As Michael Gove is well aware, a great book collection especially a political one has got to stir the pot in order to be at all useful. Gove is the latest politician to fall victim to the bookshelf police after his home library came under scrutiny on Twitter. His critics were soon up in arms about everything from the number of books about dictators to the presence of Holocaust denier David Irving in his collection. It seems that in 2020 we are not allowed to read or keep a book whose arguments we dont wholeheartedly agree with.
If, like Gove, we were going to construct a bookshelf of political tomes that actually sharpened our arguments and ideas rather than simply pacified the social media crowd, what would this collection look like?
Weve put together a list of must-reads, covering everything from free speech to Brexit (remember that? No, me neither).
When journalist Fleming Rose decided to commission a Danish cartoon competition to depict the prophet Muhammed, he could not have predicted the chain of shocking events that his actions would unleash or the strange self-censorship that many in the West impose over issues deemed too controversial to go near. In The Tyranny of Silence, Rose scrutinises his own motives for publishing the images and produces a robust defence of freedom of speech in the process.
Alongside his political career, Hague has created a successful sideshow in political biography. I highly recommend listening to his impressive biography of Wilberforce on Audible. He reads it superbly, which cant be said for all audible authors, most of whom are wise to call in actors for the job. His earlier biography of William Pitt the Younger did much to put Britains youngest Prime Minister on the political map and, whilst Wilberforce was already a leading light in British political history, this biography lays bare the ways in which he had to master the political and cultural mechanisms of the day to bring about radical change.
The late Sir Roger Scruton was always something of an outlier in the academic community a respected philosopher with Conservative convictions. This prescient book unpacks the forces that led to the Brexit vote at a time when the rest of us were still grappling with what exactly caused the result. He charts the philosophy that drove Brexit back to differences between British and European approaches to citizenship which he argues came about as a result of common law and the establishment of protestantism. Brexit, in Scrutons view, is the rational outworking of British history not a freak event brought about by an ill-informed populace, as many on the remain side have sought to argue.
Populism is a word that has come into its own over the last decade. Generally used by critics to denote any electoral result that upsets their own political sensibilities, its a term that neatly sums up the era running up to Covid-19. You couldnt ask for a more erudite guide to the term than Goodwin who impartially charts the rise of populism right back to its roots. He debunks the myth that the movement is fleeting and that young people are not attracted to it all the while keeping his book unstuffy and jargon-free. A must read.
This is the go-to account of the referendum campaign for anyone interested in Brexit. Shipman does a sterling job of giving each side a fair hearing quite a feat given the tensions that existed between remainers and leavers at the time.
From its intimate portrayal of David Camerons shock and dismay at losing from within the walls of Number 10 to the now infamous role of Leave campaign co-ordinator Dominic Cummings in shaping Leaves winning strategy, Shipmans fly-on-the-wall account will be the book that politicians turn to remember what happened when and why. I also enjoyed the throwaway details of Wetminsters eating habits. Who knew Brexit was essentially fuelled by takeaway pizza and curry?
Whilst we all like to think that we construct our political belief systems in an entirely rational manner based on the facts we have available, Jonathan Haidt would beg to differ. He unpicks the lefts characterisation of the right as evil and asks what it is about left-wing ideology that insists on characterising its opponents in such morally stark terms; those who espouse a conservative ideology are not just wrong, in its view, but morally bankrupt. Leaving no stone unturned, he then trains his scalpel on religious conviction in a similarly eviscerating manner.
This is a clever, easy read for those who find political tribalism a bit nonsensical at times. Mumford exposes the ethical contradictions that lie at the heart of many of our political divides fromassisted dying, social welfare, sexual liberation, abortion, gun control to the environment, technology and justice. Its a book that will leave you questioning where exactly you sit on the political spectrum.
A book that contains a positive account of the impact of colonialism is bound to have the social media crowd calling for the gallows. British civil servant Sir John Cowperthwaite is credited with helping to transform Hong Kong from a poverty-stricken backwater into one of the most prosperous nations on earth before its handover to China in 1997. But how did this change in fortunes come about? This book unpicks the economic policies that enabled Hong Kong to flourish a top read for political anoraks and capitalist zealots alike.
Published in 2005, this comic novel is the closest well ever get to an inside track on the PMs off-beat sense of humour. The title shows how he was gamely poking fun at religious orthodoxy long before his famous letter box remark. The novel centres on the State visit of an American president which goes awry when a would-be terrorist slips through the Palace of Westminster security gates. The book received a somewhat mixed reception when it was published but its a fun read, especially now that the author serendipitously finds himself in the top job hed clearly always dreamed of. Plus, the title will have your eagle-eyed Zoom friends outraged in no time at all.
