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Book recommendations thread

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  • #2


    Must reads...

    Open Veins of Latin America - Eduardo Galeano

    The Origins and Organisation of British Propaganda in Ireland 1920 - Brian P Murphy

    A People's History of the United States - Howard Zinn


  • #2


    I had a quick flick throught this thread and I didnt see anything by Naom Chomsky. Hegemony or Survival is his latest political book and is basically about America trying to take over the world. It has been uber-pimped by Chavez to the leaders of the world!

    Also I havent seen anything by Naomi Klien. No Logo is her first book and goes into the effect branding has on society.

    Another one is The Men Who Stare At Goats by Jon Ronson and is about the silly things the US do in the name of research. Very funny book.


  • #2


    The Men Who Stare at Goats is very funny, and I would also recommend Out of the Ordinary by the same author. The best book I have read recently, though, is Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It is basically her life story, from an obscure village in Somalia, to the Dutch Parliament, through various stages of asylum seeker and illegal immigrant. Fascinating, sometimes horrifying and will make you look at Europe through a whole new pair of eyes. I would beg, borrow or steal to buy this book,(only I already own it).


  • #2


    Naomi Klein! Just picked up her big and new yellow book the other day - only a little way into it, but already I can recommend it. The Shock Doctrine : The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

    It chronicles how the school of businessmen and academics that felt it was a good thing to break the New Deal with neoconomics (hey, did I just make up a word?!) were able to capitalise on disasters like war or flood to push a corporate agenda.


  • #2


    DaveMcG wrote: »
    Hey folks,

    I think it would be a good idea to have a thread in this forum for those seeking and offering recommendations for political books.

    Maybe it could go in the Literature forum, but we'll probably find that most people who post here have read a good amount of specifically political books, whereas in the Literature forum it would vary greatly and we're not likely to find many people who have read specifically political books.

    If it's out of place then it can be deleted or whatever, but I would think that it would do this forum plenty of good!

    Anyways, I'll start off by asking if anybody is able to recommend a few general, unbiased books on the history of the Middle East, and how it has come to be the way it is. Obviously they're all seperate countries, but from what I understand their histories are somewhat intertwined! I'd like to have a clearer understanding of how they came to form allegiances (Iran, Syria, Lebanon).
    Specifically though, I'd like to learn more about Israel and Palestine, how it came to its present state, the motivation behind the various groups involved.

    With the recent conflict between Israel and Lebanon, I feel it would be helpful to have a better understanding of Middle Eastern history. I understand what's going on at the moment, but it has so much history behind it that I can't really form an educated opinion on who's in the right, etc.

    So yeh, any recommendations? And post away if you have any requests! :) (not that I'd be any help, but someone else will :p)

    If you want a general and accessible account of islam's 1500 year history, I would definitely recommend Karen Armstrong's 'Islam: A short history'. In particular, the last chapter dealing with the relationship between Islam and West since the industrial revolution is hugely informative if you want to understand why Islam hasnt modernised along Western lines.


  • #2


    ...there's a book on Chairman Mao, Mao The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, it's huge but I couldn't put it down...
    Just a bump on this - I'm a quarter way through it, and it's fascinating; it really strips bare the layers of myth surrounding Mao.


  • #2


    Has anyone read, The Making of the Celtic Tiger by by Ray MacSharry and Padraic White? I have seen very mixed review of it but I might give it a go.


  • #2


    DaveMcG wrote: »
    'The State of Africa', by Martin Meredith

    What did you think of them?

    I'm about 400 pages into The State of Africa, really enjoying it. It offers a broad sweeping history of the continent from independence until the present day. Obviously he can't go into as much detail as a book focusing on one country/person/incident, but it is very comprehensive in describing trends that became common in many African countries - such as the emergence of 'Big Men' rulers who justified their positions by saying strong rule was needed to keep their ethnically divided countries together; overstaffed bureaucracies; and rampant clientelism.

    I also enjoyed 'The Shackled Continent' by Robert Guest who is The Economist's Africa Correspondent. His book focused on mainly on the present day, took the form of a number of case studies and offered some suggestions as to how African economies can improve.

