Book Design

I both enjoyed reading Andrew Haslam’s Book Design (ISBN 1-85669673-9) and found it useful. And I dare say that Andrew Haslam must have enjoyed making it, particularly the sections demonstrating paragraph styles and text alignment styles.

I like Book Design because it covers a lot of ground and covers it well. It provides more narrative and examples than, say, Pocket Pal from International Paper but more practical details than, say, Richard Hendel’s On Book Design (ISBN 0-300-07570-7) and covers more of the book than does the type of typography book that I more often read.


An unrelated exposition on right-wing thought is the novel Attila by William Napier that I coincidentally borrowed from the library at the same time as Right-Wing Ireland. Yes, it is historical fiction about Attila the Hun. Quite good. Now I just have to wait for the second book in the trilogy to be published next year.

Right-Wing Ireland?

I’ve just finished reading Right-Wing Ireland? The Rise of Populism in Ireland and Europe by Michael O’Connell (ISBN 1-094148-34-4). While the book mostly discusses Euro-scepticism and rascism, the best line in the book, in the section on the effect on the political climate of an economic slump, is:

There are few more reactionary forces than a million p*ssed-off yuppies who can’t meet their mortgage repayments.

However, the book quotes surveys that indicate that people with less income and less education (which may have contributed to their less income), not the yuppies, that feel threatened by immigration since they see themselves competing with immigrants for both jobs and social welfare.

The book also makes several points about immigrants and crime, or of crime statistics, that I found noteworthy. The book was timely since just last week I saw a newspaper headline saying that 25% of the prison population are immigrants. A similar headline from 2003 – “One in five sent to prison non-nationals, study shows” – from the same paper, I believe, boiled down to closer to 17% being non-nationals, and 17% of those non-nationals being from the UK or elsewhere in the EU rather than being the stereotypical immigrant evoked by the headline.

As to why there is a high proportion of non-nationals in Irish prisons, several pages of discussion of studies of crime and racial groups in multiple countries is summarised thus:

Higher levels of offending by non-nationals, while far from inevitable (given generational and cultural differences) are possible, in the context of the economic and social disadvantage of many newcomers, as well as low self-esteem, alienation, cultural problems, possible trauma, the experience of racism and discrimination, as well as the systematic exacerbation of the situation caused by apparently neutral legal practices.

I don’t have an answer. The book refers to policies in Sweden that “have contributed to keeping second-generation immigrant crime low.” From this remove it would appear that those sorts of policies seem to be in place in Ireland, but the tone of the book would indicate that that not enough is being done.

De Valera: The Man & The Myths

I have just finished reading De Valera: The Man & The Myths by T. Ryle Dwyer. I’ve read a few Irish history books since moving here, but I still have trouble sorting out who’s who, who was on which side with whom in what, and any one person’s position on an issue – privately, publicly, at the time, and after “mature recollection” but with each book I come closer to wearing a groove in my brain such that I can remember some of these details.

While it’s almost true that everything I know about Irish history I learned from Tim Pat Coogan, I did learn a few things from this book. I certainly picked up more about the relationship, or lack of it, between de Valera and David Gray, U.S. Minister to Ireland, 1940-47, and the book reinforced my opinion of Winston Churchill. However, after reading books by TPC, I was surprised that this book made no mention of how de Valera arrived at the money to found the Irish Press. Also, I don’t know that the author, a historian, is sufficiently qualified to repeatedly assert how the psychology of de Valera’s relationship with his mother affected de Valera’s actions.

In summary, a useful book to have read. I consider that recent Irish history is too complex and multi-faceted for anyone to trust their own opinions after reading only one author on the subject, so this book is doubly useful to me for providing a second (or fifth or so) perspective on events.