These are Captain Grumpy's favourite books (not counting Shakespeare which he keeps in the conservatory to throw at next door's cat, and the Bible which he stands on so he can see the girl over the road when she's in the bathroom …)
There's a link to each book which will take you to Amazon, where you can buy the books at a discount. If you do, Captain Grumpy will get about 2p for each sale which with a bit of luck will just about keep him in roll-ups.
Strangely in this day and age, we use Amazon ourselves and find them oddly efficient. It's probably a plot.
Captain Grumpy's Book of the Road and other infuriating stuff
Obviously we have to start with our very own book, just published (November 2012). With over 150 pages of inventive vituperation and dripping with sarcasm (as well as a few other stains of dubious origin) it includes some of the best early Grumpy Pages from this website, and the word f*cking appears at least eight times, seven of them on the same page. It will cost you just ten of your Earth pounds or the equivalent in dollars, euros, bhats, riyals or any other brand of Monopoly money. Be the first Grumpy Old Git on your street to own it! The perfect Christmas gift, guaranteed to maintain that traditional mood of indignant apoplexy right through Boxing Day and possibly beyond. It'll ruin Christmas for everyone else, but you'll have a whale of a time, we promise. Buy it here.
Whose side are they on? - how Big Brother government is ruining Britain
by Alan Pearce
Grumpy Old Sod has been writing for the last five years about the ridiculous, the petty, the unfair, the disproportionate, the just plain stupid activities of those who govern us - politicians, civil servants, local government officials, police and a host of other quasi-official functionaries. Now Alan Pearce has gathered together under one cover a masterly exposé of the ruinous state of Britain under the Nu-Labour dictatorship. He likens Britain to third-world régimes where casual oppression is a day-to-day fact of life. In the final section "Resistance is futile" he delves into murkier waters and explains the sinister methods our masters use and intend to keep using to maintain their own positions and keep us all in our places.
Essential reading for anyone who is not prepared to sit quietly in front of the telly, clapping feebly with the beat and dribbling while the christian-name "celebrities" cavort across the dance floor.
Buy it here.
by Ben Goldacre
Goldacre takes on the self-serving health "experts", the newspaper reporters who bombard us with spurious health scares, the people who make a mint out of ridiculous diets, the dodgy scientists and doctors who build themselves a comfortable fortune out of our gullibility. Chapters include "Brain Gym", the MMR vaccine nonsense, Dr.Gillian McKeith, homeopathy, and a section on why apparently sensible people are hoaxed so easily.
A brilliant book. Jolly cheap, too, considering the sheer quantity of common-sense it contains. You can buy it here.
An Appeal to Reason
by Nigel Lawson
Respected elder statesman Nigel Lawson explains why he is not a convert to the Global Warming religion. Antony Jay describes it as "a wonderful, desperately necessary book; no one in authority should pronounce on global warming again until they have read it".
Despite being (a) a famous politician and (b) already a successful author, Lawson had great difficulty getting this book published. In which case, I suppose that puts the onus on all of us to actually read it!
Buy it here.
by Chris Atkins
One of the most important books of our time, "Taking Liberties" tells the story of how New Labour and Tony Blair have systematically demolished the freedoms of the British people, and the devastating effect this has had on the rest of the world. The story is told through the eyes of the ordinary people who have suffered these injustices, from being arrested for holding up a placard outside parliament, to being tortured and abused by the US military with British complicity. Chris Atkins' "Taking Liberties" has become the most explosive film of 2007. For the reader who wants to dig a little deeper than the film, this book asks why our government is removing our fundamental freedoms while claiming to be defending them. Humorous and offbeat in tone, but solidly backed up by interviews with commentators and experts across the spectrum including Henry Porter, Andrew Gilligan, Tony Benn, Boris Johnson, Claire Short, Milan Rai, Martin Bell, Shami Chakrabarti, Rachel North, Julian Petley, Ross Anderson, Kate Allen, Philippe Sands, Michael Mansfield, Mark Thomas and many more, Taking Liberties is an urgent and timely work. (Review from Amazon. We couldn't have put it better ourselves. So we didn't try).
