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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

My favourite reads: Steve Luckings 

At first I thought narrowing down my five favourite reads would be difficult, but actually it was easy. The criteria was simple: which books had I read more than once? With the exception of Tom Bower’s book, recently finished, the others are those I turn to in my rare downtime.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey To The Heart Of The American Dream By Hunter S. Thompson, published By Vintage. Courtesy Penguin Random House
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey To The Heart Of The American Dream By Hunter S. Thompson, published By Vintage. Courtesy Penguin Random House

Steven Luckings is deputy sports editor for The National

At first I thought narrowing down my five favourite reads would be difficult, but actually it was incredibly easy. The criteria was pretty simple: which books had I read more than once. With the exception of Tom Bower’s book, which I had only recently finished, the others are all books I turn to during that rare luxury of down time.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1861)

One of Dickens’s most famous works, Great Expectations follows the journey of a young orphan whose fortunes are transformed via a lavish settlement of an anonymous benefactor. The psychological development of the book’s central character Pip offers so many twists it left me in knots the first time I read it and that feeling has never left me in subsequent read. By far my favourite read.

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas: A Savage Journey To The Heart Of The American Dream by Hunter S Thompson (1971)

Thompson’s most famous book, the genesis that spawned its very own genre known as Gonzo journalism, a blend of fact and fiction with the writer placing his own experiences at the heart of the story. I wrote my university dissertation on the counterculture movement of 1960s and 1970s America and Thompson’s nostalgic dissection of its successes and failures would greatly influence my own research. The illustrations of Ralph Steadman are the stuff of legend, too.

Broken Vows: Tony Blair The Tragedy of Power by Tom Bower (2016)

Bower spent years speaking to hundreds of sources inside the former Labour Prime Minister’s inner circle, government, the army, the treasury and various others to paint arguably the most damning picture of any prime ministership. At the heart of everything is the eternal internal squabbling between Blair and his chancellor, Gordon Brown, the latter constantly refusing to back Blair’s pledges financially on everything from schools, hospitals and the armed forced fighting Blair’s “morally just” crusades in Iraq and Afghanistan. Horror and humour in equal measure.

Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga by Hunter S Thompson (1966)

You hear them before you see them: the Hell’s Angels, the notorious outlaw motorcycle group made up of depraved hoodlums, miscreants, rapists and bandits “badly in need of a bath” terrorising the California highways, stomping anyone who gets in their way.

Like many, I was always curious about the Hell’s Angels, but was fairly happy to settle on the conventional stereotype that they were just bad news. Although Thompson never tries to deny the Angels are excessively violent, he offers a portal into a world most of us would never dare enter, he debunks many myths about the scale of the group’s menace.

ISIS: Inside The Army Of Terror by Hassan Hassan and Michael Weiss (2015)

Probably the most comprehensively detailed book about the rise and inner workings of the terrorist group that took the world by storm before declaring a caliphate after capturing large swathes of territory in both Iraq and Syria. An inner look at the governance of ISIS, its origins, aims and objectives, as well as ideology and funding as told by sources ranging from military, the intelligence community, defectors and diplomats, the book also details the many warring factions and proxies operating inside Syria that created a vacuum for the terror group to flourish. This, for me, is the most detailed book on the history of the group ever written.

Steven Luckings is deputy sports editor for The National

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Read more:

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