Top positive review
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One of a kind
on 5 November 2013
This is a delightful, unique book possibly destined to become a future classic.
Poignant, warming and sometimes quite funny, it is, sadly, the final diaries of one of the great Parliamentarians of the age.
While I believe Benn has been mostly wrong throughout his life - on everything from lauding Chairman Mao to opposing the relaxing of licensing laws - he's always worth listening to.
Detailing the years from 2007 to present, the book has Benn stoically facing up to death, wondering whether he has been too egotistical down the years, coming up with new invention the seat-case, calling Gordon Brown a disaster, and working, working, working.
This man in his eighties would, for example, get up at 5am, walk to the tube, get a train up north, attend a few meetings, come back down to London, give a speech or two at a peace rally in Trafalgar Square, then at night attend a party for Shami Chakrabarti (while never touching a drop, of course).
He is often `very, very tired', frequently depressed (particularly in the morning) and has unending problems with his computer and his broadband.
There are all sorts of surprises: he calls the Observer rubbish - `I'd rather read The Sunday Telegraph'; David Cameron tells him he enjoyed Benn's Arguments For Democracy; he ponders whether he has been wrong about everything; he wraps 140 Christmas presents for his family.
Benn comes across as incredibly industrious, fearless, honourable and full of integrity. He cares for many people and has time for folk no matter what their politics. He loves his Parliament. The adoration he feels for his family and that they feel for him is clear, and very touching. His writing style is accessible (almost child-like at times), he never swears and can be endearingly old fogeyish - `Jarvis Cocker from the Pulp group' comes to visit him at one point.
A smashing book for anyone interested in, well, life: I struggled to put it down and was sad when it was over.