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A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine: The Last Diaries Paperback – 24 Apr 2014
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"There is a new kind of freedom in his thoughts and in his writing." (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)
"This is a lovely book; warm, humane, genuinely revelatory and, on occasions, a touch surreal." (Rod Liddle The Sunday Times)
"There is something amusing on almost every page of these diaries." (Daily Telegraph)
"The real Benn is with us still, but that friendly diarist's voice in one's ear has now fallen silent for good. It is an eerie foretaste of quite how much we will miss him when he's gone." (Guardian)
"And so the mighty torrent of words finally dries up… It is hard not to admire Benn’s determination to be true to his ideals… Tony Benn is not going gentle into that good night." (Sunday Times)
The final volume from the pre-eminent diarist of his generation.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
Poignant, warming and sometimes quite funny, it is, sadly, the final diaries of one of the great Parliamentarians of the age.
While I believe Benn has been mostly wrong throughout his life - on everything from lauding Chairman Mao to opposing the relaxing of licensing laws - he's always worth listening to.
Detailing the years from 2007 to present, the book has Benn stoically facing up to death, wondering whether he has been too egotistical down the years, coming up with new invention the seat-case, calling Gordon Brown a disaster, and working, working, working.
This man in his eighties would, for example, get up at 5am, walk to the tube, get a train up north, attend a few meetings, come back down to London, give a speech or two at a peace rally in Trafalgar Square, then at night attend a party for Shami Chakrabarti (while never touching a drop, of course).
He is often `very, very tired', frequently depressed (particularly in the morning) and has unending problems with his computer and his broadband.
There are all sorts of surprises: he calls the Observer rubbish - `I'd rather read The Sunday Telegraph'; David Cameron tells him he enjoyed Benn's Arguments For Democracy; he ponders whether he has been wrong about everything; he wraps 140 Christmas presents for his family.
Benn comes across as incredibly industrious, fearless, honourable and full of integrity. He cares for many people and has time for folk no matter what their politics. He loves his Parliament. The adoration he feels for his family and that they feel for him is clear, and very touching. His writing style is accessible (almost child-like at times), he never swears and can be endearingly old fogeyish - `Jarvis Cocker from the Pulp group' comes to visit him at one point.
A smashing book for anyone interested in, well, life: I struggled to put it down and was sad when it was over.
I haven't read his earlier diaries and I took this book as an audible download shortly before he died. With that poignancy aside, this record and his reflections are so incredibly relevant at a number of levels. Politically, he was something of a seer and a maverick. One who saw through sham, was beguiled by prospect of influence and remained true to his roots of socialism.
As an individual, his fears and fragility come across so well. As a man, he's unafraid to express both his love and loss. That's exceptional. He explores the process of getting older with candour and humour. Unexpectedly, this book kept me awake until long past the wee hours over the last few nights. His insight, information and views have made me think about the loss of an apolitical diarist, a husband, father and grandfather. He comes across as an honest raconteur, a dedicated politician regardless of his political persuasion, a gifted individual who could view any situation with insight and compassion. But most of all, a man who loved his wife and family above everything. A moving and remarkable legacy.
Michael Jayston's reading in this audible version is, in my view, outstanding. He captures nuance and inflection to perfection.
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