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This Boy

This Boy [Kindle Edition]

Alan Johnson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (404 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Product Description


"the best memoir by a politician you will ever read" (Philip Collins The Times)

"a poignant memoir.Johnson writes wonderfully" (Mary Kenny Telegraph)

"deeply moving and unforgettable" (Lynn Barber Sunday Times)

"a handsome and eloquent tribute" (Peter Wilby Guardian)

"beautifully, beautifully written... his style is utterly simple, with a wit so understated that every reader will believe that he or she alone got it" (John Rentoul Independent on Sunday)

"Neither mawkish nor sentimental, it is an evocative, filmic account on an early childhood... would make a fabulous drama that, for all its squalor, lifts the spirits" (Judith Woods Daily Telegraph)

"a testament to the power of family love and a tribute to two strong women" (Ian Birrell Daily Mail)

"Wonderful and moving... unreadable with a dry eye" (The Times)

"the biography of a politician like no other - beautifully observed, humorous, moving, uplifting; told with a dry self-deprecating wit and not a trace of self-pity" (Chris Mullin Observer)

"No ordinary politician's memoir ... wonderful." (John Grimond The Spectator)

Book Description

The extraordinary 1950s London childhood of one of Britain's best-loved politicians

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2661 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (9 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (404 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #535 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An admirable and moving memoir 19 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
While I must admit personally to having blown hot and cold so far as the Blair and Brown governments were concerned I always regarded Alan Johnson as one of the few members of those governments who combined integrity, honesty and a deep-rooted sense of fairness with the character of an authentically nice bloke. My liking and respect for the man is enhanced by this book, not least because, although it's his own autobiograpy, in fact it's not about him per se.

And when did you last read a political autobiography that was not an ego-trip by the author?

Rather Alan Johnson's book is mainly about two remarkable women - his mother, Lily and his sister Linda - struggling for their own survival, and that of the young Alan, in dreadful slum conditions, with a husband and father, Steve - who was a total waste of space in every respect - during the period between the end of World War Two and the beginning of the Swinging Sixties. (And the book is a powerful reminder to those of us who remember those times of how bloody horrible in some many ways the "good old days" of the 50s really were; violent racism, unbridled sexism and homophobia, casual violence, grinding poverty, Arctic winters....)

Lily's life is an eternal struggle, made even more unbearable when Steve abandons her and the two children. Wastrel he may have been but his leaving is still like a bereavement. Yet she copes, robbing Peter to pay Paul, always doing her very best for Linda and Alan. Then Lily dies, at only 42 and Linda takes over, defying officialdom though only in her teens so that she and her young brother can stay together.

The story sounds tragic. While it's certainy sad, it escapes tragedy due to Alan Johnson's refusal to write it as a "dreadful childhood" memoir.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Boy 22 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wonderful book, well written with complete humility. What a remarkable upbringing Johnson had. To come through it all and make such a success of his life is testament, not only to his own perseverance, but also the love and tenacious spirit of his mother and sister. I fully recommended this book.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't out this down! 17 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Thoroughly compelling, this story is a fantastic bit of social history in its own right. Post war, slums, the position of women, the arrival of commonwealth migrant workers but it also details the early life of a remarkable politician so very different to the leading political figures who all seem to be cloned from the same Oxbridge college.
Alan Johnson comes across as witty, charming, authentic and self-deprecating, but the real heroes of the story are his sister and mother who never gave up hope fighting against what must have seemed like impossible odds.
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87 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply moving and absorbing memoir 10 May 2013
By Suelea
I haven't been able to put this down since starting it. To the current generation,Alan Johnson's account may seem one of unbelievable deprivation growing up in now trendy Notting Hill, in what was then a crumbling slum. Yet those of us Baby Boomers can still recall the reality of the pre-benefit,pre-central heating,pre-health and safety era and this is undoubtedly part of the book's charm. Every page resonates with shared experience- the world we grew up in the fifties is indeed another country.
But that is not all this work conveys- a testament to the devotion of his mother Lily who raised two children and formed their characters admirably despite grinding poverty,failing health and a feckless,violent husband,and also to the strength and feisty determination of his sister Linda to keep the family together.
Written in an unsentimental and highly readable style,this memoir is the best autobiography I have read in very long time. Enjoy!
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deprived london childhood 15 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have always admired Alan Johnson as a politician and you can see through reading this account of his childhood why he went on to be a committed socialist. I would recommend this book to anyone of any political persuasion. There is always an upbeat optimism even in the face of extreme poverty and squalor. I couldn't put this down and hope there are further episodes to come.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this boy 10 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
An excellent book.
Written in a matter of fact and modest way but very moving.A rare working class account written from the inside and telling a story of strength and love.This is not a directly political memoir but it does give a voice to those neglected by their so called betters.I hope a sequel follows. Glyn Roberts
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I rarely give 5 stars for anything because that implies the read or listen is perfect - well, in this case that's pretty much the case. Beautifully and honestly written account of life in London in the 50's/60's where Alan's sister Linda is the true hero A classic example of how someone can lift themselves from the depths of poverty to levels that must have seemed unachievable. Alan Johnson writes with a simple sincerity that is endearing and heart breaking - the account of his relationship with his mother strikes close to home and in parts is heartbreaking. Anyone with a passing interest in social history should read this - just a shame Alan never made it to Prime Minister. He would have been great.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By brian
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Alan Johnson had a tougher life before he was 18 than most people can experience in a lifetime. His sister was quite unbelievable in the sacrifices she was prepared to make. She also should wrote her story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars So good, I'm hoping for a sequel.
Thoroughly enjoyed this biography by Alan Johnson, who despite a desperately poor childhood, managed to always be cheerful. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Gill-EJ
4.0 out of 5 stars The good humour and candour with which he tells
Not the most talented author possibly, but this really entertaining autobiography gives a real insight into what made Alan Johnson the man he is. Read more
Published 1 day ago by clemi
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
exc ellent read I emailed author telling him so
Published 1 day ago by john hoad
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent delivery, excellent book, thank you
Published 1 day ago by Babalina
5.0 out of 5 stars The Boy
am only half way through, but finding it very gripping. Those 2 women, his Mother and his Sister, are such strong characters. Read more
Published 1 day ago by R. Maxwell
5.0 out of 5 stars A real lesson from history
Disease, poverty, death and degradation. It should be a preliminary for all politicians, before they're allowed to take any decisions that affect people. Read more
Published 1 day ago by L. Rushton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent literary writing, we have this as the choice for our next book club read.
Published 2 days ago by penrhynian
4.0 out of 5 stars Non political politicians memoir
I found this, the story of Alan Johnson's early life, a moving and encouraging recollection of a desperately poor upbringing. Read more
Published 3 days ago by thevanmann
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I enjoyed every minute of this, it is sad, funny and uplifting. I will definitely read the next part. I am a similar age to Alan and it took me back to my childhood. Read more
Published 4 days ago by JUDITH SCHROEDER
5.0 out of 5 stars its a cant put down book!
I absolutely loved this book three days from start to finish well written and looking forward to reading more books by Alan Johnson can highly recommend I read it by kindle last... Read more
Published 4 days ago by ann wilkinson
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