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The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency Hardcover – 17 Sep 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; 1st Edition edition (17 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405050012
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405050012
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 846,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'Absorbing... The portrait of Blair is deeply alarming' Kenneth O'Morgan, Independent 'Well worth reading. Naughtie has an admirably rounded prose style... some good stories and many illuminating quotes' Ian Gilmour, Guardian" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

James Naughtie is the former chief political correspondent of the Guardian and is currently a presenter on Radio 4's Today programme. He is the author of The Rivals: The Intimate Story of a Political Marriage and is married with three children.

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Ghostgrey51 TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
James Naughtie tackles the vexing question of the process by which the only substantial international friend of George W Bush and ally of his neoconservative government turned out to be the Prime Minster of a UK Labour Party government whose links with the previous and, The US' Right's bete noir, incumbent Bill Clinton had been workman-like and friendly.
Mr Naughtie carries this out in an informative, brisk and well-researched manner. Naturally the bulk of the work deals with the tragedy of the latest Iraq war, however the earlier chapters throw light upon fascinating aspects Mr Blair's character, which serve to explain how this unlikely pairing came about. We learn that Mr Blair often works by instinct, that his early political experiences of the ineptitude of British government action in the Balkan wars of John Major's era affected his views on when and how international political pressure should translate into military action and that his arguably successful marshalling of forces to intervene in Kosovo strengthened his conviction that his instincts served him best.
The narrative then moves smoothly to the time when 9/11 cast its shadow across the world stage and a confident and purposeful Tony Blair was quick to offer support to the untested President Bush; subsequent meetings confirmed a general shared view on terrorism and states that support them. From there Tony Blair effectively linked British international fortunes to those of the USA, and to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Aquilonian on 5 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is typical of mainstream political journalism in Britain, consisting of little more than gossip about the characters involved, with no in-depth analysis. Having listened to Radio 4 news throughout Blair's time in office, this book told me nothing that I didn't already know. It did not really ask the important questions, let alone answer them. Questions like why is Blair so grovellingly subservient to American power, irrespective of which President is in office? No previous PM has been anything like as subservient. Is it some deep flaw in his character, and if so what is that flaw exactly? Interviews with people who knew Blair before his political career might have shed light on this. Alternatively, did the American state have some sinister hold over him,dating from the earliest days of his political career? This rumour is reported by Norman Baker MP in his book "The Strange Death of David Kelly", but isn't mentioned here. Even if it cannot be investigated, the fact that such a rumour persists is significant in itself. As Baker says- if he WAS being blackmailed, its hard to imagine what MORE he could have done to slavishly support the American State.

Naughtie's book doesn't even look at WHY Blair got into politics- he wasn't political in University, and his University friends allegedly expressed surprise that having entered politics he chose the Labour Party rather than the Tories. Allegedly he replied that it would be easier to gain promotion in the Labour Party.

The deepest that Naughtie gets into Blair's motives is to repeat (without analysing) Blair's own assertion that his politics is guided by instinct rather than rational thinking. But this just isn't good enough. What does Blair mean by "instinct"?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Davies on 29 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover
The idea behind The Accidental American is a good one - explain the surprising relationship between Blair and Bush and the overwhelming effect that it had on Blair's second term in power. Unfortunately, the implementation left a lot to be desired. Naughtie writes in a very round and repetitive manner, repeating his points in lengthy pages of ambling events that makes it very tiresome to get through. Whilst there are some interesting points, like the depth of Blair's belief in what he was doing was absolutely the correct thing to do and his hesitance in asking Bush to support him when he needed it, they are few and far between.

For much of the chapters, the main point is buried underneath layers of history detailing the "special relationship" between the Prime Minister and the President that if it was removed and Naughtie presented the work as an essay, it would be much more concise and far more relevant. Regarding relevance, this book was published in 2004 and so much of what we know now about the consequences of the Iraq War and the legacy of the relationship between the two leaders is not present in the book, which makes it very limited. Naughtie alludes to what is coming - the Labour leadership contest, Blair's end and the depreciation of Labour seats in Parliament - but because it was written before any actually happened, there is no weight to it.

He presents a Prime Minister dead set on his course to war and who changed the parliamentary system to make himself seem more presidential and whose relationship with Bush seemed more significant to him than vice versa. Blair needed Bush; Bush didn't need Blair to quite the same extent.

Overall, whilst certainly interesting in parts, Naughtie's work is outdated and rambling.
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