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The New Machiavelli: How to Wield Power in the Modern World Paperback – 28 Jul 2011

3.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (28 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099546094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099546092
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 210,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Intriguing and engaging book... sets up fascinating parallels that prove there is really nothing new in politics" (Financial Times)

"A gloriously indiscreet political memoir... From a unique vantage point he gives brilliantly observed and witty accounts of the vanity of modern European princes... The merit of Powell's memoir is precisely that it lacks the intrusive ego of the big politician" (Dominic Lawson Sunday Times)

"It's a quirky, thoughtful take on the impact of The Prince on modern politics" (Anne McElvoy New Statesman, Books of the Year)

"Anyone who wants an insider's account of what makes politicians tick should read this book" (Peter Mandelson Guardian, Books of the Year)

"It tells us a great deal about the era that has just passed" (Chris Mullin Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year)

Book Description

From a former close adviser to Tony Blair, a devastating, frank and insightful analysis of how power is wielded in the modern world

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a good read, and for those interested in the Blair years, one of the best books from the pro-Blair camp. Powell was the ultimate insider, always at Blair's side. He is searing in his judgement on Gordon Brown, and backs this up with chapter and verse on exactly how Brown was so toxic. I read this soon after reading DC Confidental, Sir Christopher Meyer's book, and it covers much of the same ground (9/11, Iraq etc.). Both are worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover
Powell Jonathan, The New Machiavelli: How to wield power in the modern world (London, The Bodley Head, 2010)

This is an interesting book, built around Machiavelli; although in the early part Machiavelli seems to get in the way of the story about the Blair days in power. Indeed, it sounds more like the butler's view of what goes on inside No 10 than a text book on `how to wield power'. The picture however, is entertaining, the garden girls, `switch', the comings and goings of ministers and foreign dignitaries.
The flashes of insight also are fascinating, such as the importance of Blair's Chicago speech of 1999, the role of the PM in the European parliament or the need for Europe to be dealt with by a minister in the cabinet office rather than the FCO and the excellent and illuminating assessment on how to be a bridge between the US and Europe.
The curious use of `we' however, puzzled this reader at first. `We won' might be assumed to refer to Labour, but then `we appointed' or we moved out of Downing St makes it clear that it is a royal we of (the unelected) Powell and the PM.
Some of the best chapters however, are the appraisal of `inquiries', or the muddle over Europe, although one misses a candid analysis of the dominating oppressive presence of the Blair wars. Perhaps the subtext should be `how I hate Gordon Brown' as the latter seems to stray onto most pages in a threatening way.
At the end of the book, one is left with a sense of hiatus - the remarkable (unique?)ten year partnership of PM & chancellor and the reasons behind Blair's loyalty to Brown, are never really addressed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a surprising page turner - couldn't put it down.
Fascinating how apropos Macheiveli's observations were regarding the wielding of power, but how Powell, after making such interesting comparisons indicating that flakey Blair and the pathetic nightmare that was Brown, ignored most of Machiaveli's advise, that he still considers Blair will go down in history as one of the best Prime Ministers of all time made me laugh out loud.
That the chaos, incompetence, the downright melicious and mendatious game playing that went on behind the scenes of New Labour, was allowed to carry on for such a long time, thus bringing the general publics attitudue to politics and politicians into the gutter, is truly shocking.
An excellent read but a shaming lesson on how not to behave.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read Great Hatred Little Room I looked forward to reading this book. I was greatly disappointed. The references to Machiavelli are a cover for a selective memoir whose aim seems to be to backstab Gordon Brown, eulogise Tony Blair and settle old scores. He is highly selective and offers no evidence for what is really prejudice an example being "General Dannatt was not up to his job" an assertion made without any facts. In fact most commentators think Dannatt did an excellent job as head of the Army he just didn't agree with the lousy strategic judgements Blair made. He makes startling assertions such as the Coalition Government being a continuation of Blair's policies on schools etc - it could be equally be argued that the later Blair governments merely resurrected Major's policies on schools (city technology colleges as a predecessor of academies) and the internal market in Health. For me the central flaw of the of the book was best exemplified in the last paragraph when he argues that Blair will be seen by history as one of the best Prime Ministers of the last 400 years. After the massive misjudgements and lies surrounding Iraq, the corruption of cash for honours, the personal sleaze of the celebrity holidays etc that claim is simply laughable as sadly is so much of this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For almost a century after Walter Bagehot's The English Constitution The English Constitution (Oxford World's Classics) scholars of the constitution relied heavily on anecdotes and heavy tomes of jurists Cabinet Government to examine the evolution of decision-making by cabinet government under collective responsibility, until Richard Crossman decided, beyond the grave, to throw a spanner into the works, with his eye-opening details in his ministerial diaries of the day-to-day management of governments throughout the Wilson administration The Crossman Diaries: Selections from the Diaries of a Cabinet Minister 1964-1970. The "myth" of cabinet government was further crucified by Thatcher and Blair who it was claimed attempted authoritarian "prime ministerialism" and US style "presidentialism" by "sofa government".

Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's Chief of Staff between 1994-2007, depicts an insider analysis of the Blair government using the ideas of the scheming double-dealing backroom Renaissance philosopher Nicolò Macchiavelli, and tries to rehabilitate the work, legacy and the reputation of his New Labour political chief.
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