To Kill the President

To Kill the President by Sam Bourne (Jonathan Freedland) is an incredibly timely and prescient novel.

There is no mention of the current US President but his persona runs through this novel,  you will recognise the Bannon, Priebus and Ivanka characters as well. This is crazy, scary fiction made more so by the fact that it is so believable in current circumstances.

The plot starts with a late night panic as the President endeavours to launch a nuclear strike against North Korea, well that could never happen in real life or could it?

You can’t put this down, it’s perfect holiday reading. It’s even more delicious if you have been reading Freedland’s columns for the Guardian over the last year

4/5

Post-Truth

Post-Truth by Matthew d’Ancona is both timely and thought provoking.

In recent months we have been bombarded with allegations of “Fake News”, “the politics of fear”, “alternative facts” and wherever you sit on the political spectrum at the very least some economy in truthfulness (although nearly always from those that you already disagree with).

This is a short tour through the genesis of the phenomena that d’Ancona describes as Post-Truth written in an easily readable academic style. Starting in 2016 it follows both the Trump campaign in the US election and the Leave campaign in the UK’s EU referendum and explores how emotion and identity have replaced truth in political discourse in both countries. d’Ancona highlights the collapse of trust in experts and facts and the way that social media has magnified the impact of misinformation, conspiracy theories and ultimately Fake News.

Post-Truth is a disturbing read, the reader is left shocked at the speed with which our discussion of events has been polluted by lies and misinformation in the last 2 years. Of course the bubble effect means that most who read this book will already agree with it while those who the reader might think ‘ought’ to read it will dismiss it as a crazy liberal conspiracy theory – that may be an indication of the long journey we face to get back to a norm of debate based on fact.

4.5/5

The Torture Trial

The Torture Trial by Joseph Suste is a surprising mix of a political polemic with a gripping court room drama. Imagine George Bush being brought to trial for authorising torture after 911, it could never happen? But it does in the Torture Trial.

Joseph Suste is a campaigning writer who seems to know his stuff about the US legal code, international law on torture and what went on post 911. The novel is extensively footnoted with hundreds of references, I don’t know whether his quotes are in or out of context, but to me at least, he makes a convincing case against Bush and his senior advisers. But, The Torture Trial is not just a well argued case for prosecuting the perpetrators of torture at the highest level of the US administration, it’s a really good court room drama, the characters are engaging, the plot is full of believable skullduggery – I didn’t want to put it down.

Read this, it’s gripping, instructive and most importantly it will make you question your ideas on what is acceptable within our democracies to defend us against those who want to do us harm. Think torture, think intrusive monitoring of our communications, think destabilising regimes that are considered a threat and think supporting some of the most anti democratic fascistic homophobic dictatorships in the world. All in the name of preserving our democratic values.

This was not what I was expecting, read it. 4.5/5