Blair Hardcover – 21 Jun 2004
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'Packed with information, and clearly and thoughtfully written' -- FRANCIS BECKETT, Guardian
'Superbly well-informed and exhaustively researched' -- PETER OBORNE, The Tablet
'The best account so far of the high politics of the Blair era' -- NICK COHEN, New Statesman
'The most readable of all the books this year on the Prime Minister and/or the [Iraq] war' -- ELINOR GOODMAN, Sunday Telegraph Books of the Year
'This book will become the automatic reference point for studies of a political period that promised so much' -- JOHN KAMPFNER, Observer
About the Author
Anthony Seldon is the author of several books including the official biography of John Major and the authorised 'biography' of Number 10 Downing Street. He is also the editor of an ongoing series of essays by the foremost political commentators of the time, the latest of which, THE BLAIR EFFECT, was published in 2001.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
He has presented us with 700 pages of text organised into 40 chapters. They deal with twenty episodes and 20 people who are important in Blair's life. If you think it odd for a text to run to exactly 700 pages, then you may think it odder that all the episode chapters are assigned odd numbers and are presented chronologically. Those chapters ending in seven present Blair at his boldest. Clearly the number seven is important to Seldon and so are multiples of ten, for he presents the political backbone of his book in Chapters 10, 20, 30 and 40.
The reader will quickly forget this obsessive-compulsive concern with numbers because within a few pages he will be completely involved in an extraordinarily dense but very clear poltical narrative fleshed out with incisive analysis. We watch a bright boy acquire an Oxford education, become a barrister, marry another barrister and, comparatively late in life, become interested in politics.
It is at this point that an interesting "life" becomes an absorbing account of how politics is communicated in a complex democratic society. As we are introduced to such influentials in Blair's life as Neil Kinnock, Philip Gould, Peter Mandelson, Derry Irvine, Roy Jenkins and Alastair Campbell, we are treated to impressively detailed accounts of their interaction with Blair, the political system and with each other.Read more ›
Seldon's main argument is that Blair has achieved little domestically in the UK because he failed to develop a detailed agenda for a number of reasons - not wanting to be hostage to fortune whilst in Opposition, a lack of time for preparation whilst in office, and perhaps most importantly road-blocking by Gordon Brown. Blair, and his colleagues it has to be said, have remarkably little experience of running any large organisation. At first glance this does not appear to bode well for Cameron, should he be elected at the next election.
The book is effective in dispelling a number of myths that have grown up around Blair. The most prominent is that he stole Brown's rightful crown - it is easy to forget that Blair carried much more popularity in the country. It is also easy to forget how much of a modernizing role Brown has played within the recent history of the Labour Party. The second is that he has no real political philosophy. Whilst it is true that he has done much to accommodate Thatcherism, he has always had a fundamental belief in community, even if he has failed to successfully translate that into policy.
The third, and the aspect of the book that I found to be most interesting was that on his relationship with Bill Clinton.Read more ›
Then we get a fascinating picture of Blair's philosophy, political agenda - Seldon makes a convincing case that it was consciously Thatcherite - style, and organising ability in power. A clear picture is given of how the Labour party changed and how Blair altered structures of government, lately apparently more and more in a frantic effort to correct what he thought was going wrong. There is also a detailed analysis of Blair's relationships with Brown, Campbell, Mandelson and many others not to mention the press and the civil service.
Finally of course we get what seems like a balanced view of Blair's agenda over Iraq which to me ends up being whatever else it was an expression of his choirboy personality. For anyone who has been really puzzled as to why Blair committed himself to the war I think this book will help them understand.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Authoratative account of the "Blair" phenomenon to 2004. Very readable and a fascinating insight into the personal and political development of Mr Blair. Read morePublished 3 months ago by David Sillince
(President Blair has been spotted doing impressions with his ukulele of George Formby’s ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’ in the Barbados. Read more
Book was stained throughout and odd to the touch. Not sure if it was mould. Although it was only 1p, effectively spent £2.80 delivery on an item that had to be thrown away. Read morePublished on 17 May 2013 by Sam A
I have been waiting all day for this item HDNL should be discontinued as a delivery service as they are always delayed and do not meet next day deliveryPublished on 30 Sept. 2011 by Dr. Pauline A. Found
Well written, detailed and informative and as far as I am concerned I concur with his conclusions - potential unfulfilled and most of what Blair 'achieved' was ironically based on... Read morePublished on 28 Feb. 2009 by Michael Bromfield
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