- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 6 hours and 15 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Abridged
- Publisher: Orion Publishing Group Limited
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 28 Dec. 2006
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SQ7KKC
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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DC Confidential Audiobook – Abridged
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Also, he does not pull his punches when it comes to offering judgements upon the actions and intentions of major political fugures, such as Blair, Straw, Prescott and many other leading New Labour ministers.
His reminiscences about earlier diplomatic postings in both the the US and Germany are informative and amusing in equal measure. In particular, he deftly conveys some of the flavour of both countries' political traditions and bureaucratic traits, and is illuminating on the social and political landscape of the USA west of the eastern seaboard.
The latter part of the book, dealing with pre-and post-9/11 is a riveting read, and provides a balanced overview of US and UK foreign-policy activities in this fraught period. Overall, then, a sharply-written, well-told account of a diplomatic life in both Germany and Washington D.C., packed with interesting anecdotes and comments - sometimes acerbic, sometimes affectionate - about the realities and rewards of overseas postings.
Drawbacks: the book feels a bit lightweight, and doesn't explore in depth many of the most interesting themes on which it touches – eg whether UK interests suffer from No.10 Downing Street trying to run foreign policy. Much of the stuff about the loveliness of his wife made me cringe, but might appeal to some readers.
Despite serving as the British Ambassador in Washington pre-post 9/11 era with access to senior figures in Bush's administration, he alludes to his frustration of being kept out of the political loop by Blair if not his inner circle in the planning of the Iraq invasion of 2003. Whether this is a self-serving ploy to distance himself from the Iraq debacle or a dig at insiders such as Alastair Campbell, one can only guess. Nevertheless, Meyer tacitly if not blatantly admires the now maligned neo-conservative agenda post 9/11 including figures such as Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Cheney.
Having read his book, I cannot help but think that as Ambassador with a remit to influence the 'special relationship' between the UK and the US, Blair supplanted him and the British Foreign Office in this respect.
The section on Kissinger's speech at Bohemian Grove though is of interest...
The book is full of anecdote but hardly any real polticial gossip. He's very carefully to say nice things about almost everyone and if he is disparaging about Blair and New Labour it's nothing we haven't already read in the press. If anything he strives to give a rounded, balanced, diplomatic view of Blair and friends although it is possible to detect a note of disgruntlement that his efforts were not always appreciated by Blair and often suspected. Meyer would not be the first person in public life to feel this way about our current glorious leader - he joins quite a list of disgruntled ministers and back benchers.
My conclusion is that it's worth reading and gives you a fascinating insight into the goings on in Washington during a very tumultuous period. This book is also a good explanation of exactly what amabassadors and diplomats do for us in far flung places.