Beacon Scholars Reading List

Africa’s Peacemakers Adekeye Adebajo

The names of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Barack Obama are known to everyone for their status as winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, but how many people could identify the likes of Albert Luthuli or Wangari Maathi, among others? Africa’s Peacemakers is a collection of essays focusing on the most significant contributions to peace across the continent. This clear, concise, and useful bibliographical work will be of special interest to those engaged within international affairs, history or peace studies, although its accessible style also makes it a worthwhile read for the general reader with a passing interest in such matters.


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Authentic Leadership, Discover Your True North Bill George

True North shows how anyone who follows their internal compass can become an authentic leader. This leadership tour de force is based on research and first-person interviews with 125 of today’s top leaders - with some surprising results. In this book, Bill George and co-author Peter Sims share the wisdom of these outstanding leaders and describe how you can develop as an authentic leader.


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Becoming Michelle Obama

Becoming is the memoir of former United States first lady Michelle Obama published in 2018. Described by the author as a deeply personal experience, the book talks about her roots and how she found her voice, as well as her time in the White House, her public health campaign, and her role as a mother.

 

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Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life John Lee Anderson

A detailed portrait of the life and times of a revolutionary icon, John Lee Anderson's study of Argentinian doctorturned-Third World anti-imperialist fighter is an attempt to locate properly a world figure whose name is synonymous with the 1960s youth revolutionary movement.


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Cry the Beloved Country Alan Paton

Cry, the Beloved Country tells the story of a father’s journey from rural South Africa to and through the city of Johannesburg in search of his son, Absalom, who is facing trial for the murder of a white man - a man who ironically cared deeply about the plight of the native South African population and had been a voice for change until his untimely death. The novel captures the extremes of human emotion, and Alan Paton’s faith in human dignity in the worst of circumstances is both poignant and uplifting. The novel shows the brutality of apartheid, but despite its unflinching portrayal of darkness and despair in South Africa, still offers hope for a better future.


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Daring Greatly Brené Brown

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable or to dare greatly. Based on twelve years of pioneering research, Brené Brown PhD, LMSW, explains how vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief, and disappointment, and the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity. Daring Greatly is a practice and a powerful new vision for letting ourselves be seen.


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Discourse on the Origin of Inequality Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The aim of the Discourse is to examine the foundations of inequality among men, and to determine whether this inequality is authorized by natural law. Rousseau attempts to demonstrate that modern moral inequality, which is created by an agreement between men, is unnatural and unrelated to the true nature of man. To examine natural law, Rousseau argues, it is necessary to consider human nature and to chart how that nature has evolved over the centuries to produce modern man and modern society.


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Dreams from My Father Barack Obama

The publication of this book launched the young Illinois senator onto the national stage; its worldwide publication added to Obama's global fame. The book itself traces Obama's life from his birth in Hawaii, his troubled adolescence, his search for his Kenyan roots, life in Indonesia and his education and rise to national US politics


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Drive Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink describes the characteristics of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. He reveals that many companies rely on extrinsic motivation, even though this is often counterproductive. The book explains clearly how we can best motivate ourselves and others by understanding intrinsic motivation. He asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction - at work, at school, and at home - is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.


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Dust Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

Dust is a novel about a splintered family in Kenya - a story of power and deceit, unrequited love, survival and sacrifice. It tells the story of Odidi Oganda, who while running for his life, is gunned down in the streets of Nairobi. His grief-stricken sister, Ajany, just returned from Brazil, and their father bring his body back to their crumbling home in the Kenyan drylands, seeking some comfort and peace. But the murder has stirred memories long left untouched and unleashed a series of unexpected events. In scenes stretching from the violent upheaval of contemporary Kenya back through a shocking political assassination in 1969 and the Mau Mau uprisings against British colonial rule in the 1950s, we come to learn the secrets held by this parched landscape, buried deep within the shared past of the family and of a conflicted nation.


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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Gail Honeyman

The novel focuses on 29-year-old Eleanor Oliphant, a social misfit with a traumatic past who becomes enamoured of a singer, whom she believes she is destined to be with. It deals with themes of isolation and loneliness, and depicts Eleanor's transformation journey towards a fuller understanding of self and life.


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Ender’s Game Orson Scott Card

In order to develop a secure defence against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.


