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The Blair Years: The Alastair Campbell Diaries Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 31, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
—Tina Brown, author of The Diana Chronicles
“Beyond question the most important and revelatory book so far written about the inner workings of Blair’s government . . . By turns arrogant, brilliant, combative, demotic and emotional, Campbell delivers his impressions and verdicts in a wholly committed, staccato style. It is an earthy account of life in the Blair government's 24/7 media-centric world.”
–The Washington Post Book World
“The Blair Years is a classic text of the you-are-there school of politics at work. Surely a valuable source for scholars to scour for many years to come, it is available here and now as one of the most compelling reads of history in the raw . . . The diaries provide a behind-the-scenes look at dramatic junctures in recent history.”
–Los Angeles Times
Reviews from Britain:
“This is a brilliant, absorbing account . . . Vivid, direct, immediate, and honest in its way, the diary draws you into a world for which ‘evil’ is hardly too strong a word . . . Rich in detail, powerful in mood, honest within its own lights, it is the more intriguing for the dark and often unspoken presence, at its core, of a mystery: the Master, Blair . . . These diaries will be gasped at, and relied upon, for decades to come. Buy them: they will suck you in.”
“This is a riveting, compelling and genuinely revelatory book . . . The Campbell that comes across in these diaries is certainly a complex and interesting character: . . . engagingly frank, with a winning line in black humour, a certain blokeish faux-naivety when faced with an array of international statesmen and an unrivalled understanding of how the tabloid press works.”
–The Sunday Times
“There are fascinating details and revelatory nuggets . . . Campbell brings back to vivid and gripping life the night that Diana died [and] when Nato was losing public opinion over Kosovo.”
“Electric . . . Campbell is a first-rate diarist [with] a very acute eye for the telling detail . . . He has a novelist’s ability to reveal character through a close study of behaviour and–rare in a political diarist–an artist’s understanding that it is the smallest things which reveal the most . . . The portrait of Tony Blair is by turns endearing and unnervingly frightening . . . This is a perfect piece of diary-writing: eagle-eyed, gossipy, funny.”
–Mail on Sunday
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Top Customer Reviews
There are also many amusing/bizarre anecdotes such as Campbell walking in on Mo Mowlan in the bath.
The Diana parts felt set up to me. We hear about how she wanted to meet Campbell, then they met, she asks for him later, and then of course her crash and death. His affection for her seems somewhat overblown, and it says something of his reputation that I found myself believing his portrayal in "The Queen", coldly feeding the "People's Princess" line to Blair, more than his own diaries. The cartoonish version of Campbell as the arch spin doctor is now a cultural fixture of its own, turning up not only in "The Queen" but in books like "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen". I wonder what Campbell must think about that.
Ambition and rivaly are never far from the surface. When describing Blair's lengths football header session with Kevin Keegan, Campbell is careful to note that it was easier than it seemed, since "of course a professional like Keegan can head the ball towards a target in the same way most of us can throw it, so it wasn't that difficult."
I found it amusing that Campbell goes out of his way not to to use the word "spin". I expect that he became thoroughly sick of hearing that word.
Note that this is "Extracts from" Alastair Campbell's diaries. The really secret stuff is, well, secret.
Terror. I wrote a research paper on that very subject and checked this book out from a library as a source. I like it because the information is first-hand, straight from the confines of Number 10. I enjoy reading about Blair and made this the first "chronicle" really, to my Blair library. It's an easy read, though long, because of the journal entry-like style. It's also really gritty, not polished over like many things you might read about someone in government. It's fantastic.
For every interesting piece about, say, dinner with Princess Diana (who served Mr. Campbell tea), the Queen's bored reaction to the Millennium celebrations, or juicy details on Bill Clinton's personal opinion of then-President elect Bush, there are scores of entries that cover minutia so densely recorded that I truly think this is a book that will be of greatest value to a graduate student studying foreign affairs, or a future historian who wishes to research the Blair years. The average reader hoping to get a backstage pass to politics as undertaken at 10 Downing Street will probably do better looking elsewhere.
While Campbell is comprehensive, he is not (at least as evidenced here) gifted with those talents that make for an engrossing reading experience.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Alistair Campbell was privy to the innermost secrets of Tony Blair's Labour Government, acting as the Prime Minister's counselor, intimate friend, and occasional critic. Read morePublished on November 14, 2012 by Dr. Laurence Raw
This book was returned due to its poor quality. There was simply no way I could present this book as a gift due to the cut of the pages. Please improve your product standards.Published on October 4, 2007 by Andrew Blyth
You don't have to go far into this "diary" to discover it's a highly interesting and possibly questionable account of the times but an account that has been not only excised of any... Read morePublished on August 6, 2007 by Mr KC HUTCHINSON