Buy it here.
Now that Londoners have given Foxy Ken the heave-ho and elected a genuine human instead, we think we all ought to get to know Boris Johnson a bit better. He's got a lot more history than his bumbling appearances on TV might suggest. He was there at Maastricht and in Kosovo; he was at Bush's ranch during his early career and in the Clinton White House during the days of trouble. As he's a prolific writer and never minds revealing his innermost ... er ... innards in print, what better way to get to know him than by reading his books?
He's written quite a few. Have I got Views for You is good, and so is Lend Me Your Ears. Then there's his first novel, Seventy-Two Virgins.
Saint Jeremy Clarkson
Given Jeremy Clarkson's near-godlike status among the denizens of this website, it seems odd that hitherto we have not recommended any of his books. After all, according to visitors to our Guest Book, he is the only man who could seriously challenge The GOS himself as the perfect post-New Labour prime minister. Clarkson does have an unfortunate tendency to be flippant, sadly - something that nobody could ever accuse The GOS of - but he is one of the few men in public life who is instantly understood by ordinary people, promulgates views that are recognised and accepted by the vast majority, and can make us laugh into the bargain.
To the left-leaning eco-nazi PC brigade, being accepted and understood by ordinary people is absolute anathema. To them, ordinary people aren't intelligent enough to have opinions. But we know better. Any view that's held by a large proportion of the population (Global Warming, for instance. When did you last meet someone who actually believes in it?) could be right or could be wrong, but it's worth taking seriously just because it is so widely-held - something that our ruling classes have forgotten lately, and which they will ignore to their peril in years to come. You read it here first.
Anyway, here are four books by Saint Jeremy which we think you will enjoy as much as we did …
… The World According to Clarkson - the chronic unsuitability of men to look after children for long periods or to operate 'white goods', Nimbyism, cricket, PlayStation, astronomy, David Beckham, the demise of Concorde and the burden of an Eton education.
… And Another Thing, the second volume of The World according to Clarkson…Our exasperated hero discovers that he inadvertently dropped a bomb on North Carolina, that we're all going to explode at the age of 62, that Russians look bad in Speedos but not as bad as we do and that he should probably be nicer about David Beckham.
… Don't Stop Me Now - the unfortunate collapse of the British empire, why Galapagos tortoises are all mental, France reduced to the size of a small coconut, the problems of being English, and God's most stupid creation.
… Born to be Riled - Sunday drivers, caravans and politicians. Even places are not safe from his poisonous tongue, with Surrey, Birmingham and Norfolk being on the receiving end of some particularly venomous rants. Clarkson speaks for a silent majority who are secretly incensed by a million and one things everyday of their lives, but are just a little too British to say anything.
Scared to Death
- from BSE to Global Warming: How Scares Are Costing Us The Earth
Christopher Booker and Richard North
"This brilliant exposé of some of the most destructive delusions of our time should be compulsory reading for everyone (particularly journalists and politicians) and if people took heed the world would suddenly become a better place.
From salmonella in eggs to BSE, from the Millennium Bug to bird 'flu, from DDT to passive smoking, from asbestos to global warming, 'scares' have become one of the most conspicuous and damaging features of our modern world. This book for the first time tells the inside story of each of the major scares of the past two decades, showing how they have followed a remarkably consistent pattern. It analyses the crucial role played in each case by scientists who have misread or manipulated the evidence; by the media and lobbyists who eagerly promote the scare without regard to the facts; and finally by the politicians and officials who come up with an absurdly disproportionate response, leaving us all to pay a colossal price, which may run into billions or even hundreds of billions of pounds. This book culminates in a chillingly detailed account of the story behind what it shows has become the greatest scare of them all: the belief that the world faces disaster through man-made global warming. In an epilogue the authors compare our credulity in falling for scares to mass-hysterias of previous ages such as the post-mediaeval 'witch craze', describing our time as a 'new age of superstition'." - reviewed for Amazon by James Delingpole
Buy it here.
