While I’ve been reading a lot of stuff that I’ve really enjoyed, one or two books have been less exciting.

Why Labor should savour its Greens was disappointing. Given the contentiousness of the thesis in his title, I expected a lot more. Certainly there’s a whole set of complex political issues here. Instead, this turns out to be mostly a dry, and somewhat superficial reading of both their policy platforms; and it wasn’t at all insightful. In making voting decisions, reading policy platforms is a good way to find the concrete statements political parties have made, and which are likely to inform their decisions. But this book doesn’t make for gripping reading, and I don’t think it adds much to the debate.

Courtiers: The Secret History of the Georgian Court has an intriguing premise. And the book has strong points; Worsley has done well in researching a range of courtiers, pulling together material from a whole range of sources to tell stories about individuals in a sympathetic and approachable way. There were two weaknesses that bothered me though. One was that she has a researcher’s tendency to want to make use of everything she’d found; it felt at times as though it was a catalogue of factoids. Which tied in at times to her other weakness, which was not stepping back often enough, to show what an individual’s experience might reveal about society, or -what I was most interested in – the court. I felt as though I had an insight into the challenges of a few people in her story, but not genuinely into how the court as a whole might function, or even what defined a ‘court’ as such.


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