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Back from the Brink: 1,000 Days at Number 11 Hardcover – 7 Sep 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; 1st Edition edition (7 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857892797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857892799
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.5 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 200,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

...one heck of a good read. --Guardian

...a balanced, thoughtful , sober account of arguably the greatest crisis of the 21st Century... --Mail on Sunday

[Alistair Darling] writes compellingly about the market meltdown and ensuing recession, spicing the narrative with a droll wit and acidic observations about the arrogant and stupid bank chiefs. If this story has been told before, it is still informative to have the scary view from the edge of the precipice as Britain teeters on the brink of a complete collapse of its banks. --Observer --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Alistair Darling is the Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South West. Initially appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 1997, he moved to become Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 1998. He spent another four years as Secretary of State for Transport, also becoming Secretary of State for Scotland in 2003. He served as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in 2006, before Gordon Brown promoted him to Chancellor in 2007.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 120 people found the following review helpful By K. Petersen VINE VOICE on 20 Sep 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Were you to have asked me, prior to reading this book, who was my favourite political biography, I would have replied, Chris Mullin. The reason for that choice was based upon the fact that here was a man who could laugh at himself, as well as others. Mullin has no pomposity and the same can be said of Alistair Darling. The advantage which Darling holds over Mullin is that he held a senior government position (Chancellor of the Exchequer) during a significant historical era (the financial crash of 2008).

It is refreshing to read a political biography in which the main character was not the only person who realised, the exact situation, from day one, and how it should be handled. Alistair Darling is generous with his praise and quick to acknowledge the input of his colleagues, even when they are not bosom buddies.

Reading this book made me realise just how serious the banking crisis had been. One of the great problems with life today, when news is to hand twenty-four hours a day, is that a news programme needs sensation. Everything becomes the most serious crisis that man has ever faced and, naturally, the listener becomes blasé. Darling's book is written in a much more modest style and so, when he paints a picture of near collapse, it is so much more chilling. The section dealing with the banks is more gripping than any financial thriller that one may have read. Darling is honest enough to admit that nobody, himself included, really knew how to deal with events and leads us through the path that he, and Gordon Brown, took to reaching an effective course of action.

Darling is also of great interest when dealing with the Labour Party leadership. He served at close quarters with both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful By 13thDuke on 8 Sep 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a view of the financial meltdown from a man right at the very heart of it. There are good books that pull together facts from interviews and other sources (I recommend Too Big to Fail: Inside the Battle to Save Wall Street thoroughly), but this view from someone on the inside was what compelled me to read.

Much has been in the media of the relationship with Gordon Brown, and the criticisms Darling has for his boss, but the book contains much more than that. Darling is both frustrated and filled with contempt when the bankers can't quite grasp the situation they are in and the lengths the Government have to go try and clean up their mess. He is lucid about the stress of the situation that he is put under, from the lack of sleep to the strains of dealing with the media and his own people. And yes, he is candid about Gordon Brown's leadership - particularly about the strain of the "election that never was".

Don't get me wrong - I don't particularly like the way this has come out. Couldn't he have said something at the time? Done something different? Had more backbone? I don't know. Suffice to repeat my old Grandad's phrase - "you make your bed, you lie in it". Despite that, I found it to be a good read - I'm not usually into books from politicians but the writing style is good and it flows well.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Red Wine on 30 Oct 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alistair Darling provides a straightforward and readable digest of his time at number 11 in which he bares all about his experience of working with a difficult, indecisive and paranoid Gordon Brown. Darling comes across as a sober, if sometimes dull, politician whose heart appears to be in the right place and who is keen to do the right thing not just for his party but for people in general. He sets the record staight too about the inheritance he left behind and how Labour have failed to portray how well they dealt with the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath. A damn good read with much less of the hubris in evidence that you usually have to put up with from political memoirs.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Whitehead on 5 Oct 2011
Format: Hardcover
I've always voted Conservative and have a very low opinion of Labour politicians in general,but must admit to always having regarded Alistair Darling as a thoughtful and conscientious man. His book reinforces that opinion. The period of time this book covers will be talked about by historians for years to come. This book gives a fascinating insight into what went on during this time from a unique insider's view. It is very well written. Technical issues and concepts (eg. moral hazard) are explained for the layman yet without ever appearing to talk down to the reader. The details regarding Gordon Brown's behaviour are a bonus - highlighting how disfunctional that government was and how unsuitable GB was for the top job. Darling emerges with dignity and kudos from these most difficult circumstances.
Maybe a four and a half stars rating is deserved for this book - I can't bring myself to give five stars to any Labour politician when virtually all his collegues deserve a very long spell in opposition!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Love Books on 11 Jan 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is certainly part of the motivation for buying this book to get a view from the inside of dealing with the then prime minister Gordon Brown. Darling has taken advantage of this and uses the opportunity to tell us about various events and how he dealt with them.
One gets the impression that he was driven mostly by what his civil servants told him he had to do. His part was to find a meeting point between what his advisors told him and what Brown wanted. This was the root of the tension between the two men: Darling wanted to run his department efficiently according to his own values, while Brown was desperately trying to find something to boost his popularity. This created a leadership vacuum which was filled by the civil service - but leadership is not what they are there to do.
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