Karin Slaughter's 6 favorite social justice books

The best-selling author recommends works by Michelle Alexander, Hallie Rubenhold, and more

Karin Slaughter.
(Image credit: PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)

In Karin Slaughter's new best-seller, The Last Widow, medical researcher Sara Linton and fellow Georgian Will Trent pursue a white supremacist group plotting terror. Below, Slaughter recommends other books that shed light on current social concerns.

American Terrorist by Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck (2001).

There is very little daylight between Tim­o­thy McVeigh's perverse dogma (captured during 75 hours of interviews) and what we're hearing from white supremacist ex­trem­ists today. The man who bombed an Okla­ho­ma City federal building in 1995 was not a lone wolf. He was immersed in a white power movement with tentacles that have reached from Charles­ton to Char­lottes­ville to Christ­church and back again.

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No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise Snyder (2019).

Numerous mass murderers share a history of domestic violence, making this book well worth a read by anyone trying to stop them. To the list of warning signs law enforcement uses to monitor possible ­terrorists — ­obsessive personal or political grievances, isolation, online ­radicalization — we should add virulent misogyny.

We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White (2019).

Few novels capture the zeit­geist the way this one does. Two white women meet at a South­ern college in the 1960s, and the disparate paths they take in subsequent decades are viewed through a kaleidoscope of religion, social justice, and liberal feminism.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (2010).

Alexander's exposé on mass incarceration in America raises the question: Why are social ills like the crack epidemic considered a moral failure of the black community while the current opioid crisis, which affects predominantly whites, is a national crisis?

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold (2019).

Despite popular myth, only one of Jack the Ripper's victims was a prostitute. All five women shared the label of outcast, whether through misfortune or mistake. So there is no mystery to solve. Rubenhold identifies the names that matter: Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elisabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly.

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke (2019).

Every reading list needs a good thriller. Burke, a former prosecutor, manages to layer the subtleties of the #MeToo movement into an engaging crime story. She is the rare author who disappears from the page so that the characters alone pull you through the story.

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