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The Third Man [Hardcover]

Peter Mandelson
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 July 2010

The hotly anticipated memoir of one of New Labour’s three founding architects.

Peter Mandelson is one of the most influential politicians of modern times. The Third Man is his story – of a life played out in the backroom and then on the frontline of the Labour Party during its unprecedented three terms in government.

Much of the book is devoted to the defining political relationships of Peter Mandelson’s life – with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Charting what he terms the ‘soap-opera’ years of the Labour government, his book is certain to ruffle many feathers.

Forced to resign from Cabinet twice in three years, Peter Mandelson has cut a divisive figure through British politics but his time as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland gained him many supporters. He was a highly regarded European Commissioner before being brought back into British politics by Gordon Brown in 2008 to serve as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and as First Secretary.

Containing a mixture of autobiography, personal reflection and political history, The Third Man draws heavily on detailed diary notes that Peter Mandelson took during the events, discussions and meetings that shaped the government and the Labour Party over 25 years. He began writing the book while serving as European Commissioner, and has been completing it since leaving office in May.

Much has been written about Peter Mandelson as the person at the heart of the New Labour project but this is the first time we have heard the unvarnished truth from the man himself. The Third Man is set to become the most talked about political memoir of the year.

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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: 4.3 x 16.5 x 25.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 173,544 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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
147 of 167 people found the following review helpful
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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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A conservative review 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prince of Darkness 5 Feb 2012
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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40 of 50 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Confessions of a spin doctor 26 July 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After a brief Introduction, in which Mandelson blames a lot of his troubles on his loyalty to Brown and Blair, and lists the familiar claims of New Labour's achievements, there are background chapters on his early years as a member of a privileged left-wing family in North London. But the book takes off with his initiation into politics and the start of his controversial career as a highly successful backroom `fixer'. Right from the start, it is clear that Mandelson is out to stake his claim of parity with Brown and Blair in creating New Labour, defining its policies, and steering it to election victories. He emphasizes that that he `discovered' the duo and was the first to recognize their talents and potential for high office. The three of them became `brothers'. This didn't last long after New Labour gained power and we now know about the fierce and corrosive war that was waged between Blair and Brown, with Mandelson often in the latter's sights for his perceived `betrayal' in supporting Blair. This is discussed fully, but most of the details have already appeared in Andrew Rawnsley's recent book `The End of the Party'.

Given that the author was the supreme `spin doctor' of New Labour, a reader has to decide how much of this book to believe. Many details confirm what Rawnsley has reported, although Mandelson's version puts himself in the best light. However, there are places where he is disingenuous.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read!
A very good read that just makes you realise how flawed Gordon Brown was! The Tories could've been out of power for a generation, if, he hadn't been so stubborn!
Published 1 month ago by Mr Adrian M Gaskin
4.0 out of 5 stars Value for money
Value for money. Lots of information of interest to students of politics.
Published 2 months ago by James Gough
5.0 out of 5 stars Brlliant demonstration of British Politics
Fantastic book, I would also recommend watching the documentary also. It's brilliant . The documentary can be found on YouTube , just type in peter mandelson documentary.
Published 3 months ago by The rewiewer.
3.0 out of 5 stars Never liked the man....
liked him even less after reading this.
Informative and easy to read but what an unpleasant and self opinionated character you sound Mr Mandelson.
Published 5 months ago by Bannon
4.0 out of 5 stars The Inside story to number Ten
First class, really takes you into the heart of number ten and all the angst between the major players. Well written.
Published 6 months ago by Trisha Holden
4.0 out of 5 stars Machiavellian scheming at the heart of Westminster
Mandelson is never more dangerous than when he appears to be at his lowest ebb and this excellent book is a record of the triumph and decay of the New Labour ideal. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Desmond
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best accounts of the New Labour era
A terrific read, which is gripping from start to finish. Peter Mandleson writes an absorbing account of the New Labour era, with a particular focus on the many tribulations (and... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Tommo
3.0 out of 5 stars Love the attacks on Blair and Brown
I only bought this book because it was being sold cheaply and I suspected Mandelson would spill his bile about Gordon Brown and I wasn't disappointed.
Published 13 months ago by CityBoy
3.0 out of 5 stars 4 cheers for Peter
the least good book I have read of this particular time in politics. Peter-according to peter - is laways right about everything.... which gets a bit boring after a while
Published 14 months ago by nicki
4.0 out of 5 stars A must for anyone interested in politics and power struggles
A very insightful book into how New Labour got into power, it's protagonists and the challenges it faced during it's tenure. Read more
Published 15 months ago by R. Yadav
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