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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr David Kelly - a meditation., 30 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Dark Actors: The Life and Death of David Kelly (Hardcover)
Within this book, topping and tailing it, is an excellent meditation on the Dr David Kelly affair. Measured, reflective and restrained in its judgements, it is clearly both a labour of love, derived from nigh obsession with its subject, and finely written to boot.
However, between that beginning and end there is a long (and overlong) general treatment of the search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq and elsewhere. That - and even the author's partisan position on Iraq - could be borne, were it not for the consistent use of lofty 20/20 hindsight. The result reads akin to a history of WWII saying, for instance, `of course, the Germans were never going to invade Britain in 1940, and therefore, obviously, the British should have diverted all resources to the North Africa campaign - the idiots.'
Maybe so, but it probably didn't seem that way then - and the present, with all its imperfections of perspective, is where most of us mere mortals have to dwell. Cumulatively therefore, this portion of the book's analysis comes to seem unfair and, at times, arrogant. Ditto the occasional tetchy `just-gagging-to-be-indignant' tone. Indeed, on p289 the author candidly confesses to feeling resentment and even occasional bitterness (`in the early hours') prompted by his commendably exhaustive researches, and I get the impression that much of the author's original sympathy for Dr Kelly evaporated in the heat of commitment to a particular view about sanctions against Iraq and the conduct of the WMD search. Equally disenchanting to me was the author's apparent chagrin about the tormenting of, and lack of absolutely strict fair play towards, Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime. For some reason this last mentioned feature signally failed to register on this reader's sympathy-meter. Perhaps the batteries have gone again.
And yet, considering it in its entirety, this is a fine and well-intentioned book, which achieves its purpose despite some self-indulgent (particular in the `Welshness' portions) imperfections. It sensitively incorporates a highly personal view into both the `Dr David Kelly question' and still wider political issues. Some of its assertions also seem admirably fearless. I would therefore definitely recommend it, particularly to readers with some prior knowledge of the events who now wish to read a reflection upon them. It (just) earns its five stars.
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Location: Surrey, England.

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