Tuesday 30 June 2020

What I've Been Reading Recently

It's time to reveal what books I've managed to get through these last few months.

Sex, Gender, and the Conservative Party by Sarah Childs and Paul Webb
Defenders of Ultramar by Graham McNeill
Small Men on the Wrong Side of History by Ed West
The Autobiography by John Major
Nemesis Games by James SA Corey
An Ice Cream War by William Boyd
Will of Iron by George Mann
Revelations by George Mann
Fallen by George Mann
Solar by Ian McEwan
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel
England, Their England by AG Macdonnell

This list shows up the frustrations of lockdown. I remember thinking there would be plenty of time for even more reading when all this started. Three-and-a-half months later and only a fraction of the normal consumption has presented itself to my eyeballs. Book writing only makes up for some of this. I guess waiting around for trains takes up more time than I thought.

Looking at what has been read, I suppose what leaps out are the graphic novels by McNeill and Mann. These four collections are from the Warhammer 40k universe, which was something I was into back in the early 90s and revisited several years ago. Sadly, none of these novels are particularly good: the characterisation is pants, the storylines very A to B, but the star of 40k has been the unremitting grimness of the setting. If anything, these books are exercises in lore building, which I suppose might satisfy the devotee. Moving on from grimdark to grey, John Major's autobiography was very interesting - but that's all I'm going to say about it because the jolly old book talks about him at length and, in particular, his policy contribution to neoliberal governance.

Fingers crossed there will be more books to reflect upon in three months time! Have you been reading anything interesting recently?

Image Credit


Ken said...

You might want to think about how many books you own if you were ever to contemplate moving house: just saying.

Phil said...

We had a huge clear out years ago. The books we own are at manageable levels!

Blissex said...

«John Major's autobiography was very interesting»

Indeed, both about him as a person and the political details, full of interesting quotes.
Overall my impression is that he was in the wrong party: he is clearly a conservative, in the better sense of the term, and he would have been a christian-democrat in another country, a centre or centre-right "social-democrat" like MacMillan, but ended up in a hard-right thatcherite party, and adapted quite well to it. There is an apposite quote from an interview with E Filby:

«However, it is undeniable that Thatcher’s policies led to a nation that was more individualistic, hedonistic and greedy. With this in mind, I press Filby as to whether Thatcher ever regretted unleashing the forces she did. “Yes,” comes the instant reply. “Peregrine Worsthorne [Telegraph journalist] once said that, ‘Margaret Thatcher came into Downing Street determined to recreate the world of her father and ended up creating the world of her son.’ It’s a pretty damning assessment but it’s actually quite true.”»

Probably J Major too liked the conservative world of her father, but he contributed quite a lot to support the creation of her son's world.

Anonymous said...

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie.

Rob Hancock said...

Can I put in a word for John Bolton's book, The Room Where it Happened. I'm not in the habit of reading right wingers, but sometimes it's worth the effort. Probably the last book I read of this hue was Alan Clark's Diaries. The point of similarity, and the reasoned recommend anyone on the left to read book books, is that no matter how much you think these types hate us (which they do of course), it's encouraging to understand how much they hate each other. So for example, Clark sneeringly refers to a Tory rival as the sort of person "who bought all his own furniture. Bolton's book is full of similar behind the scenes backbiting, for example Chair of the Fed Powell is called by Trump "that idiot at the Fed" (p.155); W Bush is also repeatedly called "an idiot" by Trump.
There are delicious glimpses of what an empty brain produces on almost every page. For example, and I'm not encouraging the US to wage war here, but when (on p 177) Trump justifies his foreign policy (if you can call it that) by pointing out that "it was cheaper to rebuild the World Trade Centre than to fight in Afghanistan" you have to wonder.
I also couldn't help wondering whether Trump is attracted to men in uniforms. He refers to "all those good looking generals" (p 109) in Venezuela which according to Trump "is really part of the United States" (p105) and again when he says of Billy Graham's grandson "why is he only a major...he's good looking, straight from central casting".
That's enough tittle tattle from me. I'll leave it to sharper minds than mine to draw out the geopolitical revelations in the book. My only point is that it's worth a look. Know your enemy and all that.

Should also say Phil- I really enjoy your blog.