    I agree with the earlier poster about Robert Fisk's 'Great War for Civilisation' - well worth a read. I found the chapter on the Iran-Iraq war very interesting. Aside from the history and reporting in the book, one of the aspects I enjoyed most were the stories of how he managed to file the story from whatever remote, ravaged part of Afghanistan or elsewhere he was in.

    Regarding Joseph Stiglitz's ‘Globalization and its Discontents’, Jeffrey Sachs' ‘The End of Poverty’ and George Soros' ‘The Age of Fallibility’ I can't say I enjoyed any of them. I'm not saying I disagreed with any of their arguments - I just found that coming from a non-economics background, I struggled through all three of the 200+ page books.

    I really enjoyed ‘See No Evil’ – the memoirs of Robert Baer, an ex-CIA agent. The book inspired the film ‘Syriana.’

    I also liked ‘Al-Qaeda’ by Jason Burke. I thought it was an excellent review of the Al-Qaeda cell phenomenon. Burke provides a series of case studies, examining the circumstances of the men who have gone on to commit or attempt terrorist attacks in the name of Al-Qaeda. Interestingly, many of the men Burke writes about are in similar situations before they turn to fanaticism - they are generally people who feel that they have not yet fulfilled their potential in life and become bitter about this - Al Qaeda gives them a target for their bitterness.

    ‘Globalizaition and the Gulf’ was an interesting book about the politics and societies of the super-rich tiny states of the Arabian/Persian Gulf.

    Although it’s not really a politics book, Tim Harford’s ‘The Undercover Economist’ was a very enjoyable read.


    'The Soccer War' by Ryszard Kapuscinski is a collection of writings by a Polish journalist who was posted - all over the world really - during the 1960s and 1970s. A lot of the reporting comes from Africa, while the title of the books stems from the war between El Salvador and Honduras, which Kapuscinski witnessed.

    Another journalist’s memoirs, Fergal Keane’s ‘All These People’ has interesting analyses of Irish society since independence, Northern Ireland and South Africa during the end of Apartheid.

    I read ‘What if – Alternative Views of Twentieth Century Ireland’ by Diarmuid Ferriter recently. While the subjects covered were diverse, one criticism I would have of it is that all too often it seemed like I was just reading the script of the radio programme – I think the format works much better in the audio rather than the literary form.

    The Oxford Readers 'Nationalism' and Benedict Anderson's 'Imagined Communities’ are two very interesting works on nationalism.

    Other books with a slightly political/historical/economic slant that I’ve enjoyed are:

    ‘Che Guevara’ by Jon Lee Anderson
    ‘The Prince’ by Nicolo Macchiavelli
    ‘Leviathan’ by Thomas Hobbes (only read the first half of this)
    ‘Hidden Agendas’ by John Pilger
    ‘The Republic’ by Plato
    ‘Wild Swans’ by Jung Chang
    ‘Cancer Ward’ by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
    ‘The Generation Game’ by David McWilliams
    ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ by Jared Diamond
    ‘Football Against the Enemy’ by Simon Kuper (One of my favourite genres – books that combine football with socio-political commentary. Once I finish Martin Meredith’s State of Africa I plan on working my way through a tome by David Goldblatt called ‘The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football)
    ‘The Culture of Contentment’ by John Kenneth Galbraith
    ‘Putin’s Russia’ by Anna Politkovskaya
    ‘The Naked Politician’ by Katie Hannon offered some interesting insights into Irish local politics.

    I’m afraid my ‘Want to Read’ list is far longer than my ‘Already Read’ – maybe if I spent less time tapping away on the keyboard I’d make inroads on that. These are the ones I’d like to read in the near future – has anyone read them and if you have what did you think of them? Or even if you can offer better alternatives, please suggest them also.

