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The Blair Years

Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries
Narrated by: Alastair Campbell
Length: 6 hrs and 21 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (443 ratings)

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Summary

Shortlisted for the British Book Awards, Biography of the Year, 2008.
Shortlisted for the Channel 4 Political Book Award, 2007.
Longlisted for the Audiobook Download of the Year, 2007.

The Blair Years is the most compelling and revealing account of contemporary politics you will ever hear. Taken from Alastair Campbell's daily diaries, these audio extracts chart the rise of New Labour and the tumultuous years of Tony Blair's leadership, providing the first important record of a remarkable decade in our national life.

Here are the defining events of our time, from Labour's new dawn to the war on terror; from the death of Diana to negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland; from Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, through to the Hutton Inquiry of 2003. But above all, here is Tony Blair up close and personal, making the decisions that affected the lives of millions, under relentless and frequently hostile pressure.

Feared and admired in equal measure, hated by some, Alastair Campbell was pivotal to the founding of New Labour and the sensational election victory of 1997. As Blair's press secretary, strategist, and trusted confidant, Campbell spent more waking hours alongside the prime minister than anyone. His diaries take the listener right to the heart of government.

Unflinchingly told, The Blair Years covers the crises and scandals, the rows and resignations, the ups and downs of Britain's hothouse politics. There has never been so riveting a book about life at the very top, nor a more human book about politics, told by a man who saw it all.

©2007 Alastair Campbell (P)2007 Random House

Critic reviews

"Campbell has a draught Guiness voice with a husky edge to it; he could narrate Chandler thrilers to perfection." (Christina Hardyment, The Times)
"These diaries are His Master�s Voice. They will be gasped at, and relied upon, for decades to come. Buy them, they will suck you in." ( The Times)
"It is electric: a tale of sound and fury." (Book of the Week, The Mail on Sunday)

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Rivetting

I guess that the audiobook only contains a small fraction of the published book's 800 pages. That means it doesn't take that long to listen all the way through. There are quite a few large jumps in dates. Names of people aren't always explained - you need some background knowledge to realise who they all are. (Eg 'PM' = Peter Mandleson, 'CDS' = Chief of Defence Staff, 'Jonathan' = Jonathan Powell...). So you have to keep your wits about you.

But none of this detracts from the fascination of the many issues covered. I ended up with a feeling of a much better appreciation of many of the stories that have been in the press during the years Alastair Campbell worked alongside Tony Blair.

The narration is clear. In summary, it was a real pleasure to listen to it. I often had a wide smile on my face (eg listening to the encounters with Princess Diana) and sometimes a lump in my throat.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Engrossing

I was never much of a fan of Blair and Spin, but the diaries of the man behind a lot of the image are fascinating. Narrated by the downbeat and laconic Campell himself, all the best anecdotes are here, plus many that you might not have heard about. As an insight into how the country is run, this paints a human and surprising picture, exposing politics as how you might have feared it is as well as how you might have hoped it can be too. Very enjoyable, espescially Mandy's hissy fits, egotistical and thoroughly entertaining, I just wish it had been the unabridged version.

9 people found this helpful

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Intriguing.

A nice and what seemed an honest opinion of the happenings in the labour government. Nicely delivered, informative and enjoyable. Sad to get through it so quickly.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wish it had been the full account.

I love listening to someone with such a rich experience, so flawed and on occasion vulnerable. Wish it had been the full account not just extracts.

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting insight

A very interesting insight into the inner workings of government and the corridors of power. Well narrated and always looked forward to getting back to it.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent

I just could not stop listening to this Audiobook. Alastair Campbell's narration really added something else to this book which I feel I would not have got if I had read the book myself. I recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Really interesting

If this sort of thing interests you then you will like this one . It is very well written in a conversational style. The author narrates it well - he has a nice voice to listen to. It is interesting to get an insight into how people behind the scenes in politics and government think and behave. The extracts have made me want to read the whole book.

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Review born 1989 for context

I listened to this to know more about the Blair government and what went on, although it’s fantastic and made me research more, if I’d been politically conscious when all the stories were happening real time it would be even better.

AC is great, fantastic speaker, clever man.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Very interesting insight to Blair’s government

Definitely worth a read if you have an interest in British politics. However it’s more of a source than a coherent narrative.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Really intriguing

I had forgotten most of what happened in Tony Blair’s tenure as Prime Minister. Alastair Campbell’s diary brought it all back. I could not stop listening. Really, really good.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeffrey P.
  • 13-09-07

Better heard than read

A great perspective on the power and management of the press in the UK. Campbell's voice adds a great deal to interpreting parts of this, so listen rather than read. Great for American readers for perspective on Bush, Iraq, Clinton. While Princess Di was interesting, nothing new to add to that story. One of my favorite Audio reads this year.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul
  • 31-08-07

A wonderful travel through recent history

Though I dont ususally go for political biographys I heard a very favorable recommendation for this book in a podcast (TWiT) which got me curious enough to listen to the sample. In 2 mins I was hooked (try it). A travel around the world during the Blair years in the form of a political diary narrated by the author, Alastair Campbell, whose style takes you right along on a trip of a sort that you are not likely to experience in any other way. Go behind the scenes to a group of young men who finally get their chance to run a country. Go behind hte scenes to Princess Dianas death, Bill Clinton and Monica, the negotiations to unify Ireland, Prince Charles and his organic produce, the Royal family and Buckingham palace, Elton John and Stevie Wonder-scandals and questionable loans- a cast of hundreds! One of those books you cant put down. Couldn't stop listening. Very highly recommended.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Martin
  • 03-12-11

a very personal insight into Blair's New Labour

Any additional comments?

I am a big fan of autobiographies read by their authors. The tone of voice and manner of speaking gives you a chance to learn something more about the author and his experiences than is possible from the words alone. As one of the other reviewers mentioned, Campbell reads with a Yorkshire accent that sounds quite cold and flat, but that might give a sense of his personality and the excerpts from his diaries are a gripping insight into the rise of Tony Blair's New Labour. A leading political journalist who served as Blair's chief media strategist, Campbell was at the heart of the work in Downing Street between 1997-2000. He gives his frank personal impressions of leading figures of the day including public figures in the UK and US, as well as insights into UK government strategy and his personal experience of the all consuming life of senior politicians and their advisors. He seems to have had an unusually clear understanding of how to use simple concepts to communicate through the media, as well as strategies for controlling the development of stories and how government policies would be understood by the public. This is probably what made him one of Blair's closest advisers. It is an insightful account. My only thought is that because these are excerpts, and move from key event to key event, they are probably missing insight into the calmer days between crises. Campbell also says that he held back material that might have made life harder for Gordon Brown or damaged the Labour Party.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • zman
  • 13-11-07

Too much British politics

Unless you know the players and are close to british politics this book is a hard listen. Author uses lot of initials and does a poor job explaining all the characters he is refering to and this made it very difficult to follow along.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Kenneth
  • 09-11-07

Dreadful orator

The material may be interesting but the audiobook is dreadfully let down by awful & boring oration; worse still, by the author himself !

2 people found this helpful