Last Man Standing: Memoirs of a Political Survivor Paperback – Unabridged, 23 May 2013
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"This book succeeds on three levels. First as the memoir of a man who rose from modest origins to occupy three of the highest offices in the land. Second as an inside account of the rise and fall of new Labour and, finally, as a masterclass in the art of government by one of its foremost practitioners. It is lucid, engaging, humorous, occasionally self-deprecating and generally frank." --Chris Mullin, Times
"One of the least self-pitying memoirs I have read: a blessed relief ... this well-told, humane and entertaining tale of high office shows that Labour has been jolly lucky to have Rubber Jack around for so long" -- Anne McElvoy, Sunday Times
"Unexpectedly interesting ... His put-downs are few and far between, but all the more devastating for being so measured and euphemistic." --4 **** Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday
"There is none of the puffed-up grandness that many politicians acquire. On the contrary, Straw seems to remain decent, his mistakes freely admitted and his feet firmly rooted on the ground" --Douglas Carswell, Sunday Express
"These memoirs are better written than most. There is ample gossip and genuinely funny stories ... As well as waspish observations about personalities Charles Clarke is "a quixotic contrarian" there are revealing anecdotes."
--Peter Wilby, Guardian
"A fascinating insight into life at the heart of New Labour ... crafted with literary elegance erudite, forensic and fascinating ... This book will stand the test of time. Straw's account of Labour's journeys in and out of power over nearly five decades is a must for serious students of governments and politics" --Peter Hain, Observer
"This book is no dull ministerial CV. One of Straw's virtues as a politician was that he was one of the few interviewees who would, at 8.10am on the Today programme, answer the questions and engage in the argument. No surprise, then, that he is a good writer, with a nice line in understated wit ... I had no idea that Straw's early life was so difficult, and he tells the story well ... You might think, after all the memoirs of the New Labour years, that it would be hard to add much that is new. Yet each different voice adds a different perspective, and this is one of the best and most distinctive." --John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday
"After a few years in government, Tony Blair used to joke that every successive week was his worst ever. Jack Straw's recent memoir Last Man Standing is a reminder that, in an age of ceaseless scrutiny, a government can easily appear beset by troubles...But one of the themes that emerges from Mr Straw's memoirs is that political crises end up at the centre of government even if they do not originate there..." --Times
"'Last Man Standing' is one of the better memoirs by a leading light of the New Labour years. Straw's prose is like the man himself: cautious, measured, dependable."
--Private Eye --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The autobiography of Jack Straw - an MP for thirty-three years and at the heart of government throughout the longest-serving Labour administration in historySee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
His time as the Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary is also fascinating. As the story progresses, at times describing the passage of a bill and at other times indulging in some Labour party intrigue, I experienced mixed feelings, both of interest and frustration as I was getting drawn into the complexity and gravity of the events unfolding around him.
The story is set not so long ago and the events should still be fresh in people's minds, allowing them to rethink back to when they actually occurred.Read more ›
It is difficult to dislike Jack Straw. `I love politics, Parliament, my Blackburn constituency,' is Straw's first sentence in Last Man Standing: Memoirs of a Political Survivor. He has always been a reassuring figure, if perhaps a little dull. It is this intrinsic likeability that helps explain why he has been a political survivor.
Straw says the first rule of politics is to survive. He remained in top Cabinet posts throughout Labour's 13 years in government, including spells as Home then Foreign Secretary, Commons Leader and finally Lord Chancellor. He earned the nickname Rubber Jack, the Politician who remained intact whatever was thrown at him.
The big philosophical ideas of politics are not Straw's primary concern. He prefers to follow a crowd with his head down. Ahead of the 1959 election, aged 13, he wrote `to each of the main parties to ask for details of what they were intending to do.' Though his love of politics is clear, what drives him is less apparent.
For example, Straw has always been a Eurosceptic. In 1975, he helped organise the `No' campaign in the referendum on the Common Market. But when he was Foreign Secretary, Straw not only opposed a referendum, he advocated a European Constitution and described the EU as a `noble institution'. Straw was simply putting survival before belief.Read more ›
I read "Last Man Standing" because I am addicted to British politics (thanks to BBC Democracy Live and the UK Parliament website). I was especially interested in learning what a minister actually does during the course of his day. From Mr Straw's account of his thirteen years of juggling the ball of world events and, at the same time, managing his Blackburn constituency, I am impressed both with his energy and with his equanimity, particularly in navigating what I gather were sometimes treacherous political waters. I say 'gather', because Mr Straw is properly reticent on such matters. Those looking for sensational revelations about the Blair-Brown years will have to go elsewhere.
Mr Straw laces his memoir with frequent and often self-deprecating applications of keen wit. His compelling account of his childhood in Essex (one doesn't often read about an 'ordinary' child and future politician who has not attended public school) represents the perfect prelude for a career that eventually finds him wearing the knee breeches and heavy gold-braided robes of the Lord Chancellor (His choosing to do away with the "full bottom wig" seems especially apropos). Despite what must be the official restrictions on what he can tell us, Mr Straw gives his readers an intriguing glimpse of his career as both Home and Foreign Secretary as well as Leader of the House of Commons.
My overall impression gleaned from the narrative is that Jack Straw is an incredibly *nice* man. I enjoyed reading his political autobiography immensely.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There was a sketch on the Saturday Night Armistice about the Jack Straw fan club. I used to find this hilarious. Of all people why would anyone be a fan of Jack Straw. Read morePublished 3 months ago by seanjm
I have not personally read this book, but gave it to someone as a present. He enjoyed reading it very much and I have every reason to believe that I would have concurred with him... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Emma Moreton
If there is ever a directors cut - that is a longer version- of this book I will be buying it. Fascinating insight into the new Labour experiment and Straw's role within the same. Read morePublished on 31 May 2014 by H. Bell
Interesting insight from 'The Last Man Standing'. Why do I have to write more words, just means I'll stop doing reviews.Published on 25 Mar. 2014 by Ms A J West
I don't know what I expected from this book, but I think perhaps more of his personal life than the political documentary it tuned out to be. Read morePublished on 19 Mar. 2014 by Paula Hirst