Friday, July 5, 2013

A Magpie mind

The Count of Monte Cristo - 1243 pages. Andrew Mango's biography of Ataturk - 539 pages. Thank goodness Poor Economics is only 273.

These were today's arrivals from Foyles (as Amazon are now out of bounds for playing fast and loose with their tax obligations).

All three's purchase was fuelled by being in Turkey.

Ataturk is an obvious connection. His image is everywhere in Ankara - the city he made his capital - and his legacy is now in deep contestation. His 'secular' republic is either under siege from Erdogan (if those protesting are to be believed) or being amended to be less aggressively secular and allow space for belief in the public square (as the Justice & Development Party would maintain). As a new member on the forming 'advisory council' for Oxfam in Turkey, I thought I ought to know more about the formation of the modern state (and some of its fault lines).

Poor Economics emerged as a recommendation at the conference I attended whilst in Ankara. Many of the public officials (from member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference) seemed woefully ill-informed of the lives and, importantly, the potential of poor people. They were people to which things should be done rather that people who were authors of their own lives, with rich coping strategies and many assets (social, natural and financial). My 'partner' expert recommended 'Poor Economics' as articulating many of the points I was seeking to make, so I ordered a copy.

The Count of Monte Cristo was ordered off the back of watching the most recent film version late one evening in my hotel and realising that I loved the story (even in this compressed form) and especially a French television version with Gerard Depardieu as Edmond Dantes but had never read the book (though I have read The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask). It is a mite bulky for the beach but some other time...

Out of such diverse connections is a library built!

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