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K. T. O'Reilly (SE London)

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Tommy Robinson Enemy of the State
Tommy Robinson Enemy of the State
Price: £9.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most important political book of the decade, 20 May 2016
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Whether we like to admit it or not we're all influenced by the media, we accept a lot of what it tells us as fact without recognising we're taking a journalist's or newsreader's word. Without ever having been to an EDL demo, or listened to what they said, I accepted the narrative that they were far right football thugs. Even though I had myself woken up to the threat of radical Islam, and felt it was far worse than the establishment admitted, I saw the EDL as no solution and saw them in the same light as the National Front. I saw footage of angry, shouty, skinheaded blokes and not much else. The news would say "50 arrested at an EDL demo" or "Police injured at EDL rally".

Then I watched a Channel 4 documentary called Public Order, part of the series Coppers, and it was glaringly obvious that, save for a few drunks, the violence at EDL events was the work of Unite Against Fascism and Muslim troublemakers. Later I saw its leader Tommy Robinson interviewed reasonably fairly and at length,and speaking at the Oxford Union, and he emerged not as the fascist ringleader he was portrayed as but as a passionate but articulate working class man who got sick of seeing the effects on his town of the growth of an aggressive and radical religion.

I was keen to read this book since I saw the Oxford video and even after the speech and the interviews (most recently a good one by Sargon of Akkad) I found it an astonishing read. It's well written, highly readable and makes its points powerfully but it's the subject matter though that shocks you.

First there's the degree that towns with large Muslim populations like Luton are effectively run by those communities,with the politicians and police co-operating all the way. There's another book called The Islamic Republic of Dewsbury which goes into the political side of that but Robinson talks not just about the politics but the street level domination of the town, led by Muslim organised crime gangs. This is what prompted the formation of the EDL, when Robinson watched police facilitate a group of fanatics so they could shout abuse at and spit on marching soldiers.

Second there's the dishonesty of the media and political establishment, which have done everything in their power to cover up any and all Islam-related problems, whitewashed the Muslim community (to the point of treating comedy Jihadi stereotypes like Anjem Choudary as serious commentators) and demonised everyone who's criticised it, from Nigel Farage and Nick Cohen to the EDL. Some of the stitch-ups done on Tommy by journalists make amazing reading and he shows a surprising dry wit when relating these stories.

But what everyone needs to read this book for is the appalling abuses visited on Robinson by the British justice system. From arresting him when he's been attacked, while letting his assailants go free (numerous times) to prosecuting him over and over again on increasingly ludicrous charges (18 months for lending his brother in law money for a mortgage which the other man - not him - improperly filled in), apparently just to keep him out of action. And even, incredibly, deliberately and knowingly putting him on prison wings dominated by dangerous Muslim gangs. It's impossible to read this without coming away believing our justice system is run by some deeply sinister people.

I call this the most important political book of the decade not as hyperbole but because it is the most vital thing you can read about modern Britain and the state of politics, the media and justice. Robinson may not be perfect, and admits as much, but he is by no means a bad human being, the message he is trying to convey is true and important, and the way he has been treated by his country for doing so is nothing short of a scandal.

No Title Available

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great but not suitable for all occasions, 13 July 2013
I was so impressed with my new Jimmy Savile costume that I wanted to wear it on every occasion I could. However I will accept perhaps in hindsight it was not suitable for my nephew's first Holy Communion. Some of the children started crying, their parents and relatives became quite aggressive and my sister and her husband have not spoken to me since. So the lesson is if you're going to dress up as Sir Jimmy, think first and make sure it's in good taste.

The Fear Index
The Fear Index
by Robert Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read if you can suspend disbelief, 17 July 2012
This review is from: The Fear Index (Paperback)
The Fear Index is a solid mystery thriller for the first two hundred and fifty pages or so. Then I found myself thinking, "No, he's not going THERE with the plot, is he? He can't be going there!" Well he did go there and so inevitably The Fear Index is a mixture of genres that makes for a good page-turner, with some pertinent comments to make on the ongoing financial crisis, but an ultimately unsatisfying story.

----- SPOILERS NOW -----

Many other commenters have mentioned Michael Crichton. I've actually been reminded of Crichton while reading other Robert Harris novels. Like Crichton, he knows how to turn contemporary politics and science into an immensely readable bestseller (Disclosure, Rising Sun; The Ghost, The Fear Index) Also like Crichton, he is at his best with his historical novels which vividly conjure up the past (Eaters Of The Dead and The Great Train Robbery; Imperium and Lustrum).

