Reading list

Verso Student Reading on Race, Class, and History

Books bringing together multiple perspectives on race, class and history.

Verso Books22 August 2023

Verso Student Reading on Race, Class, and History

What are the historical roots of race in capitalism? How should we combat racism from the left? These books bring together multiple perspectives on race, class and history.

[book-strip index="1"]

See all our recommended Student Reading here.

Racecraft
Praised by a wide variety of people from Ta-Nehisi Coates to Zadie Smith, Racecraft "ought to be positioned," as Bookforum put it, "at the center of any discussion of race in American life." Most p...
Decolonial Marxism

Decolonial Marxism

Early in life, Walter Rodney became a major revolutionary figure in a dizzying range of locales that traversed the breadth of the Black diaspora: in North America and Europe, in the Caribbean and o...
Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity
For sixty years, Noel Ignatiev provided an unflinching account of “whiteness” — a social fiction and an unmitigated disaster for all working-class people. This new essay collection from the late fi...
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is an ambitious masterwork of political economy, detailing the impact of slavery and colonialism on the history of international capitalism. In this classic book, R...
If They Come in the Morning
The trial of Angela Davis is remembered as one of America's most historic political trials, and no one can tell the story better than Davis herself. Opening with a letter from James Baldwin to Ange...
The South
The last generation of Americans with a living memory of Jim Crow will soon disappear. They leave behind a collective memory of segregation shaped increasingly by its horrors and heroic defeat but ...
The Invention of the White Race
When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no 'white' people there; nor, according to colonial records, would there be for another sixty years. Historical debate about the orig...
Abolition Geography
Gathering together Ruth Wilson Gilmore's work from over three decades, Abolition Geography presents her singular contribution to the politics of abolition as theorist, researcher, and organizer, of...
Mistaken Identity
Whether class or race is the more important factor in modern politics is a question right at the heart of recent history’s most contentious debates. Among groups who should readily find common grou...
Class, Race, and Marxism
Seen as a key figure in the critical study of whiteness, US historian David Roediger has sometimes received criticism, and praise, alleging that he left Marxism behind in order to work on questions...
Toward Freedom
For many progressives, racial identities are the engine of American history, and by extension, contemporary politics. They, in short, want to separate race from class. While policymakers and pundit...
The Groundings With My Brothers
In his short life, the Guyanese intellectual Walter Rodney emerged as one of the leading thinkers and activists of the anticolonial revolution, leading movements in North America, South America, th...
The Making of the Black Working Class in Britain
This is the first comprehensive historical perspective on the relationship between Black workers and the changing patterns of Britain’s labour needs. It places in an historical context the developm...
Heart Of The Race

Heart Of The Race

Heart of the Race is a powerful corrective to a version of Britain’s history from which black women have long been excluded. It reclaims and records black women’s place in that history, documenting...
The American Crucible
For over three centuries, slavery in the Americas fuelled the growth of capitalism. But the stirrings of a revolutionary age in the late eighteenth century challenged this “peculiar institution” an...
The Making of New World Slavery
The Making of New World Slavery argues that independent commerce, geared to burgeoning consumer markets, was the driving force behind the rise of plantation slavery. The baroque state sought—succes...
Traces of History
Traces of History presents a new approach to race and to comparative colonial studies. Bringing a historical perspective to bear on the regimes of race that colonizers have sought to impose on A...
A Kick in the Belly
The forgotten history of women slaves and their struggle for liberation.Enslaved West Indian women had few opportunities to record their stories for posterity. In this riveting work of historical r...
Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital
Postcolonial theory has become enormously influential as a framework for understanding the Global South. It is also a school of thought popular because of its rejection of the supposedly universali...
Invisibility Blues
First published in 1990, Michele Wallace’s Invisibility Blues is widely regarded as a landmark in the history of black feminism. Wallace’s considerations of the black experience in America include ...
Beyond Black and White
Many in the US, including Barack Obama, have called for a 'post-racial' politics: yet race still divides the country politically, economically and socially.In this highly acclaimed work, Manning Ma...
Darkwater

