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This Boy Paperback – 27 Feb 2014
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"the best memoir by a politician you will ever read" (Philip Collins The Times)
"a poignant memoir…Johnson writes wonderfully" (Mary Kenny Telegraph)
"deeply moving and unforgettable" (Lynn Barber Sunday Times)
"a handsome and eloquent tribute" (Peter Wilby Guardian)
"beautifully, beautifully written... his style is utterly simple, with a wit so understated that every reader will believe that he or she alone got it" (John Rentoul Independent on Sunday)
"Neither mawkish nor sentimental, it is an evocative, filmic account on an early childhood... would make a fabulous drama that, for all its squalor, lifts the spirits" (Judith Woods Daily Telegraph)
"a testament to the power of family love and a tribute to two strong women" (Ian Birrell Daily Mail)
"Wonderful and moving... unreadable with a dry eye" (The Times)
"the biography of a politician like no other - beautifully observed, humorous, moving, uplifting; told with a dry self-deprecating wit and not a trace of self-pity" (Chris Mullin Observer)
"No ordinary politician's memoir ... wonderful." (John Grimond The Spectator)
Winner of the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize 2014
Winner of the Orwell Prize 2014
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Top Customer Reviews
And when did you last read a political autobiography that was not an ego-trip by the author?
Rather Alan Johnson's book is mainly about two remarkable women - his mother, Lily and his sister Linda - struggling for their own survival, and that of the young Alan, in dreadful slum conditions, with a husband and father, Steve - who was a total waste of space in every respect - during the period between the end of World War Two and the beginning of the Swinging Sixties. (And the book is a powerful reminder to those of us who remember those times of how bloody horrible in some many ways the "good old days" of the 50s really were; violent racism, unbridled sexism and homophobia, casual violence, grinding poverty, Arctic winters....)
Lily's life is an eternal struggle, made even more unbearable when Steve abandons her and the two children. Wastrel he may have been but his leaving is still like a bereavement. Yet she copes, robbing Peter to pay Paul, always doing her very best for Linda and Alan. Then Lily dies, at only 42 and Linda takes over, defying officialdom though only in her teens so that she and her young brother can stay together.
The story sounds tragic. While it's certainy sad, it escapes tragedy due to Alan Johnson's refusal to write it as a "dreadful childhood" memoir.Read more ›
But that is not all this work conveys- a testament to the devotion of his mother Lily who raised two children and formed their characters admirably despite grinding poverty,failing health and a feckless,violent husband,and also to the strength and feisty determination of his sister Linda to keep the family together.
Written in an unsentimental and highly readable style,this memoir is the best autobiography I have read in very long time. Enjoy!
Alan Johnson comes across as witty, charming, authentic and self-deprecating, but the real heroes of the story are his sister and mother who never gave up hope fighting against what must have seemed like impossible odds.
Abandoned by his father at an early age Johnson survived a very deprived childhood thanks to the efforts of his permanently ill mother and a particularly tough and determined sister Linda.
In the current political climate where an Eton education appears almost obligatory it was astonishing that someone from a background like this should reach high office.
Alan Johnson always struck me as a thoroughly decent, honest man who carried out his political career with great integrity. I think it is a great shame that he never challenged for the Labour leadership as I feel that he would have been, almost uniquely, a leader I would have trusted.
As a writer I think that he conveys the hardships of the working class in the slums of post-war London accurately and without the sentimentality so often employed in memoirs.
I look forward to the next instalment and thoroughly recommend this.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I thought this was a good read and well written. I'd heard him talking about this on TV a while back so it has taken me a while to get round to reading it and I do wish I'd read... Read morePublished 16 days ago by Jill in East Kent
More interesting than follow up book, although not really my choice of bookPublished 26 days ago by Valann
interesting and clear evocation of west london working class life in the 1950s and 60s. plus the role of a useless, selfish father. Read morePublished 26 days ago by minty
Great read. Timely as it impacts on what is happening today. A good reminder of what life was really like for the ordinary person not the rose tinted middle class view. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ronald Turnbull
Alan Johnson is not a gifted writer but he has a story to tell and he tells it well. He grew up in momentous times, living in Notting Hill well before it was gentrified. Read morePublished 1 month ago by GeordieReader
Anywhere near as tough a time thank goodness enjoyed all the memories of pop groups some of whom I had forgotten and could relate to lots of the dramas at school and as a young... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
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