Recommended Reads on Revolutions and Coup D’états

Although revolutions may have caused much pain and suffering, books about revolutions can be very interesting reading! This fictional list is set in the background of a revolution or a coup d’etat.

Covers of the first 5 titles from this Recommended Reads list

Revolutions are defined by Oxford Languages as a “forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favor of a new system.” It describes a Coup as “The sudden, forcible, and illegal removal of a government, usually by the military or some part thereof, often precipitated by more immediate grievances bearing directly on the military.”

Throughout history, many countries in all parts of the world have struggled through revolutionary upheaval. The English Revolution of 1688-89 was one of the first modern revolutions.

Although revolutions may have caused much pain and suffering, books about revolutions can be very interesting reading! This fictional list is set in the background of a revolution or a coup d’etat.

Digital book (DB), braille (BR), large print (LT), and audio-described videos (DVD) copies of these titles are available from the Perkins Library or the Worcester Talking Book Library. Please contact the library to order any of these books.

Prepared by Linda Rossman

Librarian, Perkins Library

Animal Farm

by George Orwell

DB 38959, BR 20910, LT 29394, DVD 354, Available as BARD Download

An allegorical political satire of communism in which the animals on a farm overthrow their master and live a utopian life until the intelligent pigs take over and one establishes himself as dictator. 1946.

Download Animal Farm, DB 38959

Download Animal Farm, BR 20910 (Braille)

An Untamed State

by Roxane Gay

DB 80159, BR 20574, Available as BARD Download

On the way to a family outing at the ocean, Mireille is kidnapped outside her father’s Port-au-Prince estate by revolutionaries. As she waits for her father to pay her ransom, she endures many abuses by her kidnappers. Once released, she searches for redemption. Violence and explicit descriptions of sex. 2014.

Download An Untamed State, DB 80159

Download An Untamed State, BR 20574 (Braille)

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

by Dai Sijie

DB 55365, BR 13711, Available as BARD Download

Two privileged teenage boys are sent to a remote village for reeducation during China’s Cultural Revolution. When they procure a supply of French books, they read novels to a pretty but uneducated seamstress, with surprising results. Some descriptions of sex and some strong language. Bestseller. 2001.

Download Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, DB 55365

Download Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, BR 13711 (Braille)

China: The Novel

by Edward Rutherford

DB 77339, Available as BARD Download

Chronicles the rising and falling fortunes of members of Chinese, British, and American families. They negotiated the tides of history, from the dawn of the first Opium War in 1839, through Mao’s Cultural Revolution, and beyond. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2021.

Download China: The Novel, DB 77339

Forbidden City: A Novel

by William Bell

DB 52023, Available as BARD Download

When seventeen-year-old Alex accompanies his photojournalist father to China in 1989, he witnesses the violent protest demonstration in Tiananmen Square. Injured in the melee, but with provocative film coverage in his pockets, Alex escapes with help from a student. Some violence. For junior and senior high readers. 1990.

Download Forbidden City: A Novel, DB 52023


by NoViolet Bulawayo

DB 109637, Available as BARD Download

Bulawayo’s bold new novel follows the fall of the Old Horse, the long-serving leader of a fictional country, and the drama that follows for a rumbustious nation of animals on the path to true liberation. Inspired by the unexpected fall by coup in November 2017 of Robert G. Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president of nearly four decades, Glory shows a country’s imploding, narrated by a chorus of animal voices that unveil the ruthlessness required to uphold the illusion of absolute power and the imagination and bulletproof optimism to overthrow it completely. By immersing readers in the daily lives of a population in upheaval, Bulawayo reveals the dazzling life force and irresistible wit that lie barely concealed beneath the surface of seemingly bleak circumstances. 2022.

Download Glory, DB 109637

Hang for Treason

by Robert Newton Peck

DB 10046, Available as BARD Download

Historical novel about Noah Booker’s close-knit farm family who live across Lake Champlain from Fort Ticonderoga and become involved in the American Revolution. Noah is a loyalist and his son Abel is a rebel. Explicit descriptions of sex. 1976.

Download Hang for Treason, DB 10046

The Hornet’s Nest: A Novel of the Revolutionary War

by Jimmy Carter

DB 57352, Available as BARD Download

Former president’s first novel. Philadelphia Quakers Ethan and Epsey Pratt move to North Carolina, where they homestead until political troubles brew between the Regulators and the British. Relocating to Georgia in 1771 they develop local friendships with both Indians and settlers. Ethan joins the militia despite his religious beliefs. Bestseller. 2003.

