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The Burden of Power: Countdown to Iraq - The Alastair Campbell Diaries: 4 [Hardcover]

Alastair Campbell
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

21 Jun 2012 Alastair Campbell Diaries

The Burden of Power is the fourth volume of Alastair Campbell's diaries, and perhaps the most eagerly awaited given the ground it covers.

It begins on September 11, 2001, a day which immediately wrote itself into the history books, and it ends on the day Campbell leaves Downing Street. In between there are two wars: first Afghanistan, and then, even more controversially, Iraq. It was the most difficult decision of Tony Blair's premiership, and almost certainly the most unpopular. Campbell describes in detail the discussions with President Bush and other world leaders as the steps to war are taken, and delivers a unique account of Blair as war leader. He records the enormous political difficulties at home, and the sense of crisis that engulfed the government after the suicide of weapons inspector David Kelly. And all the while, Blair continues to struggle with two issues that ran throughout his time in government - fighting for peace in Northern Ireland, and trying to make peace with Gordon Brown. And Campbell continues to struggle balancing the needs of his family with one of the most pressurised roles in politics.

Riveting and revelatory, The Burden of Power is as raw and intimate a portrayal of political life as you are ever likely to read.

Frequently Bought Together

The Burden of Power: Countdown to Iraq - The Alastair Campbell Diaries: 4 + Diaries Volume Three: Power and Responsibility: 3 (Alastair Campbell Diaries) + Diaries Volume Two: Power and the People: 2 (Campbell Diaries Vol 2)
Price For All Three: 65.38

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson (21 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091796288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091796280
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 239,625 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.

Product Description


"If I can use the word in its strictest form, these diaries are unique. They are a contemporary record of the intimate decisions of historic figures as set down by one who was a shrewd and straightforward chronicler of what he saw around him. They don't give a complete picture, how could they? Campbell was one important cog in the Blair machine, but there were others concentrating more on policy than on the media and the short-term crises that the media fed on. But authenticity adheres to these pages like oil on an engineer's rag. They haven't been prettified, intellectualised or gathered second hand. This is the real thing." (David Aaronovitch, The Times)

"Memoirs and the rest are written through the self-justifying lens of hindsight. Campbell's contemporaneous jottings take the reader behind the grand sweep to capture the texture and grit of events as they were lived during the most tumultuous years of Blair's premiership." (Phillip Stephens, Financial Times)

"The final months leading to the Hutton inquiry into the circumstances leading to the death of David Kelly are riveting. Campbell himself comes across as a flawed genius, more spinned against than spinning. He is a man of excellent strategic and tactical judgement (it is easy to see why Blair became so dependent on him), brutally honest, occasionally self-indulgent and jealous of his undoubted integrity." (Chris Mullin, Guardian)

"As a first draft of history, albeit a highly partial one, this account is hard to beat. Campbell packs in all the events and the colourful cast of characters, enhanced often by caustic one-liners ... Campbell's evident personality flaws, coupled with his political passions, made him a far more intriguing character than most around him. They have equally ensured that his diaries will be required reading for the New Labour era." (John Kampfner, Observer)

"As happens with many long-running series, the latest instalment is the author's darkest work yet ... As ever, the immediacy of Campbell's account is engrossing. It is yet again a reminder of the salutary fact of history: that its actors do not know what is coming next." (John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

The final and most controversial volume of Alastair Campbell's complete diaries: the countdown to Iraq

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By markr TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is the most fascinating of the 4 volumes of the Alastair Campbell diaries. Opening on 11 September 2011, and concluding with Campbell's last day as Tony Blair's director of strategy and communications in 2003, this covers the build up and launch of the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the dossiers on Iraq, the Hutton enquiry, and communicates clearly the pressures and stresses of life at the heart of government.

This volume is open and fascinating about Blair's relationship with George Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as the British perspective of the time on a variety of world leaders; Putin, Chirac, Schroeder, and many others. it is also candid about Campbell's view of Gordon Brown, and the damage that was done as a result of the very dysfunctional relationships between some ministers.

For all those interested in politics, whatever their political persuasion, this should make fascinating reading - as well as being a dramatic inside look at the events of 2 of the most turbulent years in our recent times.

Highly recommended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It's something of a comprehensive volume, dealing with some of the most controversial times in recent politics. At first glance this could be a very dry stale diary collection but with a personal account life is injected into the minutiae of government life.
Campbell doesn't dodge the issues he experienced, how he was affected and at times more heartbreakingly the effect the media circus affected his family. My sympathies to his partner and kids who have put up with a lot.
It's obviously not an unbiased account (it's a personal diary) but whatever you may think of Campbell's political views he comes across as a genuine chap, who at times has spun an awful lot of plates at once.
You will be as frustrated as the author when it comes to the constant relaying, ferrying and reporting of who said what to whom, but it is a great read and an insightful commentary by someone who was there.
I don't agree with everything that happened in government during those years but I did enjoy this account of it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not a job for the feint hearted. 4 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Makes you wonder how/why the physical/mental/emotional body can keep this pace up. Tremendously well compiled inside story of the view from both sides of the fence. Two very determined men not to be tangled with lightly.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Misleading picture & description of item. 29 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book itself is in very good condition - as described, however I was very disappointed to find that the dustcover was missing. This should have been mentioned in the description as it would have influenced most people's decision to purchase (me included).
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5.0 out of 5 stars A political revelation 19 Oct 2013
By gfkw
Format:Kindle Edition
Alastair obviously has his own view of things, but without question this is tthe most honest straightforward and illuminating account of a fascinating period of history. An e
xtraordinary man.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed it 23 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved this but in saying this I do have a real love of all things British politics so I would say a good book but better if politics is your thing
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