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Diaries: Into Politics Hardcover – 12 Oct 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; 1st Edition edition (12 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297644025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297644026
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 370,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Following the public devouring of Alan Clark's Diaries, the "long-awaited" second helping takes the form of a posthumous prequel, covering 1972 to1982, the formative years of this idiosyncratic political wag. And what do we discover? Blithely racist, he considers standing for the National Front, and writes that "I'm the nearest thing they're likely to get to an MP". He professes belief in National Socialism, is vehemently anti-European, and thrills to the sight of "fair-haired children" waiting outside school for their mums when he visits the Falklands in 1982. Indeed, blondes dominate his vision: his lecherous eye is everywhere, even propositioning in the Commons' public gallery, while his wife Jane stoically picks up the pieces.

After the first volume, some flatteringly spoke of Clark as a diarist to rival Samuel Pepys or Sir Henry "Chips" Channon. This time, the comparison begged is with Adrian Mole. A melancholic first half details an interminable string of losses at backgammon, neurosis over ageing, perpetual hypochondria, as well as quite affecting parental concerns. Politics remains a sideline, even when elected as an MP in 1974. It's only when the Conservatives come to power in 1979 under Margaret "The Lady" Thatcher (who reminds Clark of his mother), that the tone settles and becomes familiarly expansive, perhaps with an awareness of a future audience. Despite his hatred of his Plymouth constituency--such a pain--he revels in Commons clubbability, developing heroes such as Enoch Powell, chums such as Jonathan Aitken, and adversaries such as the "odious" Michael Heseltine, or that "butterball", Ken Clarke. The Falklands War is greeted as a personal triumph, albeit from the backbenches, but he does well to remind us how unpopular the Government was prior to it, and the lifeline it gave to Thatcher. Moving with caddish bounds from obsequious simpering to bovver-boy arrogance, Clark longed for immortality, and in a peculiar way he has found it: as a charmingly solipsistic narcissist, whose irreverence continues to tickle a British funny bone. However, as the mists of time descend, and the footnotes lengthen, perhaps future generations will wonder at such dubious charm, and our more dubious fascination with Clark's rakish progress. --David Vincent


With more than 300,000 copies of the original Diaries sold since their publishing caused a sensation in 1993, here is the long-awaited and posthumous "prequel". Starting in 1972, when Clark was searching for a parliamentary seat and at the same time was given Saltwood Castle in Kent by his father Kenneth Clark (of Civilisation fame), he chronicles election success in Plymouth, and early days in the Commons where Ted Heath has been deposed as leader of the Tories and replaced by Margaret Thatcher. There is Saltwood itself and the countryside surrounding it, there are birds (both feathered and human) and there is his family. At the same time bankruptcy threatens and he is only saved by a remarkable "find" inside Saltwood itself. The climax is the Falklands War - with revelations from a unique political animal with the inside track. At the same time this second volume has all the ingredients of fine writing and humour that made the first volume such a hardback and paperback bestseller. Clark's editor at Weidenfeld, Ion Trewin, also provides the introduction.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This second installment of Alan Clark's diaries, covering the period before he joined Mrs Thatcher's government, is every bit as enjoyable and irreverent as the earlier volume. We see Clark, recently removed to Saltwood Castle, begin his political career beset by worries: money, women, hypochondria, the well being of his sons, his car collection, his losses at backgammon, the decline of the nation. By the end of the diaries, all these worries are (momentarily) cast aside as the Falklands War is won and Clark seems destined to take his place in the Cabinet. As befits an accomplished military hstorian, Clark writes with precision and feeling: his descriptions of colleagues and opponents are among the high points in the diaries and, with the benefit of hindsight, have proved to be remarkably prescient.
Not only are the diaries amusing but they also provide a revealing insight into the political process - in the age of the professional politician the lack of talent, of which Clark cannot be accused, is no bar to the road to the top. At times, Clark seems to be genuinely surprised that his own inate talents have not taken him further sooner. More particularly, the dairies tell us much about the Tory party. It is surprising how soon after the 1979 election the party in Parliament began to have doubts about its leader, a feature mirrored, albeit much sooner, after the 1992 election. In this regard, these diaries should be read in conjunction with Gyles Brandreth's "Breaking the Code", the diaries for the period he spent as a Tory M.P. between 1992 and 1997. Although the styles are different, together the books cast a revealing light on party politics and help to explain, but do not excuse, the gap between the electorate and their elected representatives.
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By A Customer on 3 Jun. 2003
Format: Paperback
Strangely enough, I started my Clark diary experience with this one and have since read "In power" which, I think, most people have read first. I am glad I started with this one, as I have now been able to read, in chronological order, the history of Alan Clark. Although I am a political fanatic, it is the non-political aspects which I love about this book. Most political people do not have much of a "hinterland" outside politics but I find Clark's diversions into other fields very interesting: His love of cars, his great knowledge of running large houses, his love of wine, his love of travel (beautiful heartfelt descriptions of many parts of the country), furniture, books, history etc etc. It is also his wicked sense of humour which keeps me reading him. I was most amused by his description of some poor vice-chairman of a Tory constituency party as "literally spastic". I am sure it was not true and I feel sorry for the object of his ire, but between me and the pages I found the exasperation of Clark behind that remark very funny. There is an interesting sub text throughout the book. Clark is obsessed with his looks and the passage of time. He also laments time wasted in meetings, on the train to Plymouth etc and identifies better things he could be doing (like enjoying his castle and its grounds). On balance one is left with the question: is politics really worth turning one's back on all the good things in life?
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Format: Paperback
Alan has been described as the diarist of his century. I disagree with that opinion. Surely, Alan Clark is the diarist of his millennia! I've read Boswell, Pepys, Dorothy Wordsworth, et al, and as outstanding as these were, none can hold a candle to Clark's ability to capture the moment. As for the man himself, you could not invent him if you tried!