- Assault on rights to free speech, dissent: 99 ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers say in open letter - ThePrint - July 5th, 2020
- Freedom of expression is under threat in Lebanon - Middle East Monitor - July 5th, 2020
- No masks allowed: stores turn customers away in US culture war - The Guardian - May 24th, 2020
- Vaccination and coronavirus: Public good clashes with choice, freedom - UPI News - May 24th, 2020
- Have We Weaponized Virtue? - lareviewofbooks - May 24th, 2020
- Hate Speech and the New Tyranny over the Mind - Heritage.org - May 24th, 2020
- [ANALYSIS] The right to call the government crazy - Rappler - May 24th, 2020
- How a 20-year-old student put the spotlight on Australian universities' cosy relationship with China - The Guardian - May 24th, 2020
- Freedom of Speech Is Under the Gun as the Virus Spreads in Russia - The Nation - May 11th, 2020
- Divorcing Parents Have a Right to Post Their Stories Online, Court Says - The New York Times - May 11th, 2020
- Gov. Whitmer becomes target of dozens of threats on private Facebook groups ahead of armed rally in Lansing - Detroit Metro Times - May 11th, 2020
- Readers' Letters: 'Hate bill an attack on free speech and could affect football and comedy' - Evening Telegraph - May 11th, 2020
- Big TCPA Supreme Court Oral Argument Complete: Here Are the Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the Barr v. AAPC TCPA Review Right Now -... - May 11th, 2020
- Assange's US Extradition, Threat to Future of the Internet and Democracy - CounterPunch - May 11th, 2020
- Readers React: Are the reopen protests about free speech or presidential politics? - The San Diego Union-Tribune - May 6th, 2020
- The SNPs war on free speech - Spiked - May 6th, 2020
- A Contrarian's View of the Uses, and Abuses, of Free Speech - Jewish Week - April 9th, 2020
- Update: Signature Gatherers and Solicitors | Downey Brand LLP - JD Supra - April 9th, 2020
- U of I protests of the 1960s - Illinois Times - April 9th, 2020
- China Appointed To UN Human Rights Panel To Help Identify Threats To Free Speech - The Daily Wire - April 9th, 2020
- A Zionist attack on free speech - Redress Information & Analysis - April 9th, 2020
- How the Chinese Government Undermined the Chinese People's Attempts to Prevent and Respond to COVID-19 - Heritage.org - April 9th, 2020
- ACLJ to File Amicus Brief with Supreme Court in Pro-Life Speech Case Battling the Abortion Distortion - American Center for Law and Justice - April 9th, 2020
- The Right Constitutional Philosophy for This Moment - The Atlantic - March 31st, 2020
- Lebanese Activists Fear Hezbollah-led Government Is Using Coronavirus to Solidify Power - VOA News - March 31st, 2020
- Improving decision-making in the face of growing misinformation - Ecofin Agency: Economic information from Africa - March 31st, 2020
- Ming Pao row: If we learn anything from the virus outbreak, it should be the importance of free speech - Hong Kong Free Press - March 31st, 2020
- Freedom of speech 'is the property of the left of politics' - Sky News Australia - March 31st, 2020
- No one is safe from the puritanical poison of wokeness says SIR JOHN HAYES - Express - March 31st, 2020
- ASG introduces three resolutions, votes on advocacy committee - The Daily Northwestern - March 5th, 2020
- Why Toby Young and other robust white men are using free speech to whip universities - The Guardian - March 5th, 2020
- A Slap in the Face: Chinese Readers Share Their Coronavirus Stories - The New York Times - March 5th, 2020
- Opposition to Ted Nugent - Villages-News - March 5th, 2020
- Bitcoin Is the Technology of Dissent That Secures Individual Liberties - Bitcoin Magazine - March 5th, 2020
- NRB Resolves that Religious Liberty & Freedom of Speech Must Prevail - MissionsBox - March 5th, 2020
- The Guardian is not a fan of Toby Young or free speech - The Post Millennial - March 5th, 2020
- No platforming nowhere near as productive as debate or conversation - The Badger Herald - March 5th, 2020
- When The PC Police Come For Our Books - The Jewish Press - JewishPress.com - March 5th, 2020
- Following the crowd - Education - WORLD News Group - March 5th, 2020
- How progressives and conservatives have changed the debate over freedom of speech - Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) - February 27th, 2020
- What transgenderism and Islam have in common: Destroying free speech - Lifesite - February 27th, 2020
