'What we should've read before 2008': Kate Green

Written by Kate Green MP on 26 November 2012 in Culture
Kate Green explains her interest in biographies and lessons learnt from The Way We Live Now

This article is from the December 2012 issue of Total Politics

I admit to a huge fondness for Trollope – it’s 19th-century political soap opera, but still pertinent today. The Way We Live Now is one of the best warnings we could, and should, have read before the 2008 financial crash. Beware the dangers of irresponsible capitalism. 

I find it difficult to champion just one author, though. I also love the great women writers: Jane Austen, George Eliot, the Brontës, Elizabeth Gaskell, and continuing the tradition, Hilary Mantel’s two novels imagining the life of Thomas Cromwell stand out. This summer, I read Bring Up The Bodies, gripping sequel to Wolf Hall. Their plots are steeped in political intrigue. 

And I’m a particular fan of biography, especially William Hague’s biography of Wilberforce. I was running the Child Poverty Action Group when I read it, and kept noticing parallels between the anti-slavery campaign and many modern campaigns. If you want to learn how campaigns ebb and flow, persistence, vision, building wide communities of interest and the rivalries that exist between allies (often worse than with your foes), understanding the political process and how to use it, then this is your go-to book.But my enthusiasm extends beyond the political – right now, I’m reading Claire Tomalin’s biography of Dickens.

Kate Green is MP for Stretford and Urmston

Tags: Issue 53, Kate Green MP, My old book

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