If you had to read one book on global health...

If there is 1 book that you would like all global health students to read, it would be.....? Here is an impressive list of over 200 books generated by this question on Twitter!

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Post updated on 4 November 2021

I teach an introductory course on global health, and am always looking to make it better. I posed a question on Twitter: If there is 1 book that you would like all global health students to read, it would be.....?

The question elicited a large number of responses and re-tweets. Here is the compilation of over 200 books recommended by a variety of people. I have provided a hyperlink to a website with more details on each book. The list is alphabetically organized using the last name of the first author of the book. I have made no effort to rank the books (which is impossible, in any case!) nor provide numbers on how many times a book was recommended (too much work!).

I am grateful to all those who contributed to this list. I am keeping it updated, roughly on a quarterly basis.

For global health movies, see this compilation of over 60 inspiring films!

Happy reading!



Abu-Sada, Caroline

In the Eyes of Others: How People in Crises Perceive Humanitarian Aid

Adams, Vincanne

Metrics: What Counts in Global Health

Akbar, Arifa Consumed: A Sister's Story
Alexander, Jessica Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid
Anderson, Warwick Colonial Pathologies: American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines

Antia, Noshir

A Life of Change: The Autobiography of a Doctor

Arole, Rajanikant & Mabelle Jamkhed: A Comprehensive Rural Health Project

Atkinson, Anthony

Inequality: What Can Be Done?

Baker, Josephine

Fighting For Life

Bang, Rani

Putting Women First: Women and Health in a Rural Community

Banerjee, Abhijit & Duflo, Esther

Poor Economics

Banerjee, Abhijit & Duflo, Esther

Good Economics for Hard Times

Bashford, Alison

Imperial Hygiene: A Critical History of Colonialism, Nationalism and Public Health

Barber, Benjamin


Bartolo, Pietro & Tilotta, Lidia

Tears of Salt: A Doctor's Story of the Refugee Crisis

Bass, Emily To End A Plague
Beard, Mary Women & Power: A Manifesto

Behrman, Greg

The Invisible People

Benatar, Solomon

Global Health and Global Health Ethics

Benton, Adia

HIV Exceptionalism

Berkowitz, Aaron

One by One by One

Bhambra, Gurminder & Gebrial, Dalia & Nisanclogu, Kerem

Decolonising the University

Biehl, João & Petryna, Adriana

When People Come First


Birn, Anne-Emanuelle & Pillay, Yogan & Holtz, Timothy

Textbook of Global Health

Bollyky, Thomas

Plagues and the Paradox of Progress

Brauman, Rony

Humanitaire : Le Dilemme

Bresnahan, Andrew & Brindamour, Mahli & Charles, Christopher Upstream Medicine: Doctors for a Healthy Society

Brown, Damien

Band-Aid for a Broken Leg: Being a Doctor with No Borders

Budabin, Alexandra & Richey, Lisa Ann

Batman Saves The Congo

Buse, Kent & Mays, Nicholas & Walt, Gill

Making Health Policy

Cagle, Hugh

Assembling the Tropics: Science and Medicine in Portugal's Empire

Camus, Albert

The Plague

Celi, Leo Anthony & Majumder Maimuna & Ordonez, Patricia & Osorio, Juan Sebastian & Paik, Kenneth & Somai, Melek

Leveraging Data Science For Global Health

Chambers, Robert

Whose Reality Counts?

Chigudu, Simukai

The Political Life of an Epidemic

Cleghorn, Elinor

Unwell Women: Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-made World

Clinton, Chelsea & Sridhar, Devi

Governing Global Health

Collins, Charles & Green, Andrew Valuing Health Systems: A Framework for Low and Middle Income Countries

Conrad, Joseph

Heart of Darkness

Connelly, Matthew

Fatal Misconception

Crane, Johanna Scrambling for Africa: AIDS, Expertise, and the Rise of American Global Health Science

Crisp, Nigel

Turning The World Upside Down

Daar, Abdallah & Singer, Peter

The Grandest Challenge

Davis, Meg

The Uncounted: Politics of Data in Global Health

Davis, Mike

El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World

Deaton, Angus The Great Escape-Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

Desowitz, Robert

The Malaria Capers

Diab, Jasmin Lilian Dignity in Movement: Borders, Bodies and Rights
Downs, Jim Maladies of Empire: How Colonialism, Slavery, and War Transformed Medicine
Doyal, Lesley & Pennell, Imogen The Political Economy of Health

