Two biographies of Mandleson were published around the same time. This one is unauthorised and so has an obvious head start before a page is turned. After all, who would want to read a Mandelson-approved version of his life?
Routledge, veteran political editor of the Mirror, demonstrates that he understands as well as any commentator the nature of contemporary politics, the Labour Party and the influence of the Prince of Darkness. Mandleson's crafting of the image of New Labour is charted, as is his journey into Blair's inner sanctum. There is no doubt that the man has immense power beyond his official political roles as MP and a member of the cabinet.
Routledge never interviewed Mandleson specifically for this book, so the 'big' questions - about his motivation, beliefs and ultimate goals - could only be poised; the answers Routledge gives are mere speculation, albeit based on his considerable experience and knowledge.
Intrigue coaxed me into buying the book and I read it with an open-mind. Like all good books, it made me ask some probing questions - about democracy, meritocracy and the power of image.
Mandelson's talents are unquestionable but his personal integrity and commitment to the common good will, I suspect, lead to his ultimate downfall and, I fear, diminish the trust people have in all our politicians.
My only gripe was the number of typographic errors in the book. Full marks to Routledge, but the publisher must try harder.