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The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries
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The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  636 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
The Blair Years is the most compelling and revealing account of contemporary politics you will ever read. Taken from Alastair Campbell's daily diaries, it charts 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
Paperback, 832 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Arrow (first published July 9th 2007)
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Jan 20, 2008 Danial rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was known that Campbell kept a diary, a portion of which was later published as The Blair Years.Accurate,descriptive and persuasive, it provides the inside story of the labor government. Being a Journalist and then at the center of affairs through Blair's two government,the entries are pieced together with observant comments and reveal incidents of importance

Campbell, who was also said to be pointlessly combative, picked a fight with the BBC over the story. The chairman and director-general
May 18, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, but I have to constantly look at the list of characters at the front since he uses nicknames and initials. Am I the only one who thinks of tuberculosis when they see TB instead of Tony Blair?
May 14, 2010 chucklesthescot rated it really liked it
Shelves: true, war, political
This was the best political based book that I've ever read. I loved it! I had debated on reading the full diaries but decided to go for this version instead and it was a great read.

Alastair Campbell was a vital cog in the Tony Blair media machine, and it is interesting that Blair started losing popularity when Campbell quit. He was very good at what he did and was amusing to listen to. In this book he is open about his battle with alcohol addiction which he is doing so well to keep under control
Simon Taylor
Aug 17, 2016 Simon Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With the publication of Chilcot's Iraq Inquiry, it seems a good time to revist the comments of a man who was right there when it happened: Alastair Campbell. Tony Blair's former spin doctor published his memoirs to 2003 in 2007, when Blair left office. (Blair's own memoirs followed in 2010.)

Unlike Blair's thematically-grouped autobiography, Campbell takes a chronological approach, beginning with Blair's ascent to power in 1994 until Campbell's resignation in 2003. It's frank, detailed and extre
Dec 27, 2008 Jamie is currently reading it
Large book, dipping in and out, perhaps comments as I go along.

24/04/09 - Well I'm up to 1996. It is interestingish... although I have taken an interest in politics it is something which developed post 9/11 and when I went to uni so I am not as au fait with the political climate when I was still in my early teens. It can be frustrating therefore to flick back and forth to try to remember who each abbreviation refers to, though there are footnotes now and again when somebody new is brought in or
Jul 27, 2010 Bluenose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Campbell was there at the Labour party’s triumphant resurgence and, oh yeah, there was some guy named Blair. It’s not quite that blatant but almost. It’s all about Alastair but then it is a diary after all. At the end you’ll wish it wasn’t. A little more thoughtful contemplation would have been welcomed. It seems like a lazy way to make a few (a lot, shurely?) bucks but it’s often a gripping read particularly during the Diana and Iraq periods. The Iraq stuff becomes a defense of Campbell’s role ...more
Sep 18, 2009 Roy rated it liked it
This one was a fascinating but quite difficult read. Had wanted to take a look since I heard Alistair Campbell was keeping a diary. Very interesting to remember news items and go back and see his version of it (and remember what you were doing at the time). Goes right from Labour’s election through to the Hutton enquiry. Some things came across really strongly – like how much infighting there was in Labour and how unfit they were from government before they got elected, how Blair’s speeches whic ...more
Stan Bebbington
Campbell's diaries cover the period before the 1997 election and during the subsequent government of Tony Blair. They have been edited by another writer and viewed by some of those mentioned prior to publication. Curiously the swearwords have not been edited out and it is interesting to speculate why they have been left in. To enhance the macho effect perhaps? Overall there is a feeling that the diarist is unable to judge the relative importance of his role and his exaggerated sense of importanc ...more
Oct 17, 2007 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: politics junkies
Shelves: politics-history
The movie The Queen was wonderful and made me even more pro-Blair than I had been before. During the whole post-911 development of foreign policy, I kept wishing that I lived in the country Tony Blair was running. So when this diary of Blair's press secretary came out, I thought I should get an insider's view of what Blair was like during those difficult times.
I just skimmed the major parts (Diana's death, 911, Iraq war), but Blair comes through as being exactly the guy I thought he was. At one
Peg Ward
Nov 17, 2007 Peg Ward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting, relevant, and sometimes gossip column-like read of a diary written by Tony Blair's communications director, even though:

1) I felt like more than half of the commentary flew over my head (at least at first) since I didn't know much about the players in British politics, and

2) the author selectively left out many (possibly more interesting) diary entries in the hopes of publishing additional volumes and (at least for the short term) protecting the legacy of his administration.

