I think this is the first review of The Catholic Orangemen, from Ten Percent. If the reception is generally like this, I shall be pretty happy:
I enjoyed it immensely, found myself at page 100 before I knew what hit me, a testament to fascinating subject matter and an easy friendly style. It’s fascinating to learn more of how our embassies work (or don’t, it also works as a companion to le Carre’s recent books in providing more background detail to the machinations of power) and the reality of New Labour politicians (Amos!) and their far too close relationship with business all the while slickly marketing themselves as great states-people. His account of Africa and our role in it is useful and pragmatic although like me I’m sure there will be differences of opinion here and there. But as with Murder in Samarkand it is a forthright account of a man who we can recognise, with faults and weaknesses but a core determination to do his best, his pesky loyalty to democracy and human rights is the thing that tellingly makes him different from the establishment. Careerism, party/class loyalty, greed, tradition seem to have trumped all other considerations in many of the well known names who crop up. For example it’s interesting that the ‘ethical foreign policy’ that Robin Cook tried to implement was steadfastly opposed by Blair in No. 10 from the outset. And the passages where Craig, in Sierra Leone peace talks, realises he is the only one in the room who has never killed anybody, show the difficulty but necessity of peace negotiations.
I also extracted this from the comments:
Terrific read from start to finish. Before the end of the third paragraph I was forced to eagerly cancel any and all plans which would interfere with my finishing the book.
“It was possibly the worst thing I had ever done, and my conscience was bothering me. As my wife Fiona was nudging our overloaded Saab 9.3 around a Polish lake, through fog so dense it looked like solid mass, I felt uneasy. Mariola had been perhaps the nicest, kindest, gentlest mistress I ever had. Her red curls framed a face of pre-Raphaelite perfection, her lithe but well curved body was the incarnation of allure, and more precious still, her soul was deep, gentle and romantic. She was also discreet, reliable, faithful and inexpensive. Yet I was running away, leaving the country without even saying goodbye. Worse, without even telling her I was going. I hadn’t been able to face it. I just left. What a bastard I was. I reached up to the steering wheel and squeezed my wife’s hand for comfort.
What I was doing to Mariola was really, really bad. Even worse than sleeping with both her sisters. I wondered if they would tell her.
I had hugely enjoyed my time in Poland as First Secretary at the British Embassy.”
From there on it gets even more interesting!
Johan van Rooyen
It is genuinely nervewracking offering up something that was so much work, and is rather unconventional, and not knowing what the reaction will be.
If people could add reviews on Amazon that would be helpful. It might also be good if someone was able to update wikipedia with some of the information from the book – notably Tim Spicer’s carefully presented entry.