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4.7 out of 5 stars
Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Fintan O'Toole sets out to catalogue the errors and idiocies that destroyed the Irish economy and he does so to devastating effect. The book is amusing and easy to read but it pulls no punches. It names names and identifies who was guilty of the corruption, cronyism, greed and stupidity that have wrought the damage. This should be required reading for students of politics and economics - how not to run a country.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 September 2011
Fintan O'Toole presents a cautionary tale for all those who promote deregulation in the development and the financial sectors. As someone watching the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger economy from a distance he provides an insight into how politics and business interacted in an incestuous way to bring the country to its knees. However he leavens his story with an amusing turn of phrase on a number of occasions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2014
True expose of how corruption, stupidity and hubris are characteristic of Irish politics and have been for decades. No Tiger to be found anywhere.
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VINE VOICEon 22 December 2010
In trying to make sense of the current worldwide economic disasters, I've read several books but this is one of the very best.

Most of the purely financial / economic analysis in this book could have been provided by many competent economic / financial journalists, but the author's understanding of the social and political roots of Ireland's bubble & bust takes the reader's understanding well beyond dry figures. The scale of the corruption and tax evasion that underpinned the boom, and the falseness of the image of a "Celtic Tiger" brimming with hi-tech success stories were just staggering (to me, anyway); the analysis of the inherent conservatism of the bulk of Irish society, partly due to the long shadow of British rule, is superb.

On a similar theme, I'd also recommend "Meltdown Iceland" by Roger Boyes. Ireland & Iceland's current economic woes are not identical but there are many points of commonality e.g. the corrupting close relationship between business / finance and government and the complete refusal to listen to any pessimistic voices at the height of a boom are but two.
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on 17 July 2011
With Ireland's (and other Eurozone countries') current economic woes very much in the news, it is instructive to realise that the REAL bad times were the years of boom. The levels of complacency and corruption exposed here are absolutely staggering - and the scary thing (as the chapter "Namaland" and the much-discussed "bailouts" suggest) is that the proposed solutions sound very much like digging a deep hole deeper.

The early chapters especially are an exhilarating read. O'Toole seems to have it in for Fianna Fáil in particular, but this could simply be because they were, by and large, the party in power throughout the relevant period - and in any case, they deserve it. The fact that so many of the principal players should have come away from it all scot-free should be a matter of daily and international outrage - we will be suffering the consequences of this collective insanity for decades to come. If O'Toole was saying these things at a time when they might have made a difference, i must have missed it - but this book still offers some catharsis, and even a glimmer of hope.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2010
A fair minded and hard hitting description of historic ties of the Fianna Fail Party to the builders and developers who were their main 'cash cow' leading to inevitable corruption.The corruption was magnified a thousand fold when the bankers became involved - aggravated when they lent vast sums to each other, for private investments.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2010
O'Toole doesn't actually tell us anything that we didn't already know here, and that makes it an even more uncomfortable read. Anyone who was watching the news or reading a paper in Ireland over the last decade will be familiar with the names and most of the events recounted here but O'Toole's achievment is to marshall this information in a format that makes it seem so obvious that the end of the boom was inevitable and forensically identify the systemic foundations upon which it grew and then floundered. He doesn't say it directly but its clear in this analysis that all of us in Ireland were complicent to some extent, even if only as dupes. But his real ire is well targeted and unsparing in its evidenced analysis of the bankers, developers and (of course) the Govt in the whole sordid mess.
His conclusions present an interesting challenge and its thought provoking whatever your perspective. An essential read for anyone with even a passing interest in how the country is governed and, perhaps more importantly, how it shold be governed in the future.
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on 19 December 2011
This is a hard-hitting account of the reasons why the Irish economy crashed. It details the means by which bankers, property developers and politicians, in collusion, were able to make huge sums of money by breaking or bending the laws, or changing the laws to suit their purposes. The author names and therefore shames the people involved, including so-called Regulators, but especially self-serving politicans. The story is not unique to Ireland, and the same sort of thing happened in the USA and also a number of European countries. The sad thing is that most of the people involved got away with their spoils and many are still involved in business and government. This is a well-written book, which in a fairer world would be acted upon to change our laws and regulations for the greater benefit of society.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2014
Highly readable and difficult to put down, this book reveals Irish politics at its worst. Strongly recommended for anyone who really wants to understand the bank collapse that ruined the nation.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2010
This excellent and entertaining book not only discusses the problems that led to the demise of the Celtic Tiger but questions whether it ever genuinely existed at all. It is particularly interesting when detailing deficits in regulation and the widespread acceptance of corruption. The final chapter, which concerns how the country might be put right and which suggests a complete reinvention of political culture, is a slightly weak conclusion to a fascinating book.
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