jump to navigation

Extremely Belated Summer Reading Post August 18, 2011

Posted by Garibaldy in Culture.

The past few years, we’ve had a thread on what people were planning to read during the summer. I’ve managed a disgraceful one out of three from last year’s list, which might explain why I forgot about this this year until a couple of days ago. So far this summer, I’ve read a couple of books being discussed here anyway – Conor McCabe’s Sins of the Father and Matt Treacy’s Rethinking the Republic. I’m also planning on starting soon Stanley Payne’s Franco and Hitler which I picked up cheaply in Books Upstairs in Dublin. What have people been reading this summer?


1. Crocodile - August 18, 2011

‘Flat Earth News’ by Nick Davies, a completely convincing account of how the news we read and watch is always manipulated and often untrue. Written before the News International revelations, it made me laugh all the louder as every tactic tried by the Murdochs was described in its pages.
(Vintage, £8.99)


2. CMK - August 18, 2011

Currently reading ‘Liberalism: A Counter History’ by Domenico Losurdo and it traces very carefully how liberalism evolved from the 16th to the 19th centuries to exclude from it’s conception of the ‘free individual’ whole categories like black slaves (US), the ‘poor’ (UK), the ‘Irish’ (UK again), etc, etc.

Also interesting was Evgeny Mozorov’s ‘The Net Delusion’ which debunks a lot of the optimism about the net as a tool for political and social change. His basic argument is that internet activism is a godsend to repressive regimes and democratic states that want to keep close tabs on dissident groups and he stresses the obvious point that setting up a facebook campaign does not equate to political activism. In a week where four year sentences were handed out to two would be rioters for messages they posted on facebook, Mozorov’s book is, I think essential reading.

Also, enjoyed Conor Kostick’s ‘Revolution in Ireland’, enjoyed Eoin O’Broin’s ‘Sinn Fein and the Politics of Left Republicanism’ less so, and just starting ‘Strumpet City’.


Ross Wolfe - March 24, 2012

Recently, my friend and colleague Pam Nogales conducted an interview with Dr. Losurdo on his book, Liberalism: A Counter-History, for the Platypus Affiliated Society. There will perhaps be a written transcript of the interview eventually published in The Platypus Review, but for now it is available for viewing on our organization’s Vimeo account. If you are interested, you can access the video of our exchange by clicking the following link:

An interview with the Italian Hegelian-Marxist philosopher and historian Domenico Losurdo on his book, Liberalism: A Counter-History


3. make do and mend - August 18, 2011

Non-political: Bertrand Russell’s: History of Western Philosophy (used)

Political: Masanobu Fukuoka’s: The One Straw Revolution (used, strangely Indian published) — Joy Larkcom’s: Grown your own vegitables (alas new) & Marx’s: Capital – dipping in and out as the mood takes (used, reused, but never abused)


4. Richard - August 19, 2011

The Losurdo book is great.

Chavs by Owen Jones, which I’m reading at the minute, is an excellent read. Way more substantial and perceptive than what I’d expected, for some reason.


5. Jim Monaghan - August 19, 2011


I remember reading her when a child. I discovered mentions of her recently and discovered she was very left. Reporter for Sylvia Pankhursts Workers Dreadnought and later marrid to R. M. Fox. I wonder was her leftism reflected in her novels. Most commentary has her having an idealised attitude to rural Irish life. I appreciate that this is not actually the right forum but perhaps others can remember her books.


6. Gearóid - August 19, 2011

Finished ‘Superman:Red Son’; great comic book where Superman, instead of landing in Smallville, Kansas, is reared in a collective farm in the Ukraine and tips the Cold War heavily in the Soviets’ favour once he reaches adulthood.

Currently reading Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Cat’s Cradle’, which is great, and plan on reading Robert Tressell’s ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ after that.


WorldbyStorm - August 19, 2011

’tilts it heavily in the Soviet’ favour’… I like your line in understatement. 🙂

It’s a great read that one.


7. WorldbyStorm - August 19, 2011

Ditto re Conor McCabe and Matt Treacy which have already been discussed here.

This Neutral Island – Claire Willis which is an useful overview of the political and as importantly cultural aspects of Irish neutrality during the Emergency/WWII. Some amazing stuff in here which has stuck with me. One thought amongst many, she ascribes the ultimate failure of The Bell, Peadar O’Donnell’s magazine, to the opening up of the state in the aftermath of the Emergency, that that sort of indigenous intellectual/cultural/political [sotto voce] strand that was pretty cosmopolitan to begin with was overwhelmed by the flood of new stuff from the UK/US etc whereas before it had been almost but not entirely unique inside the state and provided a very clear and distinctive voice.

Guarding Neutral Ireland – Michael Kennedy – This sounded like it might be a bit drab, an overview of the coastal watch set up under military intelligence G2 during the emergency, but there was something weirdly compelling about how the reports from the watch cohered into a sort of askew view of the war right up to the dying days of the Reich as its submarines continued to harry Atlantic convoys. Remarkable stuff.

