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The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook, CD

4.0 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 6 pages
  • Publisher: Audiobooks; Abridged edition edition (9 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846571286
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846571282
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.4 x 12.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 174,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Campbell has a draught Guinness voice with a husky edge to it; he could narrate Chandler thrillers to perfection...it was hard to tear myself away" (The Times)

Book Description

The Blair Years is the most compelling and revealing account of contemporary politics you will ever read. Taken from Alastair Campbell's daily diaries, it charts the rise of New Labour and the tumultuous years of Tony Blair's leadership, providing the first important record of a remarkable decade in our national life. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian R. Martin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alastair Campbell spent the period 1994-2003 as the chief `spin-doctor' of Tony Blair, with job of putting him, and later the New Labour government, in the best possible light. This volume contains edited extracts from the diaries he kept during the period. Like all political documents written specifically for future publication they should be approached critically, so it is useful to know where Campbell stands at present. Helpfully he lists in the Introduction what he believes are the achievements during this period. Some are substantial and undeniable, such as peace in Northern Ireland and the intervention in the Balkans. Others are much more controversial, such as a `reformed educational system' and an `improved health service'. About Iraq, which, rightly or wrongly, will be remembered as the Blair `legacy', he simply says that he hopes the book will add to the discussion that `will run for years, if not decades'.

The diaries themselves are fascinating and give a unique insight to the frenetic world of politics at the highest level, with its endless round of meetings and conferences, and crises, great and small, demanding solutions. The brief sketches of the personalities involved, both national and international, and their interactions, are some of the most interesting parts of the diaries. We learn of the extraordinary way Blair used his closest advisors to deliberately work himself up into a kind of panic before delivering important speeches, and how the endless friction between Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson frequently poisoned the atmosphere. Above all there is the obsession with the media and the image of New Labour.
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Format: Paperback
It is probably inevitable that Alastair Campbell, as a New Labour supporter, would be reluctant to rock the boat while there was still a chance that the party could retain power at the next election. However, a book about the Blair years that barely touches on the relationship between Blair and Brown, and especially the oft-reported animosity between them, cannot be said to offer a balanced view.

This book was sold as an excerpt from the diaries, so perhaps the next volume, which will presumably be published either after the Tories have defeated New Labour, or after Gordon Brown has done so much damage to the party that nothing Campbell said could make things worse, will be more illuminating.

That being said, this volume provides an insight into Tony Blair's premiership, and his relationship with others in his cabinet, and with other world leaders.

As a journalist, Alastair Campbell knows how to write well, and to hold the reader's interest. I look forward to his next volume, because it might explain why the office of Prime Minister was apparently handed on a plate to somebody who proved to be incapable of handling it. Were there no signs during the previous ten years that Brown has reached the limit of his abilities, and was not fitted for the highest office? I think we should be told - and I hope that Alastair Campbell will oblige!
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Format: Hardcover
'The Blair Years' will serve as bed-time reading only for political obsessives. Despite the fact that Campbell's style is terse and succinct, as befits a diarist, the daily minutiae of political life during Blair's incumbency are heavy going. Even the frequent crises seem only to add to the sense of participating in a gruelling ordeal, rather than conveying the excitement of helping to shape world history.

It is, perhaps, inevitable that the Prime Minister's Press Secretary will be largely preoccupied with public and media responses to policy and to political actions. This bias is certainly evident in Campbell's account of events and, unfortunately, colours the narrative as a whole.

Campbell's repeated claim that the media are irresponsible and unfair in representing politicians as insincere, image-obsessed, power-driven, spin-dependent prima donnas is contradicted, paradoxically, by the dominant themes of his own written record.

Although Campbell coyly states in his introduction that "This book...is about Blair not Brown", the timing of its publication is interesting. Even allowing time for collating all the documentation, Alastair Campbell must have been sitting on much of this material since 2004, at the latest. Gordon Brown does not emerge from the narrative covered in glory. Campbell makes it very clear that he believes the right man got the job - in 1994 as leader of the Labour Party and again in 1997 as Prime Minister.

Given the strategic timing of publication, it is difficult to avoid the inference that Alastair Campbell, for one, considers the Brownite putsch to have been the beginning of Labour's political suicide.
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Format: Hardcover
Campbell has a sharp eye for personal description and these pull the reader through the book, they are funny and rude. He has no confidence in the abilities of MPs and Cabinet Ministers. Sadly neither Blair nor Campbell were able to encourage the abilities of those who could have been working with them, instead they laughed at them.The book shows the egoism and fragility of both men, who steamrolled others throughout their reign.
The book was also totally dishonest about so many political incidents. EG: the contentious Dome, Weapons of Mass Destruction and Mandelsons's resignations are all skated over. There is no development and no analysis, political or otherwise. On this level the book is a lightweight sham.
Campbell obviously needed people to see that he had got his story out there first. Campbell was Blair's Office fixer and this is the only level on which the book works.
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