A witness to the ways of the modern world

The Powerful and the Damned: Private Diaries in Turbulent Times by Lionel Barber (W. H. Allen, £25.00 / €20.25) Over Christmas, I read the book with the above arresting title. It is by Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times for the past 15 years, who has just retired. It is a gallop through the last…

Revolutionary days of fear relived in Ireland

Freedom is a Land I Cannot See by Peter Cunningham (Sandstone Press, £8.99) Peter Cunningham’s latest novel, Freedom is a Land I Cannot See, is one of his best. He shows great skill and sympathy in evoking living conditions of a century ago, when Ireland, or more particularly north rural Dublin was passing through revolutionary turmoil,…

The smouldering issue at the heart of Northern politics

Burned: The inside story of the ‘cash for ash’ scandal and Northern Ireland’s secretive new elite by Sam McBride (Merrion Press, €19.95)   The scandal of Northern Ireland’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is one of bureaucratic failure, sloppy political oversight, and culpable procrastination, all leading to a colossal waste of public money. This book will…

Chris Patten: A modern Catholic statesman

First Confession: 
A Sort of Memoir by Chris Patten (Allen Lane, £14.99) I have just finished reading  with very great interest this most absorbing memoir of a modern politician of a special kind. Chris  Patten  was a Minister in Margaret Thatcher’s and John Major’s  governments,  and was  the Director of Elections for his party in the…

The real creator of our long lasting constitution

John Hearne: Architect of the 1937 Constitution of Ireland by  Eugene Broderick (Irish Academic Press,  €29.99) A study of all constitutions promulgated since the French Revolution in 1789, by the Chicago Law School,  found that the average constitution lasted a mere 17 years, before it was replaced. By that measure, the Irish Constitution, which will be…