Easter reads | 05 April 2012

Written by Total Politics has a free weekly Friday email bulletin. Follow this link to register. on 5 April 2012 in News
Recommendations for the best long-form writing you should be reading this Easter weekend

Here's my pick for longer articles you should be reading this Easter weekend. If you've got a Kindle or other eReader, consult the first in this series for how to send them straight from your browser to your device to enjoy later

The Transition: Lyndon Johnson and the events in Dallas - Robert A Caro

Unfortunately not available in full online to non-New Yorker subscribers, but even the abstract of Caro's article is worth a read. A wide-ranging examination of the assasination of JFK told from the point of view of the man who would succeed him in the White House - his vice president Lyndon Johnson. Caro, whose biography of Johnson has a cult-like following among MPs, is the master of pulling out details others would overlook and showing you why they're so significant.

Call that a coalition? - Ross McKibbon

McKibbon takes on a very challenging subject in this London Review of Books Essay - the 'unusually obscure' future of the Liberal Democrats. What can they do at the next election, and more importantly, what will they choose to do? Good questions posed, but no answers here.

Democracy and its discontents - Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson

An excellent rebuttal by the authors of Why Nations Fail of the idea that democracy is tainted because the electorate make ignorant and irrational choices. Drawing on examples as diverse as the Arab Spring and 17th century Vermont, Acemoglu and Robinson make a strong case that while democracy has its flaws, it is most definitely better than all available alternatives.

The War Against Youth - Stephen Marche

Along with the Budget, we had a lot of discussion in the UK of whether the older generation had benefited at the expense of today's young people. In this piece for Esquire, Marche explores whether Americas baby-boomers are more responsible for youth unemployment and disaffection than multiple recessions. Receives extra points for use of the word 'gerontocracy'.

Rethinking the formula of humanity - Japa Pallikkathayil interviewed by Richard Marshall

Heavy going in places, this one, but worth perservering with for the philosopher's observations on coercion and authority. For example, she says: "Action is certainly important, but we should also not underestimate the role of ideas in producing change" - she makes a very rational case for the role of ideas that to a degree goes against the prevailing narrative pushed by the Occupy movement and its supporters.

A country in denial - The Economist

France will soon vote for a new president, but it actually matters very little who wins, this article argues. Investors are poised to flee the country's bond market and neither Francois Hollande or Nicolas Sarkozy has articulated a particularly detailed vision for what will happen if they triumph.

How Millions Have Been Dying in the Congo - Neal Ascherson

A very detailed review of Jason Stearns' recent book examining the conflict in the Congo. Excellent critique of the claims and counterclaims about how many have died (it's definitely millions, but how many? Five? Ten?). Ultimately who is to blame? As terrible as it all is, neither Ascherson nor Stearns seem to have an answer.

The Age of Obama: What Went Wrong (and How to Fix It) - Van Jones

An extract from the former Obama adviser's forthcoming book. Refreshingly, Jones doesn't mince his words. ""e overestimated our achievement in 2008, and we underestimated our opponents in 2009" is a good example of his stark style of analysis.

Erdoğan's Decade - Hugh Pope

A lengthy exploration of the Turkish prime minister's first decade in office. As ever, it focuses on Turkey's position between the Middle East and Europe, but refreshingly looks at the financial implications of that as well as the political - although risky, high oil prices can benefit the country as it attracts more foreign direct investment. Erdoğan himself enjoys a high level of public support, but Pope seems sceptical as to whether he can take Turkey into the global first division.

Are You Almost Alcoholic? Taking a New Look at an Old Problem - Joseph Nowinski and Robert Doyle

This article advocates thinking of alcoholism as more of a spectrum than a binary state. Judging by their list of possible criteria, almost everyone who enjoys a glass of wine is an 'amost alcoholic'. You have been warned...


Tags: Weekend reads

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