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A great present for your political friends: Karel Capek’s War with the Newts

Red spotted newt

A newt looking peaceful. Image by skeeze from Pixabay.

War with the newts by Karel Capek: front coverContinuing my re-run of posts about books, films and TV series that people interested in politics might enjoy to help fill the days of the coronavirus crisis, here’s one of my favourite books: War with the Newts.

In some ways buying presents for friends interested in politics is easy. There’s a host of enjoyable, illuminating or funny political DVDs and books available. But it’s all too easy to end up getting something that has also occurred to someone else – or that your friend already has.

Straying a little of the beaten track is therefore often desirable, in addition to adding a pleasant little element of surprise and novelty to your gift. So that’s why I’d recommend getting Karel Capek’s War with the Newts.

Karel Capek’s novel has aged well

Nominally it is a piece of science fiction from 1936, written by the man best known for introducing the word ‘robot’ to our language.

However, this is not a book of Death Stars and phasers. It is set in (then) contemporary times and is a satire on politics, society and humanity in general. Colonialism, racism, capitalism, Fascism, appeasement and more all get the satirical going over in a book that combines these serious themes with a fast-moving and very readable plot. The book shows how you can be worthy without being dull, erudite without being turgid.

So if you, or someone you know, is interested in politics, chances are the book will be highly entertaining whether or not you or they are a science fiction fan. Go read it.

If you like this, you might also be interested in The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham.

You can buy Karel Capek’s War with the Newts from Waterstones or Amazon.

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