In August 1979, Timothy Knatchbull and his family went out in a boat off the coast of Ireland. Neither his grandparents or his twin brother would return from the IRA bomb attack that shocked Britain and the world. Here he talks about books that helped him better understand ‘the Troubles,’ and his own book, From a Clear Blue Sky, about his own journey to come to terms with that happened that bank holiday weekend.
In 1968 Karl Marlantes was a 22-year old Rhodes scholar and did not have to go to Vietnam. He nonetheless joined the US Marine Corps, ending up with multiple medals but also lifelong PTSD. In this interview, he recommends the best Vietnam War books, exploring its moral ambiguities, the warrior mentality and the humanity of ‘the enemy.’
Pete Winner spent 18 years in the SAS, the special forces unit of the British Army that has a reputation for being only for the toughest of the tough. Here he recommends some of the best books that give a feel for what it’s like to be in the SAS or ‘Special Air Service.’
My Year in Iraq
by L Paul Bremer III with Malcolm McConnell
The Assassination Attempts against President Saddam Hussein
by Barzan al-Tikriti
Cultural Cleansing in Iraq
by Raymond W Baker, Shereen T Ismael, Tareq Y Ismael
The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway
A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens
Edward Mortimer, the former Director of Communications to Kofi Annan talks about the need for reform, how when the Camp David talks broke down “the whole atmosphere in the organization became poison”, and his boss. He picks the best five books on the United Nations.
In one of the saddest interviews on our site, Sri Lankan activist Ahilan Kadirgamar talks us through the books he hopes will be a source of inspiration to the next generation. He picks the best books on Sri Lanka and its tragic civil war.