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Facing Mount Kenya Jomo Kenyatta

Facing Mount Kenya is a monograph on the life and customs of the Gikuyu people of central Kenya prior to their contact with Europeans. It is unique in anthropological literature for it gives an account of the social institutions and religious rites of an African people, permeated by the emotions that give to customs and observances their meaning. It is characterised by both insight and a tinge of romanticism. This book is one of a kind, capturing and documenting traditions fast disappearing. It is therefore a must-read for all who want to learn about African culture.


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Fidel: A Critical Portrait Ted Szulc

The result of weeks of interviews in 1985 between Cuban leader, Fidel Castro and the author, a former New York Times foreign correspondent who had covered the 1961 Bay of Pigs crisis - the John F Kennedy's disastrous invasion of Cuba - this is the only biography of the iconic Cuban leader done with his cooperation, and provides a frank portrait of Castro from his childhood and days as a student leader; his evolving leftist and anti-imperialist politics; his abortive attempt to unseat the US-backed Cuban leader, Fulgencio Batista; his trial for treason in 1955 and his revolutionary struggle in the Sierra Maestra mountains; his seizure of power and his determination to keep his country independent in the face of major odds. A frank and authoritative portrait of a big and complex world leader.


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Forgotten Women Zing Tsjeng

The Leaders weaves together 48 (the number of Nobel-prize-winning women) portraits of women who made huge yet unacknowledged contributions to history, the true pioneers and leaders who deserve to have had history books written about them, such as Grace O'Malley, the 16th century Irish pirate queen; Sylvia Rivera, who spearheaded the modern transgender movement; or Agent 355, the rebel spy who played a vital role in the American Revolution. The Leaders is one of a set of 4 books called Forgotten Women which cover: The Leaders, The Scientists, The Writers, The Artists. Each book has short pieces about women from various parts of the world and times in history.


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From Citizen to Refugee Mahmood Mamdani

In this, his first book, Ugandan political theorist Mahmood Mamdani, documents and analyses the 1972 expulsion of Asians from Uganda by dictator Idi Amin, in which his family was forced into exile in the United Kingdom. Combining family and personal biography with critical political analysis, Mamdani deconstructs the historical factors that led to the 1972 Asian crisis in Uganda, his experiences as a refugee in the UK and his decision to return to Uganda and Africa and take up his place as a thinker and activist. A very useful book to demonstrate the role of an engaged African citizen.


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Future Chasers Jan Owen

This collection profiles fifteen extraordinarily talented, inspiring and hard-working young people achieving amazing things in fields as varied as politics, industry, the arts, and technology. These uplifting and daring agents of change are turning generational stereotypes on their heads, proving that our country’s future is bright.


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Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Discovering Your Next Career Path Timothy Butler

In Getting Unstuck, business psychologist and researcher Timothy Butler offers strategies for moving beyond a career or personal-life impasse—by recognizing the state of impasse, awakening your imagination, recognizing patterns of meaning in your life, and taking action for change. Drawing on a wealth of stories about individuals who have successfully transitioned out of impasses, Getting Unstuck provides a practical, authoritative road map for moving past your immediate impasse—and defining a meaningful path forward.


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Hani: A Life too Short Janet Smith, Beauregard Tromp

Less well known than Mandela outside South Africa, Chris Hani is from a younger generation of the African National Congress' political activists and freedom fighters. His assassination in 1991 shook the nation and arguably changed the course of post-apartheid South Africa, such was the impact of this anti-apartheid icon. The book revisits his life, politics and the circumstances of his death in relation to contemporary SA politics.


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How Europe Underdeveloped Africa Walter Rodney

First published in 1974, this ground-breaking study of the effects of slavery and colonialism in the Bight of Biafra (aka the Gulf of Guinea) is a daring assessment of how European extractive practices in Africa effectively led to the impoverishment of large swathes of sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly 50 years old, the book's treatise continues to have resonances today and is especially useful for a profound understanding of the relationship between Africa and the West.


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How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie's first book is a timeless bestseller, packed with rock-solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. As relevant as ever before, Dale Carnegie's principles endure, and will help you achieve your maximum potential in the complex and competitive modern age. Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.


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I Am Malala Malala Yousafzai

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, she was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.


