While Powell wrote this book using his experiences in Number 10 to illuminate points made by Machiavelli on those in power, I read it more for the insight into the Blair government. Not being particularly bright, or interested in Machiavelli, I generally skipped over those bits in favour of the details of the New Labour years.
If you are looking for another perspective on the Blair-Brown wars, this is your book. Of course, with Powell in Blair's inner circle and Gordon Brown apparently refusing to speak to him for years, it doesn't paint Gordon Brown in the best light. I am in no position to argue what is true and what isn't, but you get the impression it was a miracle Blair managed to achieve anything with Brown apparently witholding information, briefing the papers against him at every turn and constantly browbeating him into standing down as Leader. Really interesting reading though, as is Blair's relationship with the other key figures in Europe.
What I enjoyed were the little touches of the real Blair and his life at the time. I write that because I haven't read Blair's book! He used to like to watch the Simpsons with his kids in the evenings and put Leo to bed, for example. He was sent on holiday in the UK to help Britain's image after one crisis, but he hated it because their was no sun.
Powell explains the rationale behind the changes made by New Labour - the introduction of "spin" for example. He goes into detail about the relationship the press play government, from his experiences. At times Powell states that a "A prudent Prime Minister should...." and then inserts some advice, usually on something Labour had intended to do but couldn't for whatever reason. Some of this advice is very specific, so I'm not entirely sure what the point of those parts are, but hey, like I said, I'm not particularly bright.
All told, the Machiavelli sub-text aside, this is an interesting insiders account of the Labour years and I would recommend it.
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