Top critical review
It just felt a bit lacking.....
1 November 2018
As a keen listener to James on the radio, ordering a copy of his book was a no-brainer, and I had it on pre-order from months back, so was very much looking forward to reading it,
I was however, rather disappointed. As much as I love talk radio, I’ve always felt the limitation of this medium is that you can’t go too much into too much detail, what with the having other things on the go such as the news, travel, ads, and covering a couple of topics a day, and the need to keep the calls short and punchy, so I was hoping James would get more into the detail in his book, but that didn’t come,
The book was very light on research and evidence to back up the opinions presented. It was also very short. Granted I am a quick reader, but I finished this book in about an and a half, and it’s not one i’m likely to return to either,
One stat I did personally check (because I was astounded by it), was where James said Jordan Peterson earns £80,000 a month from youtube. I checked this and it's actually Patreon that Peterson earns 80k a month through. This is even more astounding as it means people are voluntarily donating to the church of Peterson, rather than youtube where you earn off advertising placed before your videos. This took me 30 seconds to check with google, and the Guardian was the first source to cite it. Although a seemingly small error, it's quite an important one for the aforementioned reason, and I don't understand why James or the editor didn't check this before going to print,
In the chapter discussing LGBT issues he gives a bibical reasoning why christians should not be against homosexuality. However, his explanation is completely different to that presented by gay rights campaigner Vicky Beeching, who he interviewed this year for the Joe Podcast (which led me to her book). I would have thought he would have read her book prior to the interview, so should be aware of this. They have both arrived in the same place, but have arrived in different routes. If they’ve taken different routes, perhaps it’s not surprising the caller his transcribes to illustrate this issue has also taken a different route. Maybe it’s a topic for the theologians, and not a short book.
In relation to Uber (who I dislike too), he lumps Deliveroo in together with them. Whilst both have made use of technology platforms to enter a market, the two business models are very different. Uber has gone after a share of an existing market (the taxi trade), whereas Deliveroo has actually opened up a new market. Deliveroo have helped existing resturants who don’t have the capacity, or prior knowledge, to run a takeaway delivery service. Deliveroo act as a middle man, so now people can get takeaways from their favourite restaurants who, prior to deliveroo, weren’t able to get this. Instances like this make me wonder if he’s gone for easy cliche ‘left’ issues. As this is a book on ‘how to be right’, James needs to make sure he is absolutely right before it goes to print. It’s possible these mistakes will be corrected for the paperback.
Perhaps if i didn’t listen to James most days I would have enjoyed it more, but it isn’t much more than a transcribe of some of his best calls (or worst if you’re the caller). I enjoy these calls as much as the next person, but reading them in print lacked the impact. I know it’s funny hearing people getting a roasting, but I also enjoy hearing rigorous debates by matching minds, and there weren’t any examples of this.
The book seemed to be more like a collection of very short essays rather than a serious book, and I think here lies the problem,
I’ve debated whether to be too harsh here, as I listen most days, and with radio you do form a connection with the broadcaster, but I also felt a bit annoyed that I paid £9.34 to read the same calls I’ve already heard live (or caught on social media),
It’s obviously a book written to an existing audience (nothing wrong with that), but in which case does beg the question why didn’t he give us something new, or at least something expanding on existing views and arguments?
I wonder if the book was put together too quickly and tried to cover too many subjects, perhaps to get something out in time for Christmas, without real thought and research on each topic. If people can discuss brexit for years on end then surely more than one short chapter is required? (The bulk of which is taken up with another call transcribed). Each section was just too light and would not equip you enough to take on someone knowledgeable with an opposing view. It’s all very well taking on ‘Dave from Isleworth’ over the sugar tax, but it’s not Dave the inarticulate caller that’s feeding the press, it’s the right-wing think-tanks like the IEA and the Tax Payers Alliance, and the arguments have to be at the level to take them in order to take ground,
It also neglected to address the potential conflicts that sit under the wide banner of liberalism itself. For liberalism to survive and progress, it needs to resolve it’s own issues as well, rather than just pitching left v right, liberal vs conservative etc,
For example, how do we respect trans rights while still respecting feminism, or how is islam etc modernised/reformed to respect the lgbt community etc (Maajid Nawaz comes to mind as someone reconciling aspects of Liberalism within itself but who can also reach out to people who may not initially agree with him).
I feel like James should have tackled these issues head-on rather than taking a more naive and simplistic approach that everyone on the left or under the liberal banner thinks/should think a certain way about everything,
Personally I wouldn’t recommend this book to a friend as I believe there are better/more thought out books out there, and this did seem rather expensive for what it was, but then I guess it’s one for the fans anyway so I’ll still listen to the show!