Comrades – Robert Service. Rereading this, and it comes with all the necessary caveats, Service is no friend of the left, let alone communism but, but… its scope is genuinely impressive and the history therein is fascinating and depressing and it’s always interesting to read a view from beyond the left. I’m looking at reading Archie Brown next which I believe is marginally more favourable. Anyone read it?

The Psychopath Test – Jon Ronson – I’d gone a bit off Ronson to be honest and hadn’t bothered reading his stuff in a while when I heard an interview with him on Little Atoms and got this. Surprisingly entertaining and not in the slightest bit depressing, though the stray thought kept coming to me while reading it that given the hoops we have to jump through physiologically and mentally to become adult humans it’s amazing more people aren’t sociopathic/psychopathic.

Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction is Changing Men, Women and the World – Liza Mundy – Mundy writes for the Washington Post and Slate and it’s a human and enlightening book, published in 2008 and genuinely fascinating as an insight into ART and what that holds for the future. As an aside Mundy argues gently that she believes this has been an area underexplored by mainstream feminism which is a pity if fully accurate because it directly impinges on it.

Official Irish Republicanism, 1962 to 1972 – Sean Swan – Finally read this. Got to say I really enjoyed it. Swan is pretty trenchant in his views which is refreshing. Good overview and found myself agreeing a lot of the time. Well worth picking up if you can.


8. irishelectionliterature - August 20, 2011

Aside from Sins of The Father I’ve read a good few books over the Summer.
“Selling your father’s bones” by Brian Schofield which tells the story of the Nez Perce tribe. The book tells the tale of their heart rendering flight from their lands interspersed with interviews and the writers impressions of the places they were driven out of. It also tells of the fate that befell their lands. The forests wiped out for timber, the fish caught and canned and then rivers rendered useless for Salmon as countless dams without Salmon runs were built on rivers all over the US. The environmental damage done by amongst other things mining, industry, timber and agriculture to the US North West is detailed too. The examination of “The Settler Myth” gives an insight as to where the likes of the Tea Party sprang from and the forces that exploit the settler myth to their advantage.
I’m not doing the book justice in this brief few lines as there is so much in it. I’d highly recommend it.

“Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation” by John Ehle is another one I read and although good I didn’t find it as engrossing as some of the other Native American History books that I’d read.

You might see a theme here …. “The French and Indian War” by Walter R. Borneman was on a subject I knew little about and was a fascinating and informative read.

Another book was “The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia’s Founding” by Robert Hughes. Another engrossing read that is beautifully written. A review can put it better than I did
“For 80 years between 1788 and 1868 England transported its convicts to Australia. This punishment provided the first immigrants and the work force to build the colony. Using diaries, letters, and original sources, Hughes meticulously documents this history. All sides of the story are told: the political and social reasoning behind the Transportation System, the viewpoint of the captains who had the difficult job of governing and developing the colonies, and of course the dilemma of the prisoners. ”

Picked James Downey “In My Own Time” up for a euro at a Christmas Fair and its a well written pleasant and interesting read

Election wise There was The Week In Politics 2011 Election book which is pretty good. Noel Whelan and Kevin Rafters “Malin head to Mizen Head” which is a book with results and background to the 1991 Local Elections. I also bought “Irish Elections 1948-77: Results and Analysis” which although expensive is a fantastic resource. (sample pages at http://www.tcd.ie/Political_Science/staff/michael…/IrEls4877SamplePages1.pdf)

Finally a surprisingly good read “Toilets of the World”, they have a website http://toiletsoftheworldbook.com/ should you be interested.


FergusD - August 22, 2011

Read The Fatal Shore some time ago. A great book. If I remember correctly the First Fleet, which took the first convicts to Oz was indeed the first voyage to Oz since Capt Cook’s some years before. Amazing, they were being sent to an almost unknown (to Europeans) continent where the convicts had to build their own “prison”, nothing awaited them but the wilderness. Must have been like being sent to the Moon in a convict space craft 10 years after the Apollo moon landings.

The description of conditions on Norfolk Island are terrifying. And of course Irish “convicts” were the last to be sent to Oz, Fenians I think.


9. IVF and bioethics… « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - November 24, 2011

[…] mentioned earlier this year in comments to this post about Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction is Changing Men, Women and the World – by […]


10. Alive! « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - March 15, 2012

[…] Still no end of material to engage with. For example, Fr. Owen Gorman has a nice article about ‘helping childless couples’ and IVF. I’m always interested in this area, indeed I mentioned the impression a book I read last year about ART and related issues in comments here. […]


11. Ross Wolfe - May 5, 2012

Pam Nogales and I, members of the Platypus Affiliated Society, recently interviewed the Italian Hegelian-Marxist philosopher and historian Domenico Losurdo, author of Liberalism: A Counter-History (2006, translated 2011).  We talked about Marxism, the problematic legacy of liberalism, and the State.  You might be interested in checking out the edited transcript of our conversation, which was recently published in The Platypus Review.

You can also find full video of the interview on our Vimeo page.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: