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Back from the Brink: 1,000 Days at Number 11 [Hardcover]

Alistair Darling
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
Price: 19.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 Sep 2011
"In the summer of late 2007, shares of Northern Rock went into free-fall causing a run on the bank - the first since the Great Depression. Northern Rock was only the first: in the ensuing months, Alistair Darling stood firm in the eye of this perfect storm - all over the world financial institutions thought 'too big to fail' were falling prey to the lethal toxicity of the US sub-prime mortgage market. Back from the Brink tells the gripping story of one thousand days of crisis. As Chancellor, Alistair Darling sanctioned the GBP37bn bailouts of RBS and HBoS just minutes before their cash machines would have ceased to function; at the 11th hour, he prevented Barclay's from acquiring Lehman Brothers, telling US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson that he wouldn't allow British banks to import America's economic cancer; he used controversial legislation to stop Icelandic banks from withdrawing funds from the UK. From all night meetings at the White House, to confrontations with the titans of international banking and fractions relations with Gordon Brown, Darling places the reader in the rooms where the destinies of millions weighed heavily on the shoulders of a few. Back from the Brink is a gripping and immediate account of an unprecedented global financial catastrophe. Alistair Darling's knowledge and understanding make this not only a unique perspective on the events that rocked global capitalism, but a vital and fascinating historical document."

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Back from the Brink: 1,000 Days at Number 11 + Beyond the Crash: Overcoming the First Crisis of Globalisation + A Journey
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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 (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review 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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
116 of 117 people found the following review helpful
By K. Petersen VINE VOICE
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
4.0 out of 5 stars A view from someone on the inside 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
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read 5 Oct 2011
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is a well written book by someone who finds it easier to write about his experiences rather than explain government policy on television. Alastair Darling has really gone up in my estimation. I found I couldn't put this book down once I had started.You wont be disappointed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An open and frank account 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Back From The Brink
I bought this as a xmas gift and the person thoroughly enjoyed it. So I might ask if I can borrow it.!!
Published 16 days ago by bingo player
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read, but far from impartial
This is a fascinating read. I was gripped for the majority of the book, although it does become less interesting towards the end. What's sad is the general lack of impartiality. Read more
Published 2 months ago by MG TKD
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and insightful
An interesting and well-written account of the financial crisis. Impossible not to sympathise with him. Darling has the insider view of all the key events and actors.
Published 2 months ago by TV2013
4.0 out of 5 stars Great insight to the workings of Government and finance.
A great insight in to what went on at the very top of the UK's government during the height of the 2008 financial crash.
Published 3 months ago by N. Armstrong
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best Chancellor since Nigel Lawson
Darling's book provides insight into the crisis - and his tensions with Brown. He observes the lies from Osbourne re the VAT rate, conversations with the Irish and dealing with... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Robert Woolley
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
Enjoyed it - he has a writing style that was easy to read and to understand. For me just enough, but not too much explanation of some of the theories and differinh views.
Published 3 months ago by DMcK
4.0 out of 5 stars Chancellor!
Alistair Darling was Chancellor at one of the hardest recent economic periods in this country's history. Read more
Published 5 months ago by mfsx7mh3
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest and compelling view of the financial crisis
Alistair Darling presents an honest and compelling account of his time in office at what can be consider one of the worst crises a British Government has ever faced. Read more
Published 6 months ago by rwspencer
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Book
This is an excellent review of the economic situation up to and after the economic crash and a good look at the current situation
Published 6 months ago by David
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality & VFM
This was a good read, I am very glad that I can help out a very poor "Retired" Politician. "Bless".
Published 7 months ago by A. J. Hones
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