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King of Kings: The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie 1 of Ethiopia  Asea-Wossen Asserate

This book describes the career of Ras Tafari (Haile Selassie), his 60-year career from his accession of the throne of the Ethiopian empire, his exile, the result of the Italian invasion and occupation of Ethiopia, his triumphant return to his homeland, his long rule and tragic fall in 1974.


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Leadership and Self-Deception  The Arbinger Institute

The 'disease' of self-deception (acting in ways contrary to what one knows is right) underlies all leadership problems in today's organizations, according to the premise of this work. However well-intentioned they may be, leaders who deceive themselves always end up undermining their own performance. This straightforward book explains how leaders can discover their own self-deceptions and learn how to escape destructive patterns. The authors demonstrate that breaking out of these patterns leads to improved teamwork, commitment, trust, communication, motivation, and leadership.


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Leaders Eat Last Simon Sinek

In his work with organizations around the world, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general. "Officers eat last," he said. Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What's symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: great leaders sacrifice their own comfort - even their own survival - for the good of those in their care.


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Long Walk to Freedom Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the centre of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world.  Long Walk To Freedom is his moving and exhilarating autobiography, destined to take its place among the finest memoirs of history's greatest figures. 


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Lord of the Flies William Golding

This novel explores the dark side of humanity, the savagery that underlies even the most civilized human beings. William Golding intended this novel as a tragic parody of children's adventure tales, illustrating humankind's intrinsic evil nature. He presents the reader with a chronology of events leading a group of young boys from hope to disaster as they attempt to survive their uncivilized, unsupervised, isolated environment until rescued.


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Meditations Marcus Aurelius

Meditations by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121–180) incorporates the stoic precepts he used to cope with his life as a warrior and administrator of an empire. Reflecting the emperor's own noble and self-sacrificing code of conduct, this book draws and enriches the tradition of Stoicism, which stressed the search for inner peace and ethical certainty in an apparently chaotic world. It not only provides a fascinating glimpse into the mind and personality of a highly principled Roman of the second century but also offers today's readers a practical and inspirational guide to the challenges of everyday life.


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Mighty Be Our Powers Leymah Gbowee

Mighty Be Our Powers is the gripping chronicle of a journey from hopelessness to empowerment that will touch all who dream of a better world. It tells the story of Leymah Gbowee through the Liberian civil war, as a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse, and how in 2003, the passionate and charismatic Gbowee helped organize and then led the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting Liberia's ruthless president and rebel warlords, and even held a sex strike. With an army of women, Gbowee helped lead her nation to peace in the process emerging as an international leader who changed history. 


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No Future Without Forgiveness Desmond Tutu

In No Future Without Forgiveness, Tutu argues that true reconciliation cannot be achieved by denying the past. But nor is it easy to reconcile when a nation 'looks the beast in the eye'. Rather than repeat platitudes about forgiveness, he presents a bold spirituality that recognizes the horrors people can inflict upon one another, and yet retains a sense of idealism about reconciliation. With a clarity of pitch born out of decades of experience, Tutu shows readers how to move forward with honesty and compassion to build a newer and more humane world. 


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Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era  Godfrey Mwakikagile

One of several biographies - this is an early in a growing series of post-humous assessments on Nyerere - on arguably independent Africa's most visionary leader, this book traces late Julius Nyerere's life from his roots in Butiama in northern Tanzania, to his career as a schoolteacher, his education in Scotland, his role in Tanzania's independence struggle and his impact on the politics and life of the young nation.


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On the Social Contract Jean-Jacques Rousseau

With the famous phrase, "man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains," Rousseau asserts that modern states repress the physical freedom that is our birthright, and do nothing to secure the civil freedom for the sake of which we enter into civil society. Legitimate political authority, he suggests, comes only from a social contract agreed upon by all citizens for their mutual preservation.


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Outliers Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of ‘outliers’- the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: “What makes high achievers different?”. His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.


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Talent is Never Enough John Maxwell

It's what you add to your talent that makes the greatest difference. With authentic examples and time-tested wisdom, Maxwell shares thirteen attributes you need to maximize your potential and live the life of your dreams. You can have talent alone and fall short of your potential. Or you can have talent plus, and really stand out.