Dubos, Rene

The Mirage of Health

Easterly, William

The Tyranny of Experts

Easterly, William

The White Man’s Burden

Eban, Katherine Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom

Enkh-Amgalan, Handaa


Epstein, Helen

The Invisible Cure: Why We Are Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa

Fadiman, Anne

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

Fanon, Frantz

The Wretched of the Earth

Fanon, Frantz

Black Skin, White Masks

Farmer, Paul

Infection and Inequalities

Farmer, Paul

Reimagining Global Health

Farmer, Paul

To Repair The World

Farmer, Paul

Pathologies of Power

Farmer, Paul

AIDS and Accusation

Farmer, Paul

Fevers, Feuds, And Diamonds

Farrar, Jeremy & Ahuja, Anjana

The Spike: The Virus vs. The People

Ferris, Ramesh

Better than a Cure: One Man's Journey to Free the World of Polio

Fifield, Adam A Mighty Purpose How Jim Grant Sold the World on Saving Its Children
Flood, Colleen & Gross, Aeyal

The Right to Health at the Public/Private Divide

Flood, Colleen; Vanessa MacDonnell, Jane Philpott, Sophie Thériault, Sridhar Venkatapuram

Vulnerable: The Law, Policy and Ethics of COVID-19

Foege, William

House on Fire

Folbre, Nancy

Who Pays for the Kids?: Gender and the Structures of Constraint

France, David How to Survive a Plague

Freire, Paulo

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Frerichs, Ralph

Deadly River: Cholera and Cover-Up in Post-Earthquake Haiti

Freudenberg, Nicholas

Lethal But Legal

Galea, Sandro The Contagion Next Time
Gates, Melinda The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World
Garrett, Laurie The Coming Plague

Garrett, Laurie

Betrayal of Trust

Gawande, Atul


Gawande, Atul

Checklist Manifesto

Gehl, Lynn

Claiming Anishnaabe: Decolonizing the human spirit

George, Rose

The Big Necessity

Giridharadas, Anand Winners Take All

Glassman, Amanda & Temin, Miriam

Millions Saved

Goodall, Jane & Abrams, Douglas

The Book of Hope

Goldhill, David

Catastrophic Care

Gostin, Lawrence & Meier, Benjamin Mason Foundations of Global Health &  Human Rights
Gostin, Lawrence Global Health Security
Gostin, Lawrence Global Health Law
Green, Monica (editor)

Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death

Harman, Sophie Global Health Governance

Harrison, Gordon

Mosquitoes, Malaria, and Man

Hernandez, Daisy

The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation's Neglect of a Deadly Disease

Hickel, Jason The Divide: Global Inequality from Conquest to Free Markets

Hochschild, Adam

King Leopold's Ghost

Hofman, Michiel & Au Sokhieng

The Politics of Fear

Hoen, Ellen 't

Private Patents and Public Health

Holmes, Seth

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies

Horton, Richard
Hotez, Peter Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel's Autism: My Journey as a Vaccine Scientist, Pediatrician, and Autism Dad
Hotez, Peter

Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-science

Hunleth, Jean Children as Caregivers: The Global Fight against Tuberculosis and HIV in Zambia

Johnson, Stephen

Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer

Johnson, Stephen

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic

Kabat, Geoffrey

Getting Risk Right

Kabeer, Naila

Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in Development Thought

Keltner, Dacher

The Power Paradox

Kendi, Ibram How to Be an Antiracist

Kerouedan, Dominique 

Géopolitique de la santé mondiale

Keshavjee, Salmaan

Blind Spot: How Neoliberalism Infiltrated Global Health

Keyes, Katherine & Galea, Sandro

Population Health Science

Kidder, Tracy

Mountains Beyond Mountains

Klein, Naomi

This Changes Everything

Krieger, Nancy

Epidemiology and the People's Health

Krishna, Anirudh

One Illness Away

Krishnan, Vidya

Phantom Plague

Kucharski, Adam

The Rules of Contagion

Labonte, Ronald & Ruckert, Arne

Health Equity in a Globalizing Era

Laharia, Chandrakant; Kang, Gagandeep & Guleria, Randeep

Till We Win: India's Fight Against The Covid-19 Pandemic

Lakoff, Andrew

Unprepared Global Health in a Time of Emergency

Lewis, Stephen

Race Against Time

Lipsky, Michael

Street-Level Bureaucracy

Livingston, Julie

Improvising Medicine: An African Oncology Ward in an Emerging Cancer Epidemic

Lister, John Health Policy Reform: Global Health Versus Private Profit

Lougheed, Kathryn

Catching Breath: The Making and Unmaking of Tuberculosis

Luhrmann, TM

Our Most Troubling Madness

Madan, TN

Doctors and Society

Marmot, Michael

The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World

Marya, Rupa & Patel, Raj Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice
Maskalyk, James Six Months in Sudan

