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DC Confidential Hardcover – 10 Nov 2005


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; First Edition edition (10 Nov. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297851144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297851141
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 526,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

a marvellously entertaining and readable book. (Andrew Gilligan THE EVENING STANDARD)

The chapters on 9/11 and on the Iraq War are totally absorbing and often quite moving. (Cal McCrystal THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

the book is of great value to anyone interested in diplomacy and foreign policy. (Bruce Anderson THE INDEPENDENT)

the delicious portraiture, razor-sharp character assessments and the sharing of undiplomatic discretions, are all beautifully, and often comically, presented. (James Cusick THE SUNDAY HERALD)

he provides some captivating insights into modern diplomacy and American life. (Siobhan Murphy Metro)

He tells a juicy tale. (Simon Jenkins SUNDAY TIMES)

this is an important book about what it was like to be Britain's most senior and lustrous ambassador at a time when the prime minister enjoyed a direct line to the White House for which there are few precedents. (Martin Kettle THE GUARDIAN)

For all his colourful and funny stories, the enduring value of his picture of the Blain years is the way Meyer shows this Government steadily ripping up the rules. (Simon Edge DAILY EXPRESS)

an entertaining and informative read. (Sean Donlon THE IRISH TIMES)

a masterpiece of elegance which places the steletto between New Labour's shoulder blades with panache. (Clive Aslet COUNTRY LIFE)

informative and enjoyable. (Maurice Hayes IRISH INDEPENDENT)

a gem of a book. (DUBLIN EVENING HERALD)

Book Description

Riveting and candid memoir of life behind the scenes as US Ambassador and Prime Minister's Press Secretary.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By kingofwessex on 21 July 2006
Format: Paperback
Christopher Meyer has written a very likeable and accessible memoir - concise and snappily-written, and with a liberal sprinkling of wry humour. Not for him the 900 plus pages of so many dry, self-congratulatory examples of the political/diplomatic memoir genre. He has many interesting things to say about both political personalities (statesmen and civil servants) and governing institutions (The FCO, No. 10, etc).

Also, he does not pull his punches when it comes to offering judgements upon the actions and intentions of major political fugures, such as Blair, Straw, Prescott and many other leading New Labour ministers.

His reminiscences about earlier diplomatic postings in both the the US and Germany are informative and amusing in equal measure. In particular, he deftly conveys some of the flavour of both countries' political traditions and bureaucratic traits, and is illuminating on the social and political landscape of the USA west of the eastern seaboard.

The latter part of the book, dealing with pre-and post-9/11 is a riveting read, and provides a balanced overview of US and UK foreign-policy activities in this fraught period. Overall, then, a sharply-written, well-told account of a diplomatic life in both Germany and Washington D.C., packed with interesting anecdotes and comments - sometimes acerbic, sometimes affectionate - about the realities and rewards of overseas postings.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By 100wordreviewer on 30 Nov. 2005
Format: Hardcover
This memoir offers a fly-on-the-wall look at how the British ambassador to Washington experienced events leading to the Iraq war. It contains much of interest, ranging from a couple of sharply-written chapters exploring whether or not the war was inevitable after 9/11, to Meyer's mostly unflattering descriptions of leading politicians. But its main achievement is to be highly readable, making this an enjoyable way to learn something about British-US relations.
Drawbacks: the book feels a bit lightweight, and doesn't explore in depth many of the most interesting themes on which it touches – eg whether UK interests suffer from No.10 Downing Street trying to run foreign policy. Much of the stuff about the loveliness of his wife made me cringe, but might appeal to some readers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Exmatelote on 23 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
Don't let the cover deceive you, this is not a book especially concerned with telling a tale about the inner thoughts of the Blair government in the run up to the invasion of Iraq and it's seemingly vain attempts to influence Bush Jr''s decisions. Instead, it is as the category says, memoirs, going all the back to the 1960's when Meyer joined the diplomatic corps. You will find no insightlful analysis of the war or stark protrayal of the way the information was presented to the public but rather a Bill Bryson like read full of ammusing anecdotes of the DC political circuit, my favorite of which is Don Rumsfeld paralysed in a river raft for three days next to a large box of excrement (I'll let you decide on the relation there). I suspect the FCO regarded this book as an 'unacceptable breach of trust' because it describes the kind of toadying flunkies so often seen in governments these days as they really are, as immoral and odius creatures of less than high honour, not becuase there are any great secrets revealed in this book, because there are none. According to the author, most of the secrets he had access to ended up leaked to the press anyway and he complains often that none of his cables on the thoughts of the US adminstration were read by anyone, causing continual stupid questions from those who ought to know better (maybe another 'breach of trust there'). In short, anecdotal and light entertainment, not heavy analysis. If like me, you were after that, chose something else.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By bookpike on 25 Jan. 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although there was a hoo hah when this book first came out I can't see that there is anything within it's pages that is hugely controversial. Meyer certainly doesn't condemn Blair wholesale as a poltician without any merit but as you read the book you do come to the understanding that Blair's political preferences are not the same as Meyers. Nevertheless Meyer was a diplomat and by his account anyway seems to have executed his duties nuetrally and very helpfully for his country.
The book is full of anecdote but hardly any real polticial gossip. He's very carefully to say nice things about almost everyone and if he is disparaging about Blair and New Labour it's nothing we haven't already read in the press. If anything he strives to give a rounded, balanced, diplomatic view of Blair and friends although it is possible to detect a note of disgruntlement that his efforts were not always appreciated by Blair and often suspected. Meyer would not be the first person in public life to feel this way about our current glorious leader - he joins quite a list of disgruntled ministers and back benchers.
My conclusion is that it's worth reading and gives you a fascinating insight into the goings on in Washington during a very tumultuous period. This book is also a good explanation of exactly what amabassadors and diplomats do for us in far flung places.
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63 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Budge Burgess on 12 Nov. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Written at times in an almost tabloid style - albeit a polite, educated, gentlemanly tabloid style - the account is certainly not a stuffy, academic description of one small (but vital) corner of foreign policy. Christopher Meyer was British ambassador to Washington from 1997 to 2003, so had a unique perspective on the agreement between Bush and Blair which led up to the Iraq invasion. Collusion, delusion, or deceit?
Meyer witnessed the demise of the Clinton presidency; a veteran of the diplomatic corps, he'd also seen Thatcher's foreign policy in action. He points to the spinelessness of Blair's approach compared to the Iron Lady's. Although Meyer supported the invasion of Iraq, he is quite disparaging about New Labour's conduct. Britain has effectively become a US poodle.
Meyer's book has caused acute embarrassment in political and diplomatic circles, and will almost certainly lead to further censorship of civil service memoirs and leaks. It provides a vital perspective on the workings of the Labour Party and its failure to think through the invasion and occupation of Iraq. There are anecdotes and insights aplenty, and it is a book which has its fascinating and entertaining passages, but it's not one which will be to everyone's taste.
If you are interested in politics and foreign policy, then this is an engaging and informative read. Serialised in the 'Guardian', it may be absorbing in small doses, but it's not really a book you'd choose for bedtime reading. It's essential message is that Blair has settled into a cosy little relationship with the US, so much so that British foreign policy is taken for granted by the White House. Any expose which throws light on the way our politicians behave is to be valued, but this is probably a book which is better read as edited highlights, not one which will rivet your attention from cover to cover.
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