When I was lucky enough to get some down time during my travels, I read a lot of books. Whether I was sat in a shipping container somewhere in Africa sweltering at 55°C, or a weird hotel in Kazakhstan with snow piling up outside, I was usually reading something. This page lists a few that I found particularly interesting and recommend.
The links below go straight to the book on Amazon.co.uk. Fair disclosure here – if you choose to click through and buy one, they might give me commission.
A definitive run-down of the lead up to the First World War. It took me a while to get through this book, and I did find some of it rather hard going, but it was totally worth it. I had not realised how ignorant I was about the political situation that preceded the First World War and I really recommend it to anyone looking to broaden their understanding.
I’m not sure what I loved more about this book – the fact that it taught me an awful lot about the history of England from right back when it all began, or that you can almost hear Dan Hannan’s voice talking it through as you go.
He explains how England as a nation discovered that the key to prosperity is understanding that the state is the servant of the individual, and not the other way around, and then exported that ideology around the globe. Brilliant stuff. It’s my second-favourite Dan Hannan thing, after his take-down of Gordon Brown that time in the European Parliament.
You probably all know Maajid Nawaz as a former Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, occasional (sometimes irritating) panellist on BBC Question Time, and from his show on LBC. This book, as the link says, details his journey from growing up in Essex to becoming an Islamist, to his democratic awakening.
It is a massive eye-opener to what life was like for a British boy of Pakistani heritage growing up in Essex in the early 80s and I really, really strongly recommend it. A lot of what he describes, and what was considered fairly normal at the time, had me scooping my jaw up from the floor. It not only gave me a greater understand of how issues and divisions in society can snowball, it shows how far we’ve come.
I love this book. It is an incredibly strong take-down of pretty much all of the rhetoric that Leftists throw around daily about capitalism. I wish it was taught in schools!
Each chapter deals with a separate Leftist meme, such as “Capitalism relies on greed and selfishness” and “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer,” and gives what seem to be fairly irrefutable facts and figures to debunk the myth. If you have any of those really irritating left-wing teenage relatives that you want to bring into reality before University ruins them forever, this is a great Christmas gift!!
When Hayek (Nobel prize-winning economist) wrote this book in the early 1940s, conventional wisdom was that fascism was a capitalist reaction to socialism. Hayek explains how fascism – along with socialism (and National Socialism!) – stems from central economic planning and elevation of the state above the individual.
I decided to read this book when in Kazakhstan, where over a million people starved to death under communism, but is now thriving under capitalism. It seemed appropriate.
A geologist I worked with there told me about how his grandfather was shot dead in the street by the Soviets because he was, in relative terms, the ‘richest’ person in the village. It was a very topical horror-story given the book I was reading, and left a lasting impression.
This book is about the run-up to the 2015 General Election, and how the election campaign effected Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. I really enjoyed it, although I’m not sure how much of it is complete fact and how much is embellishment. Maybe I just enjoyed it because we won. Who knows? Either way, whether you like Dan Hodges or not, I recommend it.
There is an anecdote that, during a presentation by a left-leaning (by Tory standards) member of the Conservative research department, the then Leader of the Opposition Margaret Thatcher halted proceedings by drawing a copy of this book from her bag, slamming it on the table and declaring “This is what we believe!”
The fundamental principle of this book is that liberty of the individual is a key to growth and wealth creation, rather than wealth being the key to liberty.
It is quite hard-going at times, but I did really enjoy it and I agree with an awful lot of it.
Ever found yourself wondering what to do with an old, derelict mine site? Then this is the book for you! Commissioned by a group from the Eden Project, it goes through some of the innovative ways former mines have been transformed into something useful. Lots of pictures and easy reading – a nice, interesting book to have lying around.
I really enjoyed this book. Broadly, it’s about the struggle between politicians and the press (in particular the BBC), through the eyes of Robinson who’s been there and done it as the BBC’s political editor.
A great read for people interested in politics.
More to come…