Download The Hornet’s Nest, DB 57352

House of the Spirits

by Margaret Mitchell

DB 21524, BR 6096, Available as BARD Download

Symbolic family saga by the niece of Chile’s assassinated President Salvador Allende. Concerns the union of gentle, clairvoyant Clara del Valle and autocratic, violent Esteban Trueba, patron of a huge hacienda whose peasants he controls with tyranny. Through three generations of vividly portrayed characters, a strong, compassionate picture of an unnamed but identifiable country emerges. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex. Book club main selection. 1985.

Download House of the Spirits, DB 21524

Download House of the Spirits, BR 6096 (Braille)

It Can’t Happen Here

by Sinclair Lewis

DB 84610, BR 10789, Available as BARD Download

Written in 1935, during the Depression, this novel follows Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a populist who wins the U. S. presidency on a platform of reform and traditional values. Once elected, he institutes totalitarian rule with the aid of a ruthless paramilitary force. Some strong language. 1935.

Download It Can’t Happen Here, DB 84610

Download It Can’t Happen Here, BR 10789 (Braille)

July’s People

by Nadine Gordimer

DB 17077, BR 11974, Available as BARD Download

In the aftermath of a successful black revolution, a white Johannesburg family, architect Bam Smales, his wife, and their three young children, have been rescued by July, their black house servant of fifteen years. They are taken to July’s remote, primitive family compound, where the roles of white-black dependency are reversed and where they try to come to terms with what has happened to them. 1981.

Download July’s People, DB 17077

Download July’s People, BR 11974 (Braille)

Mademoiselle Revolution

by Zoe Sivak

DB 111425, LT 32114, Available as BARD Download

“Sylvie de Rosiers, as the daughter of a rich planter and an enslaved woman, enjoys the comforts of a lady in 1791 Saint-Domingue society. But while she was born to privilege, she was never fully accepted by island elites. After a violent rebellion begins the Haitian Revolution, Sylvie and her brother leave their family and old lives behind to flee unwittingly into another uprising–in austere and radical Paris. Sylvie quickly becomes enamored with the aims of the Revolution, as well as with the revolutionaries themselves–most notably Maximilien Robespierre and his mistress, Cornélie Duplay. As a rising leader and abolitionist, Robespierre sees an opportunity to exploit Sylvie’s race and abandonment of her aristocratic roots as an example of his ideals, while the strong-willed Cornélie offers. 2022.

Download Mademoiselle Revolution, DB 111425

A Man of the People

by Chinua Achebe

DB114819, Available as BARD Download

“As Minister for Culture, former school teacher M. A. Nanga is a man of the people, as cynical as he is charming, and a roguish opportunist. When Odili, an idealistic young teacher, visits his former instructor at the ministry, the division between them is vast. But in the eat-and-let-eat atmosphere, Odili’s idealism soon collides with his lusts—and the two men’s personal and political tauntings threaten to send their country into chaos. When Odili launches a vicious campaign against his former mentor for the same seat in an election, their mutual animosity drives the country to revolution.” 2016.

Download A Man of the People, DB 114819

Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution’s Women

by Kate Quinn

DB 97101, LT 27014, Available as BARD Download

the French Revolution. Sophie de Grouchy believes education can create equality, but her student, Louise Audu, hungers for bread and vengeance. Princess Elisabeth stands by her brother, King Louis XVI, but the resulting Reign of Terror threatens revolutionaries. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.

Download Ribbons of Scarlet, DB 97101

The Night Travelers: A Novel

by Armando Lucas Correa

DB 115335, LT 32960, Available as BARD Download

“Berlin, 1931: Ally Keller, a talented young poet, is alone and scared when she gives birth to a mixed-race daughter she names Lilith. As the Nazis rise to power, Ally knows she must keep her baby in the shadows to protect her against Hitler’s deadly ideology of Aryan purity. But as she grows, it becomes more and more difficult to keep Lilith hidden so Ally sets in motion a dangerous and desperate plan to send her daughter across the ocean to safety. Havana, 1958: Now an adult, Lilith has few memories of her mother or her childhood in Germany. Besides, she’s too excited for her future with her beloved Martin, a Cuban pilot with strong ties to the Batista government. But as the flames of revolution ignite, Lilith and her newborn daughter, Nadine, find themselves at a terrifying crossroads. 2023.

