Subscribe to our newsletter

Credit: RATM


From Dr Seuss to Karl Marx: Rage Against The Machine's 75 favourite revolutionary books


When you think of the world’s most political bands, it’s hard to look beyond Rage Against The Machine. The band have been champions of challenging the oppressors of the western world and have always encouraged their fans to not only take direct action but to keep themselves well-read and well-informed. As part of their 1996 album release Evil Empire, they delivered a crystalline image of the band they were, who they represented and who their crosshairs were trained on.

The title of the album was picked because of “Ronald Reagan’s slander of the Soviet Union in the eighties, which the band feels could just as easily apply to the United States.” It contained not only a plethora of tracks charged by the nu-metal charge of creativity Tom Morello, Zack De la Rocha, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk were all enjoying in the early embers of their fiery careers, but an image of a pile of revolutionary reads in the liner notes, the likes of which make for one of the most rebellious reading lists we’ve ever come across.

As reported by Radical Reads, the books picked out on the image are some provocative titles. Lead singer and main lyricist for the band, De la Rocha, told MTV at the time, “I certainly didn’t find any of those books at my University High School library. Many of those books may give people new insight into some of the fear and some of the pain they might be experiencing as a result of some of the very ugly policies the government is imposing upon us right now.”

Noting the importance of the books mentioned, which don’t just centre on politics in the strictest sense but encourage the reader to challenge themselves and those around them, the group decided to put the reading list on their official site. For the band, it was important to ensure the fans could connect with not only the group’s music but their ideology too, helping to put “them back in touch with realising that their direct participation in events right now can affect history.”

Any high school teacher will tell you that trying to get people to connect with political through political literature alone is a tough sell, to say the least. The real way to do it is to weave into their consciousness how intertwined politics is to everyday life. Through a selection of books from ranging from Dr Seuss classic The Lorax to books on Bob Marley or Salvador Dali all the way through to the theories and rhetoric of Karl Marx and Noam Chomsky, Rage Against The Machine provide not only a revolutionary reading list but perhaps one of the most essential set of books we’ve seen in a long time. Guitarist Tom Morello studied political science at Harvard so chances are the books contained within this list are worth their weight in gold.

Within the list, there is likely something for every budding revolutionary reader as well as someone keen to expand their mind a little. With a political climate as tense as the one we face in 2020, perhaps it’s about time we all paid a little more attention to these kinds of books and spent lockdown swatting up.

Rage Against The Machine’s revolutionary reading list:

  1. Live From Death Row by Mumia Abu-Jamal
  2. Joe Hill by Gibbs M. Smith
  3. The Mau Mau War Perspective by Frank Ferudi
  4. The Aesthetic Dimension Toward by Herbert Macuse
  5. The Fire Last Time: 1968 and After by Chris Harman
  6. The Media Monopoly by Ben H. Bagdikian
  7. 50 Ways To Fight Censorship by Dave Marsh
  8. Hegemony and Revolution: A Study of Antonio Geamsci’s Political & Cultural Theory by Walter L. Adamson
  9. The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Gould
  10. A New Society: Reflections for Today’s World by David Deutschman (Editor)
  11. The Marx-Engels Reader by Robert C. Tucker (Editor)
  12. What Uncle Sam Really Wants by Noam Chomsky
  13. Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation by Jonathan Kozol
  14. Marxism and the New Imperialism by Alex Callinicos
  15. Rules for Radicals by Saul D. Alinsky
  16. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
  17. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  18. East Los Angeles: History of a Barrio by Richard Romo
  19. Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II by William Blum
  20. Race for Justice: Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Fight Against The Death Penalty by Leonard Weinglass
  21. Guerilla Warfare by Che Guevera
  22. Zapata of Mexico by Peter E. Newell
  23. Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements by George Breitman
  24. Marxism and the Oppression of Women: Toward a Unitary Theory by Lise Vogel
  25. Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America by Walter LaFeber
  26. The Chomsky Reader by James Peck (Editor)
  27. Chicano Politics: Reality and Promise 1940-1990 by Juan Gomez Quinones
  28. The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
  29. What is Communist Anarchism? by Alexander Berkman
  30. Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson by George Jackson
  31. Fidel and Religion: Conversations With Frei Betto by Frei Betto
  32. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave by Frederick Douglass
  33. Democracy is in the Streets by James Miller
  34. Capital, Volume One by Karl Marx
  35. The Black Panthers Speak by Philip S. Foner (Editor)
  36. Keeping The Rabble in Line: Interviews with David Barsamian by Noam Chomsky
  37. Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
  38. Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koester
  39. The Culture of Narcissism: American Life of Diminishing Expectations by Christopher Lasch
  40. Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
  41. The State and Revolution by V.I. Lenin
  42. Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
  43. Kwame Nkrumah by June Milne
  44. Revolutionary Suicide by Huey P. Newton
  45. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
  46. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
  47. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  48. Another Country by James Baldwin
  49. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  50. The Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer
  51. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  52. Rebellion from the Roots: Indian uprising in Chiapas by John Ross
  53. First World: Ha! Ha! Ha! The Zapatista Challenge by Elaine Katzenberger, Editor
  54. The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda
  55. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  56. Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
  57. Essays in Existentialism by Jean-Paul Sartre
  58. How Real is Real? Confusion, Disinformation, Communication by Paul Watzlawick
  59. Ghost of Chance by William S. Burroughs
  60. Popism: The Warhol Sixties by Andy Warhol & Pat Hackett
  61. Chicana Falsa and Other Stories of Death, Identity, and Oxnard by Michele M. Serros
  62. Promissory Notes: Women in the Transition to Socialism by Sonia Kruks, Ranya Rapp, Marilyn B. Young, Editors
  63. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of a Gay World by George Chauncey
  64. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherrie Monzaga, Gloria Anzaluda, Editors
  65. Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key, Editor
  66. Power at Play: Sports and the Problem of Masculinity by Michael A. Messner
  67. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
  68. 90 Years of Ford by George H. Dammann
  69. Illustrated History of Ford by George H. Damman
  70. The Challenge of Local Feminisms: Women Movements in Global Perspective by Amrita Basu
  71. Miles by Miles Davis
  72. The Sixties Papers: Documents of a Rebellious Decade by Judith Clavir Albert and Stewart Edward Albert
  73. The Graphic Work by M. C. Escher
  74. Bob Marley: Spirit Dancer by Bruce W. Talamon
  75. Dali: The Paintings by Benedikt Taschen, Robert Taschen, Giles Neret