The autobiography of Jack Straw - an MP for 33 years and at the heart of government throughout the longest-serving Labour administration in history.
As a small boy in Epping Forest, Jack Straw could never have imagined that one day he would become Britain's Lord Chancellor. As one of five children of divorced parents, he was bright enough to get a scholarship to a direct-grant school, but spent his holidays as a plumbers' mate for his uncles to bring in some much-needed extra income. Yet he spent 13 years and 11 days in government, including long and influential spells as Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary.
This is the story of how he got there. His memoirs offer a unique insight into the complex, sometimes self-serving but always fascinating world of British politics and reveals the toll that high office takes, but, more importantly, the enormous satisfaction and extraordinary privilege of serving both your constituents and your country. Straw’s has been a very public life, but he reveals the private face, too, and offers listeners a vivid and authoritative insight into the Blair/Brown era and, indeed, the last 40 years of British politics.
”Straw has an ear for anecdote and quotation, and is honest about his difficult early life; self-justifying, but also self-aware about his record, including as Foreign Secretary during the Iraq war” (Books of the Year, Independent on Sunday)
What did you like most about Last Man Standing?
I never been much of a fan of autobiographies and am fairly agnostic about Jack Short, but I bought this after hearing a podcast where he discussed his experience in office. I found the book incredibly interesting and well read. I particularly liked the opportunity to hear the reasoning behind a number of his and Labour's key decisions. Unlike many autobiographies this doesn't provide endless detail on events that were only likely to be of interest to you if you were there and I must confess it's the only autobiography I've actually made it to the end of! I would definitely recommend this audiobook.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Up to now I’ve avoided political autobiographies believing that independent biographies probably give a truer picture, however, favourable reviews of this book tempted me into down-loading it. I I’ve always thought Jack Straw an honest and modest politician doing his best even though I haven't supported his party . This book has re-enforced this view, but most of all it’s an absorbing account of British and World politics and events over the last 50 years. Politicians have had a bad press in recent years owing to various scandals, but I’m left with the strong impression that a cabinet minister’s life is often thankless, gruelling and insecure. It’s to his credit that he doesn’t shy away from revealing the impact of the strain of the job on his mental health.
His descriptions of his grandparents and parents tough lives and the disruption and deprivations of his childhood owing to the breakup of his parents marriage make it easy to see where is political views were formed. It’s remarkable how much he achieved in life after such fraught beginnings. Rightly he doesn’t parade his wife and children but they are obviously an anchor in his life. Fears of assassination, in recent decades, means that a minister and his family’s existence is circumscribed by security measures that most of us would find unacceptably intrusive. It’s a wonder that people seek out a life in politics.
I very much enjoyed this book as it gave an inside view of how government is run and decisions are made by someone who was at the heart of government for many years; and reveals how the personality of politicians impinges on the way that events and crises are dealt with; and is honest about the faults and mistakes he and his colleagues made.
By narrating the book himself, and doing it well, made events and the people he met come to life.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed listening to the memoirs of Mr Jack Straw !
I drive a truck for a living and have never followed politics very closely until recently, as I am middle aged (im 48 but still 20 in my head) I listen to a lot of audio books as I do my job, I like to listen to history as I drive and from an interest in past events I now find myself interested in the politics of the past !
I enjoyed this audio book very much, Mr Straw you are a top bloke !
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I was too young to fully appreciate what Jack was doing when he was in office and it is only through listening to this book, which is brilliantly written and read, that I realise what a debt we have to him, regardless of politics. Stepping down as an MP soon he is going to be a humongous loss, I really hope that there are some young politicians who can fill his shoes, we desperately need them. Fascinating book, touching, funny, detailed and well written. Thanks Jack
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Parts of this book, particularly the early and later chapters were very interesting and 'held' the reader. The middle sections tended to become a series of events where the author was mostly 'right' and the 'others' were in the wrong! Similar to most politicians.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful