This list will be periodically updated. Feel free to contact me if you have any suggestions. Links are to free versions of the books online. For information on the theoretical side of the politics, see “Reading List: Primitivist Theory.”
A New Conservation Politics by David Johns — Johns is a long-time conservationist and former member of Earth First! His book focuses more on the politics of managing mainstream or conventional conservation organizations, such as NGOs. His political ideas formed the backbone of many successful radical environmental efforts, such as Earth First! campaigns in favor of old-growth forests or mainstreaming the idea of biodiversity.
Rewilding North America by Dave Foreman — Foreman summarizes the academic work by Soule, Noss, and Terborgh on what was originally known as “continental-scale conservation.” Most of the book is spent covering ecological issues, such as the extinction crisis or degradation of wildlands, but the second half of the book goes in-depth on the science and policy behind rewilding in conservation. My article “The Rewilding Program: Proposal for an Anti-Industrial Strategy” explains how these ideas might be combined with the efforts of the radical ecology movement.
Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching by Dave Foreman, Bill Haywood, and Edward Abbey — This guide came out of the radical conservation group Earth First! in the 80s, a comprehensive guide to using sabotage to stop industrial development of wildlands. It continues to be updated by current Earth First!
Technological Slavery by Ted Kaczynski — Most of this book is dedicated to explaining the problems with technological society or sorting out internal debates in the radical ecology movement. But large portions are dedicated to the idea of a revolution against technological society and what that would entail ideologically and organizationally. Includes Kaczynski’s infamous manifesto, “Industrial Society and Its Future.”
Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How by Ted Kaczynski — Kaczynski reviews the history of a number of revolutionary movements, pulling out lessons relevant to those who oppose industrial society. It is somewhat outdated in its understanding of radical movements, but it provides useful framing and is jam-packed with relevant information.
The Organizational Weapon: A Study of Bolshevik Strategy and Tactics by Philip Selznick — A study by the RAND Corporation that analyzed the mechanics of Leninist political strategy. Probably the most useful book on the list for those wondering how radical political goals can feasibly be achieved. My article “Contemporary Applications of The Organizational Weapon” summarizes the book’s main points and helps explain how they can be applied to a rewilding movement in the modern era.
The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town by William Allen — Allen examines the political maneuvering the NSDAP party used to seize power in a small town belonging to the Weimar Republic. Gives a thorough historical example of tactics from The Organizational Weapon as they have actually been applied in revolutions.
The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer — The book is mainly a collection of sparse thoughts on the psychology behind mass movements. It is useful for thinking about the importance of narrative and psychological motivation.
The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind by Gustave Le Bon — Le Bon’s classic work is somewhat outdated and should be supplemented with more recent scientific articles on cognitive psychology. However, its instinct-focused psychoanalytic approach helps frame the way radicals might look at crowds as sources of political power. Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti is another useful book with similar advantages and disadvantages.
Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience by Erving Goffman and Bennett Berger — Frame analysis investigates the way individuals and social groups inhabit specific, multiple realities that shape how they understand and respond to the world. Useful insights for the use of media, ideology, and organization in the context of politics.
Coup D’Etat: Technique of Revolution by Curzio Malaparte — Malaparte dissects the way the final seizure of power played out in various relevant revolutionary movements (e.g., the Bolsheviks, the Nazis, and the Italian Fascists). Not quite as useful as other books on the list because it focuses so heavily on authoritarian movements, but it helps one see how political strategy leads up to a successful final execution.
Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt — Another book by the RAND Corporation, Arquilla and Rondfeldt explain that old Leninist strategy is being supplanted by networked forms of political organization. They focus especially on the phenomenon of “swarming,” when various nodes of a network converge on a target and then quickly disperse. Applicable for analyzing all the most successful contemporary subversive movements, from gangs to insurgencies to political movements like the Zapatistas. Their other book, Swarming and the Future of Conflict, provides additional information on the topic.
Ungoverned Territories: Understanding and Reducing Terrorism Risks by Angel Rabassa et al. — Yet another book by the RAND Corporation. Explains the importance of territory to radical movements and the opportunities provided to radicals when normal institutions of a region are destabilized. Highlights the most unstable political regions, and therefore the most promising for radical political work against world society. My early essay “Organization” puts a few of this ideas about territory into context.
Architect of Global Jihad: The Life of Al Qaeda Strategist Abu Mus’ab Al-Suri by Brynjar Lia — The book’s main focus is the life of Al-Suri, a strategist for the Al-Qaeda terror group. But it provides in-depth information on how small terror cells form and operate in a contemporary context, and it helps explain how ideas about strategy spread through the new networked forms of resistance. Similar perspectives can be gleamed from the documentary, The Jihadis Next Door.
Unmasking the Face: A Guide to Recognizing Emotions from Facial Expressions by Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen — Ekman became famous for his research on the universality of human facial expressions. This book is used by the CIA for training on interrogations and social influence.
The U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual by Sarah Sewall et al — Successful radical movements eventually need to seize physical territory, which means moving beyond the organizational and ideological aspects of politics and into the military. This manual provides an updated view of non-state military strategies. For a more historical perspective, see Mao’s military writings.