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American Ally: Tony Blair and the War on Terror Hardcover – January 24, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (January 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060731265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060731267
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,992,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this robust portrait, Coughlin, a British journalist and Middle East specialist (Saddam: The Secret Life), documents prime minister Tony Blair's tenure, from the emergence of the New Labor party to the debacle in Iraq, showing how his proximity to Bill Clinton and George Bush has carried a high price. Despite their friendship, Blair suffered myriad indignities at Clinton's hands during the Balkan conflict and the Lewinsky scandal, and, more recently, critics have tagged Blair as "Bush's Poodle" for his alliance with the president. But the heart of this story is the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the tumult precipitated by September 11, culminating in the decision by Blair and Bush to confront Saddam Hussein. Particularly illuminating is the aversion to Blair by the neoconservatives surrounding the president, exemplified by Vice President Dick Cheney, a taciturn figure who hovers around the leaders during meetings, determined to counteract the Briton's influence. Blair emerges from these pages as a deeply moral, anguished wartime leader at the mercy of Washington's political and ideological currents.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

A British journalist discusses Blair's pivotal role in two wars--against al Qaeda and against Saddam Hussein--as the tale of two marriages, between the PM and presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Initially attracted to Clinton's political vigor and "third way" centrism, Blair learned much from the president even as Clinton's refusal to commit ground troops in Kosovo strained their relationship. Although initially tentative about Bush, Blair's interventionist streak--cultivated by Kosovo and other Clinton--era challenges--ultimately brought Bush and Blair together and earned Britain the primary role in the "war on terror" that it plays today. Arguing against the view that Blair sided with Bush rather than Europe out of political weakness, Coughlin paints Blair as a tough man whose sense of moral principle bolstered Bush, not the other way around. Supported by many interviews and expansive research, this book is detailed, fluid, and fascinating. Ending prior to the 2005 terror attacks on the London Underground, however, it thus omits a key chapter in Blair's response to terrorism (an epilogue, unavailable at time of reviewing, may solve this problem). Brendan Driscoll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Wright on November 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As future historians begin to ask how it was that the Britain inherited by Tony Blair, internally secure, economically strong and confident abroad, but yearning for reform at home; turned into the Britain Blair leaves behind - disaffected, facing defeat abroad, with growing inflation and internally insecure, with creeping erosion of civil liberties - they could do worse than turn to this book. Unfortunately, as an account of the Blair premiership it's neither particularly engrossing nor entertaining. Described as `vivid' on the jacket, it reveals little that isn't already in print. Since it relies for its insights largely, as Coughlin himself admits, on high-placed sources insisting on anonymity, we are forced to accept them on a `trust me' basis.

There are minor errors in points of detail which don't inspire confidence. For instance, the UK City of Durham never was a coal-mining city: and it becomes clear that the book is full of apparent statements of fact which actually are assertions: how does he know for instance, that Colin Powell's abortive visit to Israel/Palestine in 2002 failed because `Ariel Sharon had influential allies in the White House who made it their business to ensure that Powell's mission was a failure?'

The book is disappointingly short of authentic personal witness and observation: something one might have expected from what purports to be a definitive account of a personal relationship between two powerful individuals.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on November 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This account of Blair's role in Bush's wars contains some useful information, but it is overly sympathetic - Coughlin is executive editor of the Sunday Telegraph - relying on inside sources and interviews with Bush and Blair.

Coughlin reminds us how the government's expensive secret services have let us down. In January 2001, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service said, "The actual threat [from Al Qa'ida] does not match the media hype." And, "Their resources and targets tend to be abroad rather than in Britain."

Blair showed his vast conceit when he said to Bush the day after the war started, "I kind of think that the decisions taken in the next few weeks will determine the rest of the world for years to come. As primary players, we have a chance to shape the issues that are discussed. Both of us will have enormous capital, and a lot of people will be with us."

But Britain's role was dupe, not ally. A senior British intelligence officer said, "We were completely and utterly stuffed by the Americans. We should never trust them again, or until we see a change of attitude from the Bush administration. Forget what they say, it's what they do. They simply didn't take any notice of any advice we gave them. They just did what suited them." So all Blair's warm words about Palestine are just chaff. Coughlin gullibly writes, "Blair succeeded in getting Bush to make a public commitment to establish a Palestinian state before the end of his second term."

On weapons of mass destruction, Blair said as late as September 2003, "I have absolutely no doubt that evidence will be found and I have absolutely no doubt [again!] that it exists."

An Al Qa'ida leader said, "prolonging the war is in our interest.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bill C. on March 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Like how Blair and Clinton handled Desert Fox in the late 1990's. This (for those who don't recall) was when the UK and US both sent planes over Iraq and knocked out suspected areas that were considered dangerous to international security. Author Coughlin explains very well what a deadlock this ended up being for the UK and USA in terms of keeping post-Desert Storm Iraq a safe-place for the Middle East and in fact the entire world. This book also is a testament to how deadly Saddam became after Desert Storm like as it reports how in the late 1990's Saddam was considered by Forbes magazine to be one of the five wealthiest men on earth with a personal fortune of around 5 billion dollars! And that is just the money he personally had. Iraq had lots more from oil sales. Clearly Saddam had to be taken out by George W. Bush before Saddam became so wealthy the Iraqi leader was unstoppable. Read the rest of the book for more great, important details.
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American Ally: Tony Blair and the War on Terror
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