11 Books & Podcasts About Coups That Are Extra Relevant Right Now

From The Plot To Seize The White House to The Dubious Case Of A Failed Coup.

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On Jan. 6, armed insurrectionists carrying Confederate flags and pro-Trump paraphernalia stormed the U.S. Capitol, breaching it for the first time in more than 200 years and disrupting the confirmation of Joe Biden's electoral victory. The riot occurred after many Republicans and conservative pundits, including Donald Trump himself, spent weeks touting the false claim that Biden's win was fraudulent.

In spite of this, when Congress reconvened, 147 GOP lawmakers formally objected to Biden's wins in two states. Later that morning, a shocking report from Business Insider stated that "America's international military and security allies are now willing to give serious credence to the idea that Trump deliberately tried to violently overturn an election."

These 11 books and podcasts about coups will help you understand recent events:

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In 1953, the United States and United Kingdom deposed the duly elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, to empower Mohammad Reza Shah and allow BP and other oil companies to take control of Iran's national oil reserves. The United States did not take responsibility for C.I.A. involvement in Mosaddegh's deposition until 2013. If you've ever wondered why Iran and America are at such odds, pick up Ervand Abrahamian's The Coup to learn more.


In 1933, just as the New Deal began to change Americans' way of life forever, a group of U.S. capitalists and fascists plotted to overthrow President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and install an "American Caesar": Major General Smedley Darlington Butler of the U.S. Marine Corps. When interested parties approached Butler, however, he sounded the alarm to prevent fascism from taking control of the United States. Read his rarely told story in Jules Archer's The Plot to Seize the White House.


On July 15, 2016, Turkey suffered what appeared to be a failed coup d'état, which many foreign powers believed was actually carried out by the Turkish government itself in order to jail political and ideological opponents. The Dubious Case of a Failed Coup contains essays from thinkers in a variety of fields, each examining the impact of the event on Turkey and its people.

NPR's Throughline podcast offers up historical lessons with present-day connections. Recent episodes include "Outsider/In: Rules of Engagement," which focuses on tensions between the United States and Iran; "The Modern White Power Movement," which examines white supremacist networks in the post-9/11 world; and "The Evangelical Vote," which details the relatively contemporary origins of one of the country's most powerful voting blocs.

Listen to Throughline here.


For nearly 20 years following the Chilean coup d'état in 1973 — which was caused, in part, by U.S. opposition to President Salvador Allende — Augusto Pinochet ruled Chile as one of western history's most notorious dictators. Pamela Constable and Arturo Valenzuela revisit the country's tumultuous 20th-century existence in A Nation of Enemies.


Published by Cornell University Press, this new book from Hamilton College's Erica De Bruin uses 50 years of data from 110 countries to make keen observations on how and why some coups work where others fail.


What happened to Honduras in June 2009? That depends on who you ask and why. In The Long Honduran Night, Dana Frank picks apart presentations of the coup d'état that deposed President Manuel Zelaya, which differed strongly depending on which side of the Honduran border they came from.

BBC World Service's The History Hour podcast spends each episode looking back at the events, people, places, and trends that have shaped the way we live today. Recent episodes include "The Fall of Addis Ababa," "South Korea's 1980s Prison Camps," and "The Zanzibar Revolution."

Listen to The History Hour here.


The Jan. 6 insurrection has drawn comparisons to the Beer Hall Putsch: the failed 1923 coup that sent Adolf Hitler to jail for several years and helped to carve out his place within the burgeoning Nazi Party. The tale of Hitler's sensational trial has never been fully explored... until now.


Stephen Kinzer's Overthrow takes a hard look at the U.S. government's meddling in the affairs of 14 other sovereign nations, from 1893 to the present, including Guatemala, Panama, and the Philippines.


In 1898, race riots in Wilmington, North Carolina began when idealistic editor Alexander Manly dared to publish a piece defending interracial couples from scrutiny. Through the noise of calls for Manly's head, the editor's opponents plotted a much longer son, one that ended only when most of the town's Black residents had been forced out into the wilderness.