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Friends, Voters, Countrymen [Paperback]

Boris Johnson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 Jun 2002

A lively, idiosyncratic, witty look at the heart of our political process by a man who has crossed over from observer to activist, to become one of our newest members of parliament.

Boris Johnson, celebrated for his blonde thatch of hair as well as for his brilliant writing in the newspapers, and much liked for his appearances on television and radio, took notes throughout his period as prospective candidate and the election campaign. The result is a book that is lovely and fascinating, outspoken and funny, and yet raises real questions about the democratic process.

Have you ever wondered about becoming a Member of Parliament? Or why other people do? Or considered what the prospective parliamentary candidates do as they stump around the constituency – making speeches, kissing babies, knocking on front doors, providing newspaper copy? Or what difference it makes to us?

Boris Johnson has been a candidate in two elections. As a journalist, he is used to writing about politicians. Now he is himself being interviewed. So what does it feel like, with the tables turned?

In his own inimitable style, Boris Johnson writes about his views on the role of MPs and what they can achieve today. He comments on life on the stump, and the pleasure (mostly) of meeting voters, on political parties, current issues, and how to persuade people to vote – all interwoven with stories of what happened to him on his way to a meeting…

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Friends, Voters, Countrymen + Have I Got Views For You + The Dream of Rome
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New edition edition (17 Jun 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007119143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007119141
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 374,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Boris Johnson was elected Mayor of London in May 2008. Before this he was the Editor of the Spectator and Member of Parliament for Henley on Thames. He is the author of many books, notably Have I Got Views for You and Dream of Rome.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Whatever you think of Boris Johnson's politics, it is hard to deny the man's ability to raise a chortle, as evidenced in Friends, Voters, Countrymen. Not content with gainful employment as a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, editor of the Spectator and regular contestant on Have I Got News For You, Johnson decided to turn his hand to politics on the principle that side-swiping at those in positions of responsibility didn't amount to much if one never had to make political decisions oneself. And despite the self-deprecating indignities of the trawling campaign trail recounted here, Johnson clearly has no regrets in taking up the challenge. The book chronicles his failures and successes over the course of two general elections: from humiliating failure in Clwyd South to glorious victory in Henley-upon-Thames. There are many hilarious episodes: his rivalry with golden boy "Hezza", the unforgivable incident at the village jumble sale and the time when, out running in the rain, he is stopped by several young men who call him a c**t. He turns on them, rather pitifully protesting that "things are bad enough, and now you call me a c**t--why do you say that?" only to be met with the simple, arm-round-shoulder response: "face the fact that you're a c**t". Such is life in the public eye as one of the representatives of a great democracy. A light and delightful romp, this is a thoroughly enjoyable eye-opener for anyone who's ever wondered what it's like to get into politics and why on earth people do it. --Rebecca Johnson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Immensely good fun…such an entertaining read.' Daily Mail

'It is very funny…and has, in short, all the idiosyncracies of its author.' Jeremy Paxman, The Spectator

'Mr Johnson has written a lively and engrossing account of his candidacy. Johnson is passionate even about the drudgery of canvassing…extremely funny.' Daily Express

‘Johnson has cracked the art of making politics invigorating.' Daily Telegraph

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Massively entertaining 22 Jan 2004
How many Tory MPs would seriously be able to produce a book of their expereinces trying to get elected? More to the point, how many Tory MPs would be able to do it, and then get the public to sit down and read it?
Boris Johnson is such a marvellous character. After his many appearances on TV, bumbling his way through whatever is thrown at him, people inevitably fall for his bizarre charm. Fortunately, "Friends Voters Countrymen" has all the hallmarks of classic Boris. Unafraid to relate stories that depict him as a buffoon, Boris manages to steer between humourous anecdotes and political argument with ease. Whether you agree with his politics or not, you can't deny that he has a fascinating and entertaining way of putting his point across.
The stories of his various gaffes are priceless, as are his explanations of the logic behind his eccentrcities. In the ends, you just can't help warming to the man, something that few politicians have ever managed before.
Unlike the later book, "Lend Me Your Ears", this has a very informal style and is highly accessible. If you have ever been captivated by Boris's brilliantly bizarre on TV and wondered what goes on in the mind of this wonderfully eccentric character, this is definitely the book for you.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Oh Lord, please don't let him be misunderstood. Poor old Boris. He's an honest and straight-forward sort of chap - just says what he thinks and never mind the consequences. What consequences? The consequences that never seem to occur to him until it's pointed out to him that he's put his foot in it again. He's just a simple, harmless graduate of the Bertie Wooster Academy of Bumbling Buffoonery. That's how the Millwall supporters come to be armed with the ostensibly innocuous chant: "There's only one Boris Johnson" with which to taunt Liverpool supporters. You may not know what the Millwall supporters are getting at but you know Boris must have made another inadvertent gaff and somehow managed to alienate, in all probability, the entire population of Liverpool. Oh dear.
Here's a book about his campaign to be the Conservative MP for Henley, that will provide a few insights and perhaps persuade some doubters that Boris is really quite a charming and amiable sort. After all, just think how unpopular you or any of us would be if we didn't censor some the things we think before blurting them out in public. That seems to be Boris's main problem. He must imagine that everybody shares his sense of humour. Clearly he's mistaken. I think he's very funny but a lot of people think he's offensive. Here's an example from the book: He was completely put off his stroke "by some Luddite barracking from the member for Glasgow Pollock. In case you can't place him, he is almost totally bald, giving him a curiously buttock-headed appearance". Very funny. He's managed to outrage a lot of bald people and their wives, children and friends. Did it occur to him that a fair number of his constituents - the people who voted for him might fail to see the humour in that remark? Of course not.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun! - even if you're not a Tory! 2 April 2007
This isn't the kind of book I'd normally read - but it was passed to me at a BookCrossing meet in Shropshire. Naturally I couldn't resist, and had to bring it back with me to Oxfordshire!

I loved it! It is so funny...and probably loved it all the more because I knew the places he mentioned and even some of the people in Henley on Thames where he won his seat.

Read it even if you disagree with his politics - it's such an enjoyable read, I was laughing out loud on the train!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great ... And I don't even like the Tories. 5 May 2003
I have never voted Conservative and never thought I was likely to, but I find Boris Johnson so affable and lovable and quirky and relatively humane, and so funny and passionate and relatively sensible, that if I am not careful I may reconsider my lifetime's animosity to the Blue team... Fascinating and engrossing stuff. More please!
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining 29 Oct 2001
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Most people think of Boris Johnson as being a rather wacky kind of figure, often coming across as being rather aloof on TV. However, when you read his articles in the Telegraph, it is obvious that the man speaks a lot of sense. His book is humorous and serious at the same time. His political arguments for the NHS and education are sound, and his excellent description of the campaigning process is wonderful. His self deprecating style adds immensely to the book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly electable 13 April 2004
Boris has created an insightful book which explores all aspects of a typical election campaign. His re-collection of it is both detailed and entertaining, which left one with an increased awareness and enthusiasm for the British electoral campaign.
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