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The Rivals: The Intimate Story of a Political Marriage Paperback – 5 Jun 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; New Ed edition (5 Jun. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841154741
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841154749
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 857,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

As James Naughtie reminds us in The Rivals, it's seven years since the fabled Islington dinner at which Tony Blair and Gordon Brown decided who was to succeed the late John Smith as Labour leader, and while it's a political union that has profitably endured, there are many, such as Naughtie, happy to ponder any marital itch. Though unauthorised, Naughtie, a presenter of Radio 4's flagship Today programme, has known both men for many years, and neatly summarises how the two young guns forged an early relationship years before power came to Labour. Familiar hotspots of the last government are entertainingly described, if lacking new revelation: the Brown/Cook feuds, Blair's near-adultery with the Liberal Democrats, Geoffrey Robinson's home loan to Peter Mandelson, his subsequent resignation, the Ecclestone affair, Blair's relationship with Clinton, Kosovo and, of course, the question of succession. Naughtie asserts that Blair has two goals: to win a referendum on the European single currency, and to secure a third term--as Prime Minister. Whether this will push Brown into a career outside politics is open to speculation, as his supporters are still of the opinion that Blair strongly intimated that he would hand over power mid-second-term.

Of the duopoly, Naughtie ultimately does rather better with Brown, as the Chancellor presents the tangible qualities of a durable political heavyweight bruiser, whereas getting a handle on Blair can be tantamount to swiping mist. Blair, with his mongrel ideology, charismatic deputies and ability to shrug and move on, sees new horizons where Brown sees yet another bend in a road leading from a very proud, rooted past. The Iron Chancellor is portrayed as a deep, committed thinker, doggedly stubborn and as wedded to the past as the future. Hardly Flash Gordon, he's been digesting that Granita meal for years.

Servants of the People, Andrew Rawnsley's more jaunty, hugely enjoyable volume, now out in an updated paperback edition, perhaps stole Naughtie's thunder somewhat, but The Rivals still delivers a cogent and enjoyable version on the political karaoke, whether you're a Blair Witch or a Brown Noser. And it certainly keeps matters bubbling until Alastair Campbell writes his book. --David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘Naughtie has written, with fine, elegant cadences, native wit and golden insights, a double biography of this Government which tells us a lot and which will last longer, I suspect, than the marriage at its heart.’ Andrew Marr, Daily Telegraph

‘Beautifully written…Naughtie has come as close as anyone to an accurate reading, of what, precisely, happened in the 1994 leadership contest.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Engaging…illuminating.’ Paul Routledge, Spectator

‘The most digestible political book of recent times. The narrative races along, the anecdotes illuminate the drama and the urgent prose style creates the “I was there” impression that always adds excitement to adventure stories.’ Roy Hattersley, Guardian

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a pre-eminent Scottish journalist and presenter of the Today programme, Naughtie has probably had more access to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor than is permitted to most by the media conscious New Labour machine. His assessment of both politicians underlines the author's and the principal characters' Scottish roots. He underlines the essential differences in the forces that shaped them - conservative, middle class background of Blair- Fettes College in Edinburgh was chosen for his secondary education because his wealthy father could afford what was considered by some to be the best school in the country. Brown's caring, Parish minister father made the only possible choice in the community where he worked - the local comprehensive, Kirkcaldy High.
That dichotomy is apparent, Naughtie argues, throughout their political development.
Little new is revealed about the supposed pact on the death of John Smith; indeed the raison d'etre of the work is its absence and the guardedness of each in exercising the paramaters of their office in both theri political and personal exchanges. Fascinating reading for political groupies wanting to learn more of Britain's most powerful politician and his relationship with the Prime Minister.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "rachellmccann" on 13 Jan. 2002
Format: Hardcover
whether you're a student of political history like me or just someone who is interested in our government this book is a must. Blair and Brown have one of the closest political relationships ever seen - or so it seems. This book shows how they work as a partnership and how two men so different can be so close. an absolutely fascinating read......BUY IT
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By on 31 Mar. 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book gives an indepth account of the way the two leaders grew up and rode to power. Their two ideologies intertwine and were the basis for the new beliefs of the Laour Party. This book provides the ader with informatin about thetark differneces between the twwo politicians and the conflicts tehy have encountered during their friendship. This book gets behind theublic unified image and exposes teh gripes and differences these two men have. A must read for any ardent political observant.
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