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The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership John Maxwell

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership explains what it takes to become a great leader. These ’21 laws’ highlight many of the traits, skills and characteristics that have given leaders around the world the power to attract loyal followers and lead them toward success. Find out what Ray Kroc, Winston Churchill and Mother Theresa all have in common – and what you can do to become a better leader yourself.


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The Alchemist Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different - and far more satisfying - than he ever imagined. Santiago's journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.


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The Autobiography of Malcolm X Malcolm X and Alex Haley

The Autobiography of Malcolm X was intended to be a true autobiography, with the name of Alex Haley appearing not at all or as a ghost writer or as a mere contributor or assistant. However, with the assassination of Malcolm X having occurred in Harlem in New York City on February 21, 1965 just before this book could be published, it became necessary to reveal the important role of Alex Haley in creating this book.

 

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The Beautiful Dead Belinda Bauer

The Beautiful Dead is the story of Eve Singer, a television reporter specializing in crime cases. When a twist of fate makes her the obsession of a serial killer, she becomes a pawn in the killer's game and is forced to report a story where she is fast becoming the central character.

 

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The Challenge for Africa Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai offers a new perspective on the troubles facing Africa today. Too often these challenges are portrayed by the media in extreme terms connoting poverty, dependence, and desperation. She argues for a moral revolution among Africans themselves. Illuminating the complex and dynamic nature of the continent, Maathai offers ‘hardheaded hope’ and ‘realistic options’ for change and improvement.


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The Go-Giver Leader: A Little Story About What Matters Most in Business Bob Burg, John David Mann

This is a compelling story of a struggling small business and an ambitious young executive charged with leading them to a crucial decision. The powerful message behind The Go-Giver Leader is that great leaders don’t try to act like leaders; instead, they strive to be more human. They focus on the concept ‘give, and you shall receive’. The Go-Giver Leader promotes a mindset of being aware of those around you and expands on the idea that your influence is determined by how effectively you place others’ interests first. Leaders who do this will create prosperity for their communities and society, as well as for their companies and employees.


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The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner is the story of Amir who struggles to find his place in the world because of the after effects and fallout from a series of traumatic childhood events. In addition to typical childhood experiences, Amir struggles with forging a closer relationship with his father, Baba; with determining the exact nature of his relationship with Hassan, his servant; and eventually with finding a way to atone for childhood decisions that have lasting repercussions. Along the way, readers are able to experience growing up in Afghanistan in a single-parent home, a situation that bears remarkable similarities to many modern households. Ultimately, The Kite Runner is a novel about relationships and how the complex relationships in our lives overlap and connect to make us the people we are.

 

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The Life of Rosa Parks: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory Douglas Brinkley

In December 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, a 42 year-old black seamstress refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus to a white passenger. Her arrest led to a 381-day boycott of the city system led by a young Baptist minister called Martin Luther King, and is now considered the beginning of the American civil rights movement.


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The Power of Habit Charles Duhigg

This is a serious look at the science of habit formation and change. Duhigg is optimistic about how we can put the science to use. “Once you understand that habits can change,” he concludes, “you have the freedom — and the responsibility — to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.” He also suggests that by understanding the nature of habits we can influence group behaviour, turning companies into profit makers and ensuring the success of social movements. He makes his case by presenting fascinating stories and case histories.


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The Power of One Bryce Courtney

In 1939, as Hitler casts his enormous, cruel shadow across the world, the seeds of apartheid take root in South Africa. There, a boy called Peekay is born. His childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and conceives heroic dreams, which are nothing compared to what life actually has in store for him. He embarks on an epic journey through a land of tribal superstition and modern prejudice where he will learn the power of words, the power to transform lives and the power of one. It's not just a feeling anymore, but a philosophy that he can define: The Power of One is above all things the power to believe in yourself, often well beyond any latent ability you may have previously demonstrated.


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The Prince Niccolò Machiavelli

Machiavelli has created a ruthless guide on how to rule the country in his volume The Prince. The author explains in simple language about the nature of great men and the characters of the government. Machiavelli’s treatise makes a clear break from the Western tradition of political philosophy that preceded him. The Prince is a shockingly direct how-to manual for rulers who aim either to establish and retain control of a new state or to seize and control an existing one.


