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Blair's Wars [Paperback]

John Kampfner
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
Price: 7.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

7 Jun 2004
No Prime Minister in modern times has led Britain into as many wars as Tony Blair. In seven years in office he has committed soldiers to action in Kosovo, in Operation Desert Fox against Iraq, in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan -- and, most controversially, in the final battle with Saddam Hussein in 2003. It has been a dramatic course of action for a man who, until he won the 1997 General Election, showed only a rudimentary understanding of the workings of foreign policy. Combining page-turning narrative and revelation with an analysis of the philosophy underlying his adventures abroad, BLAIR'S WARS shows how this government has sought to be at the forefront of a new and turbulent world order. Putting the reader into the 'smoke-filled rooms' of Whitehall and Washington where the real decision-making takes place, John Kampfner draws on his unparalleled contacts within and outside government to provide a compelling account of the tensions, rivalries, deal-making and back-stabbing that have accompanied inexorable acquisition of foreign-policy control.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; New edition edition (7 Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743248309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743248303
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 184,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Assiduous and highly readable’ -- Michael Portillo, Sunday Telegraph

'I strongly recommend BLAIR'S WARS to anyone who wants to try to understand the catastrophic mistakes of [Blair's] Iraq policy' -- Clare Short, New Statesman

'The most perceptive book to appear about the Blair government since SERVANTS OF THE PEOPLE' -- Anthony Howard, Sunday Times

'Understated, careful and illuminating ... Kampfner leads us to a set of compelling conclusions that will not inspire confidence [in Blair]' -- Philippe Sands, Observer

‘I strongly recommend Blair’s Wars’ -- Clare Short, New Statesman

‘The most perceptive book to appear about the Blair government since Andrew Rawnsley’s Servants of the People’ -- Anthony Howard, Sunday Times

‘Understated, careful and illuminating’ -- Philippe Sands, Observer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Now updated with two new chapters on the Hutton Report and the latest developments in Iraq.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Mr. Tristan Martin VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Blair's Wars is a highly detailed book about the foreign policy of Prime Minister Tony Blair. The book is based on sixty five interviews with numerous senior figures, both inside the government (at Cabinet level and also senior aides and advisors) and with various Whitehall departments, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the intelligence services. Writing the book also took the author John Kampfner to interview senior people at the United Nations in New York, inside the George W. Bush's Whitehouse, as well as in France, Germany and the Middle East.

This book is a fine example of instant political history, that covers a complex issue in a readable and yet informative style. The story starts by looking at Blair's approach to foreign policy when he was in Opposition. Then, as he took the reigns of power, Kampfner shows how Blair rebranded war as `humanitarian intervention' and sold the concept to the New Labour establishment, resulting in the bombing of Kosovo and the British military involvement in Sierra Leone.

