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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

'As FT editor, I was a privileged interlocutor to people in power around the world, each offering unique insights into high-level decision-making and political calculation, often in moments of crisis. These diaries offer snapshots of leadership in an age of upheaval....'

Lionel Barber was editor of the Financial Times for the tech boom, the global financial crisis, the rise of China, Brexit and mainstream media's fight for survival in the age of fake news.

In this unparalleled, no-holds-barred diary of life behind the headlines, he reveals the private meetings and exchanges with political leaders on the eve of referendums, the conversations with billionaire bankers facing economic meltdown, exchanges with Silicon Valley tech gurus and pleas from foreign emissaries desperate for inside knowledge, all against the backdrop of a wildly shifting media landscape.

The result is a fascinating - and at times scathing - portrait of power in our modern age; who has it, what it takes and what drives the men and women with the world at their feet. Featuring close encounters with Trump, Cameron, Blair, Putin, Merkel and Mohammed Bin Salman and many more, this is a rare portrait of the people who continue to shape our world and who quite literally make the news.

©2020 Lionel Barber (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"An extraordinary personal and professional insight into 15 years of tumultuous times." (Tony Blair)

"Riveting - a world of power, money, ego and disaster, as witnessed from the front row." (Philippe Sands)

"Brutal, brilliant and scurrilously funny...don't miss it." (Misha Glenny) 

What listeners say about The Powerful and the Damned

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Interesting but not enlightening

Barber is very congratulatory of his own performance. I am certain the book could have been significantly more revealing.
The book is interesting but not enlightening.

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The backstory, which is more interesting than the headline.

Lionel Barber shares the backstory to many scoops that the FT was involved in. Importantly, he also shared his personal story on becoming the Editor.

If you want to know the story behind the need and learn about the comms and influence then it’s worth a read!

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A lively diary of a decade leading the FT

Lots of interesting snippets and characters. Some self-aggrandisement but that’s the nature of such books. A reporter at heart, rather than a visionary but he did give the FT a fresh impetus.

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Opinionated, insightful & eye opening

Facinating account of the last decade from the eyes of a man who witnessed so much first hand..... in my opinion, he is awful.... his perspective & self importance is everything that is wrong with the city, but this is also what drew me into the book. I am left reflecting on elitism & its impact to the world events he discusses & the far right movement ..... did people like Lionel Barber & his cronies create the anger that spurred on the Trumps of today? Well worth a read, very thought provoking.

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Interesting but dated and full of name dropping

It’s a bit dated. Lots of name dropping. Wish it’d been a bit more like Harold Evans’ books with a bit more analysis and less name dropping.

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Simple but worth reading

With insights worth almost enough to buy a Costa coffee and skimming across the modern political landscape like a flat stone over the water this book would not at first seem worth sticking with - but it is interesting and I found myself enjoying the ride through high-level world chumocracy and learning a few tidbits on the way which helped put a few things in context. It also made me realise how much we all need that in a time when almost everything a liberal democrat believed was good has been up-ended. Lionel Barber reads well - not a skill to be underestimated and many would not trust themselves to narrate their own book. His writing is surprisingly plain with few similes, original or otherwise, but perhaps that is the style you need for straightforward, and fast journalism that must be written to printing deadlines? Part of me wonders what Barber's talent really is but the evidence that he has talent comes from 14 years at the Financial Times and how he has successfully grown and nurtured a financially successful (one assumes) digital revolution at the paper. Though without good similes there is plenty of irony to enjoy - drinking fine wine while the world burns and the poor have to steal or starve to survive the financial crash, or commenting on Trump's regal style when perhaps that was unwittingly Barber's own behaviour with his team? Perhaps that last is not true - we don't really know as there is not enough exposure or background or indeed truth about what really went on in his tenure - the 'playing safe' attitude in modern media has led to a pasturised version of reality when we all know that real cheese is better. Even so, and on the whole, this book makes you reflect on many things right and wrong with the current world.

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Interesting, informative & entertaining

An all round great account of a well-respected newspaper, insight into world class reporting, global & European affairs & life as an editor. I am far from a finance boffin but Lionel Barber made some of the more confusing elements of economics understandable.

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Reasonable listen but fairly pompous

Very light on the financial crisis, at times tin eared and pompous but a reasonable listen nonetheless. I'm a longtime FT subscriber so was interested in the evolution of the newspaper. I found some of Barber's anecdotes quite dull and (as important as it was) the expose of the Presidents Club was given more attention than the financial crisis and the FT's alertness to it. Sense of airbrushing throughout.

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  • RD
  • 03-10-21

Insider view of recent political history

Very much enjoyed this easy to listen to book on recent political history. Enjoyable, interesting, educational.

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  • O. Buraimoh
  • 02-01-21

Truly disappointing

Horrible book with a lot of promise but its only success was in how completely disappointing it is. I so much looked forward to this book for insight and a telling of contemporary political history from the viewpoint of someone with a frontline seat. Instead, the author might as well have published his deeply boring diary of his period in office infused with never-ending asides about his role in charting the course of the newspaper he edited. He should have stuck to editing. I want my money back!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-12-20

So captivating

Brilliant narration, impeccable English, enjoyed every line of it! Fantastic insight into world politics and journalism!