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History Reading Suggestions
By Bob Frost, 2010

This is Part Six of a Seven-Part Article.
Here for the List of Categories.

Justice, Injustice, and Human Rights

"Encyclopedia of Human Rights" edited by David P. Forsythe (2009; five volumes, held by some libraries). See also "Encyclopedia of Human Rights Issues Since 1945" by Winston E. Langley (1999) and "International Encyclopedia of Human Rights: Freedoms, Abuses, and Remedies" by Robert Maddex (2000).

"The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History" by Samuel Moyn (2010). A revisionist perspective; "clear-eyed" is the verdict of the great scholar Tony Judt.

"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Origins, Drafting and Intent" by Johannes Morsink (1999). See also "NGOs and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A Curious Grapevine" by William Korey (2001) and "The Evolution of International Human Rights: Visions Seen" by Paul Gordon Lauren (2003, second edition).

"The Massacre in History" edited by Mark Levene and Penny Roberts (2001). See also "Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination From Sparta to Darfur" by Ben Kiernan (2007) and "Between Vengeance and Forgiveness" by Martha Minow (1998).

"Rights of Man" by Thomas Paine (1791).

"A Vindication of the Rights of Women" by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792).

"The Subjection of Women" by John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor Mill (1869).

"Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma" by Kali Tal (1996).

"The Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment" edited by David Levinson (2002). A multi-volume work held by some libraries.

"Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation" by Amartya Sen (1981). See also "Evil Days: Thirty Years of War and Famine in Ethiopia" by Alexander De Waal (1991). Also, see "The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-1849" by Cecil Woodham-Smith (1962).

"Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves" by Adam Hochschild (2005). See here for a review of this book and here for a profile of King Leopold II, subject of an earlier Hochschild work.

"The Tyrannicide Brief: The Story of the Man Who Sent Charles I to the Scaffold" by Geoffrey Robertson (2005). The author argues that an obscure lawyer named John Cooke mounted modern history's first courtroom argument against tyranny. See here for a review. See also Robertson's "Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice" (2006, revised edition).

"Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America" by Elliot Jaspin (2007).

"Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela" by Nelson Mandela (1994).

"And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank" by Steve Oney (2003).

Newspaper Article: See here for a stunning and horrific examination of one of history's vilest chapters, "honor" killing of women, which, notes the author, is proliferating today.

DVDs: "The Thin Blue Line" directed by Errol Morris (1988). "Murder on a Sunday Morning" directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade (2001). "The Times of Harvey Milk" directed by Robert Epstein (1984). "Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt" directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (1989). "Incident at Oglala: The Leonard Peltier Story" directed by Michael Apted (1992). "Waco: The Rules of Engagement" directed by William Gazecki (1997). "Bus 174" directed by Jose Padiha (2002). "Salt of the Earth" directed by Herbert Biberman (1954, fiction). "After Innocence" directed by Jessica Sanders (2004). "Harlan County USA" directed by Barbara Kopple (1976). "Of Civil Rights and Wrongs: The Fred Korematsu Story" directed by Eric Fournier (2000). "A Place Called Chiapas" directed by Nettie Wild (1998). "Sacco and Vanzetti" directed by Peter Miller (2007). "The Trials of Darryl Hunt" directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (2005). "Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties" directed by Nonny De La Pena (2004). "Winter Soldier" directed by 19 persons (1972).

Websites: has short, useful biographies of good guys and villains of human rights over the last 100 years, with sources for additional information. Succinct historical background on human rights can be found at For reading suggestions and Web links on many philosophical topics including human rights see (search the A-to-Z bar near the top of the page). "Rights Readers" is a human rights-themed book discussion group run by Amnesty International; its Website is


"On Liberty" by John Stuart Mill (1859).

"Freedom: A History" by Donald W. Treadgold (1990).

"Freedom in the Making of Western Culture" by Orlando Patterson (1991).

"The Story of American Freedom" by Eric Foner (1998).

Website: For reading suggestions and Web links on many philosophical topics including freedom see (search the A-to-Z bar near the top of the page).


"Human Sexuality: An Encyclopedia" edited by Vern L. Bullough and Bonnie Bullough (1994). Vern L. Bullough (1928-2006) is the most important historian of human sexuality. Among his 50-plus books: "Sex, Society, and History" (1976), "Women and Prostitution: A Social History" (1978), "Homosexuality: A History" (1979), and "How I Got Into Sex" (1997). He felt his most important work was "Sexual Variance in Society and History" (1980), an examination of "nonconforming sexuality" from prehistoric times to the 20th century. He collaborated with his wife Bonnie Bullough on "The Subordinate Sex" (1973), a history of societal attitudes toward women.

"Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality" by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha (2010). See here for a magazine piece by Ryan.

"The Prehistory of Sex: Four Million Years of Human Sexual Culture" by Timothy L. Taylor (1996).

"Sex in History" by Reay Tannahill (1982, revised edition).

"Eros on the Nile" by Karol Mysliwiec, translated by Geoffrey L. Packer (2004). Sex in ancient Egypt.

"Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture" by Marilyn Skinner (2007).

"Married Love" by Marie Stopes (1918). A book of major historical import - the first published work to impart the revolutionary notion that women can enjoy sex as much as men.

"Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe From the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century" by John Boswell (1980). See also "Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-1970" by John D'Emilio (1998, second edition) and "Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A." by Jonathan Ned Katz (1992, revised edition).

"Written in the Flesh: A History of Desire" by Edward Shorter (2005).

"Thy Neighbor's Wife" by Gay Talese (1981; 2009, updated edition).

"Make Love, Not War: The Sexual Revolution: An Unfettered History" by David Allyn (2001).

"The History of Sexuality" by Michel Foucault (1976-1984, three volumes). A massively influential theoretical work; as many people have noted, it's difficult to understand.

Ordinary Day-to-Day Human Life

(See here and here for interviews with leading social historians and here for a conversation with a graduate student in the field.)

"London Life in the Eighteenth Century" by M. Dorothy George (1925; 1966, new edition). Historian Lawrence Stone wrote in 1984, "....History from the bottom up....has been the hallmark of the new social history of the past thirty years. It is therefore astonishing to find that the best book on the subject was first published in 1925, a brilliant picture of low life and high death in London that is still in print in England in paperback. Mrs. George fastened on such ‘modern’ topics as fertility and mortality, crime and punishment, disorder and mob violence, alcoholism and popular amusements, hospitals and prisons. It is a truly extraordinary achievement."

"The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life: A Tour Through History From Ancient Times to the Present," general editor Joyce E. Salisbury (2004, six volumes). Available at some libraries. See also "The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life in America" general editor Randall M. Miller (2008). Greenwood's "Daily Life Through History" series is an excellent resource for students.


"A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World" by Gregory Clark (2007).

"The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World" by Niall Ferguson (2008).

"The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers" by Robert L. Heilbroner (1999, seventh edition). Marx, Keynes, Schumpeter, etc.

"Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium" by Ronald Findlay and Kevin O'Rourke (2007).

"Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction" by Tyler Cowen (2007).

"John Maynard Keynes" by Robert Skidelsky (three volumes, 1983, 1992, 2000; an abridged edition is also available).

"The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time" by Jeffrey D. Sachs (2005).

DVD: "Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy" directed by William Cran and Greg Barker (2002).

Go to Part Seven of This Article

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