As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela: Underground Adventures in the Arms and Torture Trade

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Mark Thomas, for those who don’t know, is a comedian and activist (amongst other things), I’m a bit of a fan. He used to have a TV show (The Mark Thomas Comedy Product) on Channel 4 which had the audience flipping between outrage and laughter, a style not dissimilar to Michael Moore. He still tours, writes articles for various publications, does occasional TV work and writes books on various political issues and campaigns. A friend of mine lent me a CD of a set he did around the start of the second Gulf War (The Night War Broke Out), it’s very funny.

I don’t agree with all of his actions (or those of the people he knows), I don’t necessarily agree with all of his viewpoints, but equally I am very glad there are people who do keep an eye on what our government is, or is not, doing and stands up for citizen’s rights (on a separate note, it also shows the power of a free press, because politicians only seem to fear one thing: bad press — as can be seen from the recent expenses debacle where minsters only started paying the money back when the expenses were exposed to the world and written about in the papers).

This book (which has an absurdly long title), is about the arms trade and features a mixture of research, projects to prove how easy it is, despite UK law, to sell arms or restricted goods, meetings with arms dealers and those who have suffered because of them. Thomas strikes his normal balance of heavy and humour which means he handles a tough subject without making it sound like he’s preaching at you. As such it’s as enjoyable a read as it is enlightening. It’s also nice to see he actually managed to make some changes, which should give us all pleasure in knowing that we can have our say in how our government runs this country, not just big business or landed gentry.

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Reviewed: 8th July 2009