I am often nonpluss to find copies of Alan's diaries so readily available for purchase online. I would have thought by now that the secret was out about Alan's unique and irrepeatable tome and all copies of his diaries present and future are sold out!

Perhaps at last, here is the "Great White Hope" that boxing never quite delivered. Acerbic, hurtful, hypochondriac, lecherous, lazy, shocking, nationalist, odious, philanderer, intolerable BUT equally extremely lovable, intellectual, likeable, original, fresh, interesting, affable, utterly human, devastatingly infectious and a national treasure worthy of a statue in Soho! If I have one regret, it is that Alan Clark did not live long enough to help Boris Johnson pen his diaries!

At once, Alan is utterly repellent and utterly butterly! He loved, adored and often worried about his boys James and Andrew and he was so utterly loving and devoted to Jane - but only God knows how he managed that! I secretly quite like him, adore him even and his writing I love - despite his impossible ways. I am sure my poor mother (RIP) would regret ever bringing me up for saying so. And having just admitted that, never again will I be embarrassed for fancying Diana Rigg in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"!.

Reading his diary and knowing he was real does not detract one bit that it would be impossible to invent Alan - he's that unbelievable!
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Format: Paperback
Alan Clark's Diaries, Volume Two is a record of his life and British politics through 1974 to late 1982. It has a cast of literally hundreds that includes politicians, the rich and the noble. Most of which are recalled by me as no more than vague memories. Additionally I have little concept of the politics covered and less desire to understand. All this considered then, this diary quite easily falls outside my normal criteria for reading material. But then that is the beauty of reading books you would not ordinarily, because very occasionally you will discover something so very precious.

Alan Clark was a privileged man. A toff by his own account with a high opinion of himself. The son of a renowned historian, a playboy who met his wife when she was fourteen and he twenty eight. They married when she was sixteen. They had two sons, he inherited a castle and in 1972 became the candidate elect for Plymouth Sutton for which he became the MP in 1974, retaining his seat as Thatcher swept to power in 1979 through to 1992. He dallied with bankruptcy for a number of years, gambled on the stock exchange, often very successfully. Was a published author of fiction and historical non-fiction, was addicted to Backgammon, a serial adulterer, held views that corresponded with those of the National Front, cherished the Third Reich's attempts at preserving the Saxon bloodline, was a campaigner for animal rights, a believer in the power of god, forever scheming on ways to better place himself in government and above all. Alan Clark was utterly, utterly charming and a quite brilliant conveyor of thought into the written word.

He is the kind of character we find in all races, he was charming, enthralling, aloof and prejudiced, forever scheming.
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