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Summary

The Sunday Times top 10 best seller

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe in 2020, it created an unprecedented impact, greater than the aftermath of 9/11 or the global financial crisis. But out of such disruption can come a new way of thinking, and in this superb new book, former UK prime minister Gordon Brown offers his solutions to the challenges we face in 2021 and beyond.

In the book, he states that there are seven major global problems we must address: global health, climate change and environmental damage, nuclear proliferation, global financial instability, the humanitarian crisis and global poverty, the barriers to education and opportunity, and global inequality and its biggest manifestation, global tax havens. Each one presents an immense challenge that requires an urgent global response and solution. All should be on the world’s agenda today. None can be solved by one nation acting on its own, but all can be addressed if we work together as a global community.

However, Brown remains optimistic that, despite the many obstacles in our way, we will find a path to regeneration via a new era of global order. Yes, there is a crisis of globalisation, but we are beginning to see the means by which it might be resolved. Crises create opportunities and having two at once shouldn’t just focus the mind, it might even be seen as giving greater grounds for hope. In Seven Ways to Change the World, Brown provides an authoritative and inspirational pathway to a better future that is essential listening for policy makers and concerned citizens alike.

©2021 Gordon Brown (P)2021 Simon & Schuster UK

Critic reviews

"His vision, ideas and passion shine through on every page." (Ed Balls)

"Compelling, challenging, inspiring and very timely." (Piers Morgan) 

"Immensely powerful and persuasive...I found it exhilarating throughout." (Joanna Lumley)

What listeners say about Seven Ways to Change the World

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Global problems require global solutions

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown published his memoirs My Life, My Times in 2017, some seven years after leaving office. A deeply thoughtful man, he has now turned his attention to the state of the world in 2021 and the events in recent years which have seen bad things happen including the rise in nationalism, Brexit, COVID and the challenges caused by climate change. Brown articulates not only what he believes has gone wrong in the world, which he sums up as a failure to co-operate at an international level but also, which is unusual for books of this type by former statesmen, suggests practical and workable solutions.
Brown believes that COVID will define the 21st century in the same way that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand set the tone for the 20th century. He cites the eradication of small pox as a prime example of what can be achieved with international collaboration but worries that under the current world order national pride may blind us to the benefits of such co-operation,
This is a serious book by a serious man. Some of the content is dour and it is hard work at times, particularly the sections on the relative GDP performance and corporation tax rates of various countries. It is not all doom and gloom though. The Stone Age did not end when the world ran out of stone and similarly the dilapidation of global oil reserves creates opportunities for new technology. Mr Brown believes passionately in the power of education to solve the world's problems and, after all, you cannot un-educate someone who has learnt to read.
If only we could set aside national tribalism and accept that global problems really do need global solutions.

9 people found this helpful

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Interesting views from an experienced intellect

Seven Ways to Change the World is one of those books like its more famous forerunner, High Noon, that presents an agenda of problems and solutions to a readership seeking more than headline-level news analysis. Brown attempts to give a more profound consideration to subjects like nuclear proliferation, climate change, radicalisation, nationalism, poverty and debt drawing on his long political career in the UK and his work as an envoy for the United nations since leaving office in 2010.

Occasionally, Brown is impressively insightful, I thought his comments on nationalism, patriotism and globalism were intelligent and coherently presented. He used the musings of earlier writers (including Orwell) to establish a base from which each construct could profitably be explored and offered his own thoughts on why the differences between them mattered.

Much of the book I found disappointing. That may say more about the expectations I had of it at the outset than it does about the quality of writing. There is nothing terrible about anything Brown presents here but neither is there much that one could not conclude from an intelligent reading of The Economist, Monocle and similar publications. Brown's own experiences as Britain's Prime Minister are presented through spectacles so rose-tinted they skew all objective memory of his years in office, but he is successful in communicating lessons he learned through engaging with the people he has met and spoken to in his later work touring the world under the UN's banner.

The performance is patchy. Angus King's accent is pleasing to the ear - and contributes a connection with the author (which is why one supposes he was selected to read the book), but Brown's complicated syntax tends to produce long sentences with multiple clauses that make King stumble, mispronounce words ("hegemony" and "homogenous" are routinely garbled) and sometimes run out of breath. Possibly, any of us would have had the same problems reading Brown aloud, but I sometimes wished the studio had asked him to have another go at a passage. King's accent is hypnotic. I sometimes found myself listening to the cadences rather than the content and realising I had to rewind to get the sense of what he had just read. Of course, that is hardly King's fault, and one would much rather have average prose read in a pleasing voice than the other way around.

6 people found this helpful

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Makes you wish he was still PM

The book is a vindication that Gordon Brown is a phenomenal agent of change and makes you sad about the current generation of politicians at both ends of the spectrum.

Dense in policy and avoids simplicity at all costs. You’ll likely need to read some sections again to take a few ideas in fully but worth the effort.

We can only be hopeful for his message of change can happen through great political minds. Copies of the book need to be dropped in the desks of Keir Starmer and Joe Biden ASAP.

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Ideas and idealism

Good book with solid ideas (albeit a bit self-congratulatory) to tackle the big global challenges. Gordon shows he's still a political heavyweight and true multilateralist.

Really enjoy the narrator's reading.

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Fascinating, thought provoking

It doesn’t really matter whether you agree with the solutions to the problems that Gordon Brown proposes, it’s fascinating to see how he would attempt to deal with them. Only downside is that it is read so slowly

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Narrator is terrible, didn't pass the preface

Gordon Brown should/could have read it himself. Even on speed x1.2 it's irritatingly slow and sounds like a junior school teacher.