The Blair Years is the most compelling and revealing account of contemporary politics you will ever read. Taken from Alastair Campbell's daily diaries, it charts the rise of New Labour and the tumultuous years of Tony Blair's leadership, providing the first important record of a remarkable decade in our national life.
Here are the defining events of our time, from Labour's new dawn to the war on terror, from the death of Diana to negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland, from Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, through to the Hutton Inquiry of 2003, the year Campbell resigned his position at No 10. But above all here is Tony Blair up close and personal, taking the decisions that affected the lives of millions, under relentless and often hostile pressure.
Often described as the second most powerful figure in Britain, Alastair Campbell is no stranger to controversy. Feared and admired in equal measure, hated by some, he was pivotal to the founding of New Labour and the sensational election victory of 1997. As Blair's press secretary, strategist and trusted confidant, Campbell spent more waking hours alongside the Prime Minister than anyone. His diaires - at times brutally frank, often funny, always compelling - take the reader right to the heart of government.
The Blair Years is a story of politics in the raw, of progress and setback, of reputations made and destroyed, under the relentless scrutiny of a 24-hour media. Unflinchingly told, it covers the crises and scandals, the rows and resignations, the ups and downs of Britain's hothouse politics. But amid the big events are insights and observations that make this a remarkably human portrayal of some of the most powerful people in the world.
There has never been so riveting a book about life at the very top, nor a more human book about politics, told by a man who saw it all.
Tony Blair was one of Great Britain's youngest and longest-serving prime ministers, and Campbell was Blair's spokesman and later press secretary from 1994 to 2003, accompanying Blair through his initial, hugely successful campaign for prime minister, the reform of the Labour Party, the death of Princess Diana, the Clinton presidency, 9/11 and the war in Iraq. The style of Campbell's diaries, full of shorthand and acronyms ( TB for Tony Blair, BC for Bill Clinton), takes some getting used to but pays off in immediacy and candor; rather than a polished account of events, Campbell gives readers refreshingly unvarnished impressions of what occurred at the time it was occurring, free of spin or second-guessing. People behave badly swearing, losing tempers, perspiring, dressing inappropriately and lusting after women and political fortunes, as well as marriages, suffer the strain. Appearances by Bill Clinton (in the midst of the Lewinsky fallout) are remarkable for the vulnerability they reveal, and the arrangements for Diana's funeral, made by the Blair cabinet and the royal family together, exhibit a fascinating mix of compassion and calculation (Blair comments shrewdly, She will become an icon straight away. She will live on as an icon. ) As readers watch Blair navigate the shoals of political life, they, like the author, will emerge admiring him and appreciating the frank and ultimately flattering portrait that Campbell provides.