Best Political Book by a Non-Parliamentarian
Meryl Halls, Managing Director of the Booksellers Association, said: “The winners reflect that complexity, highlighting the constant questioning of our political system and those working within it. With winners as topical and carefully considered as these, the Awards continue to highlight the importance of books, bookshops and reading to our political and civil discourse, and reinforce the symbiosis between politics and bookselling.”
Why do we seemingly despise our politicians? What changes when good people enter power? The Spectator’s Isabel Hardman’s brilliant and empathetic book takes an impressively balanced look at those in office and those who lost out, questioning our very system of government and the divisions and cynicism it so readily appears to foster. Objective and surprising, Hardman presents a very readable and important insight into the mechanics of Whitehall.
An Elephant in Rome
" January 1, 2021 Read this issue IN THIS REVIEW AN ELEPHANT IN ROME Bernini, the Pope and the making of the Eternal City 224pp. Pallas Athene. £19.99. Loyd Grossman Acheerful bricolage of biography, art history, trivia and travelogue..."
— Times Literary Supplement
Hardman could so easily have just given the political class a kicking, but the solutions she offers make this book a must-read for anyone who wants a better Parliament. Crammed with insight and gossip, it will hopefully provoke the Westminster bubble to clean itself up. If it listens, MPs can look forward to the day when they are no longer in Britain’s least trusted profession.
As may perhaps be expected from a relatively young journalist, Hardman is thin on historical context. Reading the book, you may be forgiven for thinking parliament was invented in 1997 by Tony Blair after a series of focus group discussions in the mid-1990s.... British politics wasn’t invented 20 years ago, but there is no doubt it has changed immeasurably in that time. Hardman’s well-written, incisive book provides a good compass with which to navigate these turbulent waters.
It might not have been a pacy thriller, but there is sex, love, scandal, tortured souls and obsessive characters, hopes, dreams and heartbreak in this book. Yes, it is layered with discussion of fire safety regulations and policy about cones on the motorway, but nonetheless Hardman’s book is a vital and compelling read for anyone interested in the way our politics does or doesn’t work.
This is a really good book. Well-structured and well-written, it marshals well-selected statistics and combines them with human stories to cast valuable illumination on how politicians really spend their, often frustrating and miserable, time. The author makes some useful suggestions about how we might get more effective MPs without pretending that she has a magic cure. If Isabel Hardman does not have all the answers to what’s wrong with our political culture, she certainly asks the right questions.