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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent campaigning primer
This is a great read - fascinating, enjoyable and informative in many ways. The book serves as an account of the lead-up to one of the most significant elections in British post-war history and as a primer on how to run a highly effective campaign. Alastair Campbell lays bare the competing tugs and the inevitable tensions that arise in the midst of any political...
Published on 12 July 2010 by Suburbman

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor - for unexpected reasons...
Look I pretty much despise this man and what he stands for and the impact he has had on politics. But if I only read books from people I admire then that's a very small shortlist.

So I expected to be enthralled, infuriated, my blood would boil, passions would rise..... and you know what? This is seriously dull. I mean really really really dull. I took this,...
Published on 1 Sept. 2010 by Herb791


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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor - for unexpected reasons..., 1 Sept. 2010
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This review is from: The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol. 1: Prelude to Power 1994-1997 (Hardcover)
Look I pretty much despise this man and what he stands for and the impact he has had on politics. But if I only read books from people I admire then that's a very small shortlist.

So I expected to be enthralled, infuriated, my blood would boil, passions would rise..... and you know what? This is seriously dull. I mean really really really dull. I took this, Rawnsley's and Mandelson's book on holiday with me (yes I'm that sad) and this was jaw droppingly sooze inducing. Rawnsleys books is terrific, Mandelsons's is self serving tabloid trash but eminently readable. Try them first. If you really get stuck read this - especially if you have insomnia and need an extremely effective cure.............
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent campaigning primer, 12 July 2010
By 
Suburbman (St Albans, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol. 1: Prelude to Power 1994-1997 (Hardcover)
This is a great read - fascinating, enjoyable and informative in many ways. The book serves as an account of the lead-up to one of the most significant elections in British post-war history and as a primer on how to run a highly effective campaign. Alastair Campbell lays bare the competing tugs and the inevitable tensions that arise in the midst of any political campaign and shows how a now-legendary communications operation delivered a landslide win for a Labour government. I'd recommend this book to anyone with an interest in modern politics and the science and the art of campaign communications. Personal political persuasion aside, anybody with a direct or indirect professional involvement with campaigning or communications in the public or the private sector will learn a great deal from this book. In my view it is as compelling an account of campaigning as Pennebaker's documentary, The War Room, the definitive record of Clinton's road to the White House, masterminded by Carville and Stephanopolous.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious Bickering, 20 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol. 1: Prelude to Power 1994-1997 (Hardcover)
I have an interest in political diaries and also an attachment to Labour, even New Labour. Nevertheless, I found this book tedious and disappointing. Other reviewers have also commented that it simply seems to be a day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of all the squabbles and bickerings of the characters at the heart of the New Labour "project". Apart from being a disappointment to any-one, like me, who has previously tried to maintain a good opinion of Blair & co., this is annoying at a literary level, because it is simply not interesting. Other political memoirs are filled with accounts of conflict between similarly egotistical personalities, but the issues tend to be points of substantive importance. Tony Benn's or Barbara Castle's diaries, for example, are largely accounts of long-running arguments. But they are arguments about matters of principle and political strategy. The "arguments" described here are at the level of who-said-what-to-whom, who-was-somebody's-favourite, who-has-been-left-out-of-a-meeting. Give us a break, Alistair. If that is,in fact, the reality of these years, then in truth, it would be better not to burden the reading public with any of it.

I write this with disappointment, because I admire Campbell as a political operator and, notwithstanding his book, remain grateful to him for his contribution to the Labour Party.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious, indecipherable, badly edited., 5 Aug. 2010
By 
A. Stevenson "nrp01als" (hereford, uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol. 1: Prelude to Power 1994-1997 (Hardcover)
The book has an oppressive effect. Daily accounts of arguing and character assassination is made all the more unpleasant by Campbell's use of initials to refer to the antagonists. Unbelievably, there is no simple alphabetical list for decoding these initials. If you don't know the initials of everyone involved in politics 15 years ago, you have to read through 9-page cast list which - unaccountably - is arranged in order of Labour party seniority.

I was sure the inner workings of power would be fascinating but Campbell renders it so negatively - he's always ill, always unhappy, everyone else is always stupid or malicious in his view - that what might have been exciting becomes overwhelmingly depressing.

If you want to understand the rationale for New Labour, forget this book. If you wish to read of endless meaningless battles over nothing, you'll love it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Savagely Good, 19 Aug. 2011
This review is from: The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol. 1: Prelude to Power 1994-1997 (Hardcover)
Alastair Campbell is undoubtably one of the most controversial figures of the 'Blair years'. Master of the dark arts of spin doctoring and formidable character he can justifyingly claim to have transformed the Labour party from a shambles to an election winning machine. This first volume of his diaries left me with mixed feelings, although most of them positive.