    ‘Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power’ by Niall Ferguson
    ‘On Royalty’ by Jeremy Paxman
    ‘The Endless City’ by Ricky Burdett
    ‘Chaos at the Crossroads’ by Frank McDonald and James Nix
    ‘The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (Paperback)’ by William Russell Easterly
    ‘Alleluia America!: An Irish Journalist in Bush Country’ by Carole Coleman
    ‘News from No Man’s Land’ by John Simpson
    ‘The Coming Anarchy’ by Robert D. Kaplan
    Any Anthony Beevor books on either the Spanish Civil War, The Fall of Berlin or the Battle of Stalingrad.
    ‘Democracy for the Few’ by Michael Parenti
    ‘The Outsiders’ by Eamon Dillon
    ‘The Geography of Nowhere’ by James Howard Kunstler
    ‘The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht (Cornell Studies in Political Economy)’ by Andrew Moravcsik
    ‘If This is a Man and The Truce’ by Primo Levi
    ‘My Israel Question’ by Antony Loewenstein
    ‘The Case for Israel’ by Alan Dershowitz
    ‘Pity the Nation’ by Robert Fisk
    ‘Mao’ by Jung Chang
    The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership by Zbigniew Brzezinski
    Ethnicity (Oxford Readers)
    Kicking and Screaming: Dragging Ireland into the 21st Century by Ivana Bacik
    The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan
    The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier
    To Hell or Barbados: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland by Sean O’Callaghan
    Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century by Mark Leonard
    In Defense of Globalization by Jagdish Bhagwati
    Why Globalization Works by Martin Wolf
    Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib by Seymour M. Hersh
    This is Charlie Bird by Charlie Bird
    The Fall of Baghdad by Jon Lee Anderson
    The Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl Popper
    The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek
    Cosmopolitan Ireland: Globalisation and Quality of Life by Kieran Keohane and Carmen Kuhling
    Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    ‘Ireland 1912-1985’ by Joseph Lee. Only got the first 100 pages read of this, then stopped for some reason. Possibly the weight of the book.
    Any Robert Harris book – the ones I’ve read have all been fiction but they have very-well researched historical settings – I’m looking forward to reading Fatherland, Archangel and Enigma.
    Raj by Lawrence James
    ‘Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them’ by Philippe Legrain
    Also 'Europe at War' by Norman Davies


  • #2


    Has anyone read, The Making of the Celtic Tiger by by Ray MacSharry and Padraic White? I have seen very mixed review of it but I might give it a go.

    I used it for an essay a few years ago, I remember it being very readable, featuring narratives of how decisions were taken rather than a purely facts and statistics based book.


  • #2


    DaveMcG wrote: »
    Anyone familiar with the following books......

    'The State of Africa', by Martin Meredith

    'The New Penguin History of the World', by J.M. Roberts

    What did you think of them?

    Like GAf1983 (see later post) I found the Meredith book excellent: best one-volume survey of post-war Africa around. Well-written but (inevitably) rather depressing.

    I am actually moving to Rwanda for two years in September, so I am devouring everything I can on the subject: Gerard Prunier's 'The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide ' is excellent http://www.play.com/Books/Books/4-/411435/The-Rwanda-Crisis/Product.html .

    'Re-Imagining Rwanda: Conflict, Survival and Disinformation in the Late Twentieth Century' by Johann Pottier http://www.play.com/Books/Books/4-/685848/-/Product.html?searchstring=re-imagining+rwanda&searchsource=0 is a more unusual analysis and deals with issues such as the current 'official' version of the genocide and the manipulation of the media (as the author sees it) by the current administration.

    'A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali' by Gil Courtemanche (translated from the French) http://www.play.com/Books/Books/4-/437133/A-Sunday-at-the-Pool-in-Kigali/Product.html is a work of fiction but gives amazing insight into the background and process of the genocide.

    I am currently tracking down Ryszard Kapuscinski's Shadow of the Sun, a collection of essays about Africa - has anyone else come across it?


  • #2


    I am currently tracking down Ryszard Kapuscinski's Shadow of the Sun, a collection of essays about Africa - has anyone else come across it?

    It's available in the Limerick City Library, so I presume it's available in libraries elsewhere in Ireland - you could always try amazon. Have you read any of Fergal Keane's accounts of the atrocities in Rwanda?


  • #2


    gaf1983 wrote: »
    Have you read any of Fergal Keane's accounts of the atrocities in Rwanda?

