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Summary

A fierce, mordantly funny and perceptive book, from the author of Ship of Fools, about the act of national self-harm known as Brexit.

In exploring the answers to the question 'why did Britain vote leave?', Fintan O'Toole finds himself discovering how trivial journalistic lies became far from trivial national obsessions; how the pose of indifference to truth and historical fact has come to define the style of an entire political elite; how a country that once had colonies is redefining itself as an oppressed nation requiring liberation; the strange gastronomic and political significance of prawn-flavoured crisps and their role in the rise of Boris Johnson; the dreams of revolutionary deregulation and privatisation that drive Arron Banks, Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg; and the silent rise of English nationalism, the force that dare not speak its name.

©2018 Fintan O'Toole (P)2018 W. F. Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"There will not be much political writing in this or any other year that is carried off with such style." (The Times)

What listeners say about Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain

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Witty, erudite and right.

On the basis of “many a true word said in jest” this witty, but scholarly and deeply argued work is essential reading / listening.

By using popular culture such as “50 shades of grey” and “The Italian job” as metaphors, Fintan delivers an excellent analysis of the U.K.’s post-colonial delusions and travails as we seek a new place in the world.

The tragedy is that that place should have been among the leaders in Europe, but a small number of obsessive nationalists have destroyed that.

18 people found this helpful

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For Remainers and Brave Brexiteers

An interesting argument into the English desire for Brexit, with a backdrop of many interesting facts. Remainers will find it informative and enjoyable. Brexiteers will find it informative.

6 people found this helpful

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Why did the English vote for Brexit ?

An excellent but troubling account about the grievances of the English and the reasons why they voted for Brexit.

5 people found this helpful

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Fascinating insight

Well worth a listen , gripping and engaging, fascinating insight. I flew through it and really enjoyed it.

4 people found this helpful

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Probably the best book on Brexit I've read.

Read it, it'll change how you see things by thoroughly laying it out. Brilliant book.

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Incisive and surprisingly kinky analysis of brexit

an incisive and surprisingly kinky analysis of the English mentality that had led to brexit. The comparison to sadomasochism is quite apt and the narrator's accents in quotations is engaging. Definitely worth a credit.

4 people found this helpful

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Enough to make you vote Brexit

The accent is somewhere between Loyd Grossman and Gerard Butler, with all the charm of a recorded hold message. I wish Sam Devereaux well. And I'm sure he's excellent at other things, but not this. All of Fintan O'Toole's warm wit and insight is lost in the dreadful delivery

I love reading Fintan's sharp dissections. There are plenty of them here, too. I couldn't hear them, mind, past the sound of my own tutting. Please, please, please get an Irish person to read the next one if Fintan isn't available.

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Mixed experience.

The book is good, but the narrator does bad accents!!! Shouldn't be used in non-fiction

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Fantastic and witty perspective on the madness

This might be hard to read/listen if you are English. Or maybe not. Would love to hear a rebuttal

3 people found this helpful

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Repetitive, eventually tiresome.

Couldn't finish this. Became tiring. I tried but repetition overcame snippets of interest. It had some interest and wit, but really was a tedious extended rant against a tedious foe of a select small group of right wing English nationalists. I suppose it did what it said on the tin, but the tin was extended to boredom.

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for Dave
  • Dave
  • 06-04-19

For those who cry out, "WHY?!"... here's a guide

All of England lays flat on the couch of a psychologist's office. The entire population stares at the ceiling quietly. Fintan O'Toole sits near with his notepad and asks, "Do you feel anger towards your mother?"

I've been a fan of Fintan's since Ship of Fools. England must have also read that book and created Brexit just to get his attention. I don't know if anyone can reach the deepest root of any nation's soul, but Mr. O'Toole digs d*mn far.

Before finishing the final chapter I went online and paid for full monthly access to the Irish Times newspaper (and Fintan's column). My review of Heroic Failure is 1 subscription out of 5 stars.

2 people found this helpful