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Back from the Brink: 1000 Days at Number 11 by [Darling, Alistair]
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Back from the Brink: 1000 Days at Number 11 Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 134 customer reviews

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Length: 353 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

...one heck of a good read. --Guardian

...a balanced, thoughtful , sober account of arguably the greatest crisis of the 21st Century... --Mail on Sunday

[Alistair Darling] writes compellingly about the market meltdown and ensuing recession, spicing the narrative with a droll wit and acidic observations about the arrogant and stupid bank chiefs. If this story has been told before, it is still informative to have the scary view from the edge of the precipice as Britain teeters on the brink of a complete collapse of its banks. --Observer

Book Description

Alistair Darling's long-awaited book will be one of the most reviewed, widely discussed and saleable political memoirs of recent years.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2479 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (7 Sept. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005JZD3YQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 134 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #109,641 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Were you to have asked me, prior to reading this book, who was my favourite political biography, I would have replied, Chris Mullin. The reason for that choice was based upon the fact that here was a man who could laugh at himself, as well as others. Mullin has no pomposity and the same can be said of Alistair Darling. The advantage which Darling holds over Mullin is that he held a senior government position (Chancellor of the Exchequer) during a significant historical era (the financial crash of 2008).

It is refreshing to read a political biography in which the main character was not the only person who realised, the exact situation, from day one, and how it should be handled. Alistair Darling is generous with his praise and quick to acknowledge the input of his colleagues, even when they are not bosom buddies.

Reading this book made me realise just how serious the banking crisis had been. One of the great problems with life today, when news is to hand twenty-four hours a day, is that a news programme needs sensation. Everything becomes the most serious crisis that man has ever faced and, naturally, the listener becomes blasé. Darling's book is written in a much more modest style and so, when he paints a picture of near collapse, it is so much more chilling. The section dealing with the banks is more gripping than any financial thriller that one may have read. Darling is honest enough to admit that nobody, himself included, really knew how to deal with events and leads us through the path that he, and Gordon Brown, took to reaching an effective course of action.

Darling is also of great interest when dealing with the Labour Party leadership. He served at close quarters with both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alistair Darling provides a straightforward and readable digest of his time at number 11 in which he bares all about his experience of working with a difficult, indecisive and paranoid Gordon Brown. Darling comes across as a sober, if sometimes dull, politician whose heart appears to be in the right place and who is keen to do the right thing not just for his party but for people in general. He sets the record staight too about the inheritance he left behind and how Labour have failed to portray how well they dealt with the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath. A damn good read with much less of the hubris in evidence that you usually have to put up with from political memoirs.
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Format: Hardcover
This account of Darling's time as Chancellor has the virtue of being comparatively short and well written.

Darling is a level headed witness to the last three years or so of the Labour government which included the banking crisis, the recession and the implosion of the government. He does take time to point out the inconsistencies and unworldliness of the opposition who dreamed it was 1979 again. He also has some interesting sidelines on Blair and Brown.

Darling has a good story to tell as it is clear that after the Northern Rock collapse he was well prepared for the problems of the US banks collapse and RBS. He demonstrates that he was able to handle the civil service properly and with authority. The response to the recession was hampered however by infighting with Gordon Brown. Darling seems to be level headed throughout, as was my memory of him from this time. Perhaps he was too level headed and should have left.

One point that emerges is that Blair and Brown were obsessed with their detailed knowledge of the previous Wilson and Callaghan governments and their shortcoming. This meant that they avoided rows at all costs and were nervous about doing obvious things such as bank nationalization and higher tax rates because of the way that previous labour governments had been portrayed. They or rather Brown made his biggest mistake in abolishing the 10% rate though the mistake was probably not to realize and admit there was a mistake. Darling understands all this but ultimately he was not going to win any argument with his Prime Minister. The book will be a useful contribution to the eventual history of the period and an antidote to some of the stuff which has come out. There is one mistake in that Tommy Docherty is described as "late" when happily as I write he is still among us.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a view of the financial meltdown from a man right at the very heart of it. There are good books that pull together facts from interviews and other sources (I recommend Too Big to Fail: Inside the Battle to Save Wall Street thoroughly), but this view from someone on the inside was what compelled me to read.

Much has been in the media of the relationship with Gordon Brown, and the criticisms Darling has for his boss, but the book contains much more than that. Darling is both frustrated and filled with contempt when the bankers can't quite grasp the situation they are in and the lengths the Government have to go try and clean up their mess. He is lucid about the stress of the situation that he is put under, from the lack of sleep to the strains of dealing with the media and his own people. And yes, he is candid about Gordon Brown's leadership - particularly about the strain of the "election that never was".

Don't get me wrong - I don't particularly like the way this has come out. Couldn't he have said something at the time? Done something different? Had more backbone? I don't know. Suffice to repeat my old Grandad's phrase - "you make your bed, you lie in it". Despite that, I found it to be a good read - I'm not usually into books from politicians but the writing style is good and it flows well.
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