The best books that reveal the truth about the origins, issues and passions that were aroused by Brexit

Jonathan Charteris-Black Author Of Metaphors of Brexit: No Cherries on the Cake?
By Jonathan Charteris-Black

The Books I Picked & Why

A Short History of Brexit: From Brentry to Backstop

By Kevin O'Rourke

Book cover of A Short History of Brexit: From Brentry to Backstop

Why this book?

This book provides the clearest and most accessible overview of the background of Brexit. I found it a highly reliable source of information on the historical context and it helped me understand the complexity of the various economic and political aspects of Britain’s membership in the EU from an unbiased and objective standpoint.


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Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union

By Harold D. Clarke, Matthew Goodwin, Paul Whiteley

Book cover of Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union

Why this book?

I enjoyed reading this comprehensive and convincing account of how people voted in the Brexit referendum. It has an approach rooted in political science and makes effective use of surveys and election results to provide an understanding of the identity of people living in what later became referred to as the ‘Red Wall’ seats – former Labour areas that switched to Conservative often over Brexit. It gave insights into the attitudes and beliefs of those who really had felt left behind.


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Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain

By Fintan O'Toole

Book cover of Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain

Why this book?

Written from a standpoint outside of Britain yet offering such great insight, this book offers a highly convincing account of the stupidity of Brexit. The author pours his wrath onto Brexit and Brexiteers and is a brilliant polemicist. It’s well-written and entertaining.

What I like about this book is that, unlike a lot of academic writing, it doesn't pull any punches and the author is rhetorically committed to a single perspective that he adheres to with great consistency.


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Crowds and Power

By Elias Canetti

Book cover of Crowds and Power

Why this book?

I am attracted to books that take a broad theme and examine this across space and time –without being confined to a single academic discipline. Another requirement is that they are written in an elegant and accessible style that commands the reader’s attention. This book originally published in Germany in 1960 satisfies both criteria. It defies ready classification but includes social psychology, social anthropology, and ideas related to myth, ritual, and religion. His concept of ‘the pack’ builds on the abstract notion of ‘the crowd’ and leads to ideas such as ‘transformation.’ As the Brexit vote was a form of crowd behaviour, reading this book helped me understand more about it.


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The Wake

By Paul Kingsnorth

Book cover of The Wake

Why this book?

This is a book written in its own language: one that is derived from Old English. It is written from the viewpoint of a Saxon native, a freeman, whose liberty is threatened by the outside world, invaders who respect no moral laws. Through this method, we enter the minds of the protagonist – Buccmaster of Hollandand a worldview is constructed in which the local is in a shifting balance with external sources of power. The book demonstrates how our thoughts and worldviews are realised by, and dependent upon, the language through which they are articulated. Without explicitly intending to do so, it also provides insight into much of the psychology behind Brexit.


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