Today with Sean O'Rourke

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    The Kill List

    by Frederick Forsyth (Bantam Press)

    Frederick Forsyth, after an early career as an RAF pilot and journalist, turned his hand to fiction, in particular thriller writing in 1971 initially to pay off some debts. His first book The Day of the Jackal was a huge international bestseller and then blockbuster movie in 1973 starring Edward Fox.

    Forty years and more than a dozen books on, he has published his latest thriller, The Kill List, which journeys into the heart of global terrorism, government ordered assassinations and international intrigue.


    Michael O’Siadhail: Collected Poems

    Micheal O Siadhail is one of Ireland’s finest poets and his ‘Collected Poems’, covering 40 years of his work has just been published. It’s an extraordinary collection featuring a wide range of poems relating to different times in his life. The themes range from the very personal emotions surrounding desire, love and loss to more global issues such as society, language and history.


    The Man Booker Prize

    On the Today programme, last August, we looked at three novels on what was then the Man Booker Longlist. By happy chance, or sheer co-incidence, or inspired guesswork those three novels, Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary, Jim Crace’s Harvest and Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland made it on to this year’s shortlist announced on 15 September.

    Today we’re taking at a look at the other three titles contending for one of the world’s most important literary prizes. They are: NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names; A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki and The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. The winner will be announced next week in London and, to bring you a flavour of all three, Sean was joined in studio by actors Cathy Belton and Barry Barnes who’ll read extracts from these three novels and by Niall MacMonagle.


    Hitler’s Furies

    History has it that the role of women in Nazi Germany was to be the perfect Hausfrau, produce the next Aryan generation and be a loyal cheerleader for the Fuhrer. Then they became the ‘Rubble Women’, as they cleared and tidied their ruined country to get it back on its feet. They were Germany’s heroines. The few women tried and convicted after the war were simply the evil aberrations that proved this rule. However, the true extent of the role of women in the Nazi killing fields has been hidden for seventy years. In her new book, Hitler’s

    Furies, Wendy Lower reveals an altogether different story, which shows that genocide is women’s business as well as men’s and that, in ignoring women’s culpability, we have ignored the reality of the Holocaust.

    Hitler's Furies German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields By Wendy Lower (Published by Chatto and Windus for approx. €27 in hardback).


    Great Britain’s Great War

    One hundred and one years ago began the Great War… leaving behind over thirty seven million casualties in one of the most deadly conflicts in the history of the planet.

    Life in the trenches was horrific… the death toll unimaginable and the suffering on the battle field and back home was ongoing.

    So why did the British fight it so willingly and how did the country endure it for so long? Using a wealth of first-hand source material, Jeremy Paxman brings to life the day-to-day experience over the course of the war in his new book, Great Britain’s Great War.

    It reveals that life and identity in Britain were often different from here in Ireland and show how both countries were utterly transformed by the enormous upheaval of the war.And Sean spoke to Jeremy Paxman.

    Great Britain’s Great War By Jeremy Paxman (Published by Viking for €21.50 in paperback).


    The Republic: The Fight for Irish Independence

    By Charles Townsend (Published by Allen Lane)
    The protracted, terrible fight for Irish independence pitted the Irish against the British and the Irish against other Irish. It was both a physical battle of shocking violence against a regime increasingly seen as alien and unacceptable and an intellectual battle for a new sort of country. The damage done, the betrayals and grim compromises put the new nation into a state of trauma for at least a generation, but at a nearly unacceptable cost the struggle ended: a new republic was born. In his new book, The Republic, Charles Townsend deals with the most critical years in Ireland's history. There has been a great temptation to view these years through the prisms of martyrology and good-and-evil. The picture painted by Townshend, however, is far more nuanced and sceptical.



    Angela Merkel – The Chancellor and her World

    by Stefan Kornelius and translated by Anthea Bell and Christopher Moncrieff (Alma Books)

    Germans take to the polls this weekend to determine whether Angela Merkel will be re-elected for her third consecutive term. Currently in the eighth year of her chancellorship, she has been at the head of the most powerful economy in Europe for two parliamentary terms and while she has achieved much throughout her career, the defining theme of her chancellorship is Europe’s crisis.

    Resented and respected in equal measure across Europe, little is known of Merkel beyond her political policies and ideologies. Who was this woman who for so long had kept quiet and who in only a few years had taken control of Germany’s conservative party? Who was this politician who rose almost unnoticed to lead the leaders of Europe? An official biography has been released this year which has been translated from German and chronicles the early life of Angela Kasner growing up in East Berlin, her late interest in politics, Polish roots, affinity to Israel and her swift rise to power titled Angela Merkel – The Chancellor and her World.

    Author Stefan Kornelius spoke to Sean this morning.


    The Price of Power – Inside Ireland’s Crisis Coalition

    by Pat Leahy (Penguin Ireland)

    It was a Government that hit the ground running, literally with the new Taoiseach bounding into work walking. But what he and his coalition partners found in the State’s coffers made grim accounting....they had inherited a country poised on the cliff edge of ruin.

    So with no other options available the new government was forced to follow the economic blueprint left by their predecessors and answer to their new economic masters the TROIKA.

    Now that the first half of the Government’s term has come to an end deputy and political editor of The Sunday Business Post, Pat Leahy has set out to tell the story as seen from the inside in his latest book The Price of Power – Inside Ireland’s Crisis Coalition.


    The Billionaire Who Wasn’t – How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune

    by Conor O’Clery (Public Affairs)

    Chuck Feeney is a well known Irish-American billionaire and philanthropist who made his fortune from duty free shops in the Far East, and has donated more than €6 billion through the his foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, since it was founded in 1982. Of this figure more than €1.5 billion was donated to Irish educational and social causes.

    Famously parsimonious with himself, he flies economy, wears a $15 watch and doesn’t own a home, his vision has always been ‘giving while living’. However reports over the last few years began to emerge that all was not well within the foundation with disputes between the board and its benefactor, owing to the direction of the foundation, ‘almost killing’ Feeney Conor O’Clery has met with Chuck Feeney many times and wrote a book published in 2007 The Billionaire who Wasn’t – How Chuck Feeney Made and Gave Away a Fortune. He has now updated his book to include recent events. He joins me in studio to discuss this and more.



    by Margaret Atwood (Bloomsbury)

    Margaret Atwood needs little introduction as the author of over 30 books including the provocative bestseller The Handmaid’s Tale and The Blind Assassin which won her The Booker Prize in 2000. She is best known for setting her stories in dystopic universes in which the Earth has been ravaged, generally by humans who have pushed the planet to the brink of destruction and beyond.

    She joins us today to discuss her latest novel, MaddAddam, which is the final book of the trilogy first published in 2003 with Oryx and Crake and followed by The Year of the Flood. Set in a world that's been devastated by a pandemic leaving the survivors to fight it out, will they find a way to coexist, or will they self-destruct?

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