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4.8 out of 5 stars
92
4.8 out of 5 stars


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VINE VOICEon 5 November 2013
This is a delightful, unique book possibly destined to become a future classic.

Poignant, warming and sometimes quite funny, it is, sadly, the final diaries of one of the great Parliamentarians of the age.

While I believe Benn has been mostly wrong throughout his life - on everything from lauding Chairman Mao to opposing the relaxing of licensing laws - he's always worth listening to.

Detailing the years from 2007 to present, the book has Benn stoically facing up to death, wondering whether he has been too egotistical down the years, coming up with new invention the seat-case, calling Gordon Brown a disaster, and working, working, working.

This man in his eighties would, for example, get up at 5am, walk to the tube, get a train up north, attend a few meetings, come back down to London, give a speech or two at a peace rally in Trafalgar Square, then at night attend a party for Shami Chakrabarti (while never touching a drop, of course).

He is often `very, very tired', frequently depressed (particularly in the morning) and has unending problems with his computer and his broadband.

There are all sorts of surprises: he calls the Observer rubbish - `I'd rather read The Sunday Telegraph'; David Cameron tells him he enjoyed Benn's Arguments For Democracy; he ponders whether he has been wrong about everything; he wraps 140 Christmas presents for his family.

Benn comes across as incredibly industrious, fearless, honourable and full of integrity. He cares for many people and has time for folk no matter what their politics. He loves his Parliament. The adoration he feels for his family and that they feel for him is clear, and very touching. His writing style is accessible (almost child-like at times), he never swears and can be endearingly old fogeyish - `Jarvis Cocker from the Pulp group' comes to visit him at one point.

A smashing book for anyone interested in, well, life: I struggled to put it down and was sad when it was over.
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on 19 December 2013
As always the Benn Diaries are an enjoyable and entertaining read, even though I would recommend anyone to read and buy a copy, be prepared for an emotional rollacoaster of a journey through each page, as the various stages as chronicled by Benn of coping with creeping old age and ill health, is very upsetting including the last chapter covering his hospitalisations and the reasons now why this has meant that he now longer has the strength to keep continuing with his diaries very sad.
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on 16 August 2017
Present for Pops. He loved it and says it was very insightful and intelligently written with peppering of humour.
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on 28 April 2017
a gift that was well received
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on 6 August 2017
Bought as a gift so haven't read it!...but prompt delivery and recipient very happy!
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on 6 July 2014
This diary provides a real insight into politics and politicians and is written with a humanity that is impressive. I could not put the diaries down, even though I had recently finished two of his earlier diary volumes. A remarkable, caring and astute, family man who did what he could to improve this Country and internationally.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 March 2014
Tony Benn has always seemed enigmatic. A somewhat unfathomable but nevertheless charismatic man, full of contradiction. A socialist with strong Marxist leanings, but one born to title and privilege. I've lived through his most influential times. He's one of a very singular few politicians who retained both their personal and political integrity. Even before it became fashionable to do so, Benn had seen through and denounced the sham Socialism presented by Blair.

I haven't read his earlier diaries and I took this book as an audible download shortly before he died. With that poignancy aside, this record and his reflections are so incredibly relevant at a number of levels. Politically, he was something of a seer and a maverick. One who saw through sham, was beguiled by prospect of influence and remained true to his roots of socialism.

As an individual, his fears and fragility come across so well. As a man, he's unafraid to express both his love and loss. That's exceptional. He explores the process of getting older with candour and humour. Unexpectedly, this book kept me awake until long past the wee hours over the last few nights. His insight, information and views have made me think about the loss of an apolitical diarist, a husband, father and grandfather. He comes across as an honest raconteur, a dedicated politician regardless of his political persuasion, a gifted individual who could view any situation with insight and compassion. But most of all, a man who loved his wife and family above everything. A moving and remarkable legacy.

Michael Jayston's reading in this audible version is, in my view, outstanding. He captures nuance and inflection to perfection.
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on 31 December 2013
I have been reading Tony Benn's diaries for twenty years or more; it's a little sad to consider that physical frailty has meant the end of his diaries when there is so much intellectual life left in the man and so much left to share. You would expect the final volume, written by a man in his eighties, to be the work of a spectator. In fact, he makes strenuous efforts to be at the centre of things by keeping his friendships with key figures in good repair, making extensive use of his Commons pass years after resigning his seat.

Because he dictates his diaries at the end of each day, before committing them to paper, this is as raw as it gets. When he forgets a name, however notable, he just leaves it in there. Because we are being provided with a largely unedited stream of consciousness as the thoughts pass through his fatigued brain last thing at night (he rises at 5 most mornings), all of the contradictions are very much on display, provoking raw reactions in the reader too, as no doubt intended. I felt frustration at the author as he reacted to the detention of a teacher, imprisoned by an Islamic regime for the naming of a teddy bear, by merely criticising the extent of the press coverage and how well the poor woman was treated in prison. No questions are asked about whether or not she was given a fair trial by a jury of her peers - of course she was not. By contrast, he campaigns tirelessly against detention without trial of terror suspects in the UK. Ours is not to ask how Sinn Fein and Hamas, both of which he champions and admires, would fare if held up to the standards he demands of a Western democracies when lamenting the decline of 'civil liberties' in the West. When he marvels at technological advances and the low cost of shopping at Tesco, you wonder if he asks himself whether all of this would be possible if goods and services were nationalised and provided by a cooperative state, in consultation with strong trades unions.

The reason these thoughts do not detract from my pleasure in the book is that the book puts all of these views out in the open, hiding nothing. The more he puts out there, the more food for thought he throws out to the reader. All of these questions are meant to be asked of him, and he answers those which he chooses to answer and not others. The phrase I like best, used time and again is along the lines of 'I need to think more about this'. We are in a dialogue with someone thinking things through and speaking his mind as he does so; what more can we ask?
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on 29 June 2014
Tony Benn had more passion for ordinary people and their hopes and fears, then any of the M.P's we have today.
His warmth and humanity shine through every page, yes he was not always correct, but he was not a phony,or, dis-honest
He never stopped questioning, something many of us in older years forget to do. The world is a colder place since his death.
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on 13 November 2013
Just when you think the good guys have all gone this comes along and renews you. Tony Benn is, was, and always will be one of, if the top, parliamentarian of our age. To give us consistent diaries since 1940 all fun of fun and thought provoking insights makes him my hero

Forget your politics and buy and read this book you will not regret it.

Amazon have provided me with many books across the years but none as good as this one.
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