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on 4 April 2018
A honest self assessment mixed with a distorted can worship of Gordon Brown, this tale explains the moral vacuum at the centre of Brown's boys detached from reality and governing out of fear.. Samsung's loyalty glosses over the lack of vision or awareness of the impact of the Brown clique on its own supporters. His ardent endorsement of Ed Balls coincided with his constituents rejecting him, really sums up the limits of Damien"s predictive powers.

If you like your politics dirty, you will love this.
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on 1 April 2016
McBride was a nasty piece of work, personally damaging Labour's election chances and eventually getting sacked from 10 Downing Street when his dirty tricks were exposed publicly. Luckily he has the media savvy and wit to try to salvage his tarnished reputation with a regretful book about his time as one of Gordon Brown's closest advisers. It's a fascinating read, particularly if you follow British politics and remember all of this happening. It’s well written, insightful and to-the-point, with numerous personal anecdotes about Brown, the Milibands, Ed Balls and others in the Brown camp. Despite his fearsome reputation, it actually makes me want to go for a pint with him to find out more.

There are some convenient inconsistencies to his arguments though. For example, he makes the interesting (but wrong!) case that the ongoing Blair-Brown internal war was actually helpful to Labour as it directed media attention towards the Labour leadership and away from a Labour-Conservative debate. He seems to use this argument as justification for ruining the careers of several Labour MPs and going out of his way to discredit Blair as Prime Minister. Yet after his man Brown take over as PM, he slates Labour criticism of the dysfunctional Brown premiership as being naïve, unhelpful and damaging to the wider Labour cause, roundly berating people like Alan Johnson, Alan Milburn and Harriet Harman for stoking up the media flames. Why the sudden change of heart I wonder?

McBride spends a lot of the book saying how awful he was behaving and telling tales about his vicious briefings, leaks and character assassinations, all in the name of a misplaced loyalty to Brown. He uses the book to imply he now has deep regret and a changed personality, but for me it never answers the ultimate question: if you could do it all again the same way - minus your sacking - would you? At the end of the book I can't help but think the answer is "yes I would".
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on 25 July 2015
Power Trip, is written by Damian McBride a Civil Servant who rose to a position of prominence under Gordon Brown during the last labour government. This is an interesting yarn detailing the cut throat nature of high level politics. At times the language and behaviour makes 'The Thick of It' look very realistic, McBride does a good job of detailing the heavy handed approaches of those influencing Government officials, and provides some interesting and valuable asides on Political figures of the era, such as Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Milliband and Ed Balls.

While the book details McBride's rise and fall, it often felt as though his career spinning stories to the media, was utilised well in writing this book as he clearly uses it to get back at figures who upset or sabotaged him during his political career.

The book employs fairly industrial language and doesn't hide from being honest about the difficult working environment within the Governments inner sanctum, however it is a decent parable, showing the power of image and media.

Overall this was a decent read, which was well written, easy to follow and interesting, the perspective feels forced and biased, I would recommend this to people interested in the UK Governments political processes and personalities, but this holds little interest to anyone else.
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on 27 October 2013
This is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in the way things work in government and politics, if they can approach McBride’s account with an open mind.

I was never well disposed to the government McBride served, and particularly not to the direction Gordon Brown gave it or to his coterie who remain in power, and that hasn’t changed. I also knew of McBride’s name and reputation (including his ‘McPoison’ nickname) well before the ‘smeargate‘ scandal, so I began with a poor view of the whole cast of characters.

I was really impressed, though, by the unbelievably candid interview McBride gave Paxman on Newsnight during the Labour Conference, and that decided me to buy the book. I wasn’t disappointed.

First, it reads well and the story is really interesting at every stage, from the minutiae of the civil service to the later power games and all the rest.

Second, McBride has apparently turned himself and his character around, leading to an extended mea culpa of such breathtaking degree that it can hardly have seen a precedent in British politics. In this he won my respect.

And third, all the signs from the book indicate that McBride was actually enormously capable (and quick), even after a lot of drink and when putting his skills to less laudable purposes than the immediate public interest (unless that was coincident with keeping Gordon out of trouble). In that respect, then, I thought it showed his Cambridge education was certainly not wasted, although he could definitely have made a more conventional use of it.

