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12-08-2007, 16:58   #31
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I am currently reading IRISH FREEDOM - A history of nationalism in Ireland by Richard English which so far seems quite a good book. I also like his previous book ARMED STRUGGLE - The history of the IRA which is the best book about the IRA in my opinion.
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16-08-2007, 19:48   #32
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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
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16-08-2007, 20:44   #33
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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.
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14-09-2007, 21:50   #34
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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).
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13-10-2007, 01:55   #35
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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.
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16-11-2007, 18:27   #36
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Originally Posted by DaveMcG View Post
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 )
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.
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18-01-2008, 14:56   #37
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Originally Posted by Generic_Dave View Post
...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.
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18-01-2008, 15:29   #38
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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.
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23-02-2008, 15:51   #39
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Originally Posted by DaveMcG View Post
'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

Last edited by gaf1983; 23-02-2008 at 15:56.
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23-02-2008, 15:55   #40
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Originally Posted by guinnessdrinker View Post
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.
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11-06-2008, 11:45   #41
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Martin Meredith

Originally Posted by DaveMcG View Post
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 .

'Re-Imagining Rwanda: Conflict, Survival and Disinformation in the Late Twentieth Century' by Johann Pottier 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) 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?
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11-06-2008, 23:49   #42
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Originally Posted by quidestveritas? View Post
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?
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12-06-2008, 09:34   #43
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Originally Posted by gaf1983 View Post
Have you read any of Fergal Keane's accounts of the atrocities in Rwanda?
Have that on order from, 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!!
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16-06-2008, 20:44   #44
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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
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16-06-2008, 22:10   #45
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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

It's also available on Amazon etc.
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