Click on a date to listen to the show.

Programme 31: 24th June 2006
The IRB: The Irish Republican Brotherhood from the Land League to Sinn Féin by Owen McGee.

On this evening's programme Tom Garvin and Eunan O'Halpin discuss The IRB: The Irish Republican Brotherhood from the Land League to Sinn Féin (Four Courts Press) by Owen McGee.
This book analyses the ideology and organizational traditions of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), its role in Irish politics and its place in Irish history. Owen McGee argues that the IRB was never primarily an insurrectionary conspiracy. Rather it was a popular fraternal organization and propagandistic body, committed to bringing about popular politicization in Ireland along republican lines. He identifies the period between the land war of 1879 - 81 and the outbreak of the First World War, as being a critical phase in the evolution of modern Irish republicanism.

Programme 30: 17th June 2006
THE REVENGE OF GAIA by James Lovelock.

Discussed by Mary Kelly, Brendan McWilliams and David McConnell.

Programme 29: 10th June 2006
SEVEN LIES by James Lasdun (Jonathan Cape).

This week Julia Carlson and Maurice Devlin review the novel Seven Lies by James Lasdun (Jonathan Cape).

James Lasdun was born in Britain and currently lives in the United States. He has published several short story collections, including 'The Siege' and recently won the prestigious National Short Story Prize in the U.K. His poetry has also been highly-praised.

His second novel, Seven Lies, tells the story of Stefan Vogel, a young man growing up in the former East Germany, whose yearnings for love, glory and freedom express themselves in a lifelong fantasy of going to America.

The hopeless son of an ambitious mother and a kind but unlucky diplomat father, Stefan lurches between his budding, covert interests - girls and Romantic poetry - and becoming embroiled in dissident politics, which seems to offer both. In time, by a series of blackly comic and increasingly dangerous manoeuvres, he contrives to make his fantasy come true, finding himself not only in the country of his dreams, but also married to the woman he idolises. America seems everything he expected, and meanwhile his secrets are safely locked away behind the Berlin Wall. A new life of unbounded bliss seems to have been granted to him. And then that life begins to fall apart.

Programme 28: 3rd June 2006
A NIGHT AT THE MAJESTIC by Richard Davenport Hines.

On this evening's programme David Norris and Ailbhe Smyth discuss A Night at the Majestic by Richard Davenport Hines. It's the intriguing story of the most extraordinary dinner party of all time - the night Proust, Joyce, Picasso and Stravinsky all met at the Majestic in Paris.

One May night in 1922, in a grand hotel in Paris, five of the greatest artists of the 20th century sat down to supper. It would be the only time that Joyce and Proust, Picasso, Diaghilev and Stravinsky were in a room together. Each of these exponents of early twentieth-century modernism was at the peak of his creative powers, and of all of them, Proust was enjoying the most spectacular success. Yet within six months he would be dead.

"A Night at the Majestic" evokes the luxury and glamour of early-twentieth century Paris, the intellectual achievement of the modernist movement and the gossip, intrigue and scandal of aristocratic France.

Programme 27: 27th May 2006

Ivana Bacik and John Waters discuss Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind by David Berreby.

The book reveals how and why we convince ourselves that we belong to differing human kinds - tribe-type categories like races, religions, classes, street gangs and high school cliques. Why do we see these divisions? Why do we care about them so much? Why do we kill and die for them? David Berreby exposes new discoveries about the mind and brain that will eventually overturn many of our familiar notions about human kinds and how we perceive them.

Programme 26: 20th May 2006

Discussed by Ethna Tinney and Harry White.

Programme 25: 13th May 2006

This week Niall MacMonagle and Julia Carlson have been reading Paul Auster's most recent novel 'The Brooklyn Follies'. Set against the backdrop of the contested US election of 2000, it tells the story of Nathan and Tom, an uncle and nephew double-act. One in remission from lung cancer, divorced, and estranged from his only daughter, the other hiding away from his once-promising academic career, and life in general. Having accidentally ended up in the same Brooklyn neighbourhood, they discover a community teeming with life and passion.

