Tony Blair is the politician who defines our times. His emergence as Labour leader in 1994 marked a seismic shift in British politics. Within a few short years, he had transformed his party and rallied the country behind him, becoming prime minister in 1997 with the biggest victory in Labour's history, and bringing to an end 18 years of Conservative government. He took Labour to a historic three terms in office, as the dominant political figure of the last two decades.
A Journey is Tony Blair's first-hand account of his years in office and beyond. Here he describes for the first time his role in shaping our recent history, from the aftermath of Princess Diana's death to the war on terror. He reveals the leadership decisions that were necessary to reinvent his party, the relationships with colleagues such as Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson, the gruelling negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland, the battles over education and health, the implementation of the biggest reforms to public services since 1945, and his relationships with leaders on the world stage, including Clinton, Putin, and Bush. He analyses the belief in ethical intervention that led to his decisions to go to war, in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, and, most controversially of all, in Iraq.
A Journey is a book about the nature and uses of political power. In frank, unflinching, often wry detail, Tony Blair charts the ups and downs of his career to provide insight into the man, as well as the politician and statesman. He explores the challenges of leadership, and explains why he took on public opinion to stand up for what he believed in. Few British prime ministers have shaped the nation's course as profoundly as Tony Blair, and his achievements and his legacy will be debated for years to come. Amid the millions of words written about him, this book is unique: his own journey, in his own words.
©2010 Tony Blair (P)2010 Random House Audio
"Love Tony Blair or hate him, his own reading... is extremely compelling. The abridgement...omits many of the careless cruelties crowed over by reviewers of the book, and interestingly, Gordon Brown comes out of it remarkably well."(Christina Hardyment, The Times)
"This book will be a fantastic surprise: erratically written, full of self-mythologising vanity and carefully calculated candour, it is also funny, ruthless and unputdownable... Blair clearly relishes the opportunity to tell it as he saw it. After years of minding his PMQs, our former leader gives it to us with both barrels... "(Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph. 4 Star review)
"Such was the outburst of instant and largely hostile reaction when this book hit the newsstands ...that almost everyone failed to notice that it is very good... it is a very good book because it tells the reader more clearly than any other prime ministerial memoir I know why the author thinks what he things and did what he did."(Charles Moore, Telegraph)
"...in its own way it's brilliant... I have to admit that he has produced one of the most readable and engaging political autobiographies I've ever come across. [it is] very funny, often startling, always colloquial and direct. It is packed with information, vivid images and telling anecdotes... Blair takes you to the centre of the action, to the sweat-stained hyperactive heart of government, where life and death decisions are taken by the day." (Herald Scotland)
What a mixture in this book! Just about everyone is agreed on that.
The well-documented flaws are impossible to ignore. In particular, the frequently inappropriately colloquial style - how is that going to read in 10 or 20 years? - and the almost disarmingly omnipresent ego - he says at one point, about something which was really a matter of opinion, 'I thought I was right, and I was' - that seems typical! As for the abysmal depths of his relationship with Gordon Brown, they are almost impossible to credit. However, the editing for the audio editions has left out some of the worst horrors - apparently, notes re lavatory time and others - so listeners have an advantage over readers in that respect.
It is well worth tolerating these drawbacks in order to enjoy the many advantages of the book. Insight into many of the key events of recent history, of course; the chance to hear Tony Blair's account of them and to re-evaluate his character, as one would expect. Along with those, several moments of high comedy - the first weekend at Balmoral, and even a moment of confusion in the Good Friday negotiations reduced me to unexpected stitches of laughter; and a wealth of details about the subsidiary characters and events which are most enjoyable in themselves. The book gathers pace in a very satisfying manner, and it is noticeable that, when he discusses Iraq, the tone becomes more serious and less grating. At the end, you may well feel that, despite the sincerity and honesty of his tone in the major parts of the book, the real Tony Blair remains an enigma; but you will have enjoyed listening to his journey and coming to your conclusion.
