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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: August 20, 2008 @ 12:41 pm

    What Brian Cowen was reading in the Connemara rain

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    A Summer reading list of 38 books was circulated to all 195 Tory MPs in Britain as they set off on their holidays (see below). Meanwhile we are told that Brian Cowen’s holiday reading in Connemara* in the rain was the autobiography of John Hume, entitled The New Ireland and a collection of essays by the poet and philosopher John O’Donohue, who died last January.

            As for myself, I read From the Margins to the Centre: A History of The Irish Times by Dermot James (Woodfield Press €45) and O Jerusalem! by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, the story of the foundation of the Israeli state, published in 1972 but still worth reading. Perhaps Cowen, Kenny, Gilmore, Gormley and Adams should give their people reading-lists too and it’s intriguing to speculate what they might contain.  

            The Tory list is quite formidable and if they take power next time they could be the best-read government in the world. A notable omission is Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope. Probably most of the voters are reading chick-lit which is now so pervasive that a male author who is a friend of mine decided to adopt a female pseudonym; if you can’t beat them, join them. Wild  horses wouldn’t drag it from me, but the books are selling very well.

    The Full List: What Cameron’s Tories are (supposed to be) Reading on the Beach:
    Terror and Consent: The War for the Twenty-First Century, by Philip Bobbitt.
    Tony’s Ten Years: Memories of the Blair Administration, by Adam Boulton.
    Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini.
    Muqtada al-Sadr and the Fall of Iraq,by Patrick Cockburn.
    Empires of the Sea: The Final Battle for the Mediterranean 1521-1580,by Roger Crowley.
    Boris v Ken: How Boris Johnson Won London, by Giles Edwards and Jonathan Isaby.
    A Political Suicide: The Conservatives’ Voyage into the Wilderness, by Norman Fowler.
    Munich: The 1938 Appeasement Crisis, by David Faber.
    A Million Bullets: The Real Diary of the British Army in Afghanistan, by James Fergusson.
    Rivals: How the Power Struggle Between China, India and Japan will Shape our Next Decade, by Bill Emmott.
    A Choice of Enemies: America Confronts the Middle East, by Laurence Freedman.
    Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World
    , by Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart.

    The Rise of Boris Johnson, by Andrew Gimson.
    The Pain and the Privilege: The Women in Lloyd George’s Life, by Ffion Hague.
    Inside the Private Office: Memoirs of the Secretary to British Foreign Ministers, by Nicholas Henderson.
    Good Business: Your World Needs You, by Steve Hilton and Giles Gibbons.
    Dinner with Mugabe: The Untold Story, by Heidi Holland.
    Politicians and Public Services: Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures, by Kate Jenkins.
    Cameron on Cameron, by Dylan Jones.
    Vote for Caesar: How the Ancient Greeks and Romans Solved the Problems of Today, by Peter Jones.
    The Return of History and the End of Dreams, by Robert Kagan.
    Five Days in London, by John Lukas.
    Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Life in Occupied Europe, by Mark Mazower.
    Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of Islam’s City of Tolerance, by Giles Milton.
    1948: The First Arab Israeli War, by Benny Morris.
    Cold Cream: My Early Life and Other Mistakes, by Ferdinand Mount.
    Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision-Makers, by E Neudstadt and Ernest R May.
    Britain in Africa, Tom Porteous.
    A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, by Samantha Power.
    Descent into Chaos: How the War against Islamic Extremism is being lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia, by Ahmed Rashid.
    Masters and Commanders: How Roosevelt, Churchill, Marshall and Alanbrooke Won the War in the West, by Andrew Roberts.
    Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power from Hobbes to Orwell and Beyond, by David Runciman.
    Good Manners and Bad Behaviour: The Unofficial Rules of Diplomacy, by Candida Slater.
    Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness, by Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein.
    A Stranger in Europe: Britain and the EU from Thatcher to Blair, by Stephen Wall.
    Decline to Fall: The Making of British Macro-Economic Policy and the 1976 IMF Crisis, by Douglas Wass.
    Mr Lincoln’s T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War, by Tom Wheeler.
    The Post-American World, by Fareed Zakaria.
    *This emerged from Niamh Horan’s “doorstep” at the Cowen mobile home, reported in the Sunday Independent on August 10th.
    Deaglán de Bréadún, Political Correspondent, The Irish Times and author of The Far Side of Revenge: Making Peace in Northern Ireland, recently published in a second edition by Collins Press, Cork www.collinspress.ie

    • Brock Landers says:

      Where did you find out about the Tory reading list?

    • Deaglán says:

      The story appeared in the British newspapers in early August. I was away at the time but saw a reference to it in today’s Guardian and followed that up. Incidentally, the Independent TD Finian McGrath tells me his holiday reading on the beach in France included a volume about managing stress by Dr Phil McGraw (of Oprah Winfrey fame), which he praises very highly, and J.J. Barrett’s “Martin Ferris: Man of Kerry” which he says was “a very good insight … very good read”. Every summer he also reads the Collected Works of James Connolly. “I am trying to study Connolly and make it relevant to modern, post-Good Friday Agreement Ireland,” he tells me. Deaglán

    • Brock Landers says:

      Thanks Deaglán. Going by Finian’s book choice he sounds like a barrel of laughs. I wonder do politicos have something against books that aren’t autobiographies or historical tomes?

    • Deaglán says:

      Actually, Mr McGrath, whatever people may think of his political stance at the moment, is a very entertaining companion. I thought it was refreshing that he was prepared to admit having read and enjoyed a “self-help” book. Politicians do seem to go in a lot for biographies and historical volumes all right. It must be the De Gaulle Complex, worrying about their place in history. At the same time I suspect they probably read a fair amount of trash as well but don’t like it known. Deaglán


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