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Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 2, 2010
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“O’Toole … has produced a coruscating polemic against the cronyism and corruption that in his view helped to fuel the boom…. [H]is highly readable book is a salutary reminder that cronyism, light regulation and loose ethics can be a deadly combination.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
Fintan O'Toole is a columnist and critic for the Irish Times. He was elected Irish Journalist of the Year in 1993 and was a drama critic for the New York Daily News from 1997-2001. The author of several previous books, he is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, Granta, and other publications. He currently lives in Dublin.
Top customer reviews
I believe him, but that's not enough.
The positives of this work is that O'Toole is a really good writer as far as pure mastery of language is concerned. His prose is very easy to follow and it flows very well for a non-fiction book. The book itself is pretty short and knows exactly where to stop, right before getting tedious. I also found O'Toole's disdainfully sardonic tone to be quite amusing and very appropriate for this type of publication. Instead of further trying to describe the language and the tone, I will just provide a short excerpt. This is O'Toole's take on the corrupt Irish elite that purchased vacation homes on the man-made "Island of Ireland", which is part of the "World Archipelago" just off the coast of Dubai: "The great men who 'shaped our modern, thriving nation' could have their Irish pride in villas with 'more than just a hint of Irishness to them', but they would not actually have to be in Ireland - a particular advantage for those among them who were tax fugitives. This would be the perfect Ireland, with a vague sense of history in its mock-Georgian squares but no politics, with a simulacrum of Irish conviviality without the bother of an unruly plebeian populace."
Unfortunately, there are a few negatives about this book and hence the four stars. For one, I thought it could have used a little bit more structure. I felt that the material in each section could have been subdivided into smaller sections, making the transitions between different issues a little easier on the reader. Also, I felt that there were parts where O'Toole, instead of providing a higher level synthesis, kept giving the reader more and more examples of government corruption or tax evasion schemes. I understand that he was trying to show how endemic these practices really were, however I really felt that he made his point in certain instances and was really looking forward to some quality commentary.
Overall, despite the few negatives, I think this is a great, short read for anyone who is interested in the downfall of the Celtic Tiger. As a matter of fact, I think it would be useful for anyone who is interested in reading a case study of how irresponsible fiscal policy, radical pro-business attitude and government corruption and incompetency can ruin what seemed to have been even the most successful economic phenomenon.