Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 
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An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Plank.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 1, 2011 in Election 2011, Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

Let's be honest: The suit is wearing him.
Let’s be honest: The suit is wearing him.

“Now, he should be party leader!” They gush. “After all, he’s from a lovely family. And he wears a suit so well.”  All this is true. On top of that, he’s a tall, handsome young man, comes from a family with money, and is by all accounts a kind and decent man with impeccable manners. Woman find him attractive, particularly women of a certain vintage, thrusting their heavily perfumed cleavage at him as he works a room. He’s the sort of guy a nice middle class mother would give herself a hernia pulling her daughter across a hotel reception room by the arm to introduce to him. He will actually get better looking as he gets older, and looks like a cabinet minister.

The problem is that he is actually a nicely finished plank. He struggles to utter even the most bland of statements, and would almost certainly end up the tool of those around him. He has never expressed an original political idea in his life, and maybe it is that which keeps him so popular, allowing people to project on to his attractive blandness that which they want to see themselves. It’s an attractive quality in a mannequin, but in a Taoiseach? When people speak of a candidate being “presidential timber”, the problem is that in his case, he literally is. Solid Irish oak. But it polishes up so well!  

 
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A Good Book: In the presence of mine enemies.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 1, 2011 in Books

It is 2009. Berlin is capital of the Nazi Empire.

It is 2009. Berlin is capital of the Nazi Empire.

If you’re looking to take a little break from the rapidly advancing tsunami that is Election 2011, then you might enjoy this. Harry Turtledove is the High Priest of alternative history fiction, that is, king of the “What if?” genre. His books tend to be slow burners, drawing you in with a swathe of characters and the slow, gradual unwrapping of a history that might have been. In the past he’s written about a South that won the civil war of 1861-65, and extrapolated it into a series telling the story all the way through into a world war fought on the US continent started by a southern version of Hitler. Turtledove does big ideas.

“In the presence of mine enemies”tells the stories of a group of Jews living in Berlin in a 2009 where the city is capital of a vast Nazi empire stretching from Japan to the United States, and their struggle to survive as the empire begins to undergo change under a new, reforming Fuhrer.

Turtledove isn’t to everyone’s taste. He can be very slow although enjoyable in his painting of everyday life in the imagined alternate world, and he enjoys cheekily populating his world with tips o’ the cap at historical figures and events. The recently deceased leader of the Reich is one former Austrian soldier named Kurt Haldweim. Get it?

Thankfully, the book is a standalone story, unlike many of Turtledove’s books that tend to become series after series. An enjoyable read.     

Copyright © 2018 Jason O Mahony All rights reserved. Email: Jason@JasonOMahony.ie.