Darkwater

“I have been in the world, but not of it,” W.E.B. Du Bois begins this book, a continuation of the project he began in his celebrated work The Souls of Black Folk, describing the devastation of segr...
Race, Nation, Class
Forty years after the defeat of Nazism, and twenty years after the great wave of decolonization, how is it that racism remains a growing phenomenon? What are the special characteristics of contempo...
Imagined Communities
What are the imagined communities that compel men to kill or to die for an idea of a nation? This notion of nationhood had its origins in the founding of the Americas, but was then adopted and tran...
Futures of Black Radicalism
Black rebellion has returned, with dramatic protests in scores of cities and campuses, bringing with it a renewed engagement with the history of Black radical movements and thought. Here, key schol...
The Common Wind
The Common Wind is a gripping and colorful account of the intercontinental networks that tied together the free and enslaved masses of the New World. Having delved deep into the gray obscurity of o...
White Skin, Black Fuel
In recent years, the far right has done everything in its power to accelerate the heating: an American president who believes it is a hoax has removed limits on fossil fuel production. The Brazilia...
What Is Antiracism?
Liberals have been arguing for nearly a century that racism is fundamentally an individual problem of extremist beliefs. Responding to Nazism, thinkers like gay rights pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld and...
Revolutionary Feminisms
In a moment of rising authoritarianism, climate crisis, and ever more exploitative forms of neoliberal capitalism, there is a compelling and urgent need for radical paradigms of thought and action....
The Panthers Can't Save Us Now
In the wake of the mass protests over the police murder of George Floyd, nearly every major consumer brand proclaimed their commitments to antiracism, often with new ad campaigns to match their Twe...
Beyond the Pale

Beyond the Pale

How have ideas about white women figured in the history of racism? Vron Ware argues that they have been central, and that feminism has largely developed as a political movement within racist societ...
Organize, Fight, Win
Black Communist women throughout the early to mid-twentieth century fought for and led mass campaigns in the service of building collective power in the fight for liberation. Through concrete mater...
After Black Lives Matter
Why did a movement as powerful as the one inspired by the murder of George Floyd fall short of securing its most militant demands? After Black Lives Matter argues that the core of the movement itse...
Deadly and Slick
If race is increasingly understood to be socially constructed, why does it continue to seem like a physiological reality? The trickery of race, Sita Balani argues, comes down to how it is embedded ...
Seizing Freedom
How did America recover after its years of civil war? How did freed men and women, former slaves, respond to their newly won freedom? David Roediger’s radical new history redefines the idea of fr...
How Race Survived US History
In this absorbing chronicle of the role of race in US history, David R. Roediger explores how the idea of race was created and recreated from the 1600s to the present day. From the late seventeenth...
The Black Atlantic
In this ground-breaking work, Paul Gilroy proposes that the modern black experience can not be defined solely as African, American, Carribean or British alone, but can only be understand as a Black...
Paperback
The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery
In 1770 a handful of European nations ruled the Americas, drawing from them a stream of products, both everyday and exotic. Some two and a half million black slaves, imprisoned in plantation coloni...
Towards the Abolition of Whiteness
Towards the Abolition of Whiteness collects David Roediger’s recent essays, many published here for the first time, and counts the costs of whiteness in the past and present of the US. It finds tho...
Heart Of The Race

Heart Of The Race

Heart of the Race is a powerful corrective to a version of Britain’s history from which black women have long been excluded. It reclaims and records black women’s place in that history, documenting...
The American Crucible
For over three centuries, slavery in the Americas fuelled the growth of capitalism. But the stirrings of a revolutionary age in the late eighteenth century challenged this “peculiar institution” an...
The Making of New World Slavery
The Making of New World Slavery argues that independent commerce, geared to burgeoning consumer markets, was the driving force behind the rise of plantation slavery. The baroque state sought—succes...
If They Come in the Morning
The trial of Angela Davis is remembered as one of America's most historic political trials, and no one can tell the story better than Davis herself. Opening with a letter from James Baldwin to Ange...
Traces of History
Traces of History presents a new approach to race and to comparative colonial studies. Bringing a historical perspective to bear on the regimes of race that colonizers have sought to impose on A...
A Kick in the Belly
The forgotten history of women slaves and their struggle for liberation.Enslaved West Indian women had few opportunities to record their stories for posterity. In this riveting work of historical r...
Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital
Postcolonial theory has become enormously influential as a framework for understanding the Global South. It is also a school of thought popular because of its rejection of the supposedly universali...
Invisibility Blues
First published in 1990, Michele Wallace’s Invisibility Blues is widely regarded as a landmark in the history of black feminism. Wallace’s considerations of the black experience in America include ...
The Making of the Black Working Class in Britain
This is the first comprehensive historical perspective on the relationship between Black workers and the changing patterns of Britain’s labour needs. It places in an historical context the developm...
Race, Nation, Class
Forty years after the defeat of Nazism, and twenty years after the great wave of decolonization, how is it that racism remains a growing phenomenon? What are the special characteristics of contempo...
Darkwater

Darkwater

“I have been in the world, but not of it,” W.E.B. Du Bois begins this book, a continuation of the project he began in his celebrated work The Souls of Black Folk, describing the devastation of segr...
Our History Is the Future
In 2016, a small protest encampment at the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, initially established to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, grew to be the largest Indigenou...
Hardback (2019)
Beyond Black and White
Many in the US, including Barack Obama, have called for a 'post-racial' politics: yet race still divides the country politically, economically and socially.In this highly acclaimed work, Manning Ma...

Filed under: Decolonize-your-bookshelves, student-reading, versoreadinglists