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ICCT's Summer Reading List 2023

06 Jul 2023
Short Read

Need a book recommendation for the summer holidays? Curious about what ICCT has been reading this summer? Look no further! We have lovingly compiled this list of books recommended by our staff:

  • Our Non-Fiction Recommendations
  • Our Fiction Recommendations
  • More interested in texts on counter-terrorism? We have also compiled a list of books written by our staff, fellows and our wider network.





Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue by Ryan Holiday 

A great piece of nonfiction chronicling the downfall of Gawker Media at the hands of billionaire and leading figure of the “new right” Peter Thiel. Not only is the book an engaging page turner, but it also effectively details how power is used and manipulated in the 21st century.

— Otto Meinardus, Communications and Events Intern







Karama!: Journeys Through the Arab Spring by Johnny West

A great read on the Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya from a people-centric perspective. The author collects views from the people across these countries and conveys them excellently to the reader.

— George Kefford, Project Research Assistent for Strategic Communications



feminist city



Feminist City: A Field Guide by Leslie Kern 

This short book highlights how the cities we all live in, and the spaces we occupy are very often designed by men for men in mind. Kern highlights the lack of awareness for the different needs of individuals from minority groups, and how that furthers inequality, and adds challenges to the everyday lives of most.

— Anna-Maria Andreeva, Managing Editor and Junior Research Fellow






The Crisis of the Dictatorships: Portugal, Greece, Spain by Nicos Poulantzas  

An analysis of the causes that led to the fall of the authoritarian regimes in Southern Europe. Published in 1975, it still constitutes an essential reading for all who are interested in the political history and future of Europe.

— Niki Siampakou, Joint Research Fellow with T.M.C. Asser Instituut



lie machines

Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives by Philip N. Howard

I thoroughly enjoyed the book as it was not only a captivating read but also highly informative, shedding light on the pervasive influence of digital disinformation in our democratic systems.

— Maria Shamrai, Editorial Intern


EgyptEgypt in a Time of Revolution by Neil Ketchley 

This book is a fresh breeze in research on the Arab Spring as it goes beyond the top-down, qualitative, and structuralist approach. Instead, the book makes an invigorating analytical and empirically based contribution. The book presents a masterful work that stands out for its theoretical rigor and the merging of qualitative and quantitative methods. It provides a unique insight into the complex dynamics of contentious politics during the Egyptian Revolution. I recommend it to those interested in these concepts, or curious about sociology, Egypt, the Middle East, as well as the Arab Spring and its aftermath.

— Mathis Boehm, Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism Intern



east of eden



East of Eden by John Steinbeck 

An extremely engrossing American classic tracking the story of two families over three generations from the beginning of the twentieth century to the end of World War I. The book contains several biblical parallels which you can deep dive into or ignore completely. 

— Otto Meinardus, Communications and Events Intern





The Kremlin Whisperer by Giuliano da Empoli

I can absolutely recommend this book. Although fiction, it reads like an actual account of the way things are run in the Kremlin, and the ice-cold calculated way the ‘Czar’controls the narrative and runs the country. It will definitely help you understand how Putin came to power, and how everyone around him bows to his wishes.

— Bibi van Ginkel, Senior Research Fellow and Programme Lead for the Prevening/Countering Violent Extremism Pillar






Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler 

This post-apocalyptic novel set in 2025 is equal parts gripping and terrifying. The fictional story of a very unstable US society driven by climate change and inequality reads scarily true at times. As one of the first feminist sci-fi authors of colour, Butler touches upon key social issues that are just timely today.

— Anna-Maria Andreeva, Managing Editor and Junior Research Fellow


m train



M train by Patti Smith

A book about New York's cafés, dreams, and memories. From Greenwich village to a seaside bungalow in Far Rockaway passing from Mexico city, London, Berlin, and West Four Street subway station. A powerful reflection on losses, solitude, and creation.

— Niki Siampakou, Joint Research Fellow with T.M.C. Asser Instituut




“Wat je zoekt, zoekt jou” by Kader Abdolah

“This book is about the life and work of Rumi, a famous Sufi mystic and poet in the Persian language. The first part of the books describes Rumi’s life story and the inspiration for his work, and the second and third part contain a Dutch translation of around ninety poems and fifty short stories. I love the variety of influences in Rumi’s work, from Persian culture to Islamic literature and Greek philosophy. This is a great book to pick up now and then to disconnect and find a moment of reflection.”

Aileen van Leeuwen, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and Junior Research Fellow


dark forestThe Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

In Liu Cixin's second book of the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy, humanity faces potential annihilation after contacting an alien race seeking a new home. The book introduces the "Dark Forest Theory," rooted in cosmic sociology. This theory suggests that survival is the primary instinct, making civilisations likely to destroy others upon detection. Thus, the universe becomes a dark forest, with civilizations as hunters seeking self-preservation. This idea resonates with the Fermi paradox and has been supported by thinkers like Stephen Hawking.

— Menso Hartgers, RAN Policy Support Officer and Junior Research Fellow


duneDune by Frank Herbert

My first encounter with the Dune universe was through the classic RTS game Dune 2000. As a kid, its dystopian sci-fi theme and cheesy cut scenes drew me in. I later read the books after watching the 2021 movie adaptation. If you enjoy space operas, high drama, intrigue, and subterfuge, this book is for you. It's like Game of Thrones in space but even more outrageous. I love how rich Frank Herbert's world is, drawing from various languages and cultures in a respectful way. It critiques colonialism and authoritarianism, urging readers to be critical of those in power, while celebrating the limitless potential of the human mind and our species' ingenuity.

— Menso Hartgers, RAN Policy Support Officer and Junior Research Fellow


nightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah 

Set in France during the German occupation, this historical fiction novel follows the lives of two sisters who have very different personalities and ways of dealing with the war. One has a cautious approach, trying to keep her family safe, while the other has a rebellious approach, joining the Resistance to try and save downed Allied pilots and help Jewish people escape the Nazis. The story explores their individual journeys and the impact of the war on their lives, relationships, and their country in a very compelling and emotional way.

— Stephanie Govaerts, Junior Communications and Events Officer 


Books by ICCT staff and our wider network