Tony Blair is a politician who defines our times. His emergence as Labour Party leader in 1994 marked a seismic shift in British politics. Within a few short years, he had transformed his party and rallied the country behind him, becoming prime minister in 1997 with the biggest victory in Labour’s history, and bringing to an end 18 years of Conservative government. He took Labour to a historic three terms in office as Britain’s dominant political figure of the last two decades.
A Journey is Tony Blair’s firsthand account of his years in office and beyond. Here he describes for the first time his role in shaping our recent history, from the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death to the war on terror. He reveals the leadership decisions that were necessary to reinvent his party, the relationships with colleagues including Gordon Brown, the grueling negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland, the implementation of the biggest reforms to public services in Britain since 1945, and his relationships with leaders on the world stage. He analyzes the belief in ethical intervention that led to his decisions to go to war - most controversially of all, in Iraq.
A Journey is a book about the nature and uses of political power. In frank, unflinching, often wry detail, Tony Blair charts the ups and downs of his career to provide insight into the man as well as the politician and statesman. He explores the challenges of leadership, and the ramifications of standing up, clearly and forcefully, for what one believes in. He also looks ahead, to emerging power relationships and economies, addressing the vital issues and complexities of our global world.
Few British prime ministers have shaped the nation’s course as profoundly as Tony Blair, and his achievements and his legacy will be debated for years to come. Here, uniquely, we have his own journey, in his own words.
©2010 Tony Blair (P)2010 Random House Audio
However it is far easier to accept these judgments when they come directly from the man who was, after all, leader of one of the world???s great powers, the United Kingdom, during such a historically significant window of time. This is a book that thoroughly transcends partisan politics. It helps the listener understand the complexities of leadership and realpolitik in our time, at least as Tony Blair saw it. More importantly it is a book about relations and how they are managed at this strategic level. The listener is taken through a first-person account of a range of issues starting with the Royal Family over the death of Lady Diana, and with Heads of State and the UN over the catastrophe in Kosovo, with Sierra Leone???s transition from war to peace, the robust relationship with US President George W. Bush following 9/11 - and the politics of moving into war and a nation-building role in Afghanistan and Iraq; and then dealing with terrorism in his own city of London. This is powerful, serious and thought provoking stuff that should not suffer the indignity of being thought of along party political lines. Naturally it can???t all be about international events, and it would be impractical for Tony Blair to write an autobiography without dealing with domestic political issues, especially the troubled relationship with Gordon Brown. However these issues are dealt with in a way that is not at all onerous for listeners from outside the UK and actually provides an interesting perspective on politics generally, that politically savvy listeners from many other countries will find much to identify with. Finally, Blair makes no attempt to disguise areas that he felt were not his proudest moments, and this balanced approach lends an essential credibility to his story that would severely degrade the worth of this work if it were not present.
What a wonderful opportunity to hear first hand what it is to be a world leader from the world leader himself. The book is many things. It is a study in the qualities of leadership. It is humorous and at times painfully personal and touching. It provides an intimate glimpse of the personalities other important world leaders. It is a lesson in the recent history of british politics and world affairs.
In the opening chapter of this book, I immediately realized this book was going to be an entirely different experience. Hearing Tony Blair read aloud about just how starkly (and secretly) terrified he was upon winning his initial landslide election was honest and thrilling. When he describes his initial meeting with the queen (‘You are my tenth prime minister. Winston Churchill was my first’) you can’t help but grin as you gain the vicarious feeling of what it must have been like to assume the reins of power.
As the book unfolds, Blair does not lose his way. He continues to articulate both the amusing side of life as a world leader (The time his son got drunk and was arrested on the eve of his big speech on antisocial behavior) as well as articulate in clear detail his controversial and visionary decisions (Why Iraq? Why Afghanistan? How did New Labor come to be?) I’ve never heard of any other case where a world leader took the time to give you such a person tour of their time in power.
By the end of the book, I came away with a few confident conclusions. 1) Tony Blair is a deep and nuanced thinker, open to new ideas and able to clearly formulate a vision for leadership in the 21st century. 2) If you think you have all the answers on what ought to have been done over the last 10 years, it is a bit trickier than you might imagine. 3) Tony Blair is on my top 10 list of people I’d love to have a beer with and knowing that is not likely to happen I was so glad I listened to this book.
Absolutely! Blair is a very good reader and his voice makes the story even more lively.
Blair himself, of course, but I also liked his descriptions of his relationships with Bill Clinton and George Bush.
No, but it was quite astonishing at times. And I sometimes felt like the author talking to me in the way he would do when revealing something to close friends.
I like his voice in general as I also like Bill Clintons voice when he reads his own books.
This book is an excellent and lively account of Tony Blair???s rise as leader and reformer of the British Labour party and his ten-year run as Prime Minister. He vividly describes his personal doubts, convictions and feelings at numerous points in that period. It is a revealing story of the never-ending pressures, demands, and difficult decisions faced by a modern political leader, The book also includes numerous insights and pithy remarks on modern-day politics and statecraft. Here is a good example: ???Politics today works by reference to paradigms of opinion that are formed, harden fast, and then become virtually unchallengeable. People have a short time to reflect and consider; issues are weighed quickly; little care is put into what goes on the scales and so judgements are made with a speed and severity that a more deliberate process would eschew. Once such judgements are made, stories are written that tend to reinforce the judgement. Stories to the contrary are ignored, until eventually to challenge the judgements is deemed almost delusional. Balance is an alien concept in today???s world. It wants opinions that are certain and are made fast.???
I recall during the Iraq War that I felt the most articulate advocates of the US Administration???s policy were Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld and ??? Tony Blair. This book reinforces my view that the most articulate of the three was Blair.
I enjoyed this. Mr Blair reads the book in a way that is easy on the ear. Even if one is not aware of the main characters that he talks about he writes in a style that gives one a sense of politics involved.
I've not read or listened to many auto-biographies before. Tony Blair's is a fascinating account of his as Prime Minister. Being in the US, I don't pretend to know the people or issues in British politics - about all we hear about is the PM and the royal family. That also meant I had little bias about what was said.
It was interesting to see his thought processes throughout. He was convinced of the correctness of bringing New Labor policies into the UK. I suppose that's the one weakness of the book as well: with the exception of Iraq, there's little hindsight on the decisions he made. He pats himself on the back a lot with the assumption of his correctness. All of the ideas seem to be his as well - I can't recall any instance where he credited someone else with an idea that he subsequently took up and ran with. In that respect, the book appears a bit too self-indulgent.
On Iraq, he spends a lot of time justifying his decision - it's probably the most interesting part of the book. Here, he delves into why he thought the UK needed to be involved. He thought the Americans too rash, the Europeans too timid. With all the faults exposed in hindsight, he spends a lot of time discussing how he agonized over the decisions. Again, it was an interesting overview, but I wish he he done that more with other topics. The fact that he didn't makes it seem almost spin-like.
Still, as I said previously, the first-hand account of his develepment and decisions make this a very interesting listen.
Prime Minister Blair's negotiations to bring peace to Northern Ireland is one of the highlights of this book.
His ability to explicitly describe the numerous factors and principles that influenced his decisions during his leadership tenure. The listener feels as if she/he is part of the decision making process.....a truly privileged vantage point.
I first heard Tony Blair speak when he delivered Princess Diana's eulogy. I found his account of his political career fascinating. There is much insight to be had, for an American, in listening to a leader of the Labour Party in Britain explain his reasoning for the War in Iraq. It fit closely with George W. Bush's account in Decision Points. As a reader of Churchill, I enjoyed Blair's command of the English language.
He is very honest and open in accounting his experiences in office.
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