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Brown at 10 Paperback – 8 Sep 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Biteback Publishing; Reprint edition (8 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849541221
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849541220
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 14 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Brown at 10 is chock-full of revelations --Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian

...anyone seriously interested in modern British political history will want to have it around for reference. The authors have read everything and interviewed almost everyone, and tell the story in remorseless detail... --Francis Beckett, The Guardian

there was one loser from this arrangement, Brown. He became a prisoner in Downing Street, hanging on to the illusion of power while his rivals divided up the spoils of office. Anthony Seldon and Guy Lodge show in their superbly well-informed biography Brown at 10 that this drove him crazy. --Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph

...anyone seriously interested in modern British political history will want to have it around for reference. The authors have read everything and interviewed almost everyone, and tell the story in remorseless detail... --Francis Beckett, The Guardian

there was one loser from this arrangement, Brown. He became a prisoner in Downing Street, hanging on to the illusion of power while his rivals divided up the spoils of office. Anthony Seldon and Guy Lodge show in their superbly well-informed biography Brown at 10 that this drove him crazy. --Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph

A truly gripping and important book of contemporary history. --Robert Skidelsky

there was one loser from this arrangement, Brown. He became a prisoner in Downing Street, hanging on to the illusion of power while his rivals divided up the spoils of office. Anthony Seldon and Guy Lodge show in their superbly well-informed biography Brown at 10 that this drove him crazy. --Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Anthony Seldon is a political historian and one of the foremost commentators on contemporary Britain. The co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary British History, he is also author or editor of some 25 books, including the best-selling Blair, and Blair Unbound. He is Master of Wellington College. He lives in Crowthorne, Berkshire. Guy Lodge is an Associate Director at the Institute for Public Policy Research the UK s leading progressive think tank. He specialises in political and constitutional reform and has published widely in this area. He is a Gwilym Gibbon Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford.


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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Brown's short but significant reign as Prime Minister is given a critical, fair and ultimately sympathetic analysis in Brown at 10. Having read The End of the Party, Andrew Rawnsley's entertaining account of Labour 2001-10, I was looking for a account of Brown's time in No. 10 that was more objective, less gossip-laden and more academic.

A quick a glance at the bibliography and and endnotes show that the book has been meticulously researched and referenced (although frustratingly private interview appears many times). Although i have not completed the book, it comes in at 450 pages of small print, i have found the authors approach satisfyingly honest, informative and clearly written. Particularly insightful sections include an account of Brown's response to the financial crisis of 2008/9, the numerous coup attempts and Brown's time in the world's spotlight, the London G20. It is often suggested in the book that Brown was at his most comfortable and successful on the international stage and struggled with domestic issues.

Whilst the book's lack of headline grabbing revelations is refreshing (there must have been some!) and the academic approach commendable the style is often clunking (like GB's fist) and it doesn't have the readability of the afformentioned Rawnsley book!

Brown at 10 is must for anyone interested in understanding what the role of the PM in the 21st century and how Brown succeeded and failed to adapt to the job description. The book isn't for the fair-weather reader of political diaries, it is a serious take on an often overly serious man, a flawed but engrossing insight into a flawed but engrossing PM.
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Format: Paperback
When it first came out Brown at 10 by Anthony Seldon and Guy Lodge was extremely well received for its authoritative detail and the revised paperback edition maintains that standard well. With Seldon being one of the founders of the modern school of contemporary history, it is no surprise that the book follows the thorough, heavily documented approach contemporary historians strive for - with over 1 million words of interviews recorded for posterity (even if many are, for the next 30 years, withheld from public view) and extensive access to private diaries.

The huge depth of research is accompanied by a fairly narrow focus - this is politics as seen through the eyes of Whitehall insiders, both in the civil service and in the Labour Party. That strength is only occasionally a weakness - most notably in the account of the May 2010 hung Parliament negotiations, which is remarkably favourable to a small number of Labour figures and glosses over Labour's failure to prepare for a hung Parliament despite for many months that being widely seen internally as not only the party's best but also only hope.

Indeed, this account is bookended by two unanswered questions: why are we now drowning in Labour figures who are revealed as having been critics of Gordon Brown all along yet did not back a contested leadership election, and why was Labour so unprepared for hung Parliament talks that the preparations of its negotiation team added up to little more than a quick cup of tea between Ed Balls and Peter Mandelson before walking into the negotiating room? Those two big acts of omission frame Brown's rise and fall and are largely absent from the book, though it does provide hints of partial answers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Like" is probably not the right word - "horribly fascinating" seems more appropriate. Fair to say the authors are themselves left-leaning, but struggle to contain their concern that this deeply flawed man became PM with the support of many Labour politicians who were aware of his failings. Allied with the two Andrew Rawnsley books on the Blair/Brown years & the self-pitying ramblings of Campbell with Mandelson's lordly superiority one has to think it is surprising the country survived at all. And now we have the Coalition!

Everytime I dip into Rawnsley or Seldon I find another nugget of nastiness about New Labour which I can hardly credit - where were the Press when we needed them, & what will be revealed when they turn to the Cameron/Clegg years? In truth, we need books like "Brown at 10" to provide a decent perspective on our short-term view of politics in the age of instant news & analysis
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Format: Hardcover
This is the fourth of Seldon's books about British Prime Ministers of the past 20 years. The others read well, notably the biography of John Major and the second about Blair, "Blair Unbound".

This one was less rewarding. It is about of the length of a full biography, but covers only the period of Brown's premiership. It is immensely detailed and by no means uninteresting, but, despite (or perhaps because of) being less gossipy than Andrew Rawnsley's "The End of the Party" (which covers 2001-10), it lacks the panache and flow of the latter. In truth it gives the impression of being assembled in too much of hurry. At the very outset, the various introductions and prefaces are off-putting, lapsing from the first person singular (presumably Seldon), to the second plural (Seldon and Lodge?) and even to the third singluar (either/or). Certain sentences are repeated in quick succession; and the narrative itself, presumably to give contemporary appeal, begins and ends gratingly in the present tense (though not in fact consistently).

The general thesis seems to be that Brown was too dysfunctional - and some of his acolytes too bruising - to be a truly effective Prime Minister, but that, facing financial meltdown, he did a remarkable job in the circumstances. This is a reasonable enough conclusion, but, my golly, it takes a lot of pages to tell the story.

I very much hope that Tom Bower will update his biography of Brown that ended in 2007 as I think someone could do much better and help to present this perplexing subject in the round. In fact, Rawnsley, to an extent, has already done so; and several writers, Mandelson, Rob Wilson and David Laws included, have offered much more illuminating accounts of the very final days in and beyond the bunker.
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