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Boris: The Rise of Boris Johnson [Hardcover]

Andrew Gimson
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

18 Sep 2006
Despite having once been sacked from the shadow front bench, Boris Johnson is still widely seen as one of the stars of the Conservative Party. His distinctive appearance ('Like a haystack on a bicycle'), befuddled manner and ready wit have assured a high media profile and a large fanbase with the general public. In this, the first biography of Boris, Andrew Gimson investigates Boris' twin-faced dilemma - politics or entertainment - and asks how deep his political ambition runs. Born in New York in 1964, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. He has transcended his class, education and his various occupations (Conservative MP for Henley-on-Thames, Conservative spokesman for Higher Education, columnist on the Daily Telegraph, motoring correspondent for GQ, novelist, TV presenter) to become a paradoxical character - the old Etonian who fascinates teenagers as well as grandparents, the classical scholar who is also a TV quiz-show contestant. Despite being a comic actor of genius, he is not just an act and Andrew Gimson's biography covers all facets of this complex individual. There is his exotic Turkish ancestry, his place among five siblings, his competitive relationship with his father Stanley, the distinguished university career, his five years as a journalist in Brussels, his first failed venture into politics ('I fought Clwyd South - and Clwyd South fought back'), overseeing the Spectator during the David Blunkett affair and the Liverpool editorial fiasco which led to Boris' sacking from the shadow cabinet, his exile and return under David Cameron, his two marriages, four children and love affairs. Interviewing Boris' contemporaries, his family and his detractors, Andrew Gimson has created a fascinating and amusing portrait of this unique man of our times.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 277 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (18 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743275845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743275842
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.4 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 855,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Beautifully written . . . The author admits to being a friend,
but pulls no punches' -- Jonathan Bouquet, Observer

'Like gambolling through a summer meadow in your underpants --
daft, a little risqué and great fun . . . Hilarious' -- Isabel Oakeshott, Sunday Times

From the Inside Flap

When Andrew Gimson rang Boris Johnson and asked to write his
life, Boris laughed for a long time before replying, 'Such is my colossal
vanity that I have no intention of trying to forbid you.'

In this age of unmemorable politicians, Boris stands out as a beacon of
hope. He cracks jokes. He makes gaffes. He loves women, cars and bicycling.
He wants to be Prime Minister, but can a man seen as a clown ever get to
the top?

This witty portrait, written with an affectionate yet critical eye, tells
the astonishing story of the Boris phenomenon. It traces his exotic Turkish
ancestry, his discovery of the art of performance from his father Stanley,
his prodigious education, his forgotten first marriage, his comical sacking
from his first job on The Times newspaper, his anarchic brilliance as the
Telegraph's man in Brussels, his editorship of the Spectator during the
David Blunkett affair and the Liverpool fiasco, his travails when the
tabloids exposed his affairs, his dismissal from the Tory front bench by
Michael Howard and return under David Cameron.

In BORIS, Andrew Gimson has created a wonderfully vivid, touching and funny
picture of the only Tory to be famous for himself rather than because of
the offices he held.

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read for fans of modern political life 8 Oct 2006
For anyone who's interested in Boris Johnson, or even the British Conservative Party, this is a great book. It's a fantastically fun read, full of interesting facts and insight into Britain's most colorful Tory politician. I particularly liked the book because it doesn't try too hard. Unlike some 500-page biographical monsters, which read like a PhD history theses, "Boris" doesn't cover ever nook and cranny of its subject's life. We get the main points - family history, childhood, school, journalism, jokes, affairs - told in Andrew Gimson's very readable and unpretentious writing.

The book's short but not superficial. Gimson knows Boris well. They worked together on the Spectator magazine and Gimson is friends with a lot of the main players in Boris's life. It shows. There are several revelations. More importantly, Gimson shows great psychological insight. Boris comes across as an extremely intelligent, well-educated and energetic man - who adopts an amusing but slightly ridiculous joke-persona to cover up for a complete lack of discipline.

I finished the book rather liking Boris, and amazed he's gotten as far as he has. He really can be a prat. Some of the best stories include: how he had to leave the Times for making up a quote; the exaggeration in his Brussels coverage for the Telegraph; the fact he didn't write the anti-Liverpool Spectator editorial which he was crucified, and who did; that he saw his mistress Petronella Wyatt after breaking off their affair.

