Clairvoyant Reviewers and other mysteries

First week of sales of Downfall – How Rangers FC Self Destructed surpassed expectations. Many bookstores sold out their initial stock so quickly that Frontline Noir had to reprint immediately to re-supply. The second printing also sold out and a third printing had to be ordered. Some stores sold out again but were re-supplied on Friday. This was despite the negative reaction in some quarters to the book which was “reviewed” on line by those we have to christen The Clairvoyant Reviewers, people who reviewed the book online before the text was even committed to print. There was therefore no way these clairvoyants could have read the text and so we must assume their psychic powers are truly remarkable. Also remarkable was outcry the publication provoked and the extreme reaction in some quarters against the author, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain. Despite having been in publishing for over 20 years, and having been involved with the publication of many controversial books, I was surprised at the viciousness of the reaction to Downfall. There were also many reasonable objectors to the book and that should not be over looked. However, the level of intimidation, threats and sheer hatred that this publication attracted exposed ugliness that lies just below the surface. Not even the reaction to the publication by Frontline Noir of Killing For Britain by former Loyalist paramilitary, John Black, was comparable for levels of abuse. It would have been naive to think all Rangers fans would welcome a book on the demise of their club by someone known to support Celtic, their fiercest rivals. But this reaction went much further, almost as if Phil Mac Giolla Bhain became a conduit for all the frustration and anger many Rangers fans rightly felt at the collapse of their club. Mac Giolla Bhain of course was not responsible for that. But he dared to talk about it, write about it, and of course, be right about it. Some (by no means all) Rangers fans went as far as to call Mac Giolla Bhain a bigot, and yet many of these accusers are offended just by his very name, it being an Irish one. Some Rangers fans never forgave Phil for writing about The Famine Song, which Scottish judges have deemed racist. We all recognise that there are bigots on both sides and I’ve been struck by the amount of unconscious bigotry of many participants in the “discussion” on the book. One of the positively heartening aspects of this eventful week though has been the fact that fans of many clubs, including Rangers fans, have been buying the book and messaging support. The downfall of Rangers is the story for football fans. Once word slipped out on social media that there appeared to be a campaign against the book, many fans were outraged and bought the book to demonstrate support for it (as well as to read too, of course). There was a backlash against the backlash. That is why a book which had to initially be sold from under the counter (due to reasons as yet undisclosed) still became a bestselling title in many stores.

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