As I regularly preach, an autobiography should be read by the writer, and here?s one I?ve been waiting to read for some time now.
I?ve for a long time been an admirer of the former PM - Tony Blair, not for the usual list of political achievements, social reform, or the raft of other identifiable suspects. Nor do I not acknowledge his failings as a leader.
I?ve admired the man for his humanity, geniality integrity and honest straight talking, no nonsense approach. ?What! Is this the same Tony Blair?? I hear you saying, yes its true, not many of us have what it takes to stand up and take the top job, let alone pull it off for as long as he did. Question the choices, investigate the decisions and think it all through for yourself. Nothing can take away from the potency of responsibility at the pinnacle moment of decision and choice. The instinct to make a choice and the level headedness to keep on doing it are incomprehensible to most of us. Yet Tony did it day after day, year on year.
A Journey is Tony?s frank, honest, humorous, warm and uncensored firsthand account of the pivotal moments in his career both before and during his Premiership.
A brilliant listen, well worth the time and a top recommendation to all, like the man or not.
My first impression when I heard the narrator was: gosh, they?ve found an actor who talks just like Tony Blair! Then I discovered it was the man himself reading his own book.
As I heard more, however, I began to wonder if I wasn?t listening to an actor after all.
My first impressions were of a thoroughly nice guy: a little too convinced, perhaps, of the irrepressible goodness of human nature, especially his own. He robustly defends his record, and it all sounds convincing until you stop to think about what he?s saying. Soon I found myself reversing the spin on every one of his utterances, like so many subatomic particles. The result didn't sound anything like so good.
But that very realisation makes me more inclined to believe his version of events. There are one or two places where I felt he had missed out a vital consideration, but that could be put down to understandable blind-spots in a busy person, who gets little spare time to go boning up on anything but the matter in-hand. I am convinced that nowhere does he actually say what just isn?t so. Especially when reversing the spin confirms my darkest suspicions. But of course he is a trained barrister, hence he chooses words to show his utterances in the best possible light.
I was really looking forward to listening to this but I found it very hard going at times. Quite disappointed!
Pivotal, defining, thankless
The death of Princess Diana and the way in which the country (and the Royal Family) responded showed Blair's observations to public feeling and doing the right thing, regardless of defined protocol. Although moment for any new or experienced PM.
The Gordon Brown "will they - won't they" saga is frankly explained and in essence shows why Brown was unlikely to win a second term. Blair indicates that Brown's ambition came into imbalance with the party line and manifesto.
The birth of a new child and family life inside Britain's second most famous address, delivered an account of how complex and intrusive a position of high office can be on a family unit. String family bonds throughout are clear, even if not implicitly implied.
An account of Labour's most successful government in terms of capturing the mood of a nation. The harrowing decisions a PM must take in peace and war, are recounted with what seems a rousing honesty. Decisions made which continue to haunt a man who sometimes had to choose between the lives of a few, to save the lives of an entire nation.
Tony Blair is really one of the most influential prime ministers of recent times. His audiobook isreally interesting, well written and well read. Occasionally, you feel that he has spinned something so he is in a better light, but it is definitely worth listening to. Now I have read it, I am intrigued to read Gordon Brown's and Alastair Campbell's autobiographies. Happy listening!
However interesting this book is for the events to which it gives us an inside look, there were a few things I couldn't get past.
The first and most obvious is the monotonous way in which the author reads the book. I always thought Tony Blair was a great speaker, but this is something that apparently should be left to a professional. It's one big drone that made me use this audiobook mostly as a means to falling asleep when I couldn't.
From everything I did still hear (I would go back to what I'd heard before falling asleep), the most obvious to me was the complete lack of distance to himself and any criticism towards himself. Even with all the things he admits you can think differently about, it's very obvious that to him you are a fool if you do.
Wars to Tony Blair are completely justified for the sole reason that he believes them to be justified. Of course it's sad that lives are lost, but Tony Blair needs to put the world to rights.
