, self-preservation, and freedom, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl remains among the few extant slave narratives written by a woman. This autobiographical account chronicles the remarkable odyssey of Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897) whose dauntless spirit and faith carried her from a life of servitude and degradation in North Carolina to liberty and reunion with her children in the North.

 

Written and published in 1861 after Jacobs’ harrowing escape from a vile and predatory master, the memoir delivers a powerful and unflinching portrayal of the abuses and hypocrisy of the master-slave relationship. Jacobs writes frankly of the horrors she suffered as a slave, her eventual escape after several unsuccessful attempts, and her seven years in self-imposed exile, hiding in a coffin-like “garret” attached to her grandmother’s porch.

 

A rare firsthand account of a courageous woman’s determination and endurance, this inspirational story also represents a valuable historical record of the continuing battle for freedom and the preservation of family.

 

Saudi America by Bethany McLean

 

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The technology of fracking in shale rock — particularly in the Permian Basin in Texas — has transformed America into the world’s top producer of both oil and natural gas. The U.S. is expected to be “energy independent” and a “net exporter” in less than a decade, a move that will upend global politics, destabilize Saudi Arabia, crush Russia’s chokehold over Europe, and finally bolster American power again.

 

Or will it?

 

Investigative journalist Bethany McLean digs deep into the cycles of boom and bust that have plagued the American oil industry for the past decade, from the financial wizardry and mysterious death of fracking pioneer Aubrey McClendon, to the investors who are questioning the very economics of shale itself. McLean finds that fracking is a business built on attracting ever-more gigantic amounts of capital investment, while promises of huge returns have yet to bear out. Saudi America tells a remarkable story that will persuade you to think about the power of oil in a new way.

 

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” —Nelson Mandela

 

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