The Hubris Syndrome: Bush, Blair and the Intoxication of Power Paperback – 23 Jul 2007
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A unique and penetrating insight. Anyone who intends to vote at any election should read this book first. -- Dr Raj Persaud
This is psychobiography without the psychobabble. I found it absorbing, clear, lively and persuasive. I think David Owen is right. -- Matthew Parris
About the Author
Lord David Owen has been Foreign Secretary, leader of the Social Democratic party, and now a Crossbencher in the Lords. He was trained as a medical doctor, and has long been interested in the effect of ill health on heads of government. Among many books, he is the author of Balkan Odyssey, a powerful autobiography, Time to Declare, and a poetry anthology, Seven Ages.
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Top Customer Reviews
His assessments of Margaret Thatcher, George W Bush and Blair in terms of the development of hubris in each case are utterly convincing. More worringly, is that he posits that even where there may not be a predisposition to hubris, the longer a person holds the reins of political power the greater its development potential.
Focussing on the foibles of political leaders is, of course, fascinating, but in the case of the three aforementioned political leaders the absence of effective checks and balances (in particular, of enough gutsy MPs or members of Congress) gave them free rein. In fairness, Lord Owen clearly recognises this.
The only reason for withholding one star from this review is that this book represents a start in what may emerge as a cogent psycho-political theory. Can't wait for his follow-up book.
Also, a huge proportion of the book is about Iraq. Of course what went on in Iraq could be used to illustrate Blair's and Bush's hubris in waging war, but David Owen uses his knowledge as former foreign secretary to provide much too much detail for the reader, far more than is required in relation to hubris. The book actually has two subjects, hubris and Iraq. The latter will be covered by the Chilcott Inquiry.
I wish Blair would follow Bush into simlar modest silence.
I suppose, after all, the English Speaking peoples around the globe are destined to have this kind of bond, for better or worse.
By the way, this little book was not available in the United States, so I ordered it from Amazon UK..
It was an accurate if painful account of the relationship of the former President and former Prime Minister.
The front cover of the book shows a photo of Blair and Bush striding side by side, edged by their national flags, perhaps moving towards podiums for a press conference. Above them looms the title of this book. To the Greeks, hubris was always paired with nemesis. During a Roman triumphal procession the triumphator rode in all his glory in a chariot, but behind him stood a slave who whispered in his ear "Remember, you are mortal". Perhaps this tradition should be re-instated.
The author considers that power does not necessarily lead to hubristic behaviour, and he gives examples of the many leaders who seem unaffected. As in many things, a combination of nature and nurture seems to be operating. In the case of Blair he detects it at the start of the Kosovo crisis; for Bush he sees it appearing after 9/11.
He uses the word syndrome rather than illness. These leaders are not medically sick and the syndromes can be difficult to define medically, but syndromes are real, pace post-traumatic stress disorder.
This is a short book of 137 pages. Originally it was planned to be part of a larger book on illness in political leaders, but was published as a separate book in 2007, after Blair had stepped-down and Brown was prime minister.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Dates and details of the time of Blair and Bush must have kept a diary. David Owem always writes. Ery clearly and his insight is well supported. Read morePublished 12 months ago by lynne bastow
The book should have been more intellectual. It does not really add a great deal that is not already in the public domain.Published on 12 Jun. 2013 by Waddo
Essential Reading for anyone with a Vote!
Also for anyone in Personel or Human Affairs in a large organisation who has an opportunity to appoint managers and senior executives
The Hubris Syndrome: Bush, Blair and the Intoxication of Power is a good reflectiuon of the challenge of leadership in relation to Christianity.Published on 22 Jun. 2011 by Oyin