Deaglán de Bréadún
Political wonks, nerds and anoraks have an embarrassment of riches to choose from this Christmas in terms of books on the economic crisis and other related matters.
Can I put in a mention for two beautifully-written memoirs with strong political content by former colleagues on this newspaper, James Downey (In My Own Time, Gill and Macmillan) and Dennis Kennedy (Square Peg, Nonsuch Publishing).
Both were – and Downey still is – covering politics at home and abroad for many years and their respective volumes provide a remarkable insight into the Irish scene, Anglo-Irish relations, EU matters, office politics at the paper and other, more personal topics.
Downey’s recollections of growing up in Leitrim under the shadow of mass emigration are searing at times and deserve to be expanded into a second book - I have told him that myself. Kennedy came from a Northern Protestant background, which gave him a unique perspective on society in the Republic.
For more recent politics, there is, of course, Pat Leahy’s Showtime which has won universal praise. Then there’s Fintan O’Toole’s insightful Ship of Fools not to mention other very impressive books by Shane Ross (The Bankers), Matt Cooper (Who Really Runs Ireland), David Murphy and Martina Devlin (Banksters), Jim Power (Picking up the Pieces), David McWilliams (Follow the Money), to name but a few.
Kevin Rafter has a very interesting book out on Fine Gael – potentially the main ruling party after the next election (Fine Gael: Party at the Crossroads). Anyone trying to understand Bertie Ahern’s finances and the political ramifications thereof should read Michael Clifford and Shane Coleman’s The Drumcondra Mafia. Secrecy of another kind is explored in Brian Hanley and Scott Millar’s The Lost Revolution, a remarkable history of the Workers’ Party and the Official IRA.
Good luck with the last-minute shopping and Nollaig faoi shéan daoibh go léir (Happy Christmas to you all.)