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The Prime Ministers

Reflections on Leadership from Wilson to May
Narrated by: Steve Richards
Length: 13 hrs and 38 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Politics
4.5 out of 5 stars (32 ratings)

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Summary

A landmark history of the men and women who have defined the UK's role in the modern world - and what makes them special - by a seasoned political journalist. 

At a time of unprecedented political upheaval, this magisterial history explains who leads us and why. From Harold Wilson to Theresa May, it brilliantly brings to life all nine inhabitants of 10 Downing Street over the past 50 years, vividly outlining their successes and failures - and what made each of them special. Based on unprecedented access and in-depth interviews, and inspired by the author's BBC Radio 4 and television series, Steve Richards expertly examines the men and women who have defined the UK's role in the modern world and sheds new light on the demands of the highest public office in the land.

©2019 Steve Richards (P)2019 Audible, Ltd

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Masterly observation

Totally absorbing insights into the rise and inevitable fall of Prime Ministers of the last 60 years. Don't miss it

4 people found this helpful

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A competent and useful guide to leading the UK

I have always been interested in the nuance of political leadership, and the motivation behind any Prime Minister's rise to the top job.

In this overview of UK prime ministers from Wilson to May, you are taken on a journey through modern British political history. The author does a good job of challenging our assumptions about each Prime Minister and breaks away from the characatures that they are often remembered as long, after their time office. of particular interest was the depiction of Harold Wilson, Gordon brown and Margaret Thatcher who all are remembered very specifically by many.

the book does however read as something as a chronological description, whereas being able to introduce themes of leadership and politics as opposed to individual prime ministers one by one would perhaps have made a more complete and comparative analysis. in addition, one cannot help but feel that the author is more Blairite in their world view and it appears as though more doting is placed at Tony Blair than any other leader.

perhaps unfairly the book would have been even more complete had it's been able to take into account the leadership Boris Johnson. as a prime minister he appears to buck the trend of many of the arguments that are proposed in the book, and were the author to follow up in 5 to 10 years time I'm sure very different conclusions and reflections would have been reached.

it is however a very interesting overview and is much recommended to any person with an interest in modern British political history

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All political careers end in failure ...

Enoch Powell is said to have said that all political careers end in failure and it was holding this thought in mind which made this a rather sad book by the time I'd reached the end.

By that, I mean the reader is left on an emotional low with the thought of all these earnest Prime Ministers taking such an emotional and psychological hammering in this brutal trade.

The book is superbly written by Steve Richards who clearly knows his stuff when it comes to analysis of life in the Westminster bubble.

As well as that, he clearly has an instinctive understanding of the frailties of the human beings whose scramble to the very pinnacle of a very greasy pole fascinates so many of us. And this deep understanding shines out in his prose.

In light of all this praise it seems slightly churlish to comment on the very long sentences and lack of pauses between them.

Even by the time I'd got to the end of the book I still hadn't tuned my ear in to the best place to stop.

All that said, it's a great book and a must read for any student of politics - it'll be well worth your time.

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Intriguing analysis - worth a listen

For anyone interested in leadership or British politics this book provides many intriguing insights and some fascinating analysis.

It may lack a sufficient line of judgment and is not a guide on how to be a PM, but it is a superb analysis on the last few PMs strengths and weaknesses