Books on Wars and Genocides

Remnant from Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina destroyed on November 9, 1993.

Never again is a phrase we hear over and over and over again when we talk of war and genocides. And yet, history continues to repeat itself. In part, history repeats itself because we don’t know the past. Few want to dive into the horrors that occurred from country to country. Most find it to be “too much” and feel they cannot stomach these realities. But we must.

We must turn into suffering. We must bear witness to what has happened. We must have the courage to confront gruesome truths.

And so I offer a brief list of books (and encourage anyone to add books in the comments) on war and genocides. I have purposefully not included books on the Holocaust, not because they aren’t important but because I wanted to highlight that these atrocities have happened around the world, despite our promises of “never again.”

  • We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, Philip Gourevitch
  • An Imperfect Offering: Dispatches from the Medical Frontline, James Orbinski
  • A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, Samantha Power
  • A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah
  • Not On Our Watch, Don Cheadle & John Prendergast
  • Madness Visible: A Memoir of War, Janine di Giovanni
  • Ghosts by Daylight: A Modern-Day War Correspondent’s Memoir of Love, Loss, and Redemption, Janine di Giovanni
  • The Morning They Came for Us, Janine di Giovanni
  • Shake Hands with the Devil, Romeo Dallaire
  • Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History, Robert Kaplan
  • The Bone Woman: A Forensic Anthropologist’s Search for Truth in the Mass Graves of Rwanda, Bosnia. Croatia, and Kosovo, Clea Koff
  • Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica, David Rhode
  • They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky,  Benjamin AjakBenson DengAlephonsion DengJudy A. Bernstein
  • First They Killed my Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, Loung Ung
  • The Bosnia List, Kenan TrebincevicSusan Shapiro
  • Strength in What Remains, Tracy Kidder

Read and turn in.

2 Responses to Books on Wars and Genocides

  1. Rie Lopez says:

    Excellent post! History is rich with pain and suffering that the general consciousness tries to gloss over. I find that it is most challenging to continue to turn in when I would rather look away. Sometimes, I feel it would be, perhaps, safer to my mind to not know. But, if we really mean “never again” we need to know and take active steps against atrocities.

    • Thank you. Our hearts are so broken these days – with our own struggles and with current events. I sometimes remind myself when it hurts that these individuals cannot turn away and that if I do turn away doesn’t mean it has stopped. All of this affects us whether we pay attention or if we look away. Even if we don’t think it’s directly affecting us, it’s all connected. And in that way, it helps me know that I do have power, I am not helpless, I can learn and bear witness if nothing else and in that way start to stop and prevent history from repeating itself.

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