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Diaries: Into Politics [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

Alan Clark , Ion Trewin , James Clark
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 Oct 2000
Alan Clark's Diaries are the best account of the last quarter of a century of British politics. For the hundreds of thousands of readers who were enthralled by the first volume, The Early Years will be an event. The long-awaited second instalment of one of the great political diaries of the twentieth century. Here Alan Clark covers his apprentice years from his selection as Tory candidate for Plymouth Sutton in 1972 through three elections, the arrival of Margaret Thatcher, the Winter of Discontent to the triumph of the Falklands. His other enthusiasms not least his family, his home and his love of fast cars are never far away. Of the original volume of Diaries, The Times, in a rare accolade in a leading article wrote: The best diarists, from Pepys and Boswell to Chips Channon and Harold Nicolson, have been the souls of indiscretion. But none so indiscreet as Mr Clark. If he is made the scapegoat for the Matrix Churchill affair, he may be written down politically as Baroness Thatchers little loose cannon. But literature and the great British game of gossip will judge him for his diary. For its Pooterish self-assessment, for Mr Toad' enthusiasm for new things, for Byrons cadishness, for its deadly candour, it is one of the great works in the genre.

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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Orion (26 Oct 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752832484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752832487
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 10.6 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,231,479 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.


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

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amusing and revealing 21 May 2002
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Alan has been described as the diarist of his century. I disagree with that opinion. Surely, Alan Clark is the diarist of his millennia! I've read Boswell, Pepys, Dorothy Wordsworth, et al, and as outstanding as these were, none can hold a candle to Clark's ability to capture the moment. As for the man himself, you could not invent him if you tried!

I am often nonpluss to find copies of Alan's diaries so readily available for purchase online. I would have thought by now that the secret was out about Alan's unique and irrepeatable tome and all copies of his diaries present and future are sold out!

Perhaps at last, here is the "Great White Hope" that boxing never quite delivered. Acerbic, hurtful, hypochondriac, lecherous, lazy, shocking, nationalist, odious, philanderer, intolerable BUT equally extremely lovable, intellectual, likeable, original, fresh, interesting, affable, utterly human, devastatingly infectious and a national treasure worthy of a statue in Soho! If I have one regret, it is that Alan Clark did not live long enough to help Boris Johnson pen his diaries!

At once, Alan is utterly repellent and utterly butterly! He loved, adored and often worried about his boys James and Andrew and he was so utterly loving and devoted to Jane - but only God knows how he managed that! I secretly quite like him, adore him even and his writing I love - despite his impossible ways. I am sure my poor mother (RIP) would regret ever bringing me up for saying so. And having just admitted that, never again will I be embarrassed for fancying Diana Rigg in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"!.

Reading his diary and knowing he was real does not detract one bit that it would be impossible to invent Alan - he's that unbelievable!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diaries:into Politics 3 Jun 2003
By A Customer
Strangely enough, I started my Clark diary experience with this one and have since read "In power" which, I think, most people have read first. I am glad I started with this one, as I have now been able to read, in chronological order, the history of Alan Clark. Although I am a political fanatic, it is the non-political aspects which I love about this book. Most political people do not have much of a "hinterland" outside politics but I find Clark's diversions into other fields very interesting: His love of cars, his great knowledge of running large houses, his love of wine, his love of travel (beautiful heartfelt descriptions of many parts of the country), furniture, books, history etc etc. It is also his wicked sense of humour which keeps me reading him. I was most amused by his description of some poor vice-chairman of a Tory constituency party as "literally spastic". I am sure it was not true and I feel sorry for the object of his ire, but between me and the pages I found the exasperation of Clark behind that remark very funny. There is an interesting sub text throughout the book. Clark is obsessed with his looks and the passage of time. He also laments time wasted in meetings, on the train to Plymouth etc and identifies better things he could be doing (like enjoying his castle and its grounds). On balance one is left with the question: is politics really worth turning one's back on all the good things in life?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Prospero77 VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I began my journey with Alan Clark with 'In Power', then watched the captivating and hugely entertaining TV series with John Hurt. I thought the TV adaptation a little darker than the diaries in actual fact. But even with the printed page there is a distinct style change when one reads 'Into Politics'. The sentence structure is more stoccato, with Clark's own upper class lexis and esoterical vocabulary taking us on a vivid journey into the world of the fortysomething politician. Whatever reservations one may have about his sympathies for far right groups, or his broad brush stereotyping of the working classes (and I took one or two deep gulps for fortification in places), there is something hugely likeable about him. A patriotic man moving through times where 'Authority' and 'Sovereignty' were being significantly redefined -and indeed continue to be! But ultimately this book is worth purchasing because Clark's diaries are incredibly 'human'. His candour about the things we all care about over the age of 35 : fatigue, ageing, failing, dying, reveal a much more complex and 'real' character than the 'Utter rogue' tory club cliche we got in the tabloids. A truly entertaining and fascinating read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, insightful and well worth a read
This is a gentle, easy read that'll make you smile, laugh out loud at times and perhaps educate you too. Clark wasn't everyones cup of tea but his diaries are really entertaining. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dr G
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Value
I purchased this as part of the set of three for my husband who has been wanting to read them for some time.
Published 15 months ago by G. Braund
4.0 out of 5 stars A third life episode from a modern Pepys
The Alan Clark diaries - "Into Politics 1972-1982"

This is the third (a prequel covering his entry into politics) in the series of diaries by Alan Clark - a man of... Read more
Published on 6 April 2011 by Dr. I. Cox
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly brilliant, shocking, funny and charming
Alan Clark's Diaries, Volume Two is a record of his life and British politics through 1974 to late 1982. Read more
Published on 15 Aug 2009 by J. Potter
3.0 out of 5 stars lovely old sausage
I loathed the 80's tories and was on the sauce throughout their reign, and had I met him in real life, would probanbly have vomited.. Read more
Published on 5 Nov 2008 by E. Coolican
4.0 out of 5 stars Bongo-Bongo or Never-Never?!
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... Read more
Published on 15 April 2008 by Ian Millard
5.0 out of 5 stars Alan Clark's personal observations and recollections.
Another edition of Alan Clarks fascinating diaries which make compelling reading. If you read the first set of Diaries which he published, I guarantee you will not be disappointed... Read more
Published on 18 Nov 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars At last...another opportunity to enter the world of Clark!!!
Diaries:into Politics provides a chance to enter Clark's world at the time that he first enters the world of politics. Read more
Published on 30 Oct 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as volume one
I approached this second volume of the great Alan Clark Diaries with enormous trepidation. They couldn't be as good as volume one, surely? Read more
Published on 26 Oct 2000
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