From today until 12th April I am off, skiing tenatively down some Alps, while some longsuffering soul takes our kids on the same mountains.

Being the sort who thinks a bookfree holiday a contradiction in terms, I need to take one from The Pile.   Here it is.  What would you choose?

Because only light things fit in a ski-jacket, I have a slender volume of Armitage and a PG Wodehouse for the slopes.  But the evenings – give me your tips.

Being also a freaking idiot, I will no doubt be updating the blog from time to time.  Apologies to new posters for late-approved comments.


18 thoughts on “Holidays!

  1. If it’s holiday reading go for the novels. The Roth is brilliant I’d you’ve read and like American Pastoral first. McEwan’s Atonement is excellent. That Restless book by Boyd was my fav holiday brain switch-off last year.

    On non fiction, Tom Holland is always fun. The Beevor book on Spain is supposed to be good, but I read one on Spain by someone else so never made time for Beevor’s. Read After Virtue if you want to know where Phillip Blond gets all his ideas from. Wouldn’t bother with the Sandel (he is IMO a very bad philosopher). And likewise the Popper is a waste of time; it’s just angry polemic which will tell you nothin useful or accurate – popper didn’t understand history of political thought at all, because he refracted everything through World War II and the Nazi experience and so just ended up writing counter-Hitler propoganda of little intellectual merit.

    1. darn it sir, in Flims, Switzerland, they object strongly to JA H. I don’t want to get some funny looks.

      Thanks both – I hope also to get some answers from the less politically motivated ..

      I’m just not curious about the Spanish Civil War. After Virtue looks too heavy for an exhausted evening. Atonement in hardback too big. So I think Boyd and galbraith to dip into. BUT it has just occurred to me that my ITouch has the works of Shakespeare on it (really enjoying Measure for Measure right now). Sorted – much more wisdom, political or otherwise, than all these nobodies

  2. You’ll get through Sandel’s Justice quite quickly. I enjoyed it a lot, but not sure one gains a huge amount if you’re already well versed in the subject, as I’m sure you are.

  3. “but not sure one gains a huge amount”

    One thing you can gain is a really bad critique of Rawls that totally misunderstands his project and where the action is if you want to criticise liberalism.

    1. Paul, I’m never sure with you whether you hate some books because you hate their conclusions, or the way the reach them. Perhaps its the same thing.

      Personally I found Popper’s two Open Society books extraordinary and useful, but then I read them a while ago. I think I am probably a bit more liberal on this sort of thing – I don’t mind reading stuff that is ‘bad’ from this point of view because even if it does not sway me, it further completes my knowledge of how other people think about things. I draw the line at Simon Heffer and Jeff Randal, of course, because ‘think’ is questionable.

      Andrew, you move me towards Sandel, also because Aditya Chakraborrty of the Guardian is a fan, I think, and he’s one of those people I often disagree with but rate all the same. I haven’t studied much politics, in fact.

      1. JGA Pocock – probably the most eminent intellectual historian of the last 60 years – heard Popper deliver those two books as lectures in New Zealand before they were published. He said of them that he didn’t know if they were much good as philosophy, but that they were absolutely terrible as history.

        Subsequent scholars have concurred that they are awful as philosophy too!

  4. Paul, you ought to know by now how impressed we liberals are by the argument from Authority… and I had no idea that’scholars gave concurred’ within the the field of Politics about anthing – this is, afterall , a field that somehow holds libertarians like Tim alongside Marxists like TCF.

  5. A bit of a disservice to MacIntyre to blame him for Philip Blond! After Virtue is very necessary reading in my opinion, even if you end up disagreeing with all of it.

    1. You see, that’s the attitude I like. Liberal reading of conservative tracts, none of this “I’m told it’s rubbish so I’m ignoring it” stuff.

      I’ll pick up the MacIntyre the moment the wheels have hit the ground in Blighty, and Bertie Wooster is delivered from his latest near-marriage.

  6. Soon after he finished After Virtue, MacIntyre rediscovered his childhood Catholicism and made a swift transition from Aristotelian to out-and-out Thomist (reaching the rather bizarre conclusion that Aquinas was ‘more Aristotelian than Aristotle’).

    That means that most of his post-AV outlook is thinly veiled Catholicism. But, one book that always seems to get overlooked and which, in my opinion, is really very good is his Dependent Rational Animals. If MacIntyre and his ilke are often accused – and perhaps rightly so – of being overly patriarchal and traditionalist, this book is a very good rejoinder, since it shows MacIntyre engaging with feminist theory, thinking about vulnerable members of society, as well as foreigners and “strangers”.

    Finally, for the record, although MacIntyre is famous for his tirades against modern liberalism, he frequently asked readers not to lump him in with communitarians and conservatives. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not he actually succeeds in differentiating himself enough from thinkers in those schools of thought.

    1. Blimey, I will have to read AV now – though it is a bit dispiriting to read both that he is anti-liberal and that he swiftly changed his position.

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