The book really hits its stride when the neoconservatives occupy the Whitehouse - how Bush's `compassionate conservatism' marketing technique was rapidly dropped once in power, in favour of a strategy of United States primacy and pre-emptive action, especially after the attacks of 11th September, 2001. Up to this point, Tony Blair believed that on the world stage, he was personally influential and could diplomatically punch above his weight. Self-delusion or not, after 9/11, Blair was effectively sidelined and could act as no more than a pillion-passenger to Bush's foreign policy - a pillion-passenger being one who rides behind the driver of a motorbike but has no control over speed or direction.
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53 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucid, balanced, brilliant 27 May 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a fascinating book, extremely well written, and most satisfyingly, the author remains constantly neutral in the face of all the facts. He only ever presents facts or source information.
The overall view of how the Blair Government's foreign policy is carried out is fascinating - how the F.O. has gradually been sidelined by a more Presidential style system of advisors, mainly built up of various mates of Blair.
Some of the revelations in the book are astounding - Blair's link to Halliburton is fascinating and worrying, as are plenty of the Alastair Campbell moments.
You also get a very clear view of the Britain-US relationship. From the dramatic events of the 11th of September, the main players in the relationship are detailed. The Doves v Hawks situation in the US is considered, and their influence on Blair and Bush (who genuinely comes across as a man unfit to preside, not through any deliberate effort on Kampfner's part) is all interesting stuff.
The new edition brings the book right up to date, which can only create a more damning picture. Highly recommended.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and insightful 17 Jan 2004
By Gerrit Ruitinga VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
"It is some feat to go to war five times in six years" This first sentence of the book sums it up.
What makes a left-wing leader with his focus almost exclusively on the domestic agenda venture into conflict probably more than any of his post-war predecessors, culminating in the most extensive war Brittain has fought since 1945.
The book paints an analytical portrait of the leader slowly transforming from a politician who thought he could do it all to one under deep pressure and slightly overwhelmed by the course actions were taking.
Kampfner sees Blair as having a clear mission embedded in a set of deep moral and religious beliefs. On top of that he sees him as a politician who believes in his own power, superior intellect and convictions and who is convinced that he "can put things right", displaying a "leave it to me" mentality, not only in his own country but also in his dealings with other world leaders.
He genuinely beliefs that he can bridge the differences between the US and Old Europe. That this is not the case as the whole episode around resolution 1441 in the UN Security councel shows, does not need further demonstration.
Blair is increasingly forced to make choices and not necessarliy always at his moment of choosing. The choice, almost by determination, is for the US with the well known results.
Blair always maintained that he favoured the course of action because " no future generation should ask us why we did not do something about it". There is no doubt that the Iraq regime was one of the vilest on earth and that ending it has made the world ( certainly Iraq) a better place. Whether this was the best way to do it, is a question for historians and will probably take decades to answer. Why Blair took the path he choose is, however, excellently described in this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blairs Wars 5 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback
This is a highly critical assessment of Tony Blair and his actions as Britain's prime minster, written during his term, covering 1997 - 2003. It is consistent throughout keeping a steady bias and argument that Blair was the instigator of his wars that he could have taken alternative routes, and he operated for his own ambitions. Kampfner examines the consequences of this to Britain as a nation, a political entity within international politics and the government. The analysis is focused on the campaigns: Desert Fox the bombing of Iraq in 1998, the war in Kosovo1999, military action in Sierra Leone in 2000, sending the army to Afghanistan 2001 and Iraq, 2003. Alongside careful study of the way Blair changed Britain's traditional special relationships to centre on America and his relationships with principal political players including Clinton and Bush. Kampfner views this change to siding with America as Blair's own ambitions and inability to act independently. He takes apart Blair's justifications and reasoning for war, evidence for weapons of mass destruction and demonstrates the lack of understanding or appreciation of what the results would be and the lasting legacy of this. This is a book for those wanting to learn more about recent wars in Britain, with questions such as were they justified, how much evidence was there, who supported them, why did we go to war. It is also for those wanting to gain a better knowledge of how Blair was viewed when in office.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Blair's Wrongs
In 'Blair's Wars', John Kampfner charts the curious war-making obsession of Tony Blair and his government. Read more
Published 15 months ago by T. T. Rogers
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read
This book gives a good insight into the politics of British wars over the past decade. Although interesting, more details on the wars themselves, rather than simply the politics,... Read more
Published on 16 July 2007 by Mrs. R. Dean
5.0 out of 5 stars Blair's wars
This book is fascinating for the descriptions of the dynamic between the UK and US government alone. Read more
Published on 16 July 2006 by Spider Monkey
2.0 out of 5 stars Little you won't have read in the papers
I'm not sure why there is so much fuss here about whether this book is balanced, nor why many think it so wonderful. Read more
Published on 29 Oct 2004 by Orchard Gate
3.0 out of 5 stars Yes, but we knew he's a nutter...
Is he a liar?or just incompetent? this book meticulously piles together everything you have read in the newspapers- quite well- and adds numerous unattributed background interviews... Read more
Published on 17 Oct 2004 by Pelican
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff
An excellent book that provides a real insight into Blair's transition from domestic issue focused politician into (wannabe) international statesman. Read more
Published on 16 Sep 2004 by Jamo
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not supposed to balanced, idiot
These are the facts as presented by the author. Just because you don't agree with the book doesn't make it "unbalanced". Buy this book! Read more
Published on 21 July 2004 by CarsonSouthpaw
1.0 out of 5 stars one-sided look at important events
I find i hard to beleive that the two previous reviewers find this look balanced as the anti-blair anti-bush bashing begins on the the first page. Read more
Published on 20 July 2004 by "graeme22uk"
5.0 out of 5 stars Blairs wars
Excellent read , very informative read about the inner workings of the government on foreign affairs, a well written bipartisan look at how Blairs foreign affairs knowledge have... Read more
Published on 2 July 2004 by "defstoned"
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine account of Labour warmongering
This is a fascinating study of social democratic warmongering. Blair has organised a record five wars in six years - ‘Desert Fox’ against Iraq, and invasions of Serbia,... Read more
Published on 10 Feb 2004 by William Podmore
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