Book in the news: James O'Brien, the bloviating pundit of the left

Book review: How To Be Right LBC presenter James O’Brien is a bit of an oddity – a radio talk-show host with liberal views.


James O'BrienWH Allen (£12.99)

Buy on Amazon

Radio talk-show hosts have a reputation of being "grumpy middle-aged men who think the world is going to hell in a politically correct handcart", says Roland White in The Sunday Times. So LBC presenter James O'Brien is "something of an oddity" a radio talk-show host with liberal views. The theme of his book is that "ordinary people would be kinder and more open-minded if they weren't frightened to death by newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the more lurid parts of the internet".

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

The book is "the silliest elements of his LBC show writ large", says John Ashmore on CapX. A "decent chunk is taken up by transcripts of O'Brien's conversations with members of the public", generally people "who have decided the country is going to hell in a handcart". But he is not the "fearless seeker of the truth" he would have you believe, more "a leftish equivalent of the bloviating pundits he has such fun lampooning".

Ironically, the most illuminating parts of the book arrive in his rare moments of uncertainty, says Fiona Sturges in The Guardian. "One suspects that O'Brien has a more detailed and scholarly book in him that could dig deeper into where we are politically." Still, even as it is with all its flaws, it still "provides a much-needed examination of the blustering rhetoric of politicians and media pundits".

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri