Saturday 21 January 2017

Top seven can stand the test of time

Published 09/12/2010 | 05:00

LAST year's bumper crop of Irish books trying to explain the financial crisis has not been repeated this year. There have also been a notable number of lemons which are unlikely to stand the test of time or do their author's reputations much good.

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However, here are seven that are well written and might be welcome additions to a Christmas stocking.



  • 'Breakfast With Anglo' by Simon Kelly -- A surprisingly good account of what it was like to be a developer at the height of the boom. If you ignore the self-serving elements, you can often get a real feeling for how much fun it must have been to trash the country's finances.
  • 'Bust' by Dearbhail McDonald -- An examination of what went wrong by the Irish Independent's legal editor. The book includes compelling chapters about many of the people who lost large fortunes but the real eye-opener is the slow response of the forces of law and order to the wealthy. An angry and well-researched book.
  • 'Wasters' by Shane Ross and Nick Webb -- A well-written book detailing waste in the public sector. This will provide ammunition for both the bar-room bore who hates every element of the public sector and the IMF mandarins who will soon be looking for inspiration when they need to cut again. Readable and entertaining.
  • 'The House Always Wins' by John McGuinness -- The Fianna Fail TD and Kilkenny businessman who couldn't get on with Mary Coughlan in Trade and Industry writes another scathing book about the public sector. While a useful description of how difficult it is to reform the system, McGuinness offers few suggestions for reform, leaving the reader feeling helpless and deflated.
  • 'The Honohan Report' by Patrick Honohan -- This report, which can be downloaded for free from the Central Bank's website, is perhaps the best description of what went wrong and who was to blame. Honohan is perhaps a little easy on the Financial Regulator but this masterly and clearly written report should be the starting point for anybody who wants to understand the origins of the crisis.
  • 'Ireland's Malaise' by Michael Casey -- Another book by a central banker. Casey, who was the bank's main economist for much of the boom and the public face of the bank, gives his take on the crisis. Casey always had a gift for not getting too technical but some of this book tends to be a little too anecdotal. Entertaining but lacks gravitas or a coherent argument.
  • 'A Mobile Fortune' by Siobhan Creaton -- The long-overdue portrait of Denis O'Brien follows Creaton's well-received and bestselling biography of Michael O'Leary. Painstakingly researched, it paints a detailed picture of one of the country's most successful businessmen, with a strong emphasis on his achievements in the Caribbean and other parts of Digicell's far-flung empire.


Thomas Molloy

Irish Independent

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