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Politics, Disaster and Fake History

IT’S an election year in Jersey and, in keeping with the mood of the moment, the Island’s relaunched book festival will include a line-up of illuminating modern thinkers in the fields of politics and history.

Leadership qualities, the creation of historical myths, the realities of disaster relief and an introduction to democracy for young people are among the issues that will be explored by visiting writers at the Jersey Festival of Words, which returns from 21-25 September after a two-year gap caused by Covid.

When a pandemic occurs, or a place is struck by fire, flood, earthquake or terrorism, one of the first people to be called in is often Lucy Easthope, Britain’s leading authority on recovering from disaster. Professor Easthope’s new memoir, When the Dust Settles, tells the inside story of responses to the major catastrophes of the past 20 years, including 9/11 and the tsunami as well as the pandemic. It has been described as ‘a book of horror and hope, written with rare humanity’ by an expert whose job is to plan for unthinkable life-changing events and then to travel the world, help to pick up the pieces and prepare for the next one.

Speaking ahead of his newest book, On this Day in Politics, due to be published this October, author and broadcaster Iain Dale makes his first appearance in the island to discuss his recent publications including The Prime Ministers, Prime Minister Priti: And other things that never happened, and the biographical, Why Can't We All Just Get Along. Boris Johnson, whose role in tackling Covid-19 remains a hot topic, contributed a foreword for The Prime Ministers.

Would-be Prime Ministers and aspiring politicians have to start somewhere, as do future voters. Both will enjoy Rich Knight’s If I Ran the Country (subtitled: An Introduction to Politics where YOU Make the Decisions). Aimed at younger readers, it explains with clarity and humour how governments work, how they decide what they stand for and how to lead.

Rich Knight is an award-winnng BBC journalist but more importantly, he says, father to two boys who ask a lot of questions. Illustrated by Allan Sanders, his new book sets out to answer some of them and promises that, in the process, children who are not yet in charge of a country will be able to use it to start making a difference in their own homes, schools or neighbourhoods.

The Jersey Festival of Words is about issues and ideas as well as literature in all its forms. With propaganda and media manipulation more relevant than ever, this year’s festival line-up also includes a new book demonstrating that, while the platforms may have changed, there is nothing new about fake news.

Fake History, by author and journalist Otto English, is subtitled Ten Great Lies and How They Shaped the World. It sets out to show how the past has been used and abused over the centuries to suit powerful people and their narratives.

Festival-goers will be able to hear the former political blogger debunk what he believes to be the false myths that, for example, ancient people thought the earth was flat, Hitler was a failed artist and Abraham Lincoln believed that all men were created equal.

Lucy Easthope, Iain Dale, Rich Knight and Otto English are just four of the writers in a stimulating and wide-ranging Jersey Festival of Words line-up, currently being revealed in stages. The full programme of events, with an eye-catching new festival marquee in Howard Davis Park among its town venues, will be published at and in the Jersey Evening Post.

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