what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Priceless Guide to the writing about the Global Crisis

The last post tried not only to identify what it was that had so impressed me about the “Defending Politics” book but also to generalise possible lessons for the hundreds of thousands of writers whose titles and marketing blurbs shout at us from the bookshops and internet.  
I have always loved Oscar Wilde’s aphorism – “I always pass on good advice; it’s the only thing to do with it”. But, on this rare occasion, I actually took on board the advice – in an effort to try to reduce the 200 plus pages of a draft I’ve had for some years - Dispatches to the (post-capitalist?) future generation - to more manageable proportions.
It’s a book which takes the form of a series of posts which were more like letters to my children (and their generation) who were very much in my mind as drafted them. Perhaps that’s why this “giving of account” (with all the religious overtones that term carries!) has been so difficult to complete in a satisfactory way…….
I’m quite proud of the shortened version which has emerged this week - Dispatches to the next generation – the small version. Just 70-odd pages (excluding the annexes) - about 20 pages of them an annotated reading list of “key” books about the global economic crisis which give a brief sense of more than 100 books published in the second half of the 20th century worth further study
I’m experimenting with the following marketing blurb - 

The author does not pretend to be an economist – although he lectured in that capacity in the late 1960s and early 70s before he saw the error of his ways.
Nor is it easy to pin a political label on him – although he did spend 22 years of his life as a Labour councillor with responsibilities for devising and managing unique strategies for opening up the policy process and for social enterprise in Europe’s largest local authority (The political compass test, however, placed him in the libertarian left quadrant).
The subsequent 25 years he spent as an adviser on institutional development to governments in central Europe and Central Asia.
So he knows the enemy!

I‘ve always kept notes on the books which impressed me…and the arrival of electronic files and hyperlinks have made the task of collecting and retrieving these lists a positive pleasure. I still find it amazing that my blog can find and present within seconds ruminations about a book I read almost a decade ago. 
Academics are good at throwing bibliographical references at us. Indeed they overwhelm us with them – whether in footnotes, brackets or end-pages. It’s almost a virility test with them. I get very frustrated with this – since all these lists do is to flaunt their superiority – they don’t actually tell us anything interesting about each book.
The Annexes include a little section on some of the great books of the past century and also a favourite of mine – “Just Words – a Sceptic’s Glossary”

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