I could give more examples, but I think I've made my point.
I've always been a big fan of Tony Blair's, but I think he's been in power for too long and has lost all sense of perspective. I'm still giving this book 3 stars because of this wonderful insight it's given me not only into all the book tells of, but also into the dangers of too much power with one man for too long...
At best I could it was interesting. It was however as if Alistar Campbell had written it and Tony was reading an autocue. It lacked humour and humility, but the content made it worth finishing as it is always interesting to hear what goes on behond the scences.
A really interesting book and the first Audible I have ever heard. A real bonus was the fact Tony Blair read it and hence the book became more personalised and I would say the audible version is by far the best. It has been written and presented in an easy to follow format. The characters referred to are know to most of us and most of the situations highlighted are known given they were well featured in the news and subsequent discussions. It was very interesting to learn of the views behind the scenes and I believe Tony has written a factual honest account of his time as Prime Minister and I recommend this audible book to all responsible Brits.
It is fair to say that Tony Blair is not everyone's cup of tea. Personally, I never voted for the guy, but I always thought he had integrity, rare amongst politicians. This facet of his character comes across very strongly in this book, narrated by Tony himself. His well-modulated, educated accent, although at times appearing almost 'sound-bitey', is never offensive to the ears. His arguements are carefully-marshalled, well-presented and, importantly, believable. There was never a moment when I found myself not accepting the genuineness of his presentation, or of his beliefs. I found myself caught up by his version of British and world events - the bloke is really interesting! A bit like the 'Yes Prime Minister' series, this will be something I will return to again and again. There is humour, pathos, despair, love - during his time in office he seemed to experience just about the entire gamut of human emotion. And the sheer hard work and personal effort he put into governing the UK; from steering the Labour Party out of the dark ages of union domination to Diana to Iraq..and Gordon Brown. I recommend this book.
"Lots I didn't know."
First off, I have to admit I am not a remarkably political person, and this is the first autobiography I ever read/listened to. I found Blair's journey interesting. His description of politics and how he sees his positions is very clear, frank and secure. He knows his position and believes in it.
For me he was far too glowing of all his personnel. Yeah, they may have been great, but it got a bit on my nerves.
The bits (chunk) about Iraq and the war was quite long - very well explained and he kept returning to his arguments about being for the war and he made his argument very convincingly. But in this as with in other parts of the book I felt myself thinking, why does he need to explain so much? Is this usual in an autobiography?
I will now choose another autobiography to listen to and then perhaps edit this comment. I really oughtn't critisize what I know nothing about...
"An intelligent, excellent and engaging book"
I loved this book. Tony writes and speaks in such an engaging manner. I have been riveted by this book and frankly, have listened to chapters over again to ensure I really understood the implications of all that he says. Hailing from the UK, I found this insight into the mind of a politician quite remarkable. Also, I loved his use of language and wit. The facts may be, at times, biased and shady, and of course, there is always the unforgiveable Iraq sections, but still, I still am so pleased I purchased this audio. I highly recommend it.
"A brilliant reminder of events during his era."
Only for purpose of using it as a source for research.
His decision to work with George Bush for Gulf War 2, and Jacques Chirac thoughts about it.
His thoughts on George W,.Bush, Gulf War 2, and meeting the widow of a solider.
Good to have the author reading it.
"Dry in parts but overall very good"
I really enjoyed this book although it took for granted that I knew a lot about Brittish politics and its political system. Given that I am not British, there were a lot few things that took me almost the whole book to figure out what he was going on about
"Right up there"
What a wonderful narrator, maybe not the BEST politician but certainly the BEST of his time. An insightful book, humour, sadness and at times a brief look into the soul of probably the best British prime minister for a long time. His voice has that magic quality that makes you want more. His explanation of events at times will make you wonder but hey after all he is just another fallible human being. Well worth the listen and a pity it was abridged.
A pleasure, excellent book. Is perfect to hear the voice of the author and discover this book with him.
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