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Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition - A Biography of Boris Johnson Paperback – 1 Mar 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845137167
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845137168
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘Sonia Purnell's Just Boris is an indispensable examination into the mind, ambitions and deep insecurities of London's mayor; Boris hates it because she dares speak truth to power.’

(Nicholas Lezard Guardian - Best of 2012)

'Through fast prose and a vast array of interviews, Purnell ... portrays better than any predecessor the arrogance, opportunism, and irresistible buffoonery of our most celebrated politician.'

(Independent on Sunday)

'If you want the full Johnson experience, do read Sonia Purnell's new biography, Just Boris ... Johnson's supporters have depicted the book as a hatchet job. But actually it struck me as commendably fair' - Andrew Sparrow, UK Political Journalist of the Year

(Guardian)

'Gripping' - Quentin Letts (Book of the Week)

(Daily Mail)

'Future biographers will always be in her debt. Purnell has accumulated a wealth of previously unknown detail' - Andrew Gimson

(The Spectator)

'Filled with gems ... will make uncomfortable reading for Boris' - Camilla Long

(The Sunday Times)

'Thorough study...sharply narrated and dilgently researched.'

(New Statesman)

‘Meticulous and quietly devastating’

(Standpoint)

‘Meticulously researched and well presented’

(The Oldie)

'Gives good pointers on Johnson’s real beliefs as to who should be the [Conservatives’] leader, and on his future relationship with Cameron' - Stephen Hammond MP

(Total Politics)

‘Thoroughly researched and well-crafted … If you want to know who and what Boris is, read Sonia Purnell's book.’

(Literary Review)

‘Excellent, relentlessly entertaining biography’

(Guardian)

'Boisterous, widely praised otherwise comprehensive biography'

(Andy Beckett The Guardian)

'brilliant'

(Steve Richards The Independent)

Review

‘Sonia must have had huge fun writing this wonderful book. The only person who won’t be amused is Boris himself’

(Michael Crick) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'll confess, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Labour voter and was aghast when Boris Johnson beat Ken Livingstone to become Mayor of London in 2008. Indeed, I bought this book precisely because I wanted to arm myself with evidence to help sway those of my friends considering voting for Boris again in 2012. And there's certainly much for anti-BoJo types to quote from here. In particular stories about his 'part-time' approach to the mayoralty, some alarming allegations from a former Met officer about political interference in London's policing, and revelations about quite how much the 'Boris Bikes' and other so-called 'vanity projects' are likely to cost Londoners.

That all said, I can't say the book is overtly hostile to Boris. If I was forced to guess, I'd say Sonia Purnell probably voted for him. There's a certain quality of admiration in her writing. At the very least, she's genuinely fascinated by Boris and her depiction of him as the most cunning, charismatic and complicated character in British life today is hard to deny.

Which is probably why, despite myself, I found the Boris presented by this book so entertaining. His isn't the dull story of uninterrupted privilege and career politics that Purnell seems to believe David Cameron has enjoyed - although that's not to say Boris isn't privileged. There's much wit, roguish behaviour, and just plain bad behaviour to be enjoyed here. And some of that behaviour is so bad you could be forgiven for wondering, 'How can he ever have become an MP, let alone Mayor after that?' But, as Purnell argues convincingly, his carefully crafted public persona - Boris the Buffoon - acts as a Teflon shield that allows him to get away with it.
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Format: Hardcover
The cult of personality is alive and well and living, not just in North Korea, but also in central London. 'Just Boris' illuminates a driven, complex, contradictory personality who is well on the way to conquering a great many more of us with well-practised smoke and mirrors. Sonia Purnell's forensic examination of the man would would be PM reveals, with humour and considered analysis, something of the real man behind the engaging clown Boris Johnson would have us believe he is. If only Johnson believed in himself, he might have made it. Purnell tracks the rise of a man who has had an astonishingly privileged bike ride through the corridors of power. For all of her revelations, Purnell is as intrigued as the rest of us by one of the most engaging yet baffling politicians in decades. An excellent read.
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Format: Hardcover
It's always disturbing to learn about the murkier side of any politician's life but this time it's also hilarious and fabulously shocking. Intellect has no doubt propelled Boris a long way but it's his blind, ruthless ambition that really comes through in the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Outwardly, Boris Johnson seems like one of Britain's least-subtle politicians - brash, blustering and always aware of his own abilities.
What Sonia Purnell's biography makes clear is that there is significantly more to Boris than would appear from his hyperactive TV appearances.
Purnell paints Boris as a complex figure, whose startling self-confidence is at times offset by deep character flaws: selfishness, a seeming inability to forge intimate relationships, recklessness and occasional moments of startling bad judgement.
Purnell has clearly spoken to people who know the man well and has provided a valuable look into his formative years.
The sections on his early career in journalism - from Brussels with the Telegraph to his time at the helm of The Spectator - are particularly interesting. Purnell has interviewed countless Boris confidantes and detractors who provide a well-rounded look at the Mayor.
The tone of the book suits its subject - stentorian at points, knowledgeable, but light and heaped with lashings of mocking poison.
Laced with anecdotes, the book provides new insights into the country's most famous politician in every chapter.
One memorable scene in the section on Johnson's 2008 Mayoral campaign has his election supremo threatening violence in a well-heeled restaurant.
Things get more serious when the book reaches Boris's first term as London Mayor. Purnell has found people willing to spear Johnson for perceived failings in the way he has run London. At times the picture painted of City Hall under Boris is as ramshackle as the man himself.
Although Johnson's womanising may be tried and tested ground, there are enough new elements to keep those sections interesting - though other chapters contain the real revelations.
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Format: Hardcover
Having had a sneak preview of this new biography of Boris, I can confirm it is as entertaining - and as exuberant - as its subject. I understand Sonia Purnell was a colleague of Boris's when they both worked in Brussels for the Daily Telegraph, so much of the picture she paints feels first hand, and rings true. Although she was denied access to some key figures (it is definitely NOT an authorised biography, and much the better for it) she has fleshed out some of the myths and legends about the London mayor (including his tangled private life) with some very solid research. The result is, like Boris, robust, racy and larger than life. And as Boris is certain to occupy high positions of power within the Tory party for years to come, it is also essential reading.
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