The only reason I haven't given this book five stars is because I think the top rating should be reserved for the very best books. If you'ld like to know what life is like for the conservative media and political establishment, this book is a fun place to start.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More a hagiography than a serious critique 25 Mar 2008
Reads like a fan-letter - not surprising, given the author is a good friend of the subject - hardly ideal for a biographer. Manages to capture the charm and entertainment value of Boris Johnson, but when portraying the other side - the ambition, egocentrism and affairs, - seeks only to see things from Boris' point of view.

If you like Boris, you'll like this book, but it's not a serious biography (to be fair to Gimson, Johnson hasn't really done anything yet to justify a serious biography) or nearly critical enough
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing 21 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was good in the end. When I started reading it I thought it was going to be horribly sycophantic, and the author's rose-tinted view of his mate. It wasn't, and the analysis seems pretty believable (apart from the Boris being PM bit).

I was attracted to this book because Boris is an entertaining character, but clearly has a serious side. I think he can do well in journalism and politics, but I have a funny suspicion that it could unravel the more senior he becomes. Simply refusing to engage with awkward questions, to me, seems to be a major flaw that people will get tired of.

He's an amusing character, and the world of politics and journalism would be much poorer without him.

Well done to the author for getting something out there, as curiosity is bound to rise over the next year.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not really Mr.Nice Guy 25 Jun 2007
Boris Johnson is an enigma. One watches him on have I Got News For You and wonders is this man for real? Is it all a big act? Andrew Gimson writes well and gives us the answers. He knows this funny eccentric man very well. He shows us a brilliant scholar and journalist, a man who wants to be liked and is admired by many. It also shows an extremely ambitious politician whose one really dominating principle seems to be the promotion of Boris. He has not treated the women in his life with respect nor has he kept promises to others. Could he ever be entrusted with the leadership of his party? I think not. An entertaining informative book about an amazing man.
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4.0 out of 5 stars insight 4 July 2014
By steve
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Interesting insight to humour and perspectives . Lacked a little structure as two historical periods were cobbled together, needs an editorial re look, but a solid read, grubs and all.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Boris by Andrew Gimson 17 Sep 2013
By rachel
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is disappointing, you have to wade through loads of characters to get to Boris and what he thinks. A biography of a famous person need not necessarily be a compendium of all the famous people the author knows.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Some Interesting facts, but lacking otherwsise. 10 Aug 2013
By vjones7
This is going to be a short review.
The subject matter is very interesting but this cannot be the best book about Boris out there, hence why I've given it 3 stars. I feel although parts of the book provide juicy information ('pyramid of piffle' quote...not stopping at the red traffic light), there is an excessive amount of journalistic gossip based on escapades at the spectator and the daily telegraph. I actually think there is a lack of in-depth character analysis of Boris Johnson (the introduction is the most detailed section) and I don't think the author provides enough reasons about why Boris is passionate about his poetry, or classics, or on any subject. The book states Boris has a 'Woosterish' persona which is a hooking sentence, but then does not follow up with any discussion on the Bertie Wooster character in P.G.Wodehouse's novels (Readers unfamiliar with P.G.Wodehouse Wooster will be left vacuous).
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good summer read 20 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An easy read, by a well informed author, who is not afraid to tell things as they are. I recommend this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not fail to please
An extremely well written and very perceptive book. Even though the subject provides many opportunities for a send-up, Andrew Gimson has produced both a serious and yet charming... Read more
Published 22 months ago by The Lady Morris
4.0 out of 5 stars The Making of London's Mayor
Boris Johnson's life already provides enough material for several biographies, which is fortunate as there'll likely be several written, probably including one by himself... Read more
Published on 12 July 2012 by David Herdson
5.0 out of 5 stars Boris - predictable in his unpredictability
Finished this biography which I found amusing and informative, giving a more rounded view of Boris and making him more humane than he otherwise appears: spontaneous, refreshing,... Read more
Published on 17 Jan 2012 by Constantin ROMAN
5.0 out of 5 stars Minimal waffle and maximum impact.
I really enjoyed this book. It provides a fascinating insight into Boris Johnson's background and upbringing. Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2010 by Billie
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither Comedy Nor Tragedy
Boris Johnson is often described as "privileged". This is true notwithstanding the fact that he in fact was not born into heavy wealth, despite attending both Eton and Oxford. Read more
Published on 4 Aug 2009 by Ian Millard
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent fun
Highly entertaining biography written in sprightly style and full of affection (sometimes too much) for its subject. Read more
Published on 2 Feb 2007 by Charles
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