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Gordon Brown Paperback – 7 Mar 2005
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‘As a psychological profile, an exploration of personal ambition and a study of political obsession driven by religious angst, this biography is gripping.’ Daily Telegraph
‘Intensively researched but coolly critical…this remains the most thorough biography we have.’ Independent
‘What makes this worth reading is Bower’s damning indictment of Brown's main boast: his supposedly sure stewardship of the economy.’ The Times
‘A powerful book which poses serious questions.’ James Naughtie
‘Compulsively readable…essential reading.’ Norman Lamont
About the Author
Tom Bower has a distinguished reputation as an investigative historian, broadcaster and journalist and is the author of several ground-breaking books about tycoons. His most recent works are ‘Conrad and Lady Black’, ‘The Squeeze’ and his biographies of Simon Cowell and Bernie Ecclestone. Among his other much-debated biographies are those of Mohammed Fayed, Richard Branson and Robert Maxwell.
Top customer reviews
The scale of the personal ambition and the single-minded process of trying to attain it paints a vivid picture of a deeply flawed man in a deeply flawed government.
It is clear that Gordon Brown is a conviction politician. It is unfortunate that the conviction is that he is right and that everyone else is wrong and must be punished for their impertinence if they disagree.
No-one comes out of this very well, although the civil servants are portrayed as merely being carried away by the Brown/Balls machine.
This book was published in 2004. Subsequent events demonstrate most of the points amply demonstrated by the text. Indecision, overconfidence, massive personal vanity, a willingness to make repetitive and inaccurate sound bites a substitute for truth, and a refusal to concede error have all been proved by recent events.
The writing style can be wearing but the content is both repellant and moreish.
I enjoyed the book but found Bower's style somewhat unsatisfying. I found this also with Broken Dreams but put that down his not being a his audience with lots of supporting information but so bluntly and to such excess that I can't help (in both their cases) questioning the accuracy of what is presented. In this case the case put forward is damning, in fact it's too damning and one sided. With the personality flaws and career failures listed by Bower I wonder how Brown ever became the second most powerful man in the country (and in some cases the most powerful). I also found his conclusion unsatisfactory. Almost an afterthought with no arguments given in the preceding chapters to really support his assertion about Brown and the leadership.
In short, a good read but left me feeling unsatisfied. Probably worth waiting for the paperback.
The book does a good job of showing how fortunate Brown has been in being able to present himself as prudent whilst, at the same time, following an increasingly reckless approach to the public finances against a backdrop of falling underlying revenues - a contrast beautifully finessed by his management of the press in an environment made favourable by the Iraqi "misfortunes" of Blair and others.
Puzzlingly, the book fails to comment much on why it is that Brown has no apparent interest in other Cabinet roles - though his ability to control from the Treasury via budgets may be a factor.
Overall the picture is of a dictatorial control freak who would be a disaster as a Prime Minister. This book is a must-read for those contemplating the forthcoming election, as Brown appears sure that Blair will resign in late 2006 and leave him to take over.
For me, Gordon Brown is a boy who has never come to terms with the fact that he is not the cleverest boy in the class, and cannot actually get everything he wants by throwing tantrums and bullying those around him. Many people grow up like this to a greater or lesser extent. Because they can never accept constructive criticism, or learn from their mistakes they make very bad leaders of companies and countries, even though their dominant behaviour often puts them in those very positions. Tony Blair may be laughing all the way to the bank that he has lumbered his old enemy with the fallout of ten years terrible policies, but he has done the rest of us a terrible mis-service.
And how on earth could Bower conclude, after 450 pages of this, that "probably, and deservedly, his bid [for the premiership] will be successful"? Anyone who accepted the accuracy of Bower's analysis could not possibly come to that conclusion, so how could the author?
"Gordon Brown" was full of interesting extracts from the disenchanted, some open, some anonymous, but was - because of its determination to skewer the subject - much less convincing an analysis of Brown's or Labour's failings than the contributions of Andrew Rawnsley in "Servants of the People" or James Naughtie's "The Rivals".
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