- Hitler would be very proud of the Aalst Carnival in Belgium! - The Times of Israel - February 27th, 2020
- Facebook and Zuckerberg keep getting freedom of expression wrong - The Next Web - January 21st, 2020
- Sheffield Arena urged to cancel event by 'homophobic' Trump ally - The Guardian - January 21st, 2020
- Ninth Circuit Affirms Anti-Libel Injunction, Rejects Overbroad Portion - Reason - January 21st, 2020
- What we still havent learned from Gamergate - Vox.com - January 21st, 2020
- Montclair State Univ. Sued for 'Unconstitutional' Speech Policy and Favoring One Student Group Over Another Based on Their Beliefs - CBN News - January 21st, 2020
- POV: Trump's Executive Order Aimed at Protecting Jews Will Have a Chilling Effect on Freedom of Speech at Colleges - BU Today - December 21st, 2019
- 92% of Americans think their basic rights are being threatened, new poll shows - USA TODAY - December 21st, 2019
- Trump's Executive Order Targets Federal Funding to Universities in Suppression of Speech on Palestinian Rights - International Middle East Media... - December 21st, 2019
- Washington State's Mike Leach responds to Donald Trump impeachment: 'I'm yet to hear what he did wrong' - Sports and Weather Right Now - December 21st, 2019
- Impeachment won't slow the global rise of the radical right but an alternative vision might - Salon - December 21st, 2019
- Over Regulating Intermediaries: Threat To Free Speech? - Inc42 Media - December 15th, 2019
- Charter of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom to be adopted - News - The University of Sydney - December 15th, 2019
- Is YouTube Cracking Down on Free Speech With New 'Harassment Policy'? - NewsBusters - December 15th, 2019
- Johnson orders universities to protect freedom of speech - Stock Daily Dish - December 15th, 2019
- Freedom of speech must trump safe spaces in universities, minister says - Stock Daily Dish - December 15th, 2019
- Alberta premier says energy war room will be respectful as it takes on critics - CFJC Today Kamloops - December 15th, 2019
- Amnesty International Canada Questions Freedom of Speech and Assembly - Reason - December 13th, 2019
- Why we need to stop believing freedom of speech is a dangerous thing - Marie Claire UK - December 13th, 2019
- Drawing the Line: When Does Freedom of Speech Go Too Far? - SUNY The New Paltz Oracle - December 13th, 2019
- RTI is Inbuilt within Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, says Bombay HC - Moneylife - December 13th, 2019
- Opinion: The clear line between hate speech and free speech - DW (English) - November 26th, 2019
- Appleton school board signs off on policy that some say endangers free speech, others see as a constitutional safeguard - Post-Crescent - November 26th, 2019
- What to Be Thankful For | Cato @ Liberty - Cato Institute - November 26th, 2019
- Universities Enabling the Hijacking of Free Speech When Jews are Involved - The Times of Israel - November 26th, 2019
- Documentary Takes Aim At Higher Eds Free Speech Violations - Washington Free Beacon - November 26th, 2019
- Should the First Amendment protect language deemed to be hate speech? - The Vector: NJIT's Student Newspaper - November 26th, 2019
- Fight to protect your freedom of speech - The Saint - November 26th, 2019
- Improv joke reaction: What about free speech? - Mount Airy News - November 26th, 2019
- Trump defends Yovanovitch attack: 'I have freedom of speech' | TheHill - The Hill - November 17th, 2019
- 'Critical Infrastructure' Bill Is a Major Threat to Freedom of Speech - Shepherd Express - November 17th, 2019
- Free speech rights a concern in Wisconsin water resolution - Minneapolis Star Tribune - November 17th, 2019
- Freedom of speech and freedom from lies - Opinion - Cape Cod Times - November 17th, 2019
- Trump: 'I Have Freedom of Speech Just as Other People Do' - MRCTV - November 17th, 2019
- Freedom of speech and its consequences - BCLocalNews - November 17th, 2019
- Free speech in Canada: It was bad five years ago. Do you think it's gotten better since? - National Post - November 17th, 2019
- The American Internet Sucks. The Alternative Is China. - BuzzFeed News - November 17th, 2019
- On free speech, a new era and that blocking thing | Editorial - Chico Enterprise-Record - October 27th, 2019
- Sydney University to consider updating Freedom of Speech Charter - News - The University of Sydney - October 27th, 2019