The Last Diaries: In and Out of the Wilderness is the final self-revealing chronicle of Alan Clark's highly eventful life and times. The French are eternally amused by the insistence of English newspapers that our politicians' lives must be squeaky clean (after all, they reason, what's a mistress or two?). And certainly John Major's famously ill-advised "Back to Basics" campaign exploded in his face as minister after minister came crashing down in flames as a succession of sex scandals hit the headlines. But one politician always rode above such hyperventilating moral indignation--Alan Clark, whatever his faults (and he would be the first to admit they were legion), was never a hypocrite. When charged with a new indiscretion (such as his famous liaison with virtually the entire female side of a family) he would cheerfully admit it, and even those not sharing his High Tory sympathies would not hold it against him.
Such is the sheer vigour and perception on display here (not to mention the disarming candour--none of that famous "economy with the truth" in these unbuttoned pieces), that it's a considerable cause for regret that this is the last we will have from the late politician. In the great tradition of such diarists as Pepys, Clark delivers a fascinating picture of an era and his place in it. Just a few words of Clark on (for instance) Tony Benn displays Clark's from-the-hip observations: "His mind is so quick and versatile--but the loony prejudice just beneath the surface... the motivation that keeps him active." All those anodyne politicians' memoirs, which strove to be as unrevealing as possible, look even paler next to a document as forceful as this. Whether or not your name is in the index, this is absolutely fascinating reading from a flawed politician who nevertheless makes most of his colleagues--in and out of the Tory party--look uninspiring figures indeed. --Barry Forshaw
The serial ran in the TIMES from 5 October to 9 October and was excellent. They also ran a huge and very good interview with Jane Clark in the Weekend Section on 5 October. C4 NEWS did an excellent interview with Jane down at Saltwood which ran for 6 minutes on 9 October - a fantastic piece of publicity. Michael Portillo reviewed the book on FRONT ROW (BBC Radio 4) on 11 October, an interview with Nigel Farndale ran in the SUNDAY TELELGRAPH on 13 October and an interview with Alan's eldest son James ran in the DAILY MAIL on Monday 14 October. Jane did a brilliant interview on WOMAN'S HOUR (BBC Radio 4) on 15October and was interviewed for BREAKFAST WITH FROST(BBC 1) on Sunday 20 October. The agent also sold second serial to THE MIRROR which ran on 19 Octoberand then another extract ran in the SCOTSMAN too The diary stories have beenplentiful with ones in THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH, INDPENDENT ON SUNDAY, THE HERALDand EVENING STANDARD so far and the reviews will kick off this weekend. There was also a big piece in the GUARDIAN on 18 October on diaries, which mentioned THE LAST DIARIES and mentions by Simon Hoggart in his GUARIAN column, Bill Deedes in his TELELGRAPH colum and Nigel Farndale in his SUNDAY TELEGRAPH column Reviews have been excellent : 'This is simply the best book I have readsince - well, since the last Clark oeuvre.'Steven Norris, THE TIMES 'More than anything else, in the end THE LAST DIARIES is a love story. And like it's theme it will endure'Graham Stewart, THE SPECTATOR Alan Clark was not a good man, but he was a dazzling diarist. He writes self-pityingly: 'I suppose I will be remembered for the Diaries.' He will, and for this one most of all. A grand love story eclipses a political career.'Sarah Sands, THE DAILY TELELGRAPH Ion is doing the following radio interviews - BBC RADIO LEEDS, BBC RADIO KEN