Programme 24: 6th May 2006
Postwar: A History of Europe by Tony Judt

Historians Judith Devlin and Michael Laffan, along with Alan Dukes, former leader of Fine Gael and now Director General of the Institute of European Affairs, discuss Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 by Tony Judt (Heinemann).Tracing the story of post-war Europe and its changing role in the world, Judt investigates the political, social and cultural history of Europe from the wreckage of post-war Europe to the expansion of the EU into the former Soviet empire. This is a history that pays due attention to both Western and Eastern Europe and throughout, Judt shows how politics, society, culture, and popular culture influenced each other.

Programme 23: 29th April 2006
Get a Life by Nadine Gordimer
Truth and Consequences by Alison Lurie

Julia Carlson and Maurice Devlin have been reading two novels by women writers. The first, Get a Life, by Nadine Gordimer, is set in contemporary South Africa. Paul Bannerman, an ecologist, is prescribed treatment for thyroid cancer that makes him temporarily radioactive. To protect his wife and child, he is taken in by his parents, businessman Adrian and successful lawyer Lyndsay. Back in his childhood garden he faces the contradiction between the values of his conservation work and those of his wife, an advertising agency executive. Following his recovery, however, it is his parents who face challenges in their own emotional lives.

The second novel, Alison Lurie's Truth and Consequences, deals with a couple who have been married for sixteen years. But Jane and Alan's relationship has changed: Alan has developed chronic back pain, and as a result he has become glum and demanding. When Jane longs for escape, her mother accuses her of selfishness. Enter Delia, a writer, who in her own estimation is a 'Great Artist'. Can sexy Delia, with her trailing scarves and lacy shirts, coax Alan out of his grumpiness?

Programme 22: 22nd April 2006
The Dragons of Expectation: Reality and Delusion in the Course of History by Robert Conquest.

Discussed by Brigid Laffan and Anthony Coughlan.

Programme 21: 15th April 2006
Political Memoirs

This week Gemma Hussey, Chris Glennon and Michael Mills discuss three recent political memoirs: Straight Left by Ruairi Quinn, Young Tigers and Mongrel Foxes: A Life in Politics by Paddy Harte; and As I Saw It: A Memoir of Over 30 Years of Fianna Fail and Irish Politics by Padraig Faulkner.

Programme 20: 8th April 2006
Darwin's Legacy

The book Darwin's Legacy by John Dupré (Oxford) is discussed by geneticist Professor David McConnell and philosophy lecturer Fr. Brendan Purcell. John Dupré's book presents a lucid, witty introduction to evolution and what it means for our view of humanity, the natural world, and religion.

He shows why the theory of evolution is one of the most important scientific ideas of all time, but makes clear that it can't explain everything - contrary to widespread popular belief, it has very little to tell us about the details of human nature and human behaviour, such as language, culture, and sexuality.

Programme 19: 1st April 2006
Harry White and John Hughes discuss The Virtuoso Conductors by Raymond Holden (Yale).

It was the thoughts and practices of Richard Wagner that laid the foundation for the modern virtuoso conductor. Wagner's experience as a conductor brought a set of practices and principles that affected the interpretations of future generations, and conductors continue to pursue his example today. This book examines Wagner's conducting career and then tracks the central European style through some of the greatest figures of modern music - Nikisch, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Weingartner, Furtwangler and others through to Karajan, Bernstein and George Szell.

Programme 18: 25th March 2006
Up with the Times by Conor Brady is up for discussion this week. The panel in studio with Andy O'Mahony consists of Helen Shaw, Gerry O'Regan and John Horgan.

Conor Brady edited The Irish Times for sixteen years between 1986 and 2002. It was a period of extraordinary change both in Ireland and in the wider world. This book tells of encounters, not all friendly, with politicians, such as Charles Haughey, Dick Spring, Albert Reynolds John Hume, Mary Robinson, Bertie Ahern and many others. It describes the meticulous investigations - and sometimes the crises of decision making - that preceded pivotal stories, including Bishop Casey, the X Case and the Lenihan tapes

Programme 17: 11th March 2006
The Meaning of Recognition: New Essays 2001 - 2005.

