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Chance Witness: An Outsider's Life in Politics [Paperback]

Matthew Parris
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 July 2013

Chance Witness by Matthew Parris - a hilarious and fascinating portrait of life in politics, from Thatcher to Blair

Winner of the Channel 4 / Politico's Political Book of the Year Award

'Made me laugh out loud. A book full of wisdom' Simon Hoggart, Guardian

In this surprising and eccentric autobiography from a former Conservative MP, Matthew Parris writes of his personal and political life with equal candour. With a First from Cambridge and the possibility of working for the Foreign Office, he decided instead to apply to be an apprentice diesel-fitter with London Transport. He was rejected and so turned to a life in politics. He has worked with Margaret Thatcher, Chris Patten, Tony Blair and Michael Portillo, and his observations of political lifeand those who move within it are truly fascinating. This colourful memoir is an account of a young life already well lived.

For readers of Margaret Thatcher by Charles Moore, and fans of The End of the Party by Andrew Rawnsley, this is a fascinating glimpse into modern British politics.

'A five-star autobiography. Dazzling, hilarious and wonderful' Sunday Times

Matthew Parris was born in Johannesburg in 1949. He was a Conservative MP from 1979 to 1986, since when he has worked as a journalist. He is the author of A Castle in Spain, the acclaimed story of his medieval home in L'Avenc, as well as the bestselling books Parting Shots and A Spanish Ambassador's Suitcase, both based on the BBC Radio 4 series. He divides his time between Derbyshire (where his old constituency was situated) and east London.

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Chance Witness: An Outsider's Life in Politics + Live From Downing Street + THE SPANISH AMBASSADOR'S SUITCASE: Stories from the Diplomatic Bag
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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (25 July 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0241968291
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241968291
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 239,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


Shockingly Candid (Observer)

Of interest to students and lovers of politics alike, and indeed to anyone who is interested in the history of the last quarter of a century. Parris is a skilful entertainer, who informs as well as amuses (Peter Bottomley Literary Review)

Whimsy, polemic, irony, humour . . . a scintillating read (Boris Johnson Sunday Telegraph)

The perfect autobiographer (Spectator)

Brilliant, deliciously entertaining. I laughed a lot (Observer)

About the Author

Matthew Parris was born in Johannesburg in 1949. For seven years a Conservative MP, he quit to present LWT's Weekend World, after which he became a regular parliamentary sketchwriter for The Times. His books include READ MY LIPS, SCORN WITH ADDED VITRIOL, and INCA-KOLA, about his travels in Peru. He has also made a number of television documentaries, including most recently an account of his sojourn on a remote sub-Antarctic island.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By alapper
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I always thought of Matthew Parris as a gay ex-politician turned to media pundit - something like Michael Portillo, but after reading this I am considerably more impressed even though this book tells very little of his very adventurous life. He is clearly something of an explorer. At the start he tells of time spent on Kerguelen Island and from hints dropped he has climbed a number of mountains and is exceptionally well-travelled. He was born is Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and his early life was spent in Africa. He is obviously very fit, and is a strong long-distance runner. However this book focuses mainly on politics and his crusade to encourage a more general acceptance of homosexuality in the country - which started at a time when attitudes were very different from today. His overall honesty is sometimes very intense - such as the tale he tells of being tied up while a girl he was travelling with was raped. There are other times when the word spinning gets a bit tedious. However I was considerably more impressed with the book by the time I had finished it than as I started it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it and read slowly 27 Feb 2014
A lot of good stuff here on all sorts of things relating to his life in Africa and UK; Politics and Journo.
This book is very well written as one would expect and I will now seek out other writings of his.
He is honest and seems to be giving us the whole truth on many things that happened to him.
I came across this thru a recommend in The Week by their author of the week.
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