However it's easy to see why this novel in particular conjures up Crichton, as it deals ultimately with science fiction that could almost be science fact. Crichton wrote about genetically engineered dinosaurs and nanobots. Harris writes about artificial intelligence - an ultra-sophisticated computer designed to study, predict and outguess the financial markets that develops self-awareness and starts behaving in a sinister way. There is a nice bit of satire here on capitalism. Sparing us the tiresome ranting of the Occupy brigade, Harris slyly imagines a living being that is designed purely to make money.

The problem with the book is that the first two thirds do not adequately prepare us for the revelation that the computer is the villain. A realistically written mystery thriller set in the financial world morphs into science fiction. It's as if you were reading a kidnap thriller and 100 pages from the end it was revealed that aliens were responsible. The "Oh come on" factor is unavoidable.

And it must also be said that homicidal, superintelligent computers are not a new concept in pop culture. The Terminator series dealt with an almost identical digital entity and though Harris may not be aware, The Fear Index uses plot twists from Terminator 3. Also a few years ago there was a Shia LaBeouff thriller called Eagle Eye which sprung exactly the same "the-computer-dunnit" surprise.

There's plenty to enjoy here, not least the character of Hugo Quarry, but to accept the plot.... to quote a line from another intelligent-computer movie, you have to be prepared to swallow the red pill.

Watermelons: How Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children's Future
Watermelons: How Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children's Future
by James Delingpole
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

30 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening expose on the climate change lobby, 29 Feb. 2012
James Delingpole is one of the most entertaining UK political bloggers and one of the most enthusiastic "climate change sceptics". I put that in quotes because it's not the existence of climate change that anyone is sceptical about, but the theory that man is causing it. Watermelons, which is Delingpole's first book on the subject, is not as you might expect a comprehensive debunking of the science (go to Christopher Booker's The Real Global Warming Disaster for that) but an expose of the kind of people who are most responsible for pushing it. These, we learn, are not "a consensus of the world's top scientists" but largely a tight knit group of hard-left-leaning political activists (some scientists, most not) who have rather alarming opinions on democracy, the West and mankind in general - and it's the sort of scary, misanthropic nonsense you'd expect to hear from stroppy 17 year olds with black-painted bedrooms rather than from influential political figures. The book's not just a hatchet job though, Delingpole also makes a strong case for the (surprisingly rarely aired) view that human progress is beneficial to the world and overcomes most of its environmental problems.

Inevitably this book will appeal to you more if you share James' conservative-libertarian views, as I do - leftists and greenies are not likely to be very open to it - but no one can fault the witty, breezily readable prose nor Delingpole's scrupulous documenting of his case.

Scared to Death: From BSE to Global Warming: Why Scares are Costing Us the Earth
Scared to Death: From BSE to Global Warming: Why Scares are Costing Us the Earth
by Christopher Booker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very timely read!, 30 April 2009
It's a strange feeling to have finished reading Scared To Death last night and then to wake up this morning to the height of "swine flu" hysteria. "A pandemic is imminent"; the disease has "the power to kill 1.2 million in Britain alone"; "The whole of humanity" is at risk. All so very familiar after reading this book.

In it, authors Christopher Booker and Richard North take a detailed look at many of the similar scares from the last 3 decades - eg: salmonella, BSE, the Millennium Bug - and persuasively show how there was rarely if ever anything to really worry about. Behind each scare were dodgy scientific evidence, gullible politicians and a media that profits from frightening the public.

Provocatively, Booker and North also make the case that some of the things our society currently accepts as fact - eg: passive smoking causes cancer, all asbestos is deadly, climate change is caused by man-made CO2 - are similarly based on bad science and political/media hysteria. The evidence the book presents against man-made global warming is so impressive, it actually shocked me.

As other commenters have said, the chapter on Satanic child abuse is deeply upsetting to read, telling as it does of families and childrens' lives destroyed by absolute morons. Covens of satan-worshipping paedophiles for god's sake! Yet social services accepted this as truth as recently as the 90s. In fact a theme running through the book is that scares often lead to ordinary people having their lives ruined by confused, over-reacting bureaucrats.

Sometimes distressing, sometimes blackly funny, always riveting, this is a great read as well as a vital, eye-opening source of information. It is one of the best non-fiction books I've read.

The Great European Rip-off: How the Corrupt, Wasteful EU is Taking Control of Our Lives
The Great European Rip-off: How the Corrupt, Wasteful EU is Taking Control of Our Lives
by David Craig
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.19

63 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading before June Euro elections, 1 April 2009
This is the third book I've read by David Craig. The others were Plundering the Public Sector, which revealed how much private consultants have dipped into our taxes under Labour, and Squandered, which took a broader look at Gordon Brown's overtaxing and overspending. Both books are well worth reading, especially in light of the current controversies over public-sector trough-snouting and Brown's economic skills.

