*Some People Need Killing*, Patricia Evangelista

5 Absolute Must Read Books About Democracy from 2023



Dec 28, By Justin Kempf

This list is different than most. What sets it apart is not simply that it focuses on books about democracy, but that it looks for ones that will challenge our assumptions and expectations. For those of us who have read extensively about democracy for years, this becomes very difficult. But quite a few scholars do find ways to approach different aspects of democracy in novel ways. They examine concepts in different settings that raise difficult questions that don't have easy answers.

Over the past few years I have found most of the best books on democracy have flown under the radar. This does not mean books about democracy are not popular or do not sell. Liz Cheney's Oath and Honor, Rachel Maddow's Prequel, Heather Cox Richardson's Democracy Awakening and Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt's Tyranny of the Minority were all New York Times Best Sellers this past year. Those are all amazing reads that I highly recommend. However, they did not make my top five (although Prequel came very close).

Like always my list is eclectic. I have included books focused on Central America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Two of the books are historical. Three of the books are from first-time authors. But they all touch on questions about democracy in unconventional ways. For those wondering, the list is not ranked. But you'll find they appeal to different people for different reasons. Still, each one is remarkable in its own way.

Some People Need Killing (hardbound), Hobbies & Toys, Books & Magazines,  Fiction & Non-Fiction on CarousellSome People Need Killing

I am not alone when I say Some People Need Killing is one of the best books of the year. Barak Obama named it as one of his favorite books of 2023. Time named it one of the 100 best books of the year. The New Yorker named it one of its 12 best nonfiction books. Everyone loves it, because it was written with a passion and intensity that few can master.

Patricia Evangelista describes herself as a trauma reporter. She worked for Rappler during Rodrigo Duterte's War on Drugs in The Philippines. She bears witness to the many deaths and atrocities. But the most chilling scene comes from an interview with a vigilante. He says to her, "I'm not a bad guy... It's just that some people need killing."

What I learned from Evangelista was how democracy is not simply a form of government but a lived experience. I knew that in my head. But Evangelista made me feel it in my soul. Early in the book she writes, "I was born in the year democracy returned to the Philippines. I am here to report its death.” For Evangelista, democracy is about more than elections. It's something we experience day to day. Her book is about how that feeling, that experience, was taken away from her country.