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4.6 out of 5 stars
44
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 2 March 2017
Having just read Benn's last Diaries (A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine) which I found uninteresting, I was hoping for better with this composite volume, covering several decades, but obviously abridged. I enjoyed these a lot more. There are judgments about people (essential if political diaries are to avoid tedium) and it is easier to see the consistency of his views over the years. Not surprisingly, I found the diaries from his years in office best of all. They show him as a fairly robust contributor in Cabinet, both under Wilson and Callaghan and not unafraid to debate differences of view with colleagues right up to the point, on occasion, of somewhat heated disagreement and even falling out. His famous courtesy (as with Tam Dalyell) disarmed people, and his complete integrity made him more exasperating to colleagues than distrusted. He had a few heated run-ins with Michael Foot but still voted for him to be Labour Party leader on the second ballot. He and Callaghan sometimes clashed but always made up because I suspect Benn was just impossible to dislike as a person even when his views riled you. In the 50s the Benns got on well with the Enoch Powells (!!), dining together on occasion and exchanging views on their progress or otherwise in their parliamentary/careers. Fascinating. There are good stories too about Labour figures of the day (Alex Lyon MP, David Ennals MP (whom Benn thoroughly disliked), Dennis Skinner MP, Eric Heffer MP, Ted Heath, Sir Keith Joseph MP, Barbara Castle and others. On the downside, a touch more editing would have been helpful: there are regular occasions when Benn says Denis did this or Eric said that, but there is no footnote as to which Denis or which Eric (Healey or Skinner, Varley or Heffer - they are all active at the time) is meant. I accept that the editor wanted to avoid footnotes in a composite volume but a complete absence was a step too far. All in all though, a damn good read whatever your political views, if you like political memoirs or diaries.
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on 7 December 2013
Whilst I haven't read the unedited Benn diaries, this condensed version (still containing considerable detail) seems to have been edited to give the reader a window into the key moments of the history of the time as well as of Benn's own life. Transcribed (mostly) from tape-recorded diaries, the book is enjoyable and easy to read.

The book has made me want to fill up on the accounts of his younger days, to look for an insight into how he developed his ideals, as well as the period after 1990.
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on 24 November 2013
I have read most of Tony Benn's diaries, but this pulls together the essential points without losing any of his inimitable style.
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on 28 April 2014
i found it very convenient to have all the diaries bound together in one volume. Each diary deals with the challenges of the times and Benn's observations and views on those challenges.The single volume bridges all the changing times through which he lived.
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on 25 April 2014
It is fascinating to read about what was going on in global politics and local Labour Party shenanigans from a first hand personal point of view. TB diaries are very readable and he never shies away from including his emotions within the text. I was just becoming aware of politics in the late 70's and TB mentions many party leaders as they come up through the ranks. I've found it quite a page turner.
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on 23 August 2017
a very good read which will be of interest to most readers who lived during this dramatic period and others pondering what on earth is the point of politicians.
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on 19 October 2016
A hero
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on 13 April 2014
Although I am not in favour with all his politics Tony Benn is one of the few, if not only honest politician out there. He saw through Blair from the first days and warned us all. Great historian, very interesting read indeed
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on 25 April 2014
I am plodding through my own history and it is bring back many memories, it is well written and has inspired me to write a diary, I am enjoying reading the book.
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on 15 January 2015
Arrived on time and readable but not in quite as good condition as I was led to believe. Overall good value though.
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