Books of the year 2011: Geoffrey Robertson

Treasure Islands - Nicholas Shaxson

 

The most abject failure of Labour governments has been their inability to do anything about, or even to comprehend, how tax avoidance through offshore trusts robs the country of trillions and accelerates inequality. Nicholas Shaxson's Treasure Islands (Bodley Head, £14.99) offers a welcome (if incomplete) account of how the sun is never allowed to set on the British empire's old islands, whose fiscal pirates hoard the tax-free treasures of the rich.

Two works of significant scholarship were Dan Plesch's America, Hitler and the UN (I B Tauris, £20), showing how humanitarian intervention was a UN mission from the outset, and Ruti Teitel's Humanity's Law (Oxford University Press, £22.50), the best study yet of how international law is shifting emphasis from bolstering the security of states to protecting individuals from states. Julian Assange: the Unauthorised Biography (Canongate, £20) was both a contradiction in terms and a work in progress but it helps, especially though its early chapters, to humanise a genius more sinned against than sinning.

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