John Boland and Ita Daly have been reading The Meaning of Recognition: New Essays by Clive James dating from 2001-2005. Literary critic, cultural commentator, TV personality, journalist, poet, political analyst, satirist and Formula One fan: Clive James is a man (and master) of many talents. The book takes the reader from London to Bali, theatre to library, from pre-election campaigning to sitting in front of the TV at home, watching The Sopranos and The West Wing.

Programme 16: 4th March 2006

Tim Pat Coogan and Tom Garvin discuss Mick: The Real Mick Collins by Peter Hart (Macmillan).

Dead at thirty-one, Michael Collins had already fought in the Easter Rising, been elected to four different parliaments, organised the IRA and smuggled in its arms, launched its guerrilla war, beat British intelligence at its own game, financed the revolution, negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty, run the first independent government of Ireland, and led the Irish army to victory as its first Commander-in-Chief. Collins gained international fame as the mystery man who could not be caught, the man who won the war and, paradoxically, the man who made peace with the British Empire and made it stick.

Peter Hart's biography draws on many hitherto unseen sources to explore the life of Michael Collins and to ask what made him such an extraordinary and complex man. Hart's is the first book to fully investigate Collins's life before becoming a revolutionary and the first to take a critical look at his rise to power and its consequences.

Programme 15: 25th February 2006
Programme deferred.

Programme 14: 18th February 2006

Mark Patrick Hederman OSB and Ailbhe Smyth discuss Germs: A Memoir of Childhood by Richard Wollheim.

Richard Wollheim died in 2003, not long after the completion of the book, which he felt to be his 'best piece of work'. Germs traces a passage from childhood to youth, it is a recovery of the past that is rich in sensation and in exposure to the world. His father is a fastidious impresario, a friend of Diaghilev's and the incarnation of an Old Europe. His mother is a figure commandingly comic in her absurdities: a vexation and a fascination.

Programme 13: 11th February 2006
Dan McLaughlin and Brendan Keenan discuss Wall St.: A Cultural History by Steve Fraser (Faber).

This epic book is a passionate, critical history of the most powerful financial district in the world. It can also be read as the story of capitalism in America, and of the great turning points in American history, but it is much more than a narrative of politics and economics.

Programme 12: 4th February 2006
First Boredom, Then Fear: The Life of Philip Larkin by Richard Bradford

Tony Roche and Dennis O'Driscoll discuss Richard Bradford's new biography on the English poet, novelist and jazz critic, Philip Larkin. Richard Bradford's First Boredom, Then Fear: The Life of Philip Larkin reveals that Larkin treated his prejudices and peculiarities with detached circumspection. Sometimes he shared them, self-mockingly, self-destructively, with his closest friends; he divided up his life so that some people knew him well but none completely. It was only in the poems that the parts began to resemble the whole.

Programme 11: 28th January 2006
The Edifice Complex: How the Rich Shaped the World
Architect Joan O'Connor and Irish Times Environment Correspondent Frank McDonald are in studio with Andy O'Mahony to talk about The Edifice Complex: How the Rich Shaped the World by Deyan Sudjic. The book is an exploration of the intimate and inextricable relationship between architecture, power, money and politics in the twentieth century. How and why have presidents, prime ministers, mayors, millionaires and bishops come to share such a fascination with architecture? From Blair to Mitterrand, from Hitler to Stalin to Saddam Hussein, architecture has become an end in itself, as well as a means to an end.

Programme 10: 21st January 2006
Ita Daly and Maurice Devlin discuss On Beauty by Zadie Smith. Howard Belsey, a Rembrandt scholar who doesn't like Rembrandt, is an Englishman abroad and a long-suffering Professor at Wellington College. He has been married for thirty years to Kiki, an American woman who no longer resembles the sexy activist she once was. Their three children passionately pursue their own paths, and faced with the oppressive enthusiasms of his children, Howard feels that the first two acts of his life are over and he has no clear plans for the finale. Then Jerome, Howard's oldest son, falls for Victoria, the stunning daughter of the right-wing icon Monty Kipps. Increasingly, the two families find themselves thrown together in a beautiful corner of America, enacting a cultural and personal war against the background of real wars that they barely register...

