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Life in the Jungle: My Autobiography [Paperback]

Michael Heseltine
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

16 Aug 2001
Michael Heseltine has enjoyed one of the most colourful and creative careers of modern British politics. In this forthright autobiography he tells the story not just of his political life but of his business career as well. However, above all, this is a tale of high drama and high politics - of the clash with Mrs Thatcher over Westland in 1986 which led to his walk-out from her Cabinet, of the duel between the two of them that brought about her downfall in 1990 and of his own restoration to favour in the Conservative Party culminating in his becoming Deputy Prime Minister in 1995. If the top office at Westminster always eluded him, nothing much else did - as this vividly told story of a 'doer' rather than a 'blower' in politics amply demonstrates.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 574 pages
  • Publisher: Coronet; New edition edition (16 Aug 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340739169
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340739167
  • Product Dimensions: 3.7 x 12.8 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 358,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Michael Heseltine will be forever associated with dramatically toppling Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party in November 1990. However, in Life in the Jungle, his eagerly awaited autobiography following departure from public office as Deputy Prime Minister in 1995, Heseltine has written an absorbing account of life in the thick of the Westminster jungle over the last quarter of a century. This is a long but never dull book that covers Heseltine's adolescent struggle with dyslexia, presidency of the Oxford Union, his forays into the property world, the formation of his successful publishing group Haymarket, and early days as a junior minister in Edward Heath's administration. What is particularly engaging about the book is the sheer energy and scope of Heseltine's political initiatives, including selling Concorde, his courageous anti-racist positions in the aftermath of Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech, urban regeneration in the inner cities, and selling off council houses. His entrepreneurial instincts consistently vindicate his belief that if his Conservative colleagues in the 1980s "had known more about the world as it is and not how theory says it ought to be, they might have been able to make more temperate and rational contributions to the great economic debate of the 1980s".

The Thatcher years, and Heseltine's own sensational resignation over the Westland affair in 1986, are dignified but a little colourless. Thatcher's behaviour over Westland is viewed as "an affront to the standards of government in which I profoundly believed". The challenge to Thatcher in 1990 vividly recaptures the tense manoeuvrings for power that brought Heseltine within a whisker of the top job, whilst his account of the Major years offers engrossing but generous accounts of his by then junior colleagues, and his final startling dalliance with a challenge for the leadership following the resignation of John Major. Life in the Jungle is a fascinating portrait of one of the most charismatic and principled Conservative politicians of recent decades, and is required reading for anyone interested in British politics in the latter half of the 20th century. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


In this forthright book, he recounts not just the story of his political life but of his business career as well. (Eurobusiness) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Lion Without A Roar . . . 9 Mar 2013
Michael Heseltine's nickname of Tarzan was derived from his infamous mace-swinging incident in the Commons allied with his film-star-ish hairstyle. And it's from the nickname (and the supposed nature of the political arena) that we get the title of the autobiography. But there's nothing remotely chest-thumping or lionine about his life story, and by his own admission here, the mace was never actually 'swung', it was just 'picked-up' to make a point. The book is characterised by the same controlled, un-emotive approach, as the author strides purposefully through his political life. His early story speaks of a simpler age in which Oxbridge-entry only requires a letter of enquiry (and the right background), a property portfolio grows out of a bit of spare-time decorating, and becoming a publishing magnate happens by chance. From all of this, it was only a matter of time before Heseltine took his political ambitions from Union President to MP to minister. Unlikely Jim Hacker though, Hesletine can't make the final swing to No. 10 due to a big fall-out with Thatcher over Westland and the loss of career momentum that this caused. So this is an interesting catalogue of late twentieth century British political history, but that's about it, and relative to similar memoirs by Tony Benn, this compares poorly, due to the total absence of humour, humanity and heat that you would normally expect to find in a jungle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 27 Sep 2012
By Caggles
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was really looking forward to this but for such a central character in the politics of the last 30 years his autobiography failed to light me up as a reader. Of course, what most people are looking for in a political biography are the revelations about personalities/rows/alliances, all that is here but the style of writing is disappointingly factual throughout and you don't get that immediacy or real flavour of the characters and events coming through. It's readable but I don't think Mr H is the best writer. For example Ian Laing's 'Blue Remembered Years' is much more engaging and well-written despite his being a much more minor character in the Conseravtive 'drama' of the 80's and 90's.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Wrong Title? 6 Oct 2000
This book is a disappointment, and in my humble submission, it has the wrong title - can I suggest "Why I was Right All Along"?
The author has a habit of glossing over major events - for example, the fall of Mrs Thatcher - an event that was pretty huge in anyone's book - occupies considerably less space than Mr H's National Service. Compare this with John Major's rather more (and I don't really mean this, but I can't think of a better word) HONEST account of his political life, and you start to see that you have bought into an ego trip.
You'd have to be a real Heseltine fan to enjoy this, I'm afraid....
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1.0 out of 5 stars Gruel 22 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Michael Heseltine is quick to remind you of his stride and that is very much what this book is - a stride towards more capital letters.

This is showing in the text too which bowls along at great speed with a dictated quality - split infinitives included.

The Westland saga and his comments on Liverpool are the exception not the rule.

To his credit, there's a lot of chartering planes, buying Jaguars and roaring about, doing things with tracing paper (must have a huge carbon footprint) and then retiring to his mansion; though if you've got a private income and friends that will give you hotels to manage it is inevitable.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Wanted to like it! 26 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Read this book on a journey from Edinburgh to Holyhead, it was hard going! Heseltine did lead a interesting life its a shame the same can not be said for this book.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A factual, informative and enjoyable book 28 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Having just read this book, I can say that it is one of the most descriptive of autobiographies that I have ever read. It gives an in-depth insight in to the various departments Michael Heseltine was in charge of starting in the Heath government (1970-74) then in opposition (1974-79) and again in government (1979-97).
It is a must read to find out what really happened in the 1980's and 90's as well as in his business and family life, information that you never knew about his life and that has never been public knowledge from not just a charismatic politician but also a truly world class statesman who was at the centre stage of political power for more than 30 years.
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