Download The Night Travelers, DB 115335

Our Last Days in Barcelona

by Chanel Cleeton

DB108553, LT 32116, Available as BARD Download

Barcelona, 1964. Exiled from Cuba after the revolution, Isabel Perez has learned to guard her heart and protect her family at all costs. After Isabel’s sister Beatriz disappears in Barcelona, Isabel goes to Spain in search of her. Joining forces with an unlikely ally thrusts Isabel into her sister’s dangerous world of espionage, but it’s an unearthed piece of family history that transforms Isabel’s life. Barcelona, 1936. Alicia Perez arrives in Barcelona after a difficult voyage from Cuba, her marriage in jeopardy and her young daughter Isabel in tow. Violence brews in Spain, the country on the brink of civil war, the rise of fascism threatening the world. When Cubans journey to Spain to join the International Brigades, Alicia’s past comes back to haunt her as she is unexpectedly reunited with the man who once held her heart. Alicia and Isabel’s lives intertwine, and the past and present collide, as a mother and daughter are forced to choose between their family’s expectations and following their hearts.” — Provided by publisher. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2022.

Download Our Last Days in Barcelona, DB 108553

Red Storm Rising

by Tom Clancy

DB 23908, BR 6655, Available as BARD Download

A team of Moslem terrorists blows up a key Russian oil installation. Faced with a severe fuel shortage, the Soviets plan to seize the Persian Gulf, after establishing an elaborate smoke screen of hostilities against NATO. Subsequent land, sea, and air battles for control of eastern Europe and the North Atlantic ensue. Some strong language. Bestseller. 1986.

Download Red Storm Rising, DB 23908

The Rebels

by John Jakes

DB 52647, LT 23056, Available as BARD Download

Philip Kent, the illegitimate son of an English aristocrat, joins the Continental Army in 1775 and fights for the revolutionary cause. He also starts a family and continues his printing press. Sequel to The Bastard (DB 52646). Some explicit descriptions of sex and some strong language. Some explicit descriptions of sex and some strong language. 1975.

Download The Rebels, DB 52647

The Revolution of Marina M

by Janet Fitch

DB 89619, LT 23056, Available as BARD Download

St. Petersburg, 1916. Aspiring poet Marina Makarova comes from a well-to-do family. When she gets caught up in revolutionary fervor, her father kicks her out of the house. Attempting to make her way in the world, she faces challenges and tests the limits of love. Brutal acts of violence, strong language, and explicit descriptions of sex. As her country goes through tremendous upheaval, Marina’s own coming-of-age unfolds, marked by deep passion, devastating loss, and the private heroism of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary times. Commercial audiobook. 2017.

Download The Revolution of Mariana M, DB 89619

Seven Days in May

by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II

DB 31883, Available as BARD Download

A political novel set in Washington, D.C. in the 1970s involving a military plot to take over the government, and the President’s attempts to prove that the plot exists and to foil it. 1962.

Download Seven Days in May, DB 31883

Under Western Eyes

by Joseph Conrad

DB 26260, BR 8542, Available as BARD Download

Set in Czarist Russia and Geneva, Switzerland, this novel explores the psychology of Razumov, a Russian philosophy student who is unwillingly involved in a terrorist revolutionary murder and who becomes a police informer. 1985.

Download Under Western Eyes, DB 26260

Download Under Western Eyes, BR 8542 (Braille)

Where the Light Falls: A Novel of the French Revolution

by Allison Pataki

DB 88581, LT 22439, Available as BARD Download

During the Reign of Terror in Paris, three lives intertwine. Jean-Luc St. Clair wishes to help advance the ideals of the Revolution. André Valière is an ex-aristo serving in the army. Sophie de Vincennes is a widow under her uncle’s protection. They all soon face execution. Violence and some strong language. Commercial audiobook. 2017.

Download Where the Light Falls, DB 88581

The Year of Living Dangerously by C. J. Coch

by Joseph Conrad

DB 48069, Available as BARD Download

A Western journalist and his Chinese-Australian cameraman are caught up in Indonesia’s social and political turmoil in 1965. When one of the men becomes disenchanted with the Sukarno regime and commits a desperate act against the state, both reporters are targeted. Some strong language. 1978.

Download The Year of Living Dangerously, DB 48069

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