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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Political or not - you should read this book
A brilliant warts-and-all expose of the United Kingdom's runaway political party of the 1980's. Deeply honest, often brilliant, occasionally slipping into self-pitying apathy, Alan Clark documents a uniquely personal (and, many would say, uncomfortably realistic) view of the steamroller that was Thatcherism. Balanced by an enviable personal account of his time as one of...
Published on 5 Mar 2001

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review
Most of the people who are talked about in this book are not well known therefore his comments fall on waste ground. He made out that his job at the Department of Employment was particularly boring and didn't seem to have to make a worthwhile decisions. Haven't got to the end of the book yet but imagined it would be a more amusing and enlightening read but so far cant...
Published 8 months ago by wendy scalinger


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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "But They Are Real Diaries.", 25 Dec 2012
By 
T. T. Rogers - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Diaries: In Power 1983-1992 (Paperback)
One thing is for sure, these are real diaries. If you want to see under the bonnet of politics and government, then a read of Alan Clark's diurnal scribblings will repay your time. Despite his High Toryism and mildly aristocratic social bearing, Clark is an appealing, avuncular personality, and he evinces these attributes with his thoughts, impressions and recollections of the daily struggle at the heart of public life.

At times, Clark does seem a little crawling and obsequious in his private attitudes to those whose favour he must curry in order to climb the political ladder, but when he does move into a more critical mode, he is trenchant and unsparing in his assessment of the sundry character flaws found among his colleagues. In a way, the Potemkin Village of modern British politics must have been quite limiting for a man of Clark's talent and independence of mind; indeed, there is a palpable sense of frustration running through these diaries at how ultimately pointless and futile the practice of mainstream politics can be for its foot soldiers.

Clark was clearly a highly-competent defence minister - a post he coveted - and I found his thoughts and musings on defence issues very interesting, but I have to say the highlight of this volume is a certain little incident in the House of Commons in July 1983, when Clark was allegedly 'tired and emotional' while answering parliamentary questions as a government minister. It's sad to elevate a seemingly trivial indiscretion to a level of prominence, especially when it concerns such a talented man, but it would be silly to deny its importance to these diaries.

Much more than most you might read, these diaries reveal - and revel in - the author's inner vulnerabilities and his private insecurities, which sit alongside the very public incidents in which Clark projected his inner demons into the sententious political sphere, writ-large, for the consumption of the abstemious and the immoral alike. At those awkward times - the July 1983 incident is one example - we are no longer in Clark's inner world, as such. Instead, we are reading the 'public', self-justificatory Clark: a kind of press officer of the psyche, expounding his own revisionist brand of contrition. In that respect, parts of these diaries self-consciously look outwards, not inwards as diaries should. But then, no published diary can fulfil some Aristotelian ideal.

I wonder whether, deep down, Clark's attention-seeking behaviour - at times, insatiable - reflected an insecurity about his father, a feeling of coldness and neglect, and a need to equal him in achievement. Whatever, the thing about diaries is that, if done well, they tell us more about the author than perhaps was intended: especially when, as here, they are real diaries.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and entertaining, 16 Mar 2014
I reviewed the second volume of the diaries...and I say pretty much the same here. This is a really entertaining piece of work that provide a fly on the wall coverage of the Thatcher government. Reading this book I sometimes wonder how Clarke managed to hold onto his job! He provides a blow by blow account of his time in government and his personal life. Whilst a lot of folks didn't follow his politics I agree with another reviewer in that the world is a little poorer without him...this book is well worth a read...and you'll laugh out loud at times, believe me!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Uproriously funny - especially his desire to urinate on the general public, 27 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Diaries: In Power 1983-1992 (Paperback)
This is an authentic slice of real English upper class humor. As a member of the general public I found Clark's desire to urinate on us uproariously funny. I laughed out loud when he lied to the police and was willing to let the innocent directors of Matrix Churchill go to prison to protect his reputation. What a hoot! And as for his "economical with the actualité" to describe his lies - well, it sounds so much funnier when you throw in a French word like that even if he got it wrong and it actually means "economical with the topical events" rather than "economical with the truth". It's so much funner when you use French without being able to speak it properly. I roared with laughter at his aging lust for young women - it's better than Benny Hill. And as for his racism and love for Hitler - it would have had them laughing in the gas chambers. I would have liked to read more about his sexual predilection for fourteen year old girls - what a wag he was. He's much funnier than Jimmy Saville.

He is the authentic voice of England, and catches the wit and humour of the English to perfection. Thank God the spirit of deference to our "betters" hasn't entirely disappeared. If only he'd become Prime Minister what a country it would be now!

A true conservative and a real Englishman.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading, 24 July 2013
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This review is from: Diaries: In Power 1983-1992 (Paperback)
This book is required reading for those interested in the Thatcher government at its zenith and also for the events leading to Thatcher's downfall. Clark writes like a dream and includes much gossipy detail. Clark does not come out well from this, which adds to the credence that can be given to the diaries. So this very readable and entertaining.