    Have that on order from play.com, along with a volume excitingly entitled Education in Rwanda: Rebalancing Resources to Accelerate Post-Conflict Development and Poverty Reduction by the World Bank - can't wait!!;)


  • #2


    Can anyone recommend any good books on the whole Yugoslavia and Balkin thing? Croatia/Serbia/Kosovo etc etc The whole break up and wars and the like.

    Tried looking in Easons in the weekend but all I got was a strained neck :(


  • #2


    If you are interested in the actual process of the break-up, probably the best is a book written to accompany the BBC series 'The Death of Yugoslavia' by Alan Little and Laura Silber

    http://www.play.com/Books/Books/4-/251516/The-Death-of-Yugoslavia/Product.html

    It's also available on Amazon etc.


  • #2


    whats the best book shop in dublin for books on politics!


  • #2


    and what are best libaries in dublin also for political books


  • #2


    dav12345 wrote: »
    whats the best book shop in dublin for books on politics!

    Either Hodges Figgis or Waterstones on Dawson Street, would be my suggestion. Can't imagine where else you would find stuff if they don't have it.


  • #2


    dav12345 wrote: »
    whats the best book shop in dublin for books on politics!

    Chapters on parnell street
    http://www.chapters.ie/


  • #2


    I'm looking for a book published last year I think on the labour party in Ireland.
    I think it was the first full account of the party from beginning to present day. However I can't find it online through searching, can't remember the name or author. anyone know it?


  • #2


    Some great titles suggested here - one or two of which i've been meaning to read...
    But these are mostly specific books - does anyone know of good books that give a general oversight/introduction into the following topics:

    1) Political Ideologies/Theories.
    I have a very limited understanding of Politics - when I hear people talking about Left/Right, Liberalism/Convervatism, Socialism, etc then I'm lost. I'd like to have a basic understanding of this. I've researched some books on amazon but most of them are quite large texts (400 - 500 + pages) and seem to be aimed more at politics students.
    If there is a 'bluffers guide' to politics thats written in 'laymans' terms that anyone knows of then please suggest. Suggestions for any relevant web-sites on this topic are also welcome.

    2) World conflicts / movements.
    I found history terribly boring in schoold so didn't pay much attention. But i've recently read a few books that have stoked my interest in World history (Ryszard Kapuscinski's Imperium & 'The State of Africa' in particular). I'd like to familiarize myself with a brief history of recent significant movements of power & conflicts throughout the World - Lennin/Stalin in Russia; Hitler & WW2; Communism (Mao) in Asia; The Middle East; etc.
    If there is a 'one for all' book that covers all of these topics and possibly more then i'd like to hear about it. All suggestions are welcome.

    I'm not saying that I don't want to read about any of the above topics in detail - but i'd prefer to arm myself with a general knowledge before reading the more particular/specific books.


  • #2


    paddyblue wrote: »
    Some great titles suggested here - one or two of which i've been meaning to read...
    But these are mostly specific books - does anyone know of good books that give a general oversight/introduction into the following topics:

    1) Political Ideologies/Theories.
    I have a very limited understanding of Politics - when I hear people talking about Left/Right, Liberalism/Convervatism, Socialism, etc then I'm lost. I'd like to have a basic understanding of this. I've researched some books on amazon but most of them are quite large texts (400 - 500 + pages) and seem to be aimed more at politics students.
    If there is a 'bluffers guide' to politics thats written in 'laymans' terms that anyone knows of then please suggest. Suggestions for any relevant web-sites on this topic are also welcome.

    I don't think you can stray too far wrong with Politics by Andrew Heywood.

    While it is aimed at politics students, it is usually used in an introduction to the subject. Contains lots of boxes and features with explanations of the various terms, also profiles key figures in the history of political thought. The book also has a companion website:

    http://www.palgrave.com/foundations/heywood/index.html


  • #2


    Mod Edit December, 2015:

    As the forums have been merged, this thread can now be used for all useful links to international political institutions, good primer articles on international situations etc

    Thread Rules:

    Scofflaw wrote:
    Please don't link directly to campaign material. Links like Almanac's are fine, because they're links to organisations. Links to information are fine too. Links that go directly to a page of slogans are not OK without discussion, and this is not a discussion thread.


