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The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol. 1: Prelude to Power 1994-1997 Hardcover – 1 Jun 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson; Fourth Impression edition (1 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091797268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091797263
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 371,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"There are plenty of nuggets here that are fascinating, some passages that make you wince and others that are gripping. It has historical value." (Observer)

"Campbell is a compelling diarist . . . [with] vivid set pieces . . . The Campbell Diaries provide the fullest insider account so far of new Labour's ascent to power." (The Times)

"Campbell's world is the brutal, angry, hard-driven, joky, football-crazed and intensely male world of tabloid journalism. He is a fluent and industrious reporter, with amazing stamina: it is quite a feat, at the end of days dealing with the press on Blair's behalf that he managed to get this account down." (Telegraph)

"Hugely gripping . . . all of human life is here. It makes The Thick of It look tame. And sane." (Sunday Times)

"The abundance of extra detail throws up some richly comic moments . . . Campbell's writing has much of the brutal honestly of [Alan] Clark's." (Sunday Telegraph)

Book Description

The Blair Years was a taster. Prelude to Power reveals the diairies uncut. And it is just the beginning.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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