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Free At Last! Diaries 1991-2001 Paperback – 2 Oct 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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  • Free At Last! Diaries 1991-2001
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  • More Time for Politics: Diaries 2001-2007
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Product details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (2 Oct. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009941502X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099415022
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The new volume is, to my mind, the best - he discards his Sunday best and allows himself to emerge as a human being full of weakness and anxieties balanced by an enviable capacity for love and joy" (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)

"There is a passion in Benn's writing and speaking that far transcends the miserable aspirations of most contemporary politicians" (Paul Foot Guardian)

"It is the personal side of the story that most compels...This is the unselfconscious reminiscence of a man in full" (Daily Telegraph)

"This is a powerful record of the times" (Simon Heffer)

"Easily the best of the year's diaries... It proves to be an astonishingly moving and human document" (Anthony Howard, Sunday Times)

Book Description

The published diaries of one of Britain's most famous politicians. A fascinating insight into twentieth century British politics.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I write this review from the standpoint as a true blue Tory!! Notwithstanding that admission and if anyone is still reading after it, i advise anyone who is at all interested in politics to read this. It gives a fascinating insight int politcs, political relationships and what actually goes on in Westminster and political parties. It is also funny and thought provoking and moving. In short it is brilliant. If you read the Clark diaries and were put off by political self obsession then read this, it may even restore your faith in politicians!!
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Format: Paperback
After being transfixed by previous volumes of his diaries, I was awaiting this volume with eager anticipation, and Tony Benn, and his editor Ruth Winstone do not disappoint. Covering his last years on Labour's NEC and his final years as am MP, this book is outstanding in giving a view into the workings of the Labour Party, both old and new. What sets this volume apart from earlier diaries is that it is far more personal, charting as it does the sad losses of both his mother and wife, but also the birth of more grandchildren, who seem to bring Benn so much joy.
At times he slips into grumpy old man mode, but hell the guy was in his seventies when he dictated them so some leeway is appropriate.
Earlier volumes showed Tony as a very active MP indeed. Despite ill health and advacing years he shows no sign of slowing down.
An excellent read. All diarists take note: This is how it should be done
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Format: Hardcover
Tony Benn's status as one of the 20th Century's most important political statesmen is well-deserved, and 'Free At Last', supposedly the last volume of his diaries (he left Parliament in May 2001) covers his final decade as a Member of Parliament- a record of his disenchanment with New Labour and subsequent alienation, and of his wife Caroline's death from cancer. Throughout, Benn's good-humoured, good-natured self shines through, and he tackles key issues with both righteous indignation and well-argued alternatives- emerging not as the rabid Left-wing crackpot with the Right-wing British press would have you believe, but as a well-intentioned, sadly sidelined and mentally well-balanced political theorist. His is a life rife with incident but often disconcertingly familiar and the diary form allows (or perhaps forces) him to be rigorously honest. As a result, this is both a wonderful read and a priceless cultural and political artefact. Essential.
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Format: Paperback
Tony Benn's diaries from 1991 - 2001 provide an insight into the political and personal life of a socialist politician. What I discovered by reading this book was a fantastic historial portrayal of the major politcal events of the 1990s, and the documentation of the successes and struggles of a very honest/open man. I do not believe that the diaries would only be of interest to staunch left wingers - the diaries are not that narrow - as they also offer a portrayal of the workings of our politcal system, which is something I think would be of interest to anyone that is politcally minded.
Aside from its histotrical/political value, the diaries let us into the personal life of Mr Benn (not the cartoon character you jokers!) and show us the great love he has for his family and especially for his late wife Caroline (herself a writer and academic). I felt that it is was very well written and as a result I found it very easy to read.
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Format: Hardcover
This edition of Tony Benn’s diaries is a more complete read than the previous ones. We are still led through policy decisions and Benn’s thoughts about politicians along the way but this time we are introduced more frequently to his family and loved friends.
I learnt a lot about the travels and chores of a truly committed Member of Parliament and his constituency of Chesterfield has been fortunate indeed to have been served by him through the years.
The early part of the diaries continues to detail primarily with political matters but the ground gradually shifts to show us more about the man himself and his feelings for the people around him. As time moves on one can feel Benn’s disillusionment with politics and his weariness of fighting battles that he no longer believes can be won. In the end I wanted to hear him settle for retirement to extinguish the anguish that he so clearly had in the last few years.
My personal regard for Benn is much higher as a result of reading this book although I still question many of his political positions. A friendly and honest individual emerges. A bit batty at times but making no apologies for his eccentricities, he becomes a man one can really like.
Tony Benn’s honesty is transparent and no more so than when he outlines his clear sense of betrayal by today’s Labour leadership. What a pity that age caught up with him and denied us a committed and intelligent political mind. I think as I am sure he does, that we deserved more of his sort of politician to balance the super slick-automatons that have gradually replaced him and his like.
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Format: Paperback
In these days of Politics lite, when all debate and political ideas are being reduced to third way mush, here is a voice to heed.
Starting with John Major's last election victory and the death throes of Kinnock's leadership, Tony Benn begins to feel deep disillusionment on how the role of Parliament and political life are developing. But worse is to come. John Smith's brief leadership gives way to the nascent Blair leadership, and the beginning of the end of conviction politics....
There's a cast of thousands here, and the detail and bustle of daily political life protrayed is one of the joys of the book. From the local world of Benn's Chesterfield constituency to the machinations of the National Executive and the drama of the House, it's all here.
Tony Benn may not be as fully engaged in events as he may once have been, as he is increasingly sidelined by his own party, and his own inclinations and personal life draw him further away, and the diaries may not therefore be as politically satisfying as previously volumes.
But the human drama of the account of the illness and death of his beloved wife Caroline is profoundly moving. The dignity of his writing, the avoidance of mawkishness, the raw emotion behind the restraint of language are tremendously powerful.
He is full of love and admiration for his family and friends too, which help to carry him through the depression of the end of his parliamentary career and his bereavement. But there's another consolation. As he is repeats in these pages, he's "leaving parliament to concentrate on politics......
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