The Last Post: Political page-turner takes a fresh look at a leader less ordinary

Charles Haughey was perhaps the most controversial politician in Irish history. A fine biography by academic Gary Murphy allows us to reappraise his life, though not forgive all of his shortcomings

The late former taoiseach Charles Haughey: corrupt, dishonest, hypocritical, populist, pretentious, shameless, arrogant and nasty. But is the country better off because of him? Picture: Eamonn Farrell

Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. That familiar 19th-century quote from British historian Lord Acton came to mind in reading Haughey, Professor Gary Murphy’s excellent biography of the extraordinary life of the late former taoiseach.

Before I picked up the book, I wrote down a list of words reflecting how I regarded Charles Haughey, based on my 30-plus years in journalism, having written tens of thousands of words about him and the events ...