Mayblin, Lucy

Asylum after Empire

Maxmen, Amy

Ebola's Unpaid Heroes: How billions in aid skips over those at the frontline

Mbali, Mandisa

South African AIDS Activism and Global Health Politics

McGoey, Linsey

No Such Thing as a Free Gift

McGuire, James

Wealth, Health, and Democracy in East Asia and Latin America

McKenna, Maryn

Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats

McNeill, William Hardy

Plagues and Peoples

Meier, Benjamin Mason & Gostin, Lawrence Human Rights in Global Health: Rights-Based Governance for a Globalizing World

Melrose, Dianna

Bitter pills : medicines and the Third World poor

Mendenhall, Emily & Nichter, Mark

Rethinking Diabetes: Entanglements with Trauma, Poverty, and HIV

Merson, Michael

The AIDS Pandemic: Searching for a Global Response

Messac, Luke

No More to Spend: Neglect and the Construction of Scarcity in Malawi's History of Health Care

Morris, JN

Uses of Epidemiology

Mugyenyi, Peter Genocide by Denial: How Profiteering from HIV/AIDS Killed Millions

Mukwege, Denis

Plaidoyer pour la vie

Munk, Nina

The Idealist

Mukherjee, Joia

An Introduction to Global Health Delivery

Nattrass, Nicoli

Mortal Combat: AIDS Denialism and the Struggle for Antiretrovirals in South Africa

Neely, Abigail

Reimagining Social Medicine from the South

Nott, David

War Doctor: Surgery on the front line

Novogratz, Jacqueline

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World

Noy, Shiri Banking on Health The World Bank and Health Sector Reform in Latin America
Nundy, Shantanu Care After Covid
Nunes, Joao Security, Emancipation and the Politics of Health

Orbinski, James

An Imperfect Offering

Oshinsky, David

Polio: An American Story

Packard, Randall

A History of Global Health

Packard, Randall

The Making of a Tropical Disease

Paris, Django & Winn, M

Humanizing Research

Patel, Raj

Stuffed and Starved

Pearlman, Wendy

We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria

Pepin, Jacques

The Origins of AIDS

Petchesky, Rosalind

Global Prescriptions

People's Health Movement, Medact, Third World Network, Health Poverty Action, Medico International, and ALAMES

Global Health Watch 5


Phillips, Ben How To Fight Inequality And Why That Fight Needs You
Picard, Andre Matters of Life and Death
Picard, Andre Neglected No More

Piot, Peter

No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses

Pisani, Elizabeth

The Wisdom of Whores

Prince, Ruth

Making and Unmaking Public Health in Africa

Quick, Jonathan

The End of Epidemics

Quammen, David

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

Rajan, Raghuram

The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind

Rao, Sujatha

Do We Care?

Rawls, John

A Theory of Justice

Reddy, KS

Making Health in India

Richardson, Eugene

Epidemic Illusions: On the Coloniality of Global Public Health

Rodney, Walter

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

Rosling, Hans


Rosenberg, Mark

Real Collaboration

Roy, Arundhati My Seditious Heart

Riley, James

Rising Life Expectancy: A Global History

Ryan, Frank

Tuberculosis – The Greatest Story Never Told

Sainath, P

Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India's Poorest Districts

Sanders, David The struggle for health: Medicine and the politics of underdevelopment

Sen, Amartya

Development as Freedom

Sen, Amartya

The Idea of Justice

Sen, Gita

Development, Crises and Alternative Visions

Shah, Sonia


Shaheen-Hussain, Samir

Fighting for a Hand to Hold: Confronting Medical Colonialism against Indigenous Children in Canada

Shilts, Randy

And The Band Played On

Sinclair, Upton

The Jungle

Skloot, Rebecca The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Skolnik, Richard Global Health 101

