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John Major: The Autobiography Audio Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook

4.3 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Abridged edition edition (11 Oct. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0001056093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0001056091
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 10.6 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 853,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

John Major's rise to the post of British prime minister is a puzzle of modern politics that his lengthy autobiography fails to resolve. It is clear, as we follow him from his modest origins in south London to his work as a local councillor and his remarkable ascent at Westminster under the eye of Margaret Thatcher, that he was driven by a determination to prove himself. But now that we are growing used to the messianic zeal that Tony Blair brings to the role of prime minister, it seems extraordinary that John Major should have achieved the position with such little evident vision or relish. Here is the man we thought we knew, decent, hard-working; at the mercy of events rather than their master.

So we find him bowed down by the misfortunes of an ungrateful world, rendered defensive by problems with the economy, by arguments over Europe, by the intractability of politicians in Northern Ireland, by attacks from within his own party.

With that same party busy airbrushing him from its history--despite his unlikely victory over Neil Kinnock in 1992--it's as well he has got his account into print, an unstuffy telling of a fascinating story that is free of the pomposity that affects so many of his political peers and which reveals a deep-seated belief in the value of basic decency. "I will not concede possession of the recent past to the mythographers of left or right who have every self-interest in retouching the history we made," he says.

But how sad to find him still so defensive and so bitter about the slights of others, still anxious to explain why speeches or gestures were misconstrued. "I was too conservative, too conventional. Too safe, too often. Too defensive. Too reactive," he says. But could he have been anything else? --Kim Fletcher --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

‘Compelling… a classic of holding the reader’s attention which many fiction writers might envy’
Roy Jenkins, Evening Standard

‘Unsparing… vivid… witty as well as wise’
Geoffrey Howe, Independent

‘One of the few post-war political autobiographies that will endure… compulsively readable and remarkably objective… deeply moving’
Bruce Anderson, Daily Telegraph

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
John Major was often ridiculed for his humble origins by left wing middle class journalists. He starts his autobiography by exploring the past of his family and the richness of his father's live, an account fascinating on its own. John Major as a person appears relatively late in the book but the reader quickly gets an impression of the ambitious young man driven by values, a sense of duty towards his family and the community. One begins to understand Major's own brand of liberal conservatism which is focused on the dignity of the individual. It is a sort of conservatism that was born from experiencing poverty and an ineffective welfare state. From his origins in local politics Major takes the reader into his carreer as an MP and thus paints a fascinating picture of post war Britain and some of the people who forged it. Major's style is very witty and analytical at the same time which makes the book a pleasure to read. The wealth of detail on macro-economic interdependencies make the book required reading for anyone who wants to understand politics. It emerges that Major was one of the most important Post-war Prime Ministers for two reasons: he launched the intiative for peace in Northern Ireland at a very great political if not personal risk thus breaking with taboos and he created a solid basis for local finance which lead to a ressurection of many British towns. Excellent reading!
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Format: Paperback
I am not, by any means, a political supporter of Mr Major (according to my Father I am a "Trot" - which translates into English as "liable to vote Liberal Democrat"), but I can't remember any political autobiography I've enjoyed so much. Sometimes sharply witty - verging on the downright catty on occasions - always clear, never pompous, generous in praise of others. I don't agree with the politics one iota more than I did before I read the book, but I did, to my surprise, end up liking the man who wrote it.
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By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
John Major said it himself - if he had been the only candidate in the 1997 election he would have come second. The usual view of his premiership is of an interlude between the eras of Thatcher and Blair. Historians in due course may see it otherwise, but the first thing that needs to be said is that as a historical record these memoirs are first class. For candour, fair-mindedness, lack of ego and clarity in separating fact from inference and opinion I have never read their like from anyone who ever attained such a position.
The candour doesn't stretch to telling us absolutely everything. Like Jimmy Carter John Major was unlucky on top of his own errors, but one great piece of good luck was that his affair (while in a junior post) with a parliamentary colleague Edwina Currie did not come to light until he had left office. It was the funniest story in 20th century British politics and it highlights what was always his problem - he wasn't taken seriously. His face was against him, his voice was against him, and his bank-managerish way of expressing himself at times, such as I have borrowed for my caption to this review via Private Eye, was a gift to the satirists and the chattering classes. Otherwise his style of writing is, in all important and relevant respects, excellent. I cringed on reading '...the huge constituency and its rich variety of interests'; or '...he was always ready with a good-humoured story'.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the most recent of the many autobiographies and memoirs to come out of the pens of the Thatcher government - and by far the most interesting. Unlike the others, the author does not seem to have fallen into the trap of rewriting history to make us think that the author was right all along, and that everyone else was wrong - Mr Major signs up for the blame when he believes he was as fault, and is very modest in taking the credit for some of his (unfortunately not publicised at the time) successes. The result is refreshing - recent history with the unmistakeable whiff of truth.
I'd recommend this to anyone with an interest in British political history, or indeed to anyone who wants to read a good autobiography. Mr Major's style is light, often revealing and frank, and only rarely plodding. In many cases, you can almost hear him saying what he has written!
Mr Major comes across as a man who made the best of several pretty miserable hands of cards that were dealt him - from his early life, through to the trials of running a fractious party with a slim majority. The fact that he does this with fortitude and conviction speaks volumes for the man.
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By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 19 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback
As I watched the results from the 1997 General Election from the sidelines of America (remembering that ten years prior I had been in the thick of things, on the floor of a count and being shown on BBC intently staring at the bank teller drafted to count the box in which I had an interest), I was variously amazed, pleased, saddened, and in the end, pleasantly surprised at the good humour of John Major, who said very simply, 'Okay, we lost.'
I met John Major first when he was a rising parliamentary star recruited to come to the constituency of the backbencher for whom I worked. He came to give a pep talk to the local Conservatives on a local radio programme; this constituency (Basildon) was considered a dead loss, so much so that the PM and various other Cabinet names wouldn't waste their time making a stop--but John Major came, and, we won.
Major has put together an interesting account of his time in office. Thankfully he concentrates on his political career (not spending hundreds of pages giving us the sort of childhood information that rarely adds value to a political autobiography), starting with his first victory coming to the House of Commons in 1979 (Margaret Thatcher's first victory as leader) and culminating with the 1997 electoral defeat, which he took with relatively good grace and rather few recriminations. And, whereas many political figures spend a large part of their memoirs in a 'If I were still there' mode, Major only devotes a few pages to the follow-up and future (in a five-page chapter entitled Aftermath) preferring not to speculate on irrelevant imponderables, and avoiding the problem of which he was most critical in his predecessor--that being of not wanting to let go.
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