David Blackburn

Summer reading | 21 July 2011

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It’s a tradition of the British summer. A Tory MP produces a summer reading list of weighty and worthy tomes to co-incide with the summer recess. This year, Keith Simpson has compiled the list, and as you can see it's long as your arm. Spectator Book Blog contributor Nik Darlington has made a few selections from the list. And of course, we'd like CoffeeHousers' recommendations too.


Alastair Campbell, Diaries Vol. II: Power and the People and Diaries Vol. III: Power & Responsibility.

Peter Catterall (editor), The Macmillan Diaries Vol. II: Prime Minister and After, 1957-1966.

Earl Ferrers, Whatever Next? Reminiscences of a journey through life.

Chris Mullin, A Walk-On Part: Diaries 1994-1999, A View From The Foothills 1999-2005 and Decline & Fall: Diaries 2005-2010.

Jonathan Powell, The New Machiavelli: How to Wield Power in the Modern World.

William Rees-Mogg, Memoirs.

Margaret Rhodes, The Final Curtsey.

Politics / Ideas:

David Brooks, The Social Animal: A Story of How Success Happens.

Ben Goldacre, Bad Science.

R.A.W. Rhodes, Everyday Life in British Government.

David Willetts, The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children’s Future – and Why They Should Give it Back.

Tim Wu, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires


Rodney Bolt, As Good as God, as Clever as the Devil: The Impossible Life of Mary Benson.

Mehdi Hasan & James Macintyre, ED: The Milibands and the making of a Labour leader.

Michael Korda, Hero: The Life & Legend of Lawrence of Arabia.

Jonathan Steinberg, Bismarck: A Life.

Miles J. Unger, Machiavelli: A Biography.


David Abulafia, The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean.

Robert Bickers, Empire Made Me: An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai and The Scramble for China: Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire, 1832-1914.

Asa Briggs, Secret Days: Codebreaking in Bletchley Park: A Memoir of Hut Six and the Enigma Machine.

Peter Caddick-Adams, Monty and Rommel: Parallel Lives.

Max Egremont, Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia.

Amanda Foreman, A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided.

Francis Fukuyama, The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution.

David Gilmour, The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, its Regions and their Peoples.

Duff Hart-Davis, The War That Never Was.

Robert C. Knapp, Invisible Romans: Prostitutes, Outlaws, Slaves, Gladiators, Ordinary Men and Women…the Romans that History Forgot.

Kwasi Kwarteng, Ghosts of Empire: Britain’s Legacies in the Modern World.

Julian Lewis, Racing Ace: The Fights and Flights of ‘Kink’ Kinkead DSO DSC* DFC*.

Matthew Parker, The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire and War.

Bernard Porter, The Battle of the Styles: George Gilbert Scott and the FCO.

Mike Rapport, 1848: Year of Revolution.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, Jerusalem: The Biography.

Jonathan Sperber, The European Revolutions, 1848-1851.

David Stafford, Mission Accomplished: SOE and Italy 1943-1945.

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Herculaneum: Past and Future.

Stephanie Williams, Running the Show: Governors of the British Empire 1857-1912.

Military / Security:

Jay Bahadur, Deadly Waters: Inside the hidden world of Somalia’s pirates.

Rodric Braithwaite, Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan, 1979-89.

Sherard Cowper-Coles, Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign.

Toby Harnden, Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of Britain’s War in Afghanistan.

Andrew Murrison, Tommy This an’ Tommy That.

Gordon Weiss, The Cage: The fight for Sri Lanka & the Last Days of the Tamil Tigers.

Bob Woodward, Obama’s Wars: The Inside Story.


Louise Bagshawe, Destiny.

Charles Cumming, The Trinity Six.

Alan Hollinghurst,The Stranger’s Child.

Stella Tillyard, Tides of War.