First, they are incredibly detailed with an entry for every single day. Great for the historian but it can be a little tedious for the reader. There is a key at the front of the book setting out who is who but even with this it is sometimes difficult to follow. Secondly the diaries are a fascinating picture of the leading personalities in the Labour party between 1994 and 1997. Gordon Brown is portrayed as difficult, sullen and morose, full of resentment that Tony Blair became leader. The book is full of rows between the main protaganists. Peter Mandelson, John Prescott and Robin Cook are constantly squabbling and none of them come out well from the book. However Campbell's real venom is aimed at Clare Short who is described as being without redeeming qualities, incoherent and self-centred. I felt that his more crude attacks on her went over the top and actually became rather bullying and tasteless. It is, however, fascinating to read about the wrangling and arguments at the head of 'new Labout' - a far cry from the efficient machine usually portrayed in the media. Brown vs Mandelson is a highlight. To be fair Campbell does also comment on individual strengths, for example he praises Gordon Brown as a man of ability.

Campbell himself emerges to some extent in the diaries. His passion to change the Labour Party, his devotion to Tony Blair. the strains on his family life, rows with his wife, his health problems and some references to his past depression. He comes across as a man who was really driven by his determination but who did not suffer fools gladly.

If you are interested in politics this is a good read, if somewhat hard going in patches. I have given it four stars.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For God's Sake Shut Up!, 9 Oct. 2010
By 
Ian Millard - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol. 1: Prelude to Power 1994-1997 (Hardcover)
This is one of the most tedious boring books, let alone diaries, I have ever read. I imagine that it might be interesting to the hard-core (not meant to be a reference to Campbell's one-time occupation...not mentioned in the book lol!) members of the Party Formerly Known As Labour, but not to many others.

Policy is all but absent in any but the least detail, personalities are to the fore. True to "New Labour" then...

I do not belong to any political party and I can see that Campbell was an effective circus-master of the press and media bear garden, but this is not a book for those who like to see the big picture, or any picture beyond the microscopic examination of political personalities and their social/political lives.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Of Limited Appeal, 25 Sept. 2011
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This review is from: The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol. 1: Prelude to Power 1994-1997 (Hardcover)
My first thought on reading through several lengthy entries was "Where did he get the time?" Latterly, I thought "Where did he get the inclination?" Spending literally every day of the week with this cast of oddities would stretch normal people's tolerances beyond the limit. The overall impression is how childish and petty a lot of these key politicians were - Blair himself, Mandleson, Prescott, Cook and, of course, Brown. Campbell observes from a distance and is infuriated, challenged and impressed as the entries roll by. I did wonder, however, how much personal opinion had been edited out, as the fury he feels over certain people and actions is often muted and written between the lines.
As the diaries progress, my disdain for politicians just grew. We let this lot run the country? Self-centred, egotistical, cursed (or blessed) with breathtaking lack of insight, you wouldn't let this bunch run their own nose. If any one of them were a barman at your local pub, you'd never cross the threshold. Colossally dull, self-centred bores. And if Cherie were a barmaid.....
I began to wonder how Campbell managed to stick with them. Obviously it must have been a terrific thrill to feel you were at the centre of power, of convincing yourself that you were making a difference, but as I read of the shenanigans politicians are caught up in it only convinced me more and more of how increasingly irrelevant most of them are. Blair had ten years of so called power. Apart from being remembered for exactly what neither he nor Campbell want to be remembered for, what else did they achieve? When they went, the world turned without them. Not surprising really, after reading these diaries, because this lot hardly recognised the world outside that of their own limited viewpoint. They were their own world. Campbell's diaries plod on day after day totally focused on the internal issues he has to deal with. Meanwhile, out there in the real world, life went on, but Campbell doesn't have much time to mention it, apart from the odd Barnsley football game.
This would be a fascinating read for politicos, but I increasingly found it hard going. The book finishes on literally Election Day for Blair when he wins with a landslide (against probably the weakest Tory government and leader, ever, despite Campbell trying to build a case stating otherwise.) There's little joy or euphoria for Campbell - no change there then - and not much else but a sense of exhaustion over the work to come. I doubt I'll be reading any more of Campbell's diaries I'm afraid, they're just too much like work getting through them.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you work to win - you can win., 10 July 2010
This review is from: The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol. 1: Prelude to Power 1994-1997 (Hardcover)
As with all Alastair's books this is easy to read. It is at times humorous,it challenges the theory that Governments lose elections rather than well organised and determined oppositions win them. It is a story about people, it is a story about motivating and managing a team towards a goal. There are many triumphs as well as tragedies; pacts as well as disagreements on this amazing journey. Every organization can identify with such challenges but most of all this book is and always will be about success.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent understanding of how it all began, 4 July 2010
By 
Peter G Warner (Surbiton, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol. 1: Prelude to Power 1994-1997 (Hardcover)
Regardless of what people think of Campbell he does say it as he sees it. The diary tells it as he saw it and how it is remembered. I am wary of the differences that Campbell portrays about Blair and Brown. He writes it as though it was written now knowing the history between the two men. It was though a fascinating picture of the creation of New Labour and probably also shows a good insight into the failings of both Blair and Brown.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 10 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol. 1: Prelude to Power 1994-1997 (Hardcover)
Interesting
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The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol. 1: Prelude to Power 1994-1997
The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol. 1: Prelude to Power 1994-1997 by Alastair Campbell (Hardcover - 1 Jun. 2010)
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