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The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries Paperback – 1 May 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; First Thus edition (1 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099514753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099514756
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 4.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alastair Campbell was born in Keighley, Yorkshire in 1957, the son of a vet. Having graduated from Cambridge University in modern languages, he went into journalism, principally with the Mirror Group. When Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party, Campbell worked for him first as press secretary, then as official spokesman and director of communications and strategy from 1994 to 2003. He continued to act as an advisor to Mr Blair and the Labour Party, including during the 2005 election campaign. Since then, he has been engaged mainly in writing, public speaking and working for Leukaemia Research, where he is chairman of fundraising.

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Review

"This is a gripping, compelling and genuinely revelatory read" (Rod Liddle, Sunday Times)

"A brilliant, absorbing account ... will be gasped at, and relied upon, for decades to come. Buy them: they will suck you in." (Matthew Parris, The Times)

"This compelling read is full of revelations, humour and honesty and gives a revealing insight into the man behind the political figure" (Sun)

"Vivid, humorous and revelatory ... There is enough in these diaries to convince me they will become one of the classic records of our time." (Steve Richards, Independent)

Book Description

The Blair Years is the most compelling and revealing account of contemporary politics you will ever read. Taken from Alastair Campbell's daily diaries, it charts the rise of New Labour and the tumultuous years of Tony Blair's leadership, providing the first important record of a remarkable decade in our national life.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Brian R. Martin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alastair Campbell spent the period 1994-2003 as the chief `spin-doctor' of Tony Blair, with job of putting him, and later the New Labour government, in the best possible light. This volume contains edited extracts from the diaries he kept during the period. Like all political documents written specifically for future publication they should be approached critically, so it is useful to know where Campbell stands at present. Helpfully he lists in the Introduction what he believes are the achievements during this period. Some are substantial and undeniable, such as peace in Northern Ireland and the intervention in the Balkans. Others are much more controversial, such as a `reformed educational system' and an `improved health service'. About Iraq, which, rightly or wrongly, will be remembered as the Blair `legacy', he simply says that he hopes the book will add to the discussion that `will run for years, if not decades'.

The diaries themselves are fascinating and give a unique insight to the frenetic world of politics at the highest level, with its endless round of meetings and conferences, and crises, great and small, demanding solutions. The brief sketches of the personalities involved, both national and international, and their interactions, are some of the most interesting parts of the diaries. We learn of the extraordinary way Blair used his closest advisors to deliberately work himself up into a kind of panic before delivering important speeches, and how the endless friction between Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson frequently poisoned the atmosphere. Above all there is the obsession with the media and the image of New Labour.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. T. Rogers on 28 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback
In a true personal diary, the author tells us what he is thinking and feeling in relation to the events around him; he shares intimately his own life, plans, hopes, dreams and activities. The published diaries of that other AC of politics, Alan Clark, represent perhaps the closest contemporary example of diaries written and published for that truer purpose, sparing little in their vivid account of Clark and some of his colleagues.

'The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries' consists of choice entries from Alastair Campbell's (then-unpublished) full diaries. To be fair, these Extracts do have some of the 'Clark' quality, though unfortunately I did come away dissatisfied. Campbell does not open up to us here. Perhaps the explanation for his caution can be surmised from a passage in the excellent introduction. Campbell explains how he was ordered by the Hutton Inquiry of 2003 to hand-over such of his diaries as might be relevant to "the events being examined" by Lord Hutton. Campbell sat down with the eminent QC, Jonathan Sumption - who is also a medieval historian - and went through the relevant periods from the diary "line by line", a process that was "draining, emotional" and which "on one occasion reduced me [Campbell] to tears." Campbell certainly gave of his all to Blair and to "New" Labour, but he was doing the Devil's work.

These diaries are really an account of a media professional who caused considerable damage to our democracy and civic culture. There is something ineluctably banal about Alistair Campbell, and the "New" Labour Opposition, then Government, that he represented for all those years, and I think that truth is conveyed in these Extracts. It is quite disturbing to read Campbell's clinical reaction to sad, tragic or desperate events.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A reader on 24 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
It is probably inevitable that Alastair Campbell, as a New Labour supporter, would be reluctant to rock the boat while there was still a chance that the party could retain power at the next election. However, a book about the Blair years that barely touches on the relationship between Blair and Brown, and especially the oft-reported animosity between them, cannot be said to offer a balanced view.

This book was sold as an excerpt from the diaries, so perhaps the next volume, which will presumably be published either after the Tories have defeated New Labour, or after Gordon Brown has done so much damage to the party that nothing Campbell said could make things worse, will be more illuminating.

That being said, this volume provides an insight into Tony Blair's premiership, and his relationship with others in his cabinet, and with other world leaders.

As a journalist, Alastair Campbell knows how to write well, and to hold the reader's interest. I look forward to his next volume, because it might explain why the office of Prime Minister was apparently handed on a plate to somebody who proved to be incapable of handling it. Were there no signs during the previous ten years that Brown has reached the limit of his abilities, and was not fitted for the highest office? I think we should be told - and I hope that Alastair Campbell will oblige!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Parkus on 4 May 2011
Format: Audio CD
After doing a Marketing degree I really admired Alistair Campbell and his work for Labour - despite the morals and some decisions of TB. Listening to him recall his time working for Blair was really interesting. I know all diaries contain some 'pinch of salt' moments, this was absolutely fascinating.
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