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For the Record

Narrated by: David Cameron
Length: 30 hrs
4.5 out of 5 stars (170 ratings)

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Summary

The referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union in 2016 has been one of the most controversial political events of modern times. For the first time, the man who called that vote talks about the decision and its origins, as well as giving a candid account of his time at the top of British politics.   

David Cameron was Conservative Party leader during the largest financial crash in living memory. The Arab Spring and the Eurozone crisis both started during his first year as prime minister. The backdrop to his time in office included the advent of ISIS, surging migration and a rapidly changing EU.   

Here he talks about how he confronted those challenges, from modernising a party that had suffered three successive electoral defeats to forming the first coalition government for 70 years. He sets out how he helped turn around Britain’s economy, implementing a modern, compassionate agenda that included education and welfare reform, the legalisation of gay marriage, the referendum on Scottish independence and world-leading environmental policies.   

David Cameron is searingly honest about the key players from his time in politics. And he is frank about himself - the things he got right and the things he got wrong. He opens up about family life too, including the tragic loss of his eldest son.   

We learn why he kept Britain’s promise on overseas aid spending and what it was like to commit British troops to conflicts in Libya, Iraq and Syria. He sets out how he won the first outright Conservative majority in nearly a quarter of a century and describes the events leading up to the EU referendum, the renegotiation, the campaign - and his thoughts on it all today.   

It is the most compelling record yet of what it’s like to lead in modern times and to live behind the most famous door in the world.  

©2019 David Cameron (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

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Former Prime Minister's sorry monotonic ramblings

It is fair to say that former Prime Minister "Call me Dave" Cameron has had plenty of time on his hands since turning away from his role following the disastrous (for him and the country) Brexit referendum in 2016. He has spent a fair amount of this time in his shed gazing at his naval and writing these rambling memoirs of his time at Eton, Oxford and Westminster and then regurgitating them as this audio book which weighs in at a whopping 30 hours which is roughly twice as long as Tony Blair's memoirs despite being in office half as long.

There is a lot in this book about Cameron's vision for a Big Society and he goes to great lengths to explain what he was attempting to achieve. I am not totally convinced that I completely understand it but it sounds like a noble cause. There is even more narrative regarding the nuances of each and every cabinet reshuffle during his 6 years at Number 10. He talks of his desires to go to war in Syria and how this was thwarted and he talks about his relations with other world leaders. The story of him being affectionately tucked up in bed by Barrack Obama on Air Force One is endearing. He talks lovingly about his wife Samantha who he clearly loves and has kept him grounded as she is, apparently, more down to earth despite being the daughter of a baronet.

It is not until around 23 hours in that he tackles the subject of the Brexit referendum. Dave is an affable chap and he likes to take the middle ground and let everyone have their say on matters. He is a big fan of referenda. There have only ever been four of these in the history of the United Kingdom and three of these were under Dave's leadership. The 2011 Alternative Voting referendum (anyone remember that?) was a success. Then came the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014 which again the Government won. By now he was on a roll. In 2015, the UK's membership of the EU just about made it into the top 10 of voters' issues, largely as a result of the far right UKIP banging on about it for so long. Dave decided to made an in/out referendum as manifesto pledge in the 2015 General Election, presumably as negotiating ploy in case he was again in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Dave describes the shock and surprise of himself and the party of winning an outright majority. He was feeling invincible. The economy was booming and the opposition in turmoil. He decided to press ahead with the Brexit referendum not thinking there was any chance of losing. He forgot just one thing, and that was that he had to actually have a credible campaign to prevent the far right from misleading the public with their exaggerated claims of the impact of immigration. Dave expected the opposition to play fairly. They did not. He lost. And with it so did the hopes and dreams of millions of UK citizens who will have their prospects and freedoms curtailed as a result of this sorry episode.

Much of this audio book is delivered in Cameron's clipped monotonic West Oxfordshire diction with the exception of a bizarre Peter Kay impression and an even stranger attempt at a Geordie accent to mimic the voice of ex Newcastle United Chairman John Hall. Dave is not averse to using the "f" word, presumably to make him sound more down to earth. Maybe Samantha suggested this would be good for his image?

57 of 78 people found this review helpful

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Excellent read (listen!)

Well worth a listen to this long (but rightly so) recount of Cameron’s life as PM. Clearly told from his point of view - as any autobiography would be - and I’m quite sure this would irk a few in some places but for the 99.99pc of us that will never get near this role it is with out question one of the better auto-biographies.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great insight

was an in depth look at the one of the toughest jobs in the world.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyable listen

An interesting account of the events which shaped his premiership and why he took the decisions he did in the context of which they were presented to him.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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This is an “Exchange your book” front runner!

Far too long & mostly boring! I haven’t read it all . Best sleeping tonic ever.

27 of 41 people found this review helpful

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Honest, wide-ranging, insightful

Mr Cameron takes us through his years as leader of the Conservative Party and those as Prime Minister with almost painful honesty. At times, I felt that his self-flagellation when describing the things that, in 20:20 hindsight he ‘got wrong’. In his defence, I say, quoting IBM‘s TJ Watson: ‘Anyone who makes no mistakes isn’t working’. Yes, Mr Cameron might have done better, but he might have done far worse, as epitomised by Gordon Brown. He tried. He was committed to do the best for the UK.

Samantha deserves a medal for her support, through good times and not so good times, helping her husband through many crises.

Mr C reads his history eloquently and passionately. Good for him.

10 of 17 people found this review helpful

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David is very easy to listen to.

Well paced, informative, funny with the odd tearjerker thrown in. 30 hours went by too quick. Recommended.

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Too long

The parts of Cameron’s story which are worth telling are drowned in a thick soup of extraneous detail and poor editing. Although interesting and engaging occasionally, especially those parts around relationships with foreign leaders or fiscal austerity, too much of it reads like the author trying to convince the reader that he has a legacy other than Brexit.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Good account, beautifully narrated

Good account, beautifully narrated. Couldn't stop listening!! Would love a sequel or a podcast with various guests.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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informative

Got alot of answers and now have a much better appreciation of the decision making thought process.
Good read and effort Dave.