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The Third Man [Hardcover]

Peter Mandelson
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 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: 15.2 x 4.3 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


`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

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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At the time of publication, so soon after the fall of the Brown dynasty, I vowed never never to buy these memoirs. My suspicions of vulgar money making haste - a view formed after many years of watching the undulations in P Mandelson's character and career - have not changed since reading it. I only bought it when suddenly finding myself short of holiday reading in a departure lounge at Gatwick airport. But if you can set aside that prejudice I am sure you'll find, as I did, that this is a hugely informative record; a very readable, gripping even, account. It confirmed for me that P Mandelson is very insecure and tireless in his energies to get the public to view him as he sees himself. Only most people don't (and he knows it!), and won't, especially after reading his book. In no way does he show himself the "shoulder to shoulder" equal of Brown and Blair in the triumvirate that he describes. He is the talented, albeit slippery, operator that enjoys the company of powerful men whose leadership skills he is unable to imitate. Rather, he was the runner, the facilitator, the man tasked to do things - a role he apparently did rather well. Perhaps more important is what the memoirs also reveal about the behaviour of that other triumvirate - Brown, E Milliband and Balls. Clearly joined at the hip they were in pursuing the destructive underhand agenda to attack Blair and Blairites. The actions and behaviours revealed are not what most people want or expect to see by politicians elected to govern. A democracy and the electorate should have no place for politicians of that ilk who see nothing wrong in that sort of behaviour. Worth reading this comprehensive record in governance for that lesson alone - before deciding how the characters still on stage should count in any future General Election!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
As stated
Published 2 days ago by Lynne Simmons
5.0 out of 5 stars revealing and thought-provoking read
Love him or hate him, Mandelson writes eruditely and passionately about the Party he clearly adores. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Mr J B-M
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 3 months 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 4 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 5 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 7 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 15 months ago by CityBoy
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