This one is more vital. It is the most readable (300 pages in good, plain English) yet comprehensive guide available to what the EU is doing with our money and, more importantly, doing to democracy in Europe.

The EU is not popular in Britain, something which is too often put down to media scaremongering. Our media certainly does scaremonger very well but sometimes when there is smoke, there is fire. This book coolly and often wittily sets out the truth behind the bureaucracy, the over-regulation, the power-grabbing, the troughing and the often mad policies (the Common Fisheries Policy is mind-boggling!) with references so you can do your own research if you feel sceptical. And the scary thing is the truth is a fair bit worse than what the Sun or the Daily Mail print. In fact you may wonder why these papers waste print with stories about straight bananas while ignoring much more serious scandals like the Common Agricultural Policy and the Biofuels debacle.

In June we vote for our MEPs - their toothlessness is another topic covered - and in this election we get our only real say in how Europe is run. You will have the choice between supine Europhiles or people prepared to stand up and try and change things (like current YouTube celebrity Daniel Hannan). Read this and learn what is at stake before you vote.

Perverting the Course of Justice: The Hilarious and Shocking Inside Story of British Policing
Perverting the Course of Justice: The Hilarious and Shocking Inside Story of British Policing
by Inspector Gadget
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking and important, 26 Sept. 2008
There are a lot of good books out now explaining the sorry state of our nation, mostly written by people on the front lines like police, teachers, soldiers and medical personnel. However there are two books that should be read by every citizen of voting age and they are Squandered by David Craig and this book. Craig's book looks at government waste; Inspector Gadget shows what has happened to policing and justice in Britain thanks to years of insane mismanagement.

First and most importantly, this is not a rant but a very readable and entertaining book. Inspector Gadget is a good writer, he has a nice, dry sense of humour and some of his descriptions of his "customers" and his little victories over the bureaucrats got big laughs from me. Nevertheless I had to put the book down many times, sometimes in anger, sometimes in sheer disbelief, just because of what he's describing.

And let me say while I'm not a policeman, I'm not a newcomer to books by coppers. I've read David Copperfield and EE Bloggs' books and I recommend both. However, Gadget's is less of a day by day diary of life on the job and more a pretty comprehensive look at modern day policing.

Being of more senior rank, he goes into more detail about the problems Bloggs and Copperfield touch upon and he tackles a wider range of issues that the police face every day. Health and safety, home office targets, senior officers and their initiatives, magistrates, defence lawyers, the CPS, MISPERS, drunken hooligans, timewasters, diversity and social workers. I think my jaw fell the furthest on that last topic, although a close second would be the chapter where Gadget lists every last piece of paperwork that needs to be filled in to process a teenage boy who's broken a shop window.

Like I say, this is an important book. As Gadget says, it is utterly insane what our police have to spend their shifts doing. Slogging through pointless paperwork, pursuing trivial offences to reach arbitrary "detection" targets, risking life and health arresting and re-arresting the same vicious thugs our court system isn't prepared to put away.

Maybe this book will help change that. I'm going to be sending my finished copy to my MP and I suggest others do the same. Even if that doesn't work, at least the ordinary people who read it will come away less likely to blame the police for the crazy system they're doing their best to work within.

by David Craig
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Labour autopsy makes grisly but compelling reading, 11 May 2008
This review is from: Squandered (Paperback)
Since the recent local elections, there's been much speculation about why New Labour got the sort of pounding normally reserved for Rocky Balboa's opponents. The answer lies inside this book. David Craig lays out in painstaking detail just how we've been taxed so punishingly and why all that money has had little or no effect on improving our country. It's a splendidly researched book. Even as a veteran Private Eye reader, I found plenty here I wasn't aware of.

I know, I know - you're thinking this could easily be dry and boring, it's about politics and economics after all but I promise you it's anything but boring. Craig's prose is very readable and he makes you laugh loud and often, usually with disbelief at how our money is indeed being squandered. The chapters on the EU and the fate of half our gold reserves will make your jaw hit the floor. Other parts of the book, those dealing with the treatment of the elderly, patients in the NHS and our troops fighting Blair's wars will make you want to throw something.

As the previous reviewer said, this is not Tory propaganda - Craig is quite scathing about the Tories in places. His opinions seem neither left nor right wing really. He argues against pointless government expansion and pointless privatisation with equal gusto, demonstrating how both waste our money. You may not always agree with him on everything but he makes his points well. His main point is of course that New Labour has been a disaster for this country. It would take an extremely loyal and self-deluded New Labour fan (probably with the last names Blair or Brown) to finish this book and disagree with him.

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