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Diaries: Into Politics Audio Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook


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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Orion (26 Oct 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752832484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752832487
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 3.3 x 13.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,421,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Following the public devouring of Alan Clark's Diaries, the "long-awaited" second helping takes the form of a posthumous prequel, covering 1972 to 1982, the formative years of this idiosyncratic political wag. And what do we discover? Blithely racist, he considers standing for the National Front, and writes that "I'm the nearest thing they're likely to get to an MP". He professes belief in National Socialism, is vehemently anti-European, and thrills to the sight of "fair-haired children" waiting outside school for their mums when he visits the Falklands in 1982. Indeed, blondes dominate his vision: his lecherous eye is everywhere, even propositioning in the Commons' public gallery, while his wife Jane stoically picks up the pieces.

After the first volume, some flatteringly spoke of Clark as a diarist to rival Samuel Pepys or Sir Henry "Chips" Channon. This time, the comparison begged is with Adrian Mole. A melancholic first half details an interminable string of losses at backgammon, neurosis over ageing, perpetual hypochondria, as well as quite affecting parental concerns. Politics remains a sideline, even when elected as an MP in 1974. It's only when the Conservatives come to power in 1979 under Margaret "The Lady" Thatcher (who reminds Clark of his mother), that the tone settles and becomes familiarly expansive, perhaps with an awareness of a future audience. Despite his hatred of his Plymouth constituency--such a pain--he revels in Commons clubbability, developing heroes such as Enoch Powell, chums such as Jonathan Aitken, and adversaries such as the "odious" Michael Heseltine, or that "butterball", Ken Clarke. The Falklands War is greeted as a personal triumph, albeit from the backbenches, but he does well to remind us how unpopular the Government was prior to it, and the lifeline it gave to Thatcher. Moving with caddish bounds from obsequious simpering to bovver-boy arrogance, Clark longed for immortality, and in a peculiar way he has found it: as a charmingly solipsistic narcissist, whose irreverence continues to tickle a British funny bone. However, as the mists of time descend, and the footnotes lengthen, perhaps future generations will wonder at such dubious charm, and our more dubious fascination with Clark's rakish progress. --David Vincent This review refers to the hardcover edition of this title.

Review

With more than 300,000 copies of the original Diaries sold since their publishing caused a sensation in 1993, here is the long-awaited and posthumous "prequel". Starting in 1972, when Clark was searching for a parliamentary seat and at the same time was given Saltwood Castle in Kent by his father Kenneth Clark (of Civilisation fame), he chronicles election success in Plymouth, and early days in the Commons where Ted Heath has been deposed as leader of the Tories and replaced by Margaret Thatcher. There is Saltwood itself and the countryside surrounding it, there are birds (both feathered and human) and there is his family. At the same time bankruptcy threatens and he is only saved by a remarkable "find" inside Saltwood itself. The climax is the Falklands War - with revelations from a unique political animal with the inside track. At the same time this second volume has all the ingredients of fine writing and humour that made the first volume such a hardback and paperback bestseller. Clark's editor at Weidenfeld, Ion Trewin, also provides the introduction. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By N. H. Richardson on 21 May 2002
Format: Paperback
This second installment of Alan Clark's diaries, covering the period before he joined Mrs Thatcher's government, is every bit as enjoyable and irreverent as the earlier volume. We see Clark, recently removed to Saltwood Castle, begin his political career beset by worries: money, women, hypochondria, the well being of his sons, his car collection, his losses at backgammon, the decline of the nation. By the end of the diaries, all these worries are (momentarily) cast aside as the Falklands War is won and Clark seems destined to take his place in the Cabinet. As befits an accomplished military hstorian, Clark writes with precision and feeling: his descriptions of colleagues and opponents are among the high points in the diaries and, with the benefit of hindsight, have proved to be remarkably prescient.
Not only are the diaries amusing but they also provide a revealing insight into the political process - in the age of the professional politician the lack of talent, of which Clark cannot be accused, is no bar to the road to the top. At times, Clark seems to be genuinely surprised that his own inate talents have not taken him further sooner. More particularly, the dairies tell us much about the Tory party. It is surprising how soon after the 1979 election the party in Parliament began to have doubts about its leader, a feature mirrored, albeit much sooner, after the 1992 election. In this regard, these diaries should be read in conjunction with Gyles Brandreth's "Breaking the Code", the diaries for the period he spent as a Tory M.P. between 1992 and 1997. Although the styles are different, together the books cast a revealing light on party politics and help to explain, but do not excuse, the gap between the electorate and their elected representatives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ian Millard on 15 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
I tend to like the bits of Alan Clark some others do not: his love for animals and the living world; his support for Hitler and the German Reich (though inconsistent: he also thought that the UK should have rearmed more in the 1930's and admired the warmongering Churchill); his general dislike of Jewry (although he played backgammon with some...). However, I tend to dislike him as a person (though I never met him...maybe just as well!). For me, Clark comes out pretty much as he must have been in these very honest Diaries.

Strangely, for someone born to wealth (his great-great-grandfather founded the family fortune, in textile mills in Scotland) and culture (his father was ennobled as Lord Clark of Civilization!) and who had an expensive education at Eton and Oxford, Clark is at heart a vulgarian, somehow, despite all that and his own innate intelligence and (up to a point) culture. Against all the odds, there is something somehow ineradicably "nouveau" and also bourgeois about him. When his affairs came to public light, his wife (herself of the middle classes) sniffed about that happening "if one dallies with women from below stairs"! And Clark once looked down his nose at those "who have had to buy their furniture" rather than inheriting it, yet his own castle, in Kent, was only bought by his father in 1951!

Clark for me is the kind of chap who turns up flashing his wallet, at a country pub, in a well-polished classic sports car, probably wearing a cravat and a flat tweed shooting or driving cap. Mega ugh!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Oct 2000
Format: Hardcover
I approached this second volume of the great Alan Clark Diaries with enormous trepidation. They couldn't be as good as volume one, surely? But within a few pages I realised that they are just as good, but in different ways. The fine writing, the whiff of extra-marital affairs, the love of the countryside, the passion for politics - all these are as before. But this is a 'prequel' and what we gain is a greeat understanding of what makes this extraordinary character tick. That it begins when his life is undergoing seismic change shows Clark as a remarkably insecure man. He moves into Saltwood Castle with his wife Jane and their two sons at the same time as his long-term ambition to become a politician by being selected as a Conservative parliamentary candidate is finally realised. His insecurity is shown by a continual shortage of money - mostly his own fault as he gambles addictively at backgammon - by hypochondria, and here it is fascinating to be told by the editor that his father was also an extreme hypochondriac (I didn't realise it was hereditary). Once selected as a candidate he soon learns to despise the constituency (Plymouth), and I'd love to know what they thought of him. Jane, his wife, puts up with so much, and they stick together. So this volume reveals much about Clark, but I shall also remember it for some wonderful stories. He obviously loves writing. I shall remember his description of the death of his old beagle, the unsuccessful seduction of a blonde he sees in the public gallery in the House of Commons, the deteriorating relationship he has with his increasingly senile father. He is brilliant at catching a moment: Mrs Thatcher's mascara running in the heat of a TV interview, or the time when a magistrate in the court where he is up for speeding recognises him and lets him off.Read more ›
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