Programme 9: 14th January 2006
Joe Higgins T.D., and Máirín de Burca discuss a new biography of James Connolly by Donal Nevin.The first fourteen years of Connolly's life were spent in Edinburgh and the next seven years in the King's Liverpool Regiment in Ireland. In 1889, he returned to Edinburgh where he was a socialist activist and organiser for seven years. In 1896, at the age of 28, he was invited to Dublin as socialist organiser; there followed seven years in America between 1903 and 1910.

Connolly returned to Ireland in 1910 as organiser of the Socialist Party of Ireland. As Commander of the Irish Citizen Army, Connolly joined with leaders of the Irish Republican Brotherhood in the Easter Rising in 1916, becoming Commandant-General of the Dublin Division of the Army of the Republic and Vice-President
of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic.

Programme 8: 7th January 2006
Under discussion on Off the Shelf this week is a book celebrating 150 years of University College, Dublin, The UCD Aesthetic: Celebrating 150 Years of UCD Writers. Dr. Anthony Roche has compiled the book of original tributes and profiles of the institution's most famous writers and it is unique in that each historic writer is profiled by an equally illustrious contemporary. So we have Declan Kiberd on Thomas MacDonagh; Caroline Walsh on her mother Mary Lavin; Anthony Cronin on Flann O'Brien; and Joseph O'Connor on John McGahern. Along with the book's editor, Tony Roche, Ailbhe Smyth and David Norris will be in studio with Andy O'Mahony.

Programme 7: 31st December 2005
Lara Marlowe and Michael Cronin discuss La Vie en Blue: France and The french since 1900 by Rod Kedward

Programme 6: 17th December 2005
John O'Shea of GOAL and Michael Good discuss "The State of Afreica: A History of Fifty Years of Independence" by Martin Meredith.

Programme 5: 10th December 2005
Julia Carlson and Niall MacMonagle discuss Slow Man, a new novel from one of the greatest writers around, J.M. Coetzee.

The central character of Slow Man is Paul Rayment, a man on the threshold of a comfortable old age when a calamitous cycling accident results in the amputation of a leg. He hires a nurse named Marijana, who tactfully and efficiently ministers to his needs. But his feelings for her, and for her handsome teenage son, are complicated by the sudden arrival on his doorstep of the celebrated Australian novelist Elizabeth
Costello, who threatens to take over the direction of his life and the affairs of his heart.

Programme 4: 3rd December 2005
On tonight's programme Muiris MacConghail, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Alan Titley discuss Irish in the New Century/An Ghaeilge san Aois Nua by Michael Cronin.

Programme 3: 26th November 2005
Ethna Tinney and Harry White discuss Winifred Wagner: A Life at the Heart of Hitler's Bayreuth by Brigitte Hamann

Winifred Wagner's story is a remarkable one. The Welsh-born orphan became Richard Wagner's daughter-in-law and one of Adolf Hitler's closest personal friends. Born Winifred Williams in 1897, she was adopted, aged nine, by distant English relatives and in 1915 the eighteen-year-old Winifred married into the Wagner family when they needed an heir to secure the Wagner heritage and the festival site at Bayreuth. In 1923, shortly before the Munich Putsch, Hitler made a pilgrimage to Wagner's grave in Bayreuth. And so began a close, lifelong friendship between 'Winnie' and 'Wolf'. She became a founder member of the Nazi party and from 1933 the town of Bayreuth at festival time was the centre of the German political world. Described as 'the last Nazi in Germany', she remained loyal to the memory of 'Wolf' until her death in 1980.

Programme 2: 19th November 2005
Mark Patrick Hederman OSB and Ailbhe Smyth discuss "Party In The Blitz" by Elias Canetti.

Programme 1: 12th November 2005
Niall MacMonagle and Julia Carlson discuss Salman Rushdie's novel Shalimar the Clown. Shalimar the Clown is an epic narrative that moves from California to France, England, and above all, Kashmir. Even before the current tragedy there, it was a ruined paradise, not so much lost as smashed. Lives are uprooted, names keep changing - nothing is permanent, yet everything is connected.