Mark Mardell: Best reads of the week


If you are anything like me you will find there is too much to read, too much to absorb.

So, as a consumer - a reader - I have really enjoyed BBC Magazine's Seven of the Week's Best Reads.

I would never have stumbled across Peter Thomas Ryan's fabulous article on the hunting and eating of squirrels on my own.

So, in the same spirit, I am going to have a go at making my own list at the end of each week. Or most weeks. Depending on the week. Or perhaps just today. Heavy on the politics. But not just politics.

As with all links and tweets, I hardly need to say that I am not endorsing any views contained within my picks. But I am saying they are worth a read.

1. Romney's campaign woes

The article of the week was Politico's tremendous report on the blame game that has already started within the Romney campaign.

The article drove the week in some ways and I am told this well-informed piece was a major weapon in an internal coup aimed at reigning in Mr Romney's chief strategist, Stuart Stevens.

By the end of the week, it is obvious that those urging more focus and discipline have won.

Mr Romney's problems did not end there, and were compounded by the publication of a secret video.

You could not throw an online stone without hitting a commentator arguing his characterisation of 47% of non-tax paying Americans was a huge blunder, so it is worth reading Red State for the alternative view.

2. #MuslimRage

The hashtag #MuslimRage became a Twitter meme, mocking the Newsweek cover. But the protests in the Middle East made their way into the election campaign.

While there were plenty of articles lambasting President Barack Obama for a policy failure or mocking Mr Romney for a shallow world view, only a few takes tried to step back from partisan politics and argue neither man wanted to talk about the real problems.

Robert Wright's was about the best.

3. Neil Young profile

Turning away from politics, there is a great New York Times article on one of rock's survivors, Neil Young. Unlike many stars in their 60s, he is still a creative force, exciting and experimental.

Learn about the comfort he finds in his remote ranch and his relationship with his half-century old guitar "old black" and his severely disabled son.

4. Was Jesus Married?

But my favourite read of the week has been a Smithsonian take that dives behind the fascinating but facile headline Was Jesus Married?

It profiles the theologian Karen King, who brought to light the papyrus that raises that question.

It is about how some early Christians gave a much more central role to women and asks why those traditions were suppressed.

Happy reading.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • Comment number 230.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    Chryses @227
    In the spirit…
    He that doth
    They that do

    Rise to challenge, on faith?

    If we cannot or will not address substance, what hope 'humanity'?

    Yes. I know, many refereencs and links give: and to 'explore the future' is another world... but it has 'importance', immediate and remote

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    Is Romney a flipaholic or a flopaholic - shall we be mean and ask him to decide?

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Party In The Slum (223),

    “… 220 boring illogical retorts are not refuting except in your own little mind …”

    Were they boring, you'd not react. As you do react, you are not bored. Your ignorance =/= illogic.

    Billythefirst (225),

    “… Those that snipe without offering their own views ...”

    Methinks those that mistake corrections of errors for sniping doth protest too much

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    Party in The Sun @223
    Some post!
    All "US Election Lobbies"

    Meaning 'live by, die by'?

    Our friend may live in some retreat, addressing precision but avoiding self-examination, suffering from some past trauma and deepening internal contradiction, his service here 'a cry for help', as true perhaps of us all

    Hope only in 'care & conscience', in 'scripture' some clues and many pitfalls

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    #223 you make your point artistically and well.

    Those that snipe without offering their own views are as worthless as Greek Bonds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    Curt Carpenter (208),

    “… I think even your like-minded here are tired of your endlessly-repeated efforts at wisdom.”

    That I show you to be factually wrong, the last example being the preposterous claim @201,“… Deficit : all efforts blocked by YOUR GOP”, is neither “endlessly-repeated” nor “efforts at wisdom”.

    I prevent uncorrected errors from spreading past the source

  • Comment number 223.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 222.

    "It could be argued that the South China Sea is China's backyard of course..."

    Some backyard.
    Tierra del Fuego is a fair way from the US isn't it?
    Or are you suggesting that China's lack of a "doctrine" is an issue?

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Interestedforeigner (218),

    “166 - Your point is correct.”

    Thank you.

    “… it is the effect on writing style of repeated iterations of cutting and changing to meet the stupid 400 character limit.”

    I find it hard to argue that point with you. Back in the day, your posts were articulate, referenced where needed, and persuasive – even those with which I disagreed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    Curt Carpenter (208),

    “… so save your effort …”

    You are mistaken. It takes very little effort to refute false claims; all I need do is a bit of research, and Presto! You too can learn, if you will but broaden your horizons to include ideas that currently seem foreign and suspect.

    Perhaps you could follow Billythefirst’s example and pretend that you didn’t err when I expose it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    213. AndreaNY
    204. Billy

    The difference is that unlike Obama, Romney hasn't yet proven he cannot accomplish those things as president.
    He cannot accomplish a fantasy budget - it's impossible, that's why it's fantasy. He has proven that he can sacrifice 47% of the electorate at the altar of electoral donations though.
    Is that a good thing?

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    166 - Your point is correct.

    "I shall be charitable, and assume that you were ignorant of the facts."

    No, it is the effect on writing style of repeated iterations of cutting and changing to meet the stupid 400 character limit.

    - - -


    "It could be argued that the South China Sea is China's backyard of course..."

    Some backyard.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    AndreaNY @213

    Do we have any serious reason to suppose that President Obama, given proposals approved by a Congress 'for The People', would not continue to do "the absolute best he can do" to meet the real needs of all, for inclusion as Equal Partners, free all to be our best?

    Poor Mitt would probably 'go along with' overwhelming demand, but might be tempted to spike?

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    AndreaNY @207 On the other hand Andrea, President Obama is now a veteran of four long, hard years (not least hard because of the ineptitude of his own party in the House). And that hard-won experience has to be seen as valuable -- even in your ideologically-prejudiced eyes.

    If the nation rejects the T.E.A. party's Republican take-over this time -- maybe there will be hope for real progress.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    A pragmatist, as in not expecting Obama to achieve all that he promised?
    No, a pragmatist who realises the mathematical absurdity of the Romney/Ryan fantasy budget.

    In fairness, everyone knowns that flop follows flip like night follows day...ceptin' those special folk with those special glasses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    Curt Carpenter (208),

    “Chryses@206, you're a bore ...”

    Were you bored with my posts, you would not react when I illuminate your mistakes. As you do react, you are not bored.

    “… and I'm ignoring you …”

    You fell into the same trap as Party In The Slum @205,
    Your post refutes both of your claims.

    Better luck next time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    204. Billy

    The difference is that unlike Obama, Romney hasn't yet proven he cannot accomplish those things as president. Obama has shown us the absolute best he can do and all that we can expect from him. We've seen it all.

    And it is not as though Romney doesn't have a track record of achievements.

  • Comment number 212.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    # 201
    Curt - trying to push treacle uphill is a futile endeavour.


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