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Customer Review

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A judgemental but quality history, 6 May 2008
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This review is from: Ken: The Ups and Downs of Ken Livingstone (Hardcover)
I was not expecting much bearing in mind most of Ken's history has been covered by John Carvel's excellent books. However this biography casts a fresh look from different angles and with greater hindsight and even has an excellent selection of photographs. I never knew Ken was such a student of The Godfather I and II, it explains a lot...The structure also divides Ken's history into easy to digest well defined eras. The final page is an excellent summary of Ken's career and what he actually stands for. No doubt this book will go down in history as the one that finally exposed in detail Ken's other children at the very opportune (cynical?) moment of the build up to an election. The writers style is sharp and engaging but very much like a university lecture with the author's own low shock threshold thrown in for free. Oliver Finegold's terrible suffering is covered in some detail, a man who was happy to work for a family with an anti semitic record. He and other jewish hacks were happy to take their shilling. Mud sticks but considering the sewage pit thrown at Livingstone over the decades he was entirely justified to harass a doorstepper whom he did not initially know was Jewish anyway. Then there is the curious historical revisionism that creeps in:

"the dossier draws attention to Israel's infamous role in the 1982 massacres of Palestinans at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon carried out by a christian militia allegedly with Israeli collusion"

Where does this allegedly come from? It's been a well established fact for decades that the Israeli army controlled the territory, surrounded the camp and lit up the sky with flares. Is Hosken scared of upsetting someone or biased perhaps?

Light is also shed on the grotesque leader of the WRP and Ken's regrettable dalliance with him, Ken ever the pragmatist would work with anyone who would further his agenda in the face of hostility from the mainstream Labour leadership. Perhaps this hostility was justified at times, particularly when Hosken describes the shoddy takeover of Brent East by a new left using ignorant new Labour Party member locals as their voting fodder. I did not realise the intensity and ugliness of it till now and this book certainly covers the ruthless side to 'Cuddly Ken'. Most interesting of all for me was the history and description of the Socialist Action group, the much more slick left machine that propelled Ken in the latter half of his career. Their title is justified as far from feeling hand wringingly horrified at this bunch I was left very impressed at their capacity for getting the job done. If the rest of the left had been that good we'd be living in a socialist republic by now.

Top marks to Hosken for uncovering new areas and conducting a fresh wave of interviews that obviously paid off. Apart from the laughable plea for sympathy for a hack and the historical water muddying this is an incisive, easy to read and highly enjoyable biography.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 May 2008 17:57:55 BDT
Celan says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on 22 Jun 2008 00:46:05 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 22 Jun 2008 00:46:34 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jan 2010 00:23:13 GMT
Mr Neville says:
Instead of tiresome accusations of anti semitism why don't you explain to me and others why Finegold was happy to be paid by a paper with an actual record of anti semitism? Did such an unprincipled weakling deserve respect or apologies? As the insult was aimed at a man Livingstone thought to be a 'gentile' then no apology was required.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2010 13:11:26 BDT
Penguin Egg says:
Where is this record of actual anti-semitism?
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