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Broken Vows: Tony Blair The Tragedy of Power (2016)

– tekijä: Tom Bower

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut
532381,170 (2.75)-
'Probably the most explosive book of the year will be Tom Bower's Broken Vows - Tony Blair and the Tragedy of Power. Bower has a reputation for unearthing unwelcome truths.' The Times Cultural Review 2016 When Tony Blair became prime minister in May 1997, he was, at forty-three, the youngest person to hold that office since 1812. With a landslide majority, his approval rating was 93 per cent and he went on to become Labour's longest-serving premier. On his first election campaign, Blair had promised that 'New Labour' would modernize Britain, freeing it from sleaze, special interests and government secrecy. He vowed to give priority to social justice and equal opportunity for all. So what went wrong? The invasion of Iraq was particularly controversial and unleashed public fury against a government accused of not being open and honest in its march to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Alastair Campbell's 'dodgy' dossiers about WMDs sparked outrage, but did the contamination of New Labour's spin stretch beyond the wars? What is the truth behind Blair's claims of rebuilding Britain's schools, hospitals and welfare services? Why did he covertly open the doors to mass immigration? And how is it that the same man who risked his government to destroy Slobodan MiloSevic and Saddam Hussein has, since leaving office, earned millions of pounds serving dictators? Tom Bower was one of those who in 1997 looked on in excited anticipation as Blair took up residence in Downing Street. Now, with unprecedented access to more than 180 Whitehall officials, military officers and politicians, he has uncovered the full story of Blair's decade in power. To distil the magic and the myths of an era all Britons experienced but have not properly understood, he has followed Blair's trail since his resignation - to Asia, the Middle East and America, where he has built an extraordinary commercial empire advising tycoons and tyrants. The result is the political thriller of the year - a dramatic re-evaluation of Tony Blair which disentangles the mystery of an extraordinary politician - and illuminates the ultimate tragedy of power.… (lisätietoja)
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näyttää 2/2
Got to page 135. Then googled some reviews. Awful book. Badly written even at sentence level where you have to read again to try to follow the thinking. Then some sentences seem not to link and not to follow on. All suggestive of a deep lack of cohesion. We need a book on the Blair years - just not this one! ( )
  adrianburke | Jul 16, 2016 |
I have been searching for a book that tells the story of the Blair government with credibility. While this book, by Tom Bower, is one of the best I’ve read (the author has no need to be self-serving) Tony Blair slips away with his motivations not explained.

The book appears to be well-researched and I delighted in many of the details; the early signs of government going wrong, Blair committing to fighting poverty from Richard Branson’s beach (having enjoyed a meal cooked by the Shah of Iran’s former chef).

What was particularly surprising was the degree to which there were two labour governments operating within Whitehall, each with different agendas. This is illustrated by schemes such as Sure Start and ILAs where Gordon Brown’s team was acting independently across government departs using the Treasury to provide social services. At a more personal level, Brown was working to undermine Blair — denying any knowledge of a damaging biography while his hand-written notes were sitting in the publisher’s office.

The book really comes alive when discussing preparations for the Iraq war and the steps taken to keep the Cabinet, the Foreign Office and even the MoD out of the drawing up of those plans. Perhaps unsurprisingly this book confirms the idea that Blair’s desire to look like a peacemaker while preparing for war to achieve regime change cost British lives. Similarly, because of the division within government, those pushing for war — Blair and his Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell — could not approach the Chancellor for the money needed for defence equipment, including protective body armour.

In the light of current affairs Admiral Mike Boyce’s warning that bombing would radicalise the Muslim world against the west is chilling.

Despite how Blair was portrayed by Powell, Bower characterises him as a lightweight; poor focus on detail, unable to inspire loyalty and obsessed with his media profile. However I can’t help feel it is unlikely that three terms in government was achieved by spin, charm, luck and a weak opposition. One of the major flaws of the book is that it’s hard to reconcile this unremittingly hostile portrayal of Blair with him being the most successful labour Prime Minister in history. No mention of the successes of the labour government; minimum wage, greater gender equality and completion of peace agreements in Northern Ireland.

It’s at the point where Blair leaves office that the book becomes less interesting. Up till this point the analysis has been structured around a number of areas of government; immigration, education, defence and the NHS. Without this structure the book loses its focus once it concentrates on his business activities as a private individual.

Somehow Tony Blair evades this analysis. The book never quite nails down his motivations and, more particularly, what motivated him to become a ‘gun for hire’ to some deeply unpleasant world leaders and businesses. While the book is clearly not intended to be a biography, it is a disappointment that this aspect of Blair’s personality and hubris is neglected. ( )
  Craiglea | Jun 16, 2016 |
näyttää 2/2
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)

'Probably the most explosive book of the year will be Tom Bower's Broken Vows - Tony Blair and the Tragedy of Power. Bower has a reputation for unearthing unwelcome truths.' The Times Cultural Review 2016 When Tony Blair became prime minister in May 1997, he was, at forty-three, the youngest person to hold that office since 1812. With a landslide majority, his approval rating was 93 per cent and he went on to become Labour's longest-serving premier. On his first election campaign, Blair had promised that 'New Labour' would modernize Britain, freeing it from sleaze, special interests and government secrecy. He vowed to give priority to social justice and equal opportunity for all. So what went wrong? The invasion of Iraq was particularly controversial and unleashed public fury against a government accused of not being open and honest in its march to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Alastair Campbell's 'dodgy' dossiers about WMDs sparked outrage, but did the contamination of New Labour's spin stretch beyond the wars? What is the truth behind Blair's claims of rebuilding Britain's schools, hospitals and welfare services? Why did he covertly open the doors to mass immigration? And how is it that the same man who risked his government to destroy Slobodan MiloSevic and Saddam Hussein has, since leaving office, earned millions of pounds serving dictators? Tom Bower was one of those who in 1997 looked on in excited anticipation as Blair took up residence in Downing Street. Now, with unprecedented access to more than 180 Whitehall officials, military officers and politicians, he has uncovered the full story of Blair's decade in power. To distil the magic and the myths of an era all Britons experienced but have not properly understood, he has followed Blair's trail since his resignation - to Asia, the Middle East and America, where he has built an extraordinary commercial empire advising tycoons and tyrants. The result is the political thriller of the year - a dramatic re-evaluation of Tony Blair which disentangles the mystery of an extraordinary politician - and illuminates the ultimate tragedy of power.

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