- how the Left lost its way
"After 9/11 (Nick Cohen) came to a devastating realisation: that the left, deprived of socialism and communism as credible causes, was embracing ideologies that had previously been the preserve of the far right. Its condemnation of America in general and the war in Iraq in particular meant that it became an apologist for totalitarian regimes. The book is a superbly sustained polemic attacking a wide range of targets, from the obvious (George Galloway) to the surprising (Amnesty International). He writes that he does not want the book to be "an encyclopaedia of liberal hypocrisy", but that is precisely what he has provided."
(adapted from IC's review in the Sunday Times)
Buy it here.
The Parking Ticket Awards
- crazy councils, meter madness and traffic warden hell
The proprietor of Appeal Now!, the website that claims to have helped over a million motorists beat their unfair parking tickets, relates hair-raising stories of the ridiculous things traffic wardens will do to earn their bonuses, and gives advice on how to thwart them.
Buy it here.
God Is Not Great
- the case against religion
(Review by Jess Deacon): While Richard Dawkins writes about the non-existence of God (as far as one can prove a negative), Hitchens goes for religion. His main targets seem to be the 'Abrahamic' religions (including Mormonism) but Hinduism and Buddhism are there too. Witty, but also deeply felt, the chapter headings give you an idea of the content: chapter 2 'Religion Kills', chapter 3 'A Short Digression on the Pig; or, Why Heaven Hates Ham', chapter 4 'A Note on Health, to Which Religion Can Be Hazardous', chapter 16 'Is Religion Child Abuse?'. I'd like to go on, but I think these few make the point. This is a no-holds-barred attack on what Mr.Hitchens sees as a blight on humanity. It's not going to change the mind of anyone committed to his or her religion, but for those questioning, looking for alternate views, this book really is a must. Buy it here.
The Gripes of Wrath
- bizarre (but true) facts to make your blood boil
If you only buy one book from this list, make it "The Gripes of Wrath". It's brilliant. It could be the best book you ever read. Even if it's not, it'll make you so angry your nose bleeds.
It's a wide-ranging tour of all that is stupid, dishonest, hypocritical, venal and unfair in the modern world, and it's done with a minimum of interference from the author - he doesn't comment, he doesn't rant, he just quotes the facts and lets them speak for themselves. Formidable, and required reading for anyone who espouses serious grumpiness.
Buy it here .
- crazy claims and ridiculous rulings guaranteed to blow your fuses
... and Simon Carr's new book is so good we've given it a whole page to itself - click here.
- How words become weapons, how weapons become a message, and how that message becomes reality
Unspeak is language as a weapon. Every day, we are bombarded with those apparently simple words or phrases that actually conceal darker meanings. Climate change is less threatening than Global Warming; we say ethnic cleansing when we mean mass murder. As we absorb and repeat Unspeak we are accepting the messages that politicians, businessmen and military agencies wish us to believe. Operation Iraqi Freedom did more than put a positive spin on the American war with Iraq; it gave the invasion such a likeable phrase that the American news networks quickly adopted it as their tagline for reporting on the war. By repackaging the language we use to describe international affairs or domestic politics, Unspeak tries to make controversial issues unspeakable and, therefore, unquestionable. In this astounding book, Steven Poole traces the globalizing wave of modern Unspeak from culture wars to the culture of war and reveals how everyday words are changing the way we think.
One reviewer wrote: "The book is crisply written without unnecessary muddle, and is charged with relevant facts to support his arguments. After reading it, every time you hear about "ethnic cleansing" your blood will curdle, and every time you read about "abuse" instead of "torture" at Guantanamo Bay you will cringe. And people who complain that it is mostly about the political Right Wing are really missing the obvious: first, Poole's arguments are actually pretty balanced, and his arguments can be generalized easily ("Unspeak" itself knows no political categories); second, critiquing the language of the left-wing, in the English-speaking world and especially in the United States, is like stomping on the fingers of a man in a coma".
To buy this book, click here.
