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As we enter a new year, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is pleased to present a selection of books from our community that might help spark your next big idea in 2024. These authors are HRF staff or Oslo Freedom Forum speakers and their lessons are timeless.

From the crackdown of the Uyghur people in China to the fight for freedom in Saudi Arabia to a courageous woman’s gripping story of escape from North Korea, here are some powerful must-reads:

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story

By Hyeonseo Lee, North Korean defector, activist, and OFF speaker

Lee provides a powerful account of her struggle to escape one of the world’s most repressive dictatorships, avoid repatriation, and reach freedom.

Zarifa: A Woman’s Battle in a Man’s World

By Zarifa Ghafari, Exiled Afghan activist, politician, and OFF speaker

In her memoir, Ghafari, Afghanistan’s youngest female mayor and an outspoken human rights activist, provides her unparalleled perspective on Afghanistan over the last two decades.

Because I Have To: The Path to Survival, The Uyghur Struggle

By Jewher Ilham, Uyghur author, human rights advocate, and OFF speaker

In 2014, Ilham’s father, Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur scholar, was detained and sentenced to life by the CCP. Ilham shares her efforts to fight for her father and includes testimonials from Uyghur camp survivors.

The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran

By Masih Alinejad, Iranian activist, OFF speaker, and HRF International Council member

This extraordinary memoir tells of Alinejad leaving Iran, challenging the country’s Ayatollah-imposed patriarchal impositions, and sparking the movement against compulsory hijab, which spurred the current Woman, Life Freedom movement in Iran.

La isla oculta: Historias de Cuba

By Abraham Jiménez Enoa, Cuban journalist and OFF speaker

In “La isla oculta” (The Hidden Island), Jiménez Enoa provides a collection of stories of ordinary Cubans living in hardship under the country’s 64-year-old communist dictatorship.

The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe

By Peter Godwin, Zimbabwean journalist, filmmaker, and OFF speaker

Godwin describes the brutal terror campaign of longtime Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe, launched after losing the 2008 election and coined “the Fear.”

The End of History and the Last Man

By Francis Fukuyama, renowned scholar, author, and OFF speaker

First published in 1992, Fukuyama’s analysis of Western liberal democracy, whose global ascendency occurred after the Cold War, continues to spark debate and discussion, cementing itself as a modern classic work of political philosophy.

Enlightenment Now

By Steven Pinker, American author, professor, and OFF speaker

Pinker describes how the values of the Enlightenment — science, reason, humanism, and progress — continue improving our world, arguing that life is getting progressively better for most people.

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

By Timothy D. Snyder, American historian, professor, and OFF speaker

Snyder provides a history of the mass murders committed by the Nazi and Stalinist regimes, drawing parallels between their politics of tyranny.

Check Your Financial Privilege

By Alex Gladstein, HRF chief strategy officer

Gladstein details the global adoption of Bitcoin by people living under authoritarian regimes and how it can offer a way to escape financial repression.

Foreign Agents: How American Lobbyists and Lawmakers Threaten Democracy Around the World

Coming out August 2024. Pre-order it now. By Casey Michel, director of HRF Combatting Kleptocracy Program

Michel investigates the threat posed by US lobbyists working on behalf of foreign dictatorships, how they’ve deepened the breadth of kleptocratic networks, and the scope at which they are secretly affecting American democracy.