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07-08-2006, 00:30   #1
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Book recommendations thread

Mod Note:

Book Recommendations, Petitions, Surveys, New Party announcements and International politics primers stickies merged.

Note in this thread you don't need to add your own opinions if you are leaving a useful link to a book or primer recommendation etc.


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 )

Last edited by johnnyskeleton; 29-08-2017 at 19:10.
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07-08-2006, 00:52   #2
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Good idea, thread stickied. Use this thread for recommendations only. If you want to discuss the politics check if there is a thread on the topic or start a new one.

Last edited by gandalf; 07-08-2006 at 10:52.
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07-08-2006, 01:47   #3
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Its very hard to name one unbiased source during a war, I suppose. Everybody comes from somewhere, and everybody has their own inevitable political views. So maybe read both sides - East and West - and consider the author, and see whom you believe.

I think youre a student in UCD right? These books are quite good and are all ones I have used from the main library. They should be pretty easy to get in the real world too

"Being Modern in Iran" by a woman called Fariba Adelkhah

Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia:
by a Pakistani author called Ahmed Rashid is an excellent book. Ahmed Rashid comes from a Muslim background and is opposed to the extremism and presents an excellent picture of the history of the Taliban in Afghanistan and although its getting old its story has a lesson in it for politics in 2006. I believe Rashid has more books but I havent read them yet.

The Cambridge history of Iran. - there are several volumes in this series, the one from Nadir Shah to the Islamic republic of Iran is good.

"The Birth of Israel" by Simha Flapan (an Israeli)

The many essays, books and other writings by Gore Vidal

The Qur'an. (The Pickthall Edition) I'm not sure if its in the library, it should be! I think if everybody read (and understood) the Quran it would completely change their feelings not only towards common political prejudices but towards Islam. Free in the Dublin Mosque SCR.

Thats all I can think of worth saying. Im sure other people will think of good suggestions.

Last edited by InFront; 07-08-2006 at 01:54.
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07-08-2006, 13:07   #4
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I've just finished reading Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast the pulitzer award winning author of 'The best democracy money can buy' and a journalist for BBC and the Guardian.
It's an excellent piece of investigative journalism that looks at curroption in Political and Corporate America.
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07-08-2006, 13:58   #5
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Originally Posted by Akrasia
I've just finished reading Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast
Excellent book. I'd definitely recommend it.
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07-08-2006, 14:01   #6
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I've already mentioned it in a couple of threads, I think: The Right Nation - Why America is Different by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.
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07-08-2006, 19:39   #7
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To give an Irish perspective to the current crisis.

In the Service of Peace: Memories of Lebanon - Comdt Brendan O'Shea

A collection of memories about the 23 years Irish Troops spent taking part in peacekeeping operations in the Lebanon up to their withdrawal in 2001.

On General Themes

I have found John Pilger's Hidden Agenda's to be a good read as well

Along with Noam Chomsky's Rogue States

And I am currently reading

Diet for a Dead Planet by Christopher D. Cook

It's about how current trends towards mass farming is effecting the quality of the food we eat and is putting our health at risk. Eventhough its about the US system it is relevant to us in Europe as well (Con you should check this one out!).
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08-08-2006, 23:19   #8
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Originally Posted by gandalf
It's about how current trends towards mass farming is effecting the quality of the food we eat and is putting our health at risk. Eventhough its about the US system it is relevant to us in Europe as well (Con you should check this one out!).
I must when I get a chance.I do know that regulations governing food production in Europe are very very strict compared to the USA where theres virtually no restrictions at all.They can use chemicals and hormones(in beef cattle) galore that are banned here.

Anyway I'm ot now so I'll shut up
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09-08-2006, 01:30   #9
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Thumbs up on gandalf's first two as well.

Its a bit pop political but fear and loathing on the campaign trail '72, by hunter s thompson. Thompson turned his anger rage and focus on the american election in 1972 at the height of the Vietnam war and with the scandal of watergate brewing. Primarily its about the collapse of a democratic anti war campaigner, Mc Govern, who was a decorated WW2 veteran, and how the republicans and his own party's pathetic feuding ripped him to shreds.

The echo's are obvious, and if you didn't watch the last two seasons of the west wing, I think it's the best primer on the oddities of the american political process, written by a man who had a unique view.

I'd also recommend his book the great shark hunt, which has some excellent colour essays on Thompson's previous work (including the seminal "the Kentucky Derby is violent and depraved") but also has his essays on the watergate hearing, and his meetings with Jimmy Carter, including the only surviving transcript of an electrifiying speech Carter made in the deep south as governer, which ear marks him as the last true liberal president the united states had.
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09-08-2006, 10:54   #10
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Pity the Nation by Robert Fisk.
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09-08-2006, 11:52   #11
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Gandalfs avatar has just reminded me that the movie V for Vandetta is just out on DVD. I know it's not a book, but if the leaving cert can call films a 'text' then so can I.

It's a political alegory much like Orwells 1984 (which is another book i strongly recommend), based on a comic book from the 1980's about a dystopian United Kingdom.
The key figure 'V' is a shakespeare quoting alliterationist who was created like a monster by the evil acts of the government and who is determined lead the masses to overthrow his creator.

The most important thing to realise while watching this movie, is that While V is a man in the film, he is supposed to represent the spirit of the revolution, and not an actual individual.

Last edited by Akrasia; 09-08-2006 at 11:55.
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09-08-2006, 14:40   #12
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the Great War for civilisation by Robert Fisk is worth the effort to read. Its harrowing in places and is not exactly unbiased but it does cover the history of the region in the last century until today pretty well.
Plus Rogue State by Robert Blum for a look at the US foriegn policy over the last 50 years. It is quite scary tho.
For an example of how the media distorts a conflict and why military force is not the answer to nationalist type conflicts try A Great and Shining Lie by John Vann.
If you go to the common website they list links to various books and articles by various contributors as does then click on znet link.
For alternative news sites try this lot (tho many are just "off-the-wall")
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09-08-2006, 16:23   #13
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From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman is a decent intro to the current situation between Israel and Lebanon. Obviously many years out of date, but gives a good feel for the different parties involved. Friedman has his opinions and so the book isn't completely unbiased, but it's still a good read.

I also can't recommend Imperial Hubris enough. It is a critique of US foreign policy from a CIA intelligence analyst.

Last edited by illegalheadbutt; 09-08-2006 at 16:26.
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10-08-2006, 21:14   #14
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Another 'not actually a book from me

the revolution will not be televised also called 'Chavez, Inside the coup, the Irish documentary from the inside of the Attempted CIA coup in Venezuela
is available on-line here http://www.informationclearinghouse....ticle13119.htm
It's a fascinating documentary for anyone interested in the situation over there
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10-08-2006, 23:21   #15
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Akrasia thanks for that, I was kicking myself when I missed it on TV.
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