- hunting the English
This book is crap. A.A.Gill is Scottish and makes a living out of being objectionable. He calls it "writing humour", but actually he has made his reputation by just being rude to, and about, almost everybody.
In his new book he takes on the English race - a pretty soft target if you ask me. If he'd picked the French he could have counted on a baguette up his nose, or if he'd set his sights on the Arabs there would be little dark fatwah-merchants crouching in his shrubbery by now, but as we all know you can say anything you like about the English ...
His main argument is that the English are perpetually angry. Huh! Tell that to a Parisian who's had his car petrol-bombed in the Place de la République this week! It's true that we have the highest incidence of road-rage in the known world except for South Africa, but apart from that it's hard to see what the hell he's on about. I'm English, and so far as I'm concerned our national character is all about being cool, calm and collected. And never backing down from a fight. But that's not anger, it's plain pig-headedness. I'm English, and I'm not angry. Terminally grumpy, but not angry.
So, A.A.Gill (real name Adrian. Not poofy at all), you've written a crap book, and the GOS urges all his readers NOT to buy it. On the other hand, you are genuinely grumpy so we've allowed you a little space on this page. But we're not angry with you. We're not. Bastard.
You can buy this book here. But don't!
Is it just me or is everything shit?
- the encyclopedia of modern life
McArthur & Lowe
This book hasn't been published yet so we haven't read it, but it's obviously right up our street! This is what the Amazon website has to say about it ...
"If you hate: loft living; bar-clubs; Tony Blair; chick lit; global warming sceptics; Keane; loyalty cards; IKEA; Kabbalah; bling and Richard Curtis...then you need "Is it just me Or Is everything shit?" - an encylopedic attack on modern culture and the standard reference work for everyone who believes everything is shit. Which it is. This book is for the large percentage of the population interested in saying No to the phoney ideas, cretinous people, useless products and doublespeak that increasingly dominate our lives. This book is designed for everyone who thinks they may have mislaid their soul in a Coffee Republic. Never before has there been a book so completely full of shit. This very funny, well-informed, belligerent rant of a book adds up to an excoriating broadside against consumer capitalism that the authors hope will sell loads of copies".
You can order this book here.
A note from Captain Grumpy: "Is it just me ...." has been published now, and I've read it. It's very funny indeed. You should buy it. Really.
The Skeptical Environmentalist
- measuring the real state of the world
We've been told so many times that we're destroying the earth that most of us believe it implicitly. Kids in school are indoctrinated about global warming and save-the-whales, drivers are persecuted and taxed in the name of anti-pollution, we're scared to death of nuclear power, we don't know what to do about the mountains of waste we produce, the oil's running out, there's a hole in the ozone layer, a trillion trees and a couple of dozen animal species bite the dust each day, the poor people of the world are all starving, coral reefs are crumbling and there are no more fish in the sea. And we're all dying of skin cancer.
But is it all true?
The trouble is, most of the people who tell us this stuff have a vested interest in persuading us to believe it. Either they're environmentalists who need to create and then hang on to their jobs, or they're scientists anxious to safeguard their next research project, or they're campaigners whose campaign is the thing that gets them in the newspaper and makes them feel important.
Bjorn Lomborg is a statistician, and in his long and complex book he examines the actual statistics behind these scare-stories and comes up with some rather surprising conclusions. It's not an easy read by any means, but God! there's some fascinating stuff in it …
Of course, they say you can prove anything with statistics. True enough, you can. But that works both ways, and to be frank I'd sooner believe a professional statistician than some bearded weirdy with an axe to grind.
You can buy this excellent and thought-provoking book here.
Eats Shoots & Leaves
- the zero tolerance approach to punctuation
You've got to admire someone who can write a best-seller about punctuation, of all things. But as greengrocers' apostrophes and similar gaffes are meat and drink to us grumpy old geezers, we should all have this book on our shelves.
It's authoritative, beautifully written, clearly explained and really rather funny. Buy it here.
