26.8.15

Book recommendation: Forever Rumpole: The Best of the Rumpole Stories by John Mortimer

Forever Rumpole - a hilarious new selection of the very best Rumpole stories by John Mortimer. Horace Rumpole lives alongside Mr Pickwick and Bertie Wooster as one of the immortal comic characters in English fiction. With his curmudgeonly wit, his literary allusions, his disdain for personal ambition and his lack of pomposity, he has, in the words of the Daily Telegraph, 'ascended to the pantheon of literary immortals'. Forever Rumpole contains seven stories originally chosen by the author himself as his favourites, together with a further seven from the later period and the opening chapters of a Rumpole novel that Sir John was working on when he died in 2009. The book also includes a fascinating introduction by Ann Mallalieu, fellow lawyer and for many years Sir John's colleague in practice. Available from Amazon.

19.8.15

Book recommendation: Who Governs Britain? by Anthony King

The British system has been radically transformed in recent decades, far more than most of us realise. As acclaimed political scientist and bestselling author Anthony King shows, this transformation lies at the heart of British politics today. Imagining - or pretending - that the British political system and Britain's place in the world have not greatly changed, our political leaders consistently promise more than they can perform. Political and economic power is now widely dispersed both inside and outside the UK, but Westminster politicians still talk the language of Attlee and Churchill. How exactly has the British system changed? Where does power now lie? In Who Governs Britain?, King offers the first assessment in many years of Britain's governing arrangements as a whole, providing much needed context for the 2015 general election. Available from Amazon.

12.8.15

Book recommendation: Magna Carta by Prof David Carpenter

"No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land." Magna Carta, forced on King John in 1215 by rebellion, is one of the most famous documents in world history. It asserts a fundamental principle: that the ruler is subject to the law. Alongside a new text and translation of the Charter, David Carpenter's commentary draws on new discoveries to give an entirely fresh account of Magna Carta's text, origins, survival and enforcement, showing how it quickly gained a central place in English political life. It also uses Magna Carta as a lens through which to view thirteenth-century society, focusing on women and peasants as well as barons and knights. The book is a landmark in Magna Carta studies. 2015 is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta's creation - an event which will be marked with exhibitions, commemorations and debates in all the countries over whose constitutions and legal assumptions the shadow of Magna Carta hangs. Available from Amazon.

29.7.15

Book recommendation: The Silk Brief (The Silk Tales Book 1) by John Burton

David Brant QC is a newly appointed Queen’s Counsel, a “Silk”, a Criminal Barrister struggling against ever-dwindling legal aid funds and a lack of work. His Chambers is also suffering internal and external pressures and his Senior Clerk seems to only serve a select few. Life at the Bar is more challenging than ever before. His personal life is not much better. Having faced an acrimonious divorce after an inadvisable liaison with a female Solicitor, his life has become a mixture of enforced rest and ever increasing consumption of Claret and Rioja Reserva. However, after a night out with his Senior Clerk, he is instructed to defend in a Murder trial, leading one of the instructing solicitor’s firm’s In-House Barristers. The client is a Mr Damien Clarke, a cocaine addict charged with killing a known associate, Usman Hussain, after a night of smoking crack together in Hussain’s flat. The evidence against Damien appears almost overwhelming and as the case progresses towards trial it is strengthened by further forensic scientific evidence. David Brant QC must use all his forensic skill to combat the array of damning evidence against Damien and to pit his wits against a highly competent Prosecutor and a Judge who has a personal dislike for him. The Silk Brief takes us from before David Brant QC is instructed, through his early preparation of the case and conferences with the client in the High Security Belmarsh prison, through to the trial and verdict. It provides the day by day record of a murder trial including the examination and cross-examination of lay and expert witnesses, Counsel’s speeches, the Judges summing up and finally the jury’s deliberations and verdict. Although a work of fiction, the author draws extensively on his knowledge of the Criminal Bar of England and Wales, having practiced as a Criminal Barrister for over thirty years, latterly as Queen’s Counsel, conducting many trials, including murder trials in the Central Criminal Court, known colloquially and fondly as “The Old Bailey”. Available from Amazon.

22.7.15

Book recommendation: Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel

Is killing sometimes morally required? Is the free market fair? It is sometimes wrong to tell the truth? What is justice, and what does it mean? These and other questions are at the heart of Michael Sandel's Justice. Considering the role of justice in our society and our lives, he reveals how an understanding of philosophy can help to make sense of politics, religion, morality - and our own convictions. Breaking down hotly contested issues, from abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage, to patriotism, dissent and affirmative action, Sandel shows how the biggest questions in our civiv life can be broken down and illuminated through reasoned debate. Justice promises to take readers - of all ages and political persuasions - on an exhilarating journey to confront controversies in a fresh and enlightening way. Available from Amazon.

15.7.15

Book recommendation: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman is set during the mid-1950s and features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood. Available from Amazon.