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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

Guardian Literary Highlights of 2020.

Sunday Times Books to Watch out for in 2020.

New Statesman Books to Read in 2020.

Evening Standard Thirteen Titles to Look for in 2020.

As divisive as he is beguiling, as misunderstood as he is scrutinised, Boris Johnson is a singular figure.

Many of us think we know his story well. His ruthless ambition was evident from his insistence, as a three-year-old, that he would one day be 'world king'. Eton and Oxford prepared him well for a frantic career straddling the dog-eat-dog worlds of journalism and politics. His transformation from bumbling stooge on Have I Got News for You to a triumphant mayor of London was overshadowed only by his colourful personal life, brimming with affairs, scandals and transgressions. His ascent to Number 10 in the wake of the acrimonious, era-defining Brexit referendum would prove to be only the first act in an epic drama that saw him play both hero and villain - from proroguing parliament to his controversial leadership of the COVID-19 crisis, all against the backdrop of divorce, marriage, the birth of his sixth child, revolts among Tory MPs and the countdown to Brexit.

Yet despite his celebrity, decades of media scrutiny, the endless vitriol of his critics and the enduring adoration of his supporters, there is so much we've never understood about Boris - until now. Previous biographies have either dismissed him as a lazy, deceitful opportunist or been transfixed by his charm, wit and drive. Both approaches fall short, and so many questions about Boris remain unanswered.

What seismic events of his childhood have evaded scrutiny? How has he so consistently defied the odds, proved his critics wrong and got away with increasingly reckless gambles? What were his real achievements and failures as mayor of London, what was really going on during his time as foreign secretary and why did he write two articles for the Telegraph, one in favour of Leave and the other for Remain? How have the women in his life exerted more influence than any of us realise, and why is his story ultimately one overshadowed by family secrets?

Based on a wealth of new interviews and research, this is the deepest, most rounded and most comprehensive portrait to date of the man, the mind, the politics, the affairs, the family - of a loner, a lover, a leader.

Revelatory, unsettling and compulsively listenable, it is the most timely and indispensable book yet from Britain's leading investigative biographer.

©2020 Tom Bower (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Boris Johnson

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Not insightful or objective

While an ok listen, this book is neither insightful nor objective. Would not recommend it.

10 people found this helpful

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Hilariously Biased

Having also listened to Dangerous Hero, this gives Johnson such an easy ride! However, I did find some of the chapters on his early family life quote interesting. Stanley doesn't come out of it well

6 people found this helpful

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A very one sided account

An extremely partial account of Boris Johnson. No wonder BJ’s Mother gave the author an exclusive scoop blaming her son’s mistakes on his father’s domestic violence.
Tom Bower then goes on to whitewash many of BJ’s unforgivable actions as Mayor of London and Foreign Sec in this book. I realised why when the author reveals his personal links to BJ at the end of the book.

5 people found this helpful

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Read this before you judge Boris

I found this very enlightening. It is unbiased; you get the warts and all, but you also find out a lot about what has gone on behind the scenes to ensure the public views Boris as a buffoon. He has a lot of enemies whose only way of conquering him is to slander him. The media have got on board, too. The book left me feeling like we’ve all been duped.

4 people found this helpful

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Boris Johnson a hollow vessel his true charector

I enjoyed this book it reveals the real Boris layer by layer . Deligating rather than managing , glossing over the details and endorsing cronyism instead of questioning and making decisions.

4 people found this helpful

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in insight into Boris I hoped was there.

Far from Lilley white, and full of good intentions if he gets the chance he will be the leader we need.
Easy to criticise from the sofa, if you can't come up with a better plan.

4 people found this helpful

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Hardly unbiased

Not difficult to work out the Authors political leanings. Could have have been written by Boris himself.

3 people found this helpful

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Inaccurate representations of Ireland pitiful

A good biography, but as always Irish history is misrepresented as a political tool for a Britain that refuses to accept its weakened position in the world, and the death of imperialism.

3 people found this helpful

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Unsatisfactory

The main point of this biography seems to be that it was always someone else’s fault as the reason Johnson behaved the way he did, in his politics, other work and his private life. Johnson’s lies, casual racism, lack of principles and moral vacuity are glossed over as products of his undoubtedly weird upbringing. The author is entitled to this point of view but it doesn’t really wash and the book ends just before Johnson’s rapid fall due to all the character flaws he always possessed. Don’t buy the book. Wait for one that has more balance and is a complete account of this terrible prime minister.

2 people found this helpful

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Could not stop listening

This was not a sugar coated tale of brilliance. We had Boris warts and all with some significant back stories to real events. These were right up to COVID-19 lock downs.
Whilst this guy may have flaws when it come to relationships he is a significant leader.
What’s a shame is that his leadership will as it said I. The story be measured by problems caused by covid. The author was very balance and the narrator used his voice to capture significant events.

1 person found this helpful

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  • derrick
  • 20-10-21

excellent

loved it all. good narration and a compelling and balanced view of a very unusual politician.