Jonathan Powell – Great Hatred, Little Room
Jonathan Powell was my boss at No. 10. He was from the old school of English management – being in charge involved many attributes: charm, intelligence, sang froid, indeed almost everything except … er … management!
But whatever his other limitations, Jonathan has written a fascinating, indeed inspiring, account of the ultimately successful Northern Ireland peace process. Unlike so many other political biographies (a generally ghastly genre), this book describes something important in a powerful way and is not simply an ego trip for its author. Powell is all too willing to recognise the role of others and the importance of luck and timing in making real the once impossible prospect of Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness sharing power.
I don’t need to say very much about this. Robert Peston is unquestionably the Journalist of the Year and history will record the impact his reporting had as we awakened to the nightmare of the credit crunch.
This book shows that Peston is not just a good newshound, but a lucid writer and powerful critic of the values and practices which gave rise to our current crisis.
And, just a reminder, you can buy the books mentioned in this posting at the RSA Bookshop.
We shouldn’t underestimate how far our societies have pulled apart. Yet there is hope for renewal, says Anthony Painter. The question is not whether we come together – but how.