The New Rulers of the World
Australian journalist John Pilger is well-known for exposing the secretive and hypocritical ways of world leaders, and this book is a collection of essays about some the underhand and dangerous deceits they have practised on us over the last couple of decades.
Here's just one sentence from the Introduction, to give you a taste: "The capacity of the American military machine to smash impoverished countries is undisputed, conditional on the absence of American ground troops and their substitution by local or allied forces". And that, mark you, was written before the invasion of Iraq!
Pilger focuses on the American drive for world domination, the so-called War on Terror, abuse and ethnic cleansing with Western backing in Indonesia, the mistreatment of the Australian aborigines, the way the West withholds help to poor nations in trouble … little escapes his hawk-like eye and it is all backed up with some remarkable figures and even more remarkable quotes and eye-witness accounts.
This is an outstanding book and should be required reading for anyone in Europe and America with an IQ over 50. If you haven't read it, you can't lay claim to a valid political opinion. So there.
Just one more quote to whet your appetite: "They know we own their country … we dictate the way they live and talk. And that's what's great about America right now. It's a good thing, especially when there's a lot of oil out there we need" (Brigadier-General William Looney,US Air Force, director of the bombing of Iraq in the first Gulf War).
You can buy this book here.
Grumpy Old Men
- a manual for the British malcontent
The book cover sums it up pretty well: "This book is for everyone who has ever been slowed down by pointless speed bumps, sat in a train carriage behind some halfwit with a mobile phone, had the pants bored off him by an "entertainer", endured Satan's own family Christmas celebration or spent an hour on the phone to a call centre in Khazakstan. It's a collection of grumpy old rants about all the people, things, places and attitudes that make any sane adult start gibbering".
Right up our street, then. Buy it here.
Lost for Words
- the mangling and manipulating of the English language
John Humphrys attempts to do for language what Lynn Truss did for punctuation. Sadly, he isn't entirely successful. Although most his complaints will ring a bell with us Grumpy Old Sods, he is just a bit too pedantic and a bit too much of a know-all for our taste.
He is, however, very good when discussing the ignorant use of English by Americans, and excellent on its calculated misuse by politicians. And we have to admit, he is really grumpy!
Buy it here.
- my life
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
The autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somalian refugee, Dutch MP and object of Muslim fatwah because she has dared to speak out about the ignorance and barbarity of her people's religion and their cruelty to girls and women. A well-written and gripping account which explains a great deal about the Muslim unrest which is making life so difficult and perplexing in modern-day Europe and elsewhere.
A Caged Virgin
- A Muslim Woman's Cry for Reason
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
A set of essays by Ayaan Hirsi Ali highlighting the plight of women in primitive Muslim communities where they are subject to "excision" (brutal female circumcision and much worse), imprisonment by their families, forced marriages that are little more than rape, beatings and "honour killings" if their behaviour or the behaviour of others toward them is deemed to be in any way belittling of the men who are their superiors and masters. Compelling, and a welcome window onto a world most of us are aware of but few of us understand.
The Pedant's Revolt
- why most things you think are right are wrong
Aimed at pedants to know-it-alls, as well as those simply wishing to 'get it right', this book will appeal to the modern passion for factual accuracy. The ultimate book to settle any pub argument, it exposes a wide range of facts that we have always believed to be true, but which are, in fact, completely false. It also covers a broad spectrum of subjects in a highly entertaining, yet informative, style. The modern age has long been awash with facts and figures relating to a wealth of different subjects, but how many of these snippets of information can be verified as accurate? Which examples of trivia can be proven to be nothing more than falsehoods or fabrications? Covering a wide range of diverse topics, from history to science, the arts, the animal kingdom, medicine, the human body, and food and drink, and presenting its well-researched facts in a highly accessible and entertaining manner, this intriguing book sets the record straight by exposing a great many of the common myths and fallacies that have become entrenched in everyday thought.
Buy it here.