Smith, Lindia

Decolonizing Methodologies

Sontag, Susan

Illness as Metaphor

Sridhar, Devi The Battle Against Hunger

Steinberg, Jonny

Three Letter Plague

Strathdee, Steffanie & Patterson, Thomas The Perfect Predator

Stuckler, David & Basu, Sanjay

The Body Economic

Supari, Siti

It's Time for the World to Change in the Spirit of Dignity, Equity and Transparency

Szreter, Simon

Health and Wealth: Studies in History and Policy 

Thiong’o, Ngugi wa Secure the Base: Making Africa Visible in the Globe
Tracey, Kevin

Fatal Sequence: The Killer Within

Tumbe, Chinmay

Age of Pandemics

Varlik, Nukhet

Plague and Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean World

Venkat, Bharat At the Limits of Cure
Venkatapuram, Sridhar Health Justice: An Argument from the Capabilities Approach

Verghese, Abraham

Cutting For Stone

Vijayakumar, Gowri

At Risk: Indian Sexual Politics and the Global AIDS Crisis

Vineis, Paulo

Health Without Borders: Epidemics in the Era of Globalization

Walsh, Sinead & Johnson

Getting to Zero

Wald, Priscilla

Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative

Walia, Harsha

Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism

Walt, Gill

Health Policy: An Introduction to Process and Power

Wardere, Hibo

Cut: One Woman's Fight Against FGM in Britain Today

Washington, Harriet

Medical Apartheid

Weber, Leanne

Globalization and Borders

Wendland, Claire

A Heart For the Work

Wenham, Clare

Feminist Global Health Security

Werner, David

Helping Health Workers Learn

Werner, David & Sanders, David Questioning the Solution: The Politics of Primary Health Care and Child Survival

Werner, David

Where There is No Doctor

Wilkerson, Isabel

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Wilkinson, David & Pickett, Kate

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better

Willem, Jean Pierre

Et la paix, docteur? : un médecin sur tous les fronts

Woodward, Bob


Wolff, Jonathan

The Human Right To Health

World Health Organization

Constitution of the World Health Organization

Yanguas, Pablo

Why We Lie About Aid

Yamin, Alicia

Power, Suffering, and the Struggle for Dignity Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter

Yasmin, Seema The Impatient Dr. Lange: One Man's Fight to End the Global HIV Epidemic
Youde, Jeremy Global Health Governance

Zakaria, Rafia

Against White Feminism

Zinsser, Hans

Rats, Lice and History

List updated: 4 Nov 2021

Madhukar Pai

Associate Director, McGill International TB Centre

I am a Professor and a Canada Research Chair in Epidemiology & Global Health at McGill University, Montreal. I serve as the Associate Director of the McGill International TB Centre. URL: http://www.paitbgroup.org/


Go to the profile of Dhruv Mankad
about 3 years ago

I would like to add:

1. Doyal, Lesley; Pennel Imogen -The Political Economy of Health,  Pluto Press, London, 1979 . (Altogether a stimulating book and a worthy contribution to current debates on the politics of health Lancet)  

This book inspired many of us to gaze at an ill person attending ones clinic, a group of people you interact, gender you have and society in which you live, with the glasses of  Social Science, Politics and Economics. 

2.  Ehrenrich, Barbara and English, Deirdre ; For Her Own Good - 150 years if the Experts advice to women. Pluto Press, London, 1979 (Again, this work laid down foundation of non-pure scientific nature of medical science, particularly about women's body, soul and nature, her social identity and her illnesses. It pushed the women's health movement globally.)

3. Sujatha V., Abraham, Leena (Ed.); Medical Pluralism in Contemporary India, Orient Black Swan, Hyderabad (2012)

(This book adds on a historical, cultural and in someway a subaltern political perspective about Health, illnesses and health care in the persisting existence of 'other', 'alternate', 'indigenous', 'ancient or traditional' medicine in the predominant 'biomedicine', 'modern or scientific' medicine. Though it is contextually placed in Indian setting, it's application is equally relevant, globally)

Dhruv Mankad

Go to the profile of Anna Schurmann
about 3 years ago

And here is my list!! http://www.publichealthstrategies.net/most-inspiring-public-health-books/

Go to the profile of Onaoluwa Abimbola
over 1 year ago

Now, this sounds like a birthday wish list. Great collection here. Will definitely add to my library from these.