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The Third Man Hardcover – 15 Jul 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; First Edition, First Impression edition (15 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007395280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007395286
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.3 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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`A compelling account of the New Labour years...nearly every page is illuminating.' --Steve Richards, Independent

`He has written a good book...informative, clear and containing refreshing doses of self-knowledge, occasional regret and thoughtfulness.' --Andrew Marr, Financial Times

`A revealing and important book by a more winning individual than I had expected to encounter.' --Matthew Parris, Spectator

`The Third Man contains enough gossip, intrigue and scandal to keep the cognoscenti titillated...there are valuable nuggets scattered throughout.' --Peter Hain, New Statesman

`An utterly absorbing read, a rich and satisfying page-turner ...this is a vital book, and a pleasure to read.'
--John McTernan, Scotsman

`A very good book...fluently written and substantial, this is a serious book by a serious man.' --Matthew d'Ancona, Sunday Telegraph

`Mandelson has added heavily to the sum total of political knowledge...The Third Man is well-written, pacier in parts than others, particularly those where the author deals with the psychodrama of which he was an integral part...a significant contribution to our understanding of the Labour years.'
--Philip Webster, The Times

'Peter Mandelson's authentic voice lights up every mischievous sentence of a truthful and witty account.' --New Statesmen

'The fascinating part is his return to help save Gordon Brown's leadership.'

'A trenchant articulation of what New Labour was....if you want to understand what happened to Labour and why the Conservatives became irrelevant for a decade, this is a must-read.' --Evening Standard Books of the Year

'Riveting...they could have been written by Jackie Collins.'
--Daily Mail (Books of the Year)

About the Author

At the age of thirty-two Peter Mandelson became Labour’s Director of Campaigns and Communications, and was elected as MP for Hartlepool in 1992, serving in government as Minister without Portfolio, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Lord President of the Council. He remains in Parliament as a member of the House of Lords.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Feb. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Unlike the political memoirs that promise to tell all this book tells only what its author means it too, and thank goodness for it is already a long book for such a tale. Lord Mandelson is a Marmite man, and many (including many of my fellow reviewers) really dislike him. I have less of an opinion on the man than they. I find him witty but with that element of control that hints at more interesting views. But most of us will be unable to judge the balance of his story of the New Labour years and his part in them. It is a tale of three chums each with a weakness, a bargain that pleased none and the perpetual bickering and failure that followed from it. If it wasn't recounted in such detail it would be a good sketch for a Shakespearean play ("Three Unwise Gentlemen of Westminster", perhaps). But of course personal tragedy, with its interest in the many details of slights and reconciliations has to be recounted in detail if it is to be cathartic. Whether or not this is a true account I think it will overstay its welcome with all but the real political fan or election enthusiasts like me. However, I did enjoy it.
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148 of 168 people found the following review helpful By Red on Black TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 July 2010
Format: Hardcover
William Hague once joked in the House of Commons that the only title that Lord Mandelson lacked under the Brown Government was that of Archbishop. Perhaps the only reason for this is that Mandelson's "Jesuit like fervour" thus far has been generally been lavished on politics, although nothing should be ruled out. Love him or hate him Peter Mandelson is the consummate politician and media showman. Watching interviews by him in support of the book he is still playing down the level of visceral hatred that consumed the New Labour Project but for every one page of analysis in "The Third Man" there are at least another twenty which highlight the cronic dysfunction and the bitter tribalist soap opera that consumed British Government since 1997. Reading this book you sense clearly that Mandelson was at his "best" as the spinmiester starting work for Neil Kinnock, then as one of the architects of New Labour. He was of course at that time the man with the terrible moustache, not yet outed by Matthew Parris but the with a fearsome reputation building as a late 20th Century Machiavelli as he intimidated the media and other politicians but combined this with a sinister charm and waspish wit. His ability to think on his feet is clearly second to none, but it comes no where near to his plotting skills and you forget how closely he came in 2008 to destroying George Osborne in the Oleg Deripaska affair.

Of the two great protagonists in the "Third Man" allegedly Tony Blair is happy with Mandelson's portrayal. Yet it is far from sympathetic, indeed Blair is portrayed as a man bent on action but someone who was fundamentally weak when it came to dealing with Brown and his supporters.
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43 of 50 people found the following review helpful By R. Orriel on 20 Aug. 2010
Format: Audio CD
I decided that I wanted to read an account of the New Labour years following the recent change in Government. After some debate, I decided to go for this book over the various other main contenders for a few reasons. Firstly, I didn't have the patience to wait for Blairs, secondly, I simply couldn't believe I would get any sort of frank account from one of the Alistair Campbell ones. Finally, I just had a gut feeling that this would be particularly honest and open in terms of the Blair/Brown relationship as I didn't see what motive Mr Mandelson would have for holding back, something not the case with the other authors I mentioned.
What a good decision this turned out to be. The account is very open, astonishingly so in places, and makes for an entertaining read, or should I say listen, as I actually had the audio CD version, which was if anything enhanced by Mandelson doing the reading.
As with any book, people need to read this and make up their own mind, but what really struck me about this was the sense that New Labour really never achieved what it promised due to the relationship between Blair/Brown, and I did sense genuine regret from Mandelson on this. Tony Blair actually comes across pretty well, but Gordon Brown comes across very poorly (if we are to believe this account and many others that support it). Mandelson provides strong evidence that for the first few years of power Mr Brown convinced himself he had been cheated out of the top job, which led to constant attempts to outmaneuver and undermine Blair, to the extent that it really did affect the success of New Labour.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How you hear things in politics depends where you stand. Mandy heard things from "the heart of New Labour" not as a dispassionate third man but as a fully committed protagonist. In the ceaseless jockeying for power between Blair and Brown he sides with Tony and paints Gordon as curmudgeonly, unco-operative and clever. Yet as PM Gordon needed Mandy's help and brought him back to prominence for an unprecedented third time, which only goes to show Mandelson's skill as a slippery smooth manipulator who played characters and events to his own advantage - that is, he would say, to the advantage of his country and his beloved New Labour. No wonder Bush called him "Silver Tongue".
This is a gripping tale from the days of making Labour again electable after the misuse of Union power and the countrywide Thatcherite drift to the Right up to the nail-biting horse-trading of the coalition a few months ago. It gets down to the specifics of wielding power from the viewpoint of Mandy's monstrous ego, yet with brief acknowledgements that he is merely mortal, though more mortal than most. I liked the passages on his childhood after being "born into Labour" and I liked his affection for his Brussels posting.
It could have been written with more colour even though there are colourful characters on every page and the Blair/Brown contest gets a bit repetitive. But as a personalised diary of the minutae of important political events it stands out as a must read.
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