    Just sites, please - if you want to start a discussion, start a discussion thread.






    To help boards users get better informed I thought it worthwhile to compile a list of websites with pertinent information on the European Union. I'll start it off with a few of my favourites and I'll add more if people make recommendations.


    Europa.eu
    Official website maintained by the European Commission. Contains information on current EU institutions and policies.

    European Navigator
    Interactive website focusing on the history of the European Union as well as information on it's current structure. It has many multimedia elements including video & audio.

    Dublin European Institute
    Contains many research & analysis papers on Europe from UCD's DEI.

    The Institute of International and European Affairs
    More research & analysis papers on European as well as International issues.

    News Sites

    Blogs
    Mark Mardell's BBC Euroblog - General European issues
    Financial Times Brussels Blog - General European issues
    Grahnlaw - EU law
    EU Law Blog - EU Law


  • #2


    http://www.euronews.net/
    http://eux.tv/

    Yellow Stars blog is written by pro-European American, studying European Studies in Milwaukee.
    http://blog.yellow-stars.com/

    Debate Europe is a forum held on EU servers, available in all languages and for all.
    http://europa.eu/debateeurope/index_en.htm

    European political parties:


    Conservatives:

    European People's Party (EPP)
    http://www.epp.eu/



    Socialists:


    Party of European Socialists (PES)
    http://www.pes.org/



    Communists:

    European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)
    http://www.guengl.org/



    Eurosceptics:

    Intependence and Democracy (ID)
    http://www.indemgroup.org/

    EUDemocrats - (EUD)
    http://www.eudemocrats.org/



    National conservatives:

    Union for Europe of the Nations (UEN)
    http://www.uengroup.org/



    Liberals:

    Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)
    http://www.alde.eu/

    European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (member of ALDE)
    http://www.eldr.eu



    Greens:

    European Greens–European Free Alliance (Greens-EFA)
    http://www.greens-efa.org/European

    Green Party (member of Green-EFA)
    http://www.europeangreens.org

    European Free Alliance (member of Green-EFA)
    http://www.e-f-a.org



    Pan-Europeans:

    Europe United (EUP)
    http://www.europeunited.eu

    Newropeans
    http://www.newropeans.eu/index.php?lang=en

    Europe Democracy Esperanto (EDE)
    http://e-d-e.org/?lang=en

    Libertas Party
    http://www.libertas.eu


  • #2


    I left out probably the best place to start for anyone who is unfamiliar with the EU. The Wikipedia Portal:European Union.


  • #2


    "Voltaires Bastards" by John Ralston Saul. It details the evolution of the notion of rationalism, as well as the impact that the various strains have on politics and society. Eg. how we have been programmed to accept economic rationalism as a primary goal in our society instead of actually looking after one another. The financial 'cost' of a health care system is too much to bear in some countries like the US while the human cost of people dying untreated in the street is acceptable. e.gif


  • #2


    If you can get over the self-congratulatory (for bringing up an allegedly 'taboo' subject) and dreary tone of the writing, 'The Israel Lobby' gives a fairly detailed account of how much clout pro-Israel groups have in influencing American foreign policy.

    Just be wary that they attribute much of the blame for the invasion of Iraq to that same lobby, which I'm told is a fairly wild claim to make.
    gaf1983 wrote:
    These are the ones I’d like to read in the near future – has anyone read them and if you have what did you think of them?

    ...

    ‘Mao’ by Jung Chang

    I read this monster of a book last year. Fascinating and chilling. Mao was the closest someone can get to being 'inhuman'.
    ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ by Jared Diamond

    Reading this at the moment. What did you think of it?


  • #2


    This one is good for lists & info on those running in the upcoming European elections. www.micandidate.ie


  • #2


    Just thoughts of a pro European independent against the Lisbon treaty

    http://citizensimon.blogspot.com/

    Hope you enjoy it

    Comments, suggestions, supporters and critics welcome


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