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Politicians and Other Animals by Olivia O’Leary



Book Reviews (Adult)

Politicians and Other Animals by Olivia O’Leary
Published by The O’Brien Press Ltd. 2004

Olivia O’Leary is one of Ireland’s best political journalists who regularly contributes to ‘Five Seven Live’ on RTE radio. This is a collection of her musings and opinions on current affairs, scandals, politics and other newsworthy events of the day.

Her writing has all the shrewd insight of her interviewing style and is clear, precise and wickedly accurate in her thumbnail descriptions of some of our more eminent performers on the political stage. Throughout her long and distinguished career she has interviewed almost every senior politician both here and in Britain. What a pity she did not have the opportunity to wield her scalpel on George Bush!

She shares her insights into the human side of these people – Margaret Thatcher’s vanity about her legs, Charlie Haughey’s sensitivity about his height – and helps the reader to understand that it may be that some unwise political decisions have been taken because a politician was having a bad day! She also reflects on the changing relationship between journalists and politicians over the years and the effects this has had on the public perception of politics and politicians.

This collection is sharp, funny and a delight to read for anyone interested in the blood sport that is politics in Ireland both North and South. This is a book to be consulted at election times to remind unwary voters that most politicians, like the late Brian Lenihan, have ‘a selection of faces that he kept in a jar by the door’.

Reviewed by a Clare County Library Staff member.

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