Warning: This post was published more than 9 years ago.
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Note: I was sent this book to review by the publisher, and have reviewed it in compliance with the review policy of the site. Other companies are welcome to send me stuff to review – email me using the details on the right.
Crap: A Guide to Politics is a major update on Terry Arthur’s famous book from the 70s, 95% is Crap. It aims to deconstruct ‘political speak’, and expose it as ‘crap’ of one of twelve kinds, each of which is given a chapter in the book.
The book is certainly entertaining – it’s written with humour, and certainly made me smile. However, the clear anti-government stance of the author became wearing in parts, and there was often a strong feeling of him criticising every option without offering a solution.
That said, the book does highlight some quite startling U-turns by politicians, and some fairly worrying half-truths (and worse). It highlights the way in which the political process has become corrupt, and reliant on influencing the news cycle and assuming that the voter will forget last week’s news in favour of today’s.
However, the book itself has been published at an unfortunate time, which (thanks to the turbulent political times of late) makes it appear outdated as soon as it has hit the shelves. At the time of the book’s writing, Tony Blair is leading the Labour Party, much is made of Menzies Campbell’s leadership of the Liberal Democrats, and Cameron’s Conservatism is still seen as new and exciting. Clearly, things have moved on from there, but the central messages of the book hold true.
Arthur points out the core duality of any political process – the politican must represent both their constituents’ interests and their own, which are often disparous – and highlights some fascinating (and hilarious) episodes on which this has been clearly exposed to the public. But whilst maintaining a humour, there is a serious message underneath about the damage such approaches can have on the political process as a whole.
This book is both humorous, and also a serious deconstruction of the state of political play. That duality makes the book untidy and repetitive at times, and the humour sometimes comes across as juvenile, but it isn’t a bad book. It’s certainly accessible enough for the general reader, but perhaps not quite heavy enough for the political junkie. It’s worth a read.
Win My Review Copy
To comply with my self-imposed policy of not accepting payment for reviews, I held a competition to give away my review copy of Crap: A Guide to Politics. But it’s closed now – you’re too late.
Buy Your Own Copy
If you’re not feeling lucky, Crap: A Guide to Politics is now available to buy from sjhoward.co.uk/shop.