John Rentoul is chief political commentator for the Independent on Sunday, and visiting fellow at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for the Independent. He is the author of the popular Banned List (E&T, 2011) and Questions to Which the Answer is 'No!' (E&T, 2012).
Which are the books that people buy but never read?* Discover the answers to this and other essential questions in Listellany. This is NOT a fact-based compendium. It's purely opinion - the opinions of John Rentoul, his readers - and, yes, Twitter. Eccentric and eclectic, this is a book for pub debaters, list boffins and language lovers up and down the land: come inside and join the debate. Every week in the Independent on Sunday John Rentoul publishes a top ten based on suggestions from the great British public. Now collected together for the first time, and featuring previously unpublished lists, Listellany provides the answers to such quintessential arguments as: which are the top ten overrated 1960s bands; meaningless words found on modern menus; films panned as turkeys that are actually quite good; most beautiful British railway journeys; stupid car names; unsung villains; political heckles; words that ought to be used more often; British place names; great bands with terrible names; best prime ministers we never had; visual cliches; political myths; anagrams; misquotations; worst Beatles songs; most interesting politicians. But who knows best? You, John, or Twitter?Pick up this book and decide. *The list includes books by both Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Last updated in 2001, John Rentoul's acclaimed Tony Blair: Prime Minister returns with an extensive new assessment of Blair's premiership after '9/11' - from the Iraq war and relations with Gordon Brown to his departure from Downing Street and political afterlife. 'Well written, thoroughly researched and informed by the balanced and subtle insights of a skilled journalist... Especially good on the influences that have shaped Mr Blair.' Economist 'Utterly scrupulous in presenting the  information... [W]hen Rentoul occasionally presents his own judgements, they can rarely be faulted.' Peter Oborne, Sunday Express 'Written with care, thought... and a fine understanding of political nuances.' Ben Pimlott 'An extraordinary achievement, flashing with a peculiarly devastating form of sympathy.' Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday 'With further updates, this biography will almost certainly become the definitive one.' Rachel Sylvester, Daily Telegraph
John Rentoul has been running the Questions To Which The Answer Is No! Awards for several years now. Celebrating the journalistic skill of basing an entire article on a fantastically far-fetched question-based headline (and only admitting that the premise is extraordinarily unlikely in the final paragraph), his blog attracts large numbers of followers keen to submit their own favourites. Here for the first time Rentoul brings together the winning entries over the years. With an introductory essay on the art of headline writing, articles are grouped thematically in subjects from sports to politics, current affairs and history. Featuring such journalistic gems as: - Was JFK killed because of his interest in aliens? - Can your dreams predict the future? - Is this penguin a communist? - Has Marilyn Monroe been reincarnated as a shop assistant called Chris? ...and many more, 'Questions To Which The Answer Is No! ' will leave you not knowing whether to laugh or cry at the state of journalism today.
Let me be clear. This book does not contain a raft of measures to address issues around the abuse of the English language. It is not a forward offering to proactively strategise a blue sky solution utilising key deliverables. Nor does it articulate a compelling and coherent vision for the coming period. The fact of the matter is, we need a step change in the way that we communicate if we are to avoid a spiral of decline. It is time to draw a line in the sand and consign certain linguistic atrocities to the dustbin of history. Welcome to The Banned List. The Banned List began with five cliches, and has grown steadily ever since. Here its creator, John Rentoul, sets out the need for such a list and argues the case for clear writing. He looks at the lure of the cliche and how jargon from different walks of life has made its way into the language everyone uses. Cloudy, meaningless words and tired, hackneyed phrases are not merely annoying, they make it hardr for us to communicate. The solution is simple, however. The Banned List shows you the traps to avoid and the rules to bear in mind when writing or speaking clearly and simply. It also contains The List in full.Keep it close to hand and you cannot go wrong. It's not rocket science.