Having come through the fire, I found McBride to be a sympathetic character, despite the flaws he played up for some years, and I reckon CAFOD must now have one of the most capable communications chiefs around. Good for them in taking him on and I wish both sides well.

As for the hero of McBride’s account, I still regret many of Gordon Brown’s obvious and unforced errors, and I remain deeply unconvinced by the agenda he ran with in government. But at least McBride does succeed in painting Gordon as a nicer and warmer human being, and although this has often been averred by others who know him, I found McBride the more convincing advocate, and Gordon should be pleased with that.
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on 21 October 2013
A friend recommended this book, I thought it would be the usual sanctimonious self justification we sometimes get from fallen public figures. It was a very easy read, and as far as I can see, painfully honest. Our increasingly presidential style of politics demands and grows the roles and functions he describes. It also gave an illuminating and useful insight into some major political characters. My opinion of Gordon Brown and indeed Ed Balls has gone up a few notches. In spite of it all McBrides fierce loyalty and basic honesty are evident. Although he's not looking for sympathy, I hope he gets his life back and has something else to excite his enthusiasm.
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on 8 September 2014
Damien McBride writes well. In places very well. And therein lies the nub of the problem.

At face value, this is a confessional work by a repentant man who regrets the many sins he committed while close to the centre of power. McBride appears to be candid about his problems with alcohol, his failed relationships, his manipulation of national news, his use of half-truths and occasional inventions, his irresponsibility and lack of care for the individuals on the receiving end of his schemes, his flirtations with illegality, and yet...

...and yet I couldn't help thinking of that scene in the musical Guys and Dolls, when the gangsters are called to testify at the Salvation Army, feigning sincere contrition for the benefit of their leader, Sky Masterson, who won them in a dice game.

McBride would make an excellent Nicely Nicely Johnson. Whether he really has had a sobering revelation and has chosen to confess faithfully, or whether this is simply a Mea Culpa designed to exculpate other senior figures in the then Labour government for their parts in the dishonesty he describes, is left for the reader to decide.

It's a good book, but I've no idea how honest it really is.
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on 23 May 2014
I'm a former politics student who once had designs on entering the civil service, so McBride's insights into these and other areas do really appeal to me, but even if you are not interested in these matters to which the first few chapters are devoted, I don't think you'll bore of them; McBride manages to be informative and witty; it never once seems a distraction or at an irrelevant tangent to the world of political machinations we all wanted to read about.
On that note, this book isn't nearly as vicious as I was expecting following all the media hype on its release. Of course, there are funny, harsh and even harsh and funny revelations about Gordon Brown (and others) but I never once got the impression that this book was written in critique of Brown, if anything quite the opposite as the tone is often very defensive and even loving. A very easy to read work that should appeal to anyone from those who follow politics to someone who just enjoys watching In The Thick of It.
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on 12 November 2016
brilliant book ...shockingly honest. About time a political biography actually silly the beans in such an open way where the author has scant regard for how he will be viewed by historians as much as he had scant regard for the opposition the media and the voter at large . For what its worth i feel , after reading this book , that i owe Mr Mc Bride a debt of gratitude for that honesty ...its the type of "truth " we rarely get to teste"
Delivered on time and in good condition
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on 2 April 2015
A revealing book, relevant today (2015) with certain ministerial personalities, but the book is too verbose and dare I say even too self-centred in places. Would have been better about a third of its current length. However, it really is an insight into the political and personal wranglings/failings, if that's the right word, of top men in parliament, so if you're interested in that it is an eye opening read. If I could've given it a 3.5 rating I would have done.
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on 8 February 2015
The memoirs of a fanatic, fanatical in his support for his mentor Gordon Brown. And, like all fanatics, Damien seems blind to certain things: Tony Blair's successes, anything related to the Tories, Brown's character flaws and his failures in office. Quite honest in admitting his own character flaws, his own mistakes, this is not a bad account of a spin doctor's time at the centre of power. But it also comes across as rather a whiney, self-justifying settling of scores.
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