'BlacKkKlansman' New York Premiere

Source: Gary Gershoff / Getty

Ron Stallworth’s Black Klansman—on which Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman starring John David Washington and Adam Driver is based—is perhaps one of the most fascinating stories in American history. But there are many other compelling stories around the world you may have never even heard of. For our Global x Citizen Issue, we’re taking a look at some of the best memoirs by unsung heroes around the globe.

Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatema Mernissi

What Folks Say:

“This rich, magical and absorbing growing-up tale set in a little-known culture reflects many universals about women. The setting is a ‘domestic harem’ in the 1940s city of Fez, where an extended family arrangement keeps the women mostly apart from society, as opposed to the more stereotypical `imperial harem,’ which historically provided sex for sultans and other powerful court officials. Moroccan sociologist Mernissi (Islam and Democracy) charts the changing social and political frontiers and limns the personalities and quirks of her world.  … This book not only tells a winning personal story but also helps to feminize a much-stereotyped religion.” — Publishers Weekly

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba

What Folks Say:

“The author and his collaborator have condensed the original memoir of the same name, a story of an innovative and compassionate boy coming of age during an era of extreme hardship in Malawi.This newest incarnation of Kamkwamba’s tale is as absorbing as its predecessor and still delivers with equanimity facts both disturbing and inspiring … Compelling and informative for a broad readership and a good addition to STEM collections.” — Kirkus Reviews

The Favored Daughter: One Woman’s Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future by Fawzia Koofi

What Folks Say:

“Koofi’s story is one of determination and hope and shows the power of one person making the strong right choices every day to bring change—slow, steady change—to a country with centuries of brutal male domination, corruption, and misplaced honor. As she says in the book, ‘I truly believe that people change their opinions only from first-hand experience. And opinions on gender can and do change, even among the most conservative men.’ But she is one of the rare women who has been brave enough to step up, step out, and force that first-hand experience to occur.” — Huffington Post 

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

What Folks Say:

“Corrie Ten Boom stood naked with her older sister Betsie, watching a concentration camp matron beating a prisoner.”Oh, the poor woman,” Corrie cried.”Yes. May God forgive her,” Betsie replied. And, once again, Corrie realized that it was for the souls of the brutal Nazi guards that her sister prayed. Here is a book aglow with the glory of God and the courage of a quiet Christian spinster whose life was transformed by it. A story of Christ’s message and the courageous woman who listened and lived to pass it along — with joy and triumph!” — Bantam Books

To the Edge of the Sky: A Story of Love, Betrayal, Suffering, and the Strength of Human Courage by Anhua Gao

What Folks Say:

“Like millions of other Chinese, Gao was betrayed by a family member during the Cultural Revolution; her embittered elder sister passed on to the authorities letters that included complaints about her situation. Gao was dismissed from the army, but her knowledge of English helped her find other work. An abusive husband and a volatile political climate continued to make life difficult, and she suffered a brief imprisonment as well, but Gao was determined to prevail over her troubles. Almost miraculously, she did. An authentic survivor’s story, more disturbing and awe-inspiring than any TV reality show.” — Kirkus Reviews

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai

What Folks Say:

“When Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, she began a vital poor people’s environmental movement, focused on the empowerment of women, that soon spread across Africa. Persevering through run-ins with the Kenyan government and personal losses, and jailed and beaten on numerous occasions, Maathai continued to fight tirelessly to save Kenya’s forests and to restore democracy to her beloved country. Infused with her unique luminosity of spirit, Wangari Maathai’s remarkable story of courage, faith, and the power of persistence is destined to inspire generations to come.” — Amazon

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