Ducks in a Row
- an A to Z of Offlish
A humorous guide to the language of Office English Ducks in a Row is a dictionary and guidebook celebrating the new and absurd language of Office English, or Offlish - workplace slang, common jargon, bogus phrases and all the myriad ridiculous idioms that we use to impress and confuse our colleagues and to climb the greasy pole of corporate advancement. It is a book to delight, amuse, instruct and entertain anyone who has ever worked in, or ever will work in, an office. All of the 700+ definitions of words and terms in Ducks in a Row include examples of typical office behaviour and the types of character encountered. For each word or term there is an example of how it is used, as well as a handy "Bullshit Rating". All the words and terms are fully cross-referenced and indexed so that it is possible to dip in and across the book to follow a particular theme or running gag.
Buy it here.
And this from John Myers ...
Life's Little Annoyances
- true tales of people who just can't take it any more
When New York Times reporter Ian Urbina wrote a cover story in the paper about the clever extremes people go to in an effort to exact some retribution against the petty aggravations that make us all nuts, he never expected it to become the most emailed article on The New York Times website.
He also didn't expect the avalanche of responses he received detailing other ingenious tactics people have employed to thwart telemarketers, rude office mates, oblivious pet owners, and those idiots that forward chain emails.
Urbina has collected these true tales of passive aggressive retaliation into a book entitled Life's Little Annoyances.
It is a compendium of human inventiveness, by turns juvenile and petty, but in other ways inspired and deeply satisfying. We meet the junk-mail recipient who sends back unwanted "business reply" envelopes weighted down with sheet metal, so the mailers will have to pay the postage. We commiserate with the woman who was fed up with the colleague who kept helping himself to her lunch cookies, so she replaced them with dog biscuits that looked like biscotti. And we revel in the seemingly endless number of tactics people use to vent their anger at telemarketers, loud cellphone talkers, spammers, and others who impose themselves on us.
A celebration of the endless variety of passive aggressive behavior, "Life's Little Annoyances" will provide comfort and inspiration to everyone who has ever gritted his teeth and dreamed of sweet retribution against the slings and arrows of outrageous people.
Buy it here.
- from child slavery and political murder to war and third-world starvation
by John Pilger
A review by an Amazon reader: "If you want to know more about the world we live in, and think about world events with a conscience rather than infantile "good vs. evil" arguments, then this must be your first step. This comes at a price, for the sheer enormity of the facts being imparted leave you feeling helpless. I always knew that politicians lie, that the media lies, but I was not prepared for the extent at which they do it. If you are content to be spoon-fed opinions, and think that news should concentrate more on soap operas and the cult of "celebrity", then stay away. Pilger writes with great admiration for battered people who have been deemed "the enemy" for the purposes of history books written by the powerful. I don't know how Pilger doesn't despair at the evil he has uncovered, but it's a credit to him that he has documented it, and I am grateful to him that he has."
Perfectly true when you think about it - history books are always written by the people who won.
Buy this book here.
The Web of Deceit
- Britain's real role in the world
by Mark Curtis
In this revealing book Mark Curtis reasons that Britain is a 'rogue state', often a violator of international law and a systematic condoner of human rights abuses, as well as a key ally of many repressive regimes. He argues that under the Blair government, Britain has become a champion of a form of globalisation that is increasing the takeover of the global economy by big business, and far from changing course post-September 11th, British policies are partly responsible for the continuation - and often deepening - of global poverty and inequality, while its arms exports and nuclear policies are making the world a more dangerous place.
The "Web of Deceit" describes the staggering gulf that has arisen between New Labour's professed commitment to upholding ethical values and the reality of current policies, including British participation in the 'war on terrorism' as a new pretext for global intervention; the immorality of British policy in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq and Indonesia; effective support for repressive state policies of Israel, Russia, Turkey and the Gulf states; acquiescence in the Rwanda genocide; and the deepening of poverty-increasing economic policies through the World Trade Organisation.
Drawing on the declassified government files, the book also reveals British complicity in the slaughter of a million people in Indonesia; the depopulation of the island of Diego Garcia; the overthrow of governments in Iran and British Guiana; repressive colonial policies in Kenya and Malaya; and much more.
Buy it here.
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