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The Servant Leader James Autry

James A. Autry argues that servant leadership - the idea that managing with respect, honesty, love, and spirituality empowers employees - helps individuals answer their calling to leadership. Here, he reveals the servant leader’s tools, a set of skills and ideals that will transform the way business is done. It helps leaders nurture the needs and goals of those who look to them for leadership. The result is a more productive, successful, and happier organization, and a more meaningful life for the leader.


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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey

Stephen R. Covey's holistic, integrated, principle-centred approach revolutionized the way people solve personal and professional problems and go on to lead extraordinary lives. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity - principles that give us the security to adapt to change, and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.


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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens Sean Covey

By laying out a series of steps to follow, the book aims to teach teenagers how to become more confident, self-reliant, and successful in whatever career path they choose. The seven habitual steps include being proactive, having an end goal in mind, prioritising first things first, thinking win-win, seeking to understand first before seeking to be understood, synergizing, and ‘sharpening the saw’.


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The War of Art Steven Pressfield

The War Of Art brings some much needed tough love to all artists, business people and creatives who spend more time battling the resistance against work than actually working, by identifying the procrastinating forces at play and pulling out the rug from under their feet. 


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This Child Will Be Great Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

In this stirring memoir, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf shares the story of her rise to power, including her early childhood; her experiences with abuse, imprisonment, and exile; and her fight for democracy and social justice. She reveals her determination to succeed in multiple worlds, from her studies in the United States to her work as an international bank executive, to campaigning in some of Liberia's most desperate and war-torn villages and neighbourhoods. It is the tale of an outspoken political and social reformer who fought the oppression of dictators and championed change. 


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Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary Ernest Harsch

Thomas Sankara, often called the African Ché Guevara, was president of Burkina Faso until his assassination during the military coup that brought down his government. Although his tenure in office was relatively short, Sankara left an indelible mark on his country’s history and development. An avowed Marxist, he outspokenly asserted his country’s independence from France and other Western powers while at the same time seeking to build a genuine pan-African unity. Decades after his death, Sankara remains an inspiration to young people throughout Africa for his integrity, idealism, and dedication to independence and self-determination.


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Tribes Seth Godin

As human beings, we all naturally seek our tribe, where we are connected with others and united by a leader and an idea. Tribes have always been an integral part of human existence, uniting us through religion, politics and even the arts. Today, technology such as the web and social networking allow us to build bigger tribes. But who is going to lead these groups? Fear of criticism or fear of being wrong keep many would-be leaders from reaching their potential. But there is a deep need for leaders who can rally people, and there are many more tools and ways to make a difference than ever before. Seth Godin shows that being a leader may not be easy, but it’s probably easier than you thought.


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Unbowed Wangari Maathai

Unbowed is the moving and inspirational memoir of the first African woman, and the first environmentalist, to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari MaathaiUnbowed charts Maathai’s development from a young girl in British Kenya to a divorced mother of three fighting to save her country from a dictator and his corruption. Maathai’s is truly a story of faith and courage, against incredible odds and powerful enemies. Maathai’ s story is linked with the history of Kenya in ways that make it impossible to ignore the pain of modern Africa and making it powerfully important to students of many disciplines.


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What I Told My Daughter Nina Tassler

In What I Told My Daughter a powerful, diverse group of women reflect on the best advice and counsel they have given their daughters either by example, throughout their lives, or in character-building, teachable moments between parent and child. In a time when childhood seems at once more fraught and more precious than ever, What I Told My Daughter is a book anyone who wishes to connect with a young girl cannot afford to miss.


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You Must Set Forth at Dawn Wole Soyinka

This is the third in Soyinka's autobiographical trilogy - the first two, Ake: The Years of Childhood, and Ibadan are well worth reading - and details the Nigerian literature Nobel laureate's years as a political activist, scholar and truth-seeker during the height of Nigeria's military dictatorship. Soyinka describes in intimate detail, his falling out with the Sani Abacha regime in the mid-1990s, and his journey, yet again, into exile in the US. Of note are his encounters with former African slave communities in the Caribbean, who provided him with an education of his Yoruba people's pre-colonial cultures and religious practices, which they had doggedly preserved and celebrated while in the exile of their enslavement. As always, Soyinka peppers his experiences with notes and thoughts on Africa's political situation and the crisis of political leadership bedevilling the continent.


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