However, it is a view from the right of the Tory party and Heseltine' s viewpoint (for instance) is not even recognised.There is nothing on Lawson's resignation or any serious reflection that the Thatcher government was running out of steam in 1990. There is some mindless recording of gossip which reminds one of what a shower this lot were. For a balanced view one should also read Lawson's,Howe's and Heseltine's memoirs. Nonetheless, as with Crossman's diaries the diarists tend to make the historical weather for a time at least.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rotten Old Roué, 21 Aug 2014
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He was a horrible old Tory but he had a spark of life about him that made him not as repellent as his disgusting colleagues. It's an interesting insight into a period of politics that is now destroying the UK.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the last great British politicians, 20 April 2011
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This review is from: Diaries: In Power 1983-1992 (Paperback)
Alan Clarke was one of the last genuine politicians who had the interests of the British people at heart and dare I say, also the Europeans. Here we have a man prepared to say what he genuinely thinks and what he does think is not the thinly veiled Liberal Hegemony de-facto ideology which we find behind all the modern Tory politicians and explicitly with the other two `parties'. The difference between Alan Clarke and a fake empty career politician such as David Cameron is vast, it's remarkable to think they both were a member of the same party.

The diary entries are thoroughly readable and extremely humorous. Frankly the innate triviality of modern UK politics described in this book is enough to put anyone off a career in politics. It sounds as though our system of government is designed for half-measures and indecisiveness.

We also get a unique view of the dying breed known as the English aristocrat. At one stage all British Aristocrats were genuinely deserving of their position like Mr Clarke but sadly their number are now very few and their grip on power and influence has been obliterated by punitive tax levels, class envy and liberal capitulation. The surviving aristocrats are nothing but traitors adapting to the new international money aristocracy such as the newly settled Oligarchs of Russia and the more wealthy liberal elite such as Tony Blair.

A politician such as Mr Clarke would be expelled from the modern `tory' party within minutes. For a true understanding of the last vestiges of true Englishman before the current tsumanmi of charlatans and scum, one must read and get to know Alan Clarke. AC is quick to point out the `liberal' weasels infecting the civil service in the 1980s and 90s, figures that are now exclusively running this country.

Reading this book I couldn't help to start thinking that in this man and those who shared his views, were the last chances for Britain as a nation and its native population. They were complacent in thinking that everything would turn out for the best in the end - a typical aristocratic view. Now any salvation will have to come from a more dire situation.

Dotted through this edition we find repeated reference to AC's admiration of Hitler and to me at least, an obvious attraction to superior forms of government away from the absurdities and inherent weaknesses of modern western democracies. I know for a fact that AC was also a great admirer of David Irving and personally told Mr Irving that what we needed was, whilst pointing at a picture of Hitler, someone like that! I have heard that AC had a personal picture of Hitler (or the Fuehrer as he would say) hidden in his study which he would gaze upon when seeking inspiration and fortitude.

Although AC is clearly a Nazi sympathiser we find no anti-Semitic statements whatsoever. I do suspect that AC watered down some of his most extreme views in this book (and the other ones too I suspect). He does point out for us who are the Jews in Mrs Thatchers circle and farther a field and I'm certain he knew not to upset this particular special interest group.

We also find reference to AC receiving National Front persons at his private residence, he mentions how he admires them and rightly proclaims them as decent pro-British people. Perhaps AC should have carried through his temptation to become their leader and who knows what may have happened.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional fun, 13 Aug 2010
By 
A. Horne (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Diaries: In Power 1983-1992 (Paperback)
Of the three volumes of diaries, this is by far the most fun. I believe it is also the only volume published in Alan's lifetime (and there has recently been some debate about whether the entries remained contemporaneous - or whether they had been 'retouched with hindsight').

The fact is, however, that Ion Trewin has recycled verbatim a number of the entries in his recent (and somewhat lacklustre) biography of Clark, demonstrating their effectiveness as a historical record of the times.

To gain the full benefit, one probably has to have an interest in the politcs of the 80s. There are wonderful anecdotes about Jonathon Aitken, Claire Short and it is said that Jeffrey Archer can be identified from a car registration cited in one of the passages. There is also the classic account of Thatcher's downfall.

If you are only going to read one Clark, this should be the one - A perfect holiday read.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best one, 13 Feb 2011
This review is from: Diaries: In Power 1983-1992 (Paperback)
Excellent reviews are published by people far more articulate than me - so all I would like to add is that having bought this book shortly after it was published I still pick it up and read it for the sheer enjoyment of reading words written by a man completely and naturally at home with the English language. Beautiful writing.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alan Clark ! What a man!, 18 Oct 2004
By 
J. Potter "johniebg" (Berkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This was brought just before the release of the TV series as an attempt at something a little different but had been sitting on my bookshelf for quite some time.
I only started reading it because it seemed the best of a bad bunch in my holiday book bag but no more than 10 pages in I was laughing out loud, smiling inanely to myself, and generally reveling in everything that this man was.
He was a lot of things, both good and bad which are well documented, but for all his 'qualities' his charm shines through via his amazing first perspective writing style.
It was with great sadness and reluctance that I read the last pages having built a great affection for this character and an education in the mechanisms of government.
If there is one thing I would knock of this book is that there is quite obviously a lot of interesting detail missing which I assume was far to delicate at the time.
I will get the other book of Diaries and the audio book of these diaries read by the great man himself but will treasure this through the years. Magical.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read and re-read, 19 April 2009
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This review is from: Diaries (Hardcover)
This us quite simply one of my favourite books. Although I am interested in politics I don't think you would have to be to enjoy the book. The diaries are honest and so obviously not written with the intention of being published. Just reading the words of someone with a command of the English language is a joy. It would not have mattered what Clark's career was, reading his diaries on any career would have the reader gripped. I can pick the book up anytime and re-read any page and smile at his views on life, love and those around him. I think he is a one off, he would think of me as 'one of the ugly common people' but I knew what he meant! All the other Diaries are good too, but this is the best.
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Diaries: In Power 1983-1992
Diaries: In Power 1983-1992 by Alan Clark (Paperback - 3 July 2003)
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