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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great polemical.
If you are Irish this book will make you very angry, if you're not I suppose you'll be entitled to wonder if we are actually capable of governing ourselves. O'Toole pushes all the buttons; financial scandals from DIRT evasion to the curious state of Bertie Ahern's finances, the madness of the property boom, the scandals involving the Catholic church, and the shortcomings...
Published on 12 Dec 2009 by S. Foy

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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating book
Have to disagree with some of these reviews, though they do highlight a number of the books definite strengths (e.g., strong writing and descriptive history), the book does not offer anything new and barely addresses the question posed in its title, which was the main attraction for me.

It focuses far too much on the corruption as opposed to the stupidity,...
Published on 8 Jan 2010 by A reader


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Devastating Critique of Ireland's Ruling Circle, 22 Feb 2011
This review is from: Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars A highly entertaining account of tax dodging, back handers and failed regulation, 9 Jan 2011
By 
Mark Pack (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger (Paperback)
This is a coruscating account of how the Irish boom turned into biter bust. The sharpness of the prose as O'Toole recounts a tale of property boom, tax evasion and dodgy banking practices both entertains and obscures.

Along the way we have a blizzard of names and details about tax dodging, back handers and absent regulation. We also have the bitter irony of the failed exposure of politicians. When politicians were exposed yet their political careers continued unimpeded, the message to other politicians was - look, it does you no harm, so join in too.

Like the best of political writers, O'Toole has phrases such as 'snorkelling in the cesspit' which elevate his anger above mere ranting. Yet the prose also obscures, because for much of the book his story is simply that just about everyone was daft, short-sighted, greedy, corrupt or all four. It is as if the only thing wrong with Ireland was the Irish and the only solution would have been to make O'Toole himself dictator for life, for he alone has the wisdom to see all the failings.

The epilogue rescues the book in that respect, pointing out how many of the failings were the result of a cultural problem: "there was a price to be paid for skipping modernity. It was a little too good to be true that Ireland could go from the pre-modern to the post-modern without ever fully creating the structures and habits of a modern democracy. Large chunks of classic democracy were missing - the shift from religious authority to public and civic morality; the idea that the state should operate objectively and impersonally rather than as a private network of mutual obligations; the notion of the law as a universal and neutral check on everyone's behaviour, whatever their status; the belief in an independent parliament that exists to legislate rather than to service clients and to make government accountable rather than to keep it in place at all costs".

In other words, O'Toole's conclusions are much more about how a poor country can best develop than about the rights or wrongs of a free-market approach in other developed countries. But whether or not you are looking for lessons for other countries, this is a book that entertains and makes the reader angry in equal measure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Analysis of debacle of Celtic Tiger., 29 Dec 2010
This review is from: Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars On the money..., 6 Jan 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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant analysis, 5 Jan 2010
By 
Brian19690 (Belfast, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Ships of Fools, 26 Nov 2014
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The Stupidity and Corruption in the Irish Government and Banking services has been there, with Religion, since I was a child
in the Fifties. This seeming "stupidity" hides a multitude of sins, you know, "we didn't realise we were screwing everybody to
to the floor" but what can they do about it anyway?. Terry Rafferty
Good Book!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great polemical writing, 17 May 2010
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Not being Irish, I only knew from the odd report in the British press about ireland's boom and bust from the early 1990s to 2008.O'Toole's book fills in many of the blanks.
I knew about corruption in Irish politics,and the mind-bending criminality of Charles Haughey,but reading how he stole from the fund for raisng money from a colleague's liver transplant put the tin hat on for me.His sucsessors are not much more ethical and/or competent either.
The incompetence and stupidity of economic management in this time period is well illustrated,particularly the incomepence of the Central Bank and how private banks were allowed to engage in tax fraud and cooking the books on a wholesale fashion,despite the Central Bank's knowledege of the scams.
It is a hatchet job,no doubt about that,and it's main targets are Fianna Fail,the non-tax paying super rich,the idiotic politicians who thought the good times would go on forever and the mendacious bankersand other members of the business class.
However,despite the correct assertion towards the end that the crisis in Ireland is a moral one-the Irish people are entitled to ask for a political and business elite who acknowledge that the law applies to them and that there are such things as right and wrong-O'Toole also argues that only a political upheaval that dethrones the,as he puts it,"Fianna Gael" duopoly that has ruled Ireland since the 1920s will cause such a moral revolution.The chances of that happening any time soon are,in effect,zero.
Wasn't it Abraham Lincoln who said "People get the government that they deserve"?If so,God help Ireland
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5.0 out of 5 stars They never learn, 31 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger (Paperback)
Excellent insight into the Irish psyche. Just watch any Irish news be it rte tg4 and as an outsider you will see nothing's changed here. Greed,nepotism,corruption. A complete lack of transparency regardless of who's in the Dail. The next time you complain about Westminster ,you could just take a look across the Irish Sea. This book will leave you in a state of disbelief,the European bailout will not change things in Ireland one jot!. An excellent read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The necessity of laughter., 16 Jun 2013
By 
Mr. G. Morgan "wes" (Haywards Heath, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger (Paperback)
From the prologue's emblematic anecdotes of 'Three Ships', this is no ordinary book - the Gatsbyesque wedding of a crony of Ahearn's on a hired, er, floating palace; the sinking of the Irish national ship the Asgaard 2; the puzzling joke of the ventriloquist's parrot on the Titantic, we are in the company of a vastly entertaining, funny writer. What had this to do with Ireland's financial collapse, or was it as O'Toole said 'almost too neat'? The key is in the adjective, the situation is 'almost' beyond imagining.
The story is a sorry one, taking in endemic corruption and turbo-charging it with little-understood financial instruments that were to wreak havoc in the West in 2008. Iceland was the worst, but Vince Cable's jibe of 'Rekjavik on the Liffey' isn't inaccurate. I am only of part Irish heritage but it was well known that, say, Haughey was corrupt to his fingernails; the plausible, clever philistine Ahearn(scorning objectors to running a road through the Tara site; says it all(, he was utterly out of his depth; he and the finance minister Brian Lenihan quite unable to see the iceberg coming (if I were a Scot I'd worry that as shrewd a fellow as Alex Salmond declared his enthusiasm for a Celtic Lion!). It is a romp of a story, brilliantly told. And there WERE warnings; however, just as in Britain where Gillian Tett and in America Nicholas Nasseem Taleb spoke of trouble, naysayers were derided as Cassandras or worse. And so almighty hubris brought Ireland low, with a price it will be long in paying off. Politicians convicted of corruption yet being reelected, people borrowing money they could not really afford but took as it was on offer, Ahearn's shameless helping his friends and building at a ridiculous rate and more, horribly so; Ireland offers countless such tales. This is an often hilarious, always readable and important book. And if he has no 'answers' that is not his job. Why is he not more angry? I wondered. Then I realised, his laughter is of one who, otherwise, would cry. Superb.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mega corruption, 20 Dec 2012
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C. Mcnabb (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger (Paperback)
A real good read, corruption exposed at all levels of society in Ireland.
Without doubt an 'unputdownable' book.
And as usual good price and fast delivery from Amazon.
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Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger
Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger by Fintan O'Toole (Paperback - 1 July 2010)
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