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World Book Day – What are your favourite books?

Today is World Book Day, a chance to celebrate our favourite books and authors and talk about what we love to read.  So, please use the comments to talk about your favourite political books and those you read for pleasure.

One of the things which upsets me most about Long Covid is that I have been able to read so little for pleasure. Normally I’d read one book a week. Last year,  in total, I read one whole book and two half books.  However, in January alone, I’d already surpassed that. February has not been so good as I’ve been slowly increasing my hours at work which has used up pretty much all my energy.

It’s always good on World Book Day to scroll through social media and see all the children heading off to school dressed up as their favourite character. It’s a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of their parents. All too often they find out at 8pm the night before that such an event is happening and have to magic an outfit out of nowhere.  And as we come up to International Women’s Day next week, it’s worth mentioning that it is likely to be the unseen and under-appreciated work of women that  makes these things happen.

My favourite political book of all time has got to be the memoir of the 1992 US presidential campaign written by James Carville and Mary Matalin. He was Clinton’s campaign director, she was a senior member of the Bush campaign. They fell in love just before the campaign kicked off.  All’s Fair – Love, war and running for President was their hilarious account of that campaign, which shows their eccentricities off at beautifully and is a superb piece of history.

Purple Homicide, by John Sweeney, is a brilliant reminder of one fo the 1997 election’s non Lib Dem highlights. Former BBC journalist  Martin Bell took on Conservative MP Neil Hamilton in an anti-sleaze campaign after Hamilton was implicated in the Cash for Questions affair.  Again, this account is hilarious, getting its title from the “homicidal purple” trousers worn by Christine Hamilton to a dramatic encounter on Knutsford Heath.

Shirley Williams’ autobiography Climbing the Bookshelves is another special book for me. Shirley is one of my political heroes and when I read it I hear the words as she would speak them. From her evacuation across the Atlantic as a child during the war to her election as an MP, to her career as a Labour minister and then with the SDP and Liberal Democrats.

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For World Book Day: What’s your favourite political book?

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 09.39.28Today is World Book Day. I thought it might be fun to have a discussion about our favourite books. We should probably try to stick to books which are vaguely linked to politics, but I’m not going to complain too much if you don’t.

My all-time favourite, after 21 years, remains “All’s Fair: Love, war and running for President” by Mary Matalin and James Carville. The two authors are now married and got together just before both of them took jobs on opposing sides of the 1992 presidential election campaign. Carville was Clinton’s main strategist, Matalin was the Bush campaign’s head of communications.  It is a story of a relationship which crosses campaign boundaries, of late night wine fuelled campaign errors told in hilarious style. It gives an insight into the way US campaigns work and it combines the political and personal in a massively enjoyable and entertaining way. Everyone should read it.

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