Gitte Lindberg
Sep 05, 2011 Gitte Lindberg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
I find the diary format so addictive as it allows events to unfold and you just want to know what happens the next day, and the one after that, and the next one again... The book offers a detailed account of what went on behind the scenes and the mechanics of politics, government and diplomacy, but whether it is a true reflection of it is impossible to tell as AC is a truly political animal. The book is very funny in places, with some useful self-mockery thrown in too, and makes you wonder why o ...more
Kris Hallett
I didn't manage to finish it, only getting to 2001, but by then the style of it had become clear. Fascinating titbits but with the feeling all the really juicy bits have been left out for obvious political reasons. What does come across is that all Labours key players were dedicated to making the country a better place then where they found it. Up to 2001, arguably they succeeded so it would have been the next lot of diaries that would most likely have proven most interesting.
By then though I'd
Matthew Thorbes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Colin Luker
Interesting but some differences I thought in the contents of this book & between Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward (George Bush and Iraq war). Main comments would be is why Tony Blair did not pay as much attention to the affairs of the UK as he did with trying to be President of the World. Secondly how does a non elected person (Alistair Campbell)have such involvement in the running of the country? Otherwise an interesting insight into government and perhaps why it needs a totally different ap ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Ute rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
A fantastic legacy about the years of New Labour and the man behind Tony Blair. Sometimes an exhausting read as there are so many names and abbreviations for institutions that it's easy to lose track who's talking to who. However, I learned a lot and got a great inside into the world of "normal people" that have the privilege to pull the strings of world politics. Best remembered are Campbell's comments on Tony Blair's dress sense (non-existent).
This book only goes to show what went on during the Blair years - nothing new really, only confirms what I already knew. Only shocks so far are the callous way they speak of the Princes at Diana's funeral and also the fact that they ended up not going forward with the Euro based on cross wires. Its a long book to get through but because its diary based its possible to put it down and read another book for a while !
Aug 25, 2008 Gareth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extracts from the diaires written between the mid 90s and 2003 when AC finally left his job as Tony Blair's spin doctor. A very interesting read. A lot of detail about dynamics between personalities in british politics over this period. Also a very interesting view on how the press influences politics and at times sets the political agenda in modern Britain.

If you have an interest in politics, highly recommended. If not, at 750 pages, this is probably not for you
Nick Buckley
An intriguing mixture of familiar stories and deeper insights.

Oddly I remain divided, even within myself, on the matter of getting into power at all cost to do [what you think is] good, vs, getting into power and retaining power because of the intrinsic merit of your actions and policies... ... rather than your spin.
Feb 19, 2011 Heslington rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun read, especially if you are interested in the British political environment. As its title suggests, the book took a diary form, which means unrelated stories and comments are mixed. You may find comments on random events embedded in a developing story thread. Still, the thread is mostly clear, in a style with humor too.
Jul 14, 2011 Rubi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I say I've read this, what I mean is that I went through the index pages looking for names I was interested in. (And there are A LOT of names, most notable British politicians of the past 20 years are to be found in Campbell's diary.) As if I'd go through this entire brick of a book, page by page...
I'd say it's a must-read for any British Politics student, as I was then.
Mar 21, 2008 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't finish this book. It is way too dry. It is actually his diary entries with names abbreviated to initials. Not being from the UK many of the references to people and events were hard for me to place. I am sure there is tremendous value in this book as a historical work however for light reading about recent events it is a tough sell.
This is obviously Campbell's view of the Blair years and you never know how true it is. I was given Peter Mandelson's version of his truth and much the same applies. Interesting listen on a wet day. Having read those two, I haven't bothered Blair himself or Cheri or Gordon Brown. I have Andrew Rawnsley on a waiting list at the RNIB and I think it will be a better narrative.
Andrew Smith
I've always quite like Campbell. He's obviously clever, focused and very hard working - all traits to admire. But he's also a bit full of himself - less so. Overall, a really interesting read and full of background information and opinions on political events I can remember from the fairly recent past.
Dave Tuck
May 17, 2011 Dave Tuck rated it really liked it
Really good read and insight into the Blair years. New Labour has been written to death now and if you've read any previous biographies or the Rawnsley books then some of this will be quite familiar. The diaries focus more on the relationship between AC and TB although there's a lot of detail around the big events like Ireland and Iraq.
Jan 20, 2017 Sunil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics-history
I read an abridged version. I found many of the passages unbelievable as the author claims he says x, y, x but i actually think a lot more expletitives were used. How truthful is Alistair here? He doesn't seem to spin as much as the press make it seem.
Aug 02, 2011 Isobel rated it really liked it
I found this fascinating. The overall impression that all Labour government policy both home and foreign has been governed by the need to appease the media. Has anything been proactive or has the last 11 years been a series of knee-jerk reactions??
A bit self-serving as one would expect from Campbell but found background on domestic and international figures very interesting. Insight into decision making on Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Europe was fascinating.
Feb 28, 2008 Roshana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Actually quite good biography from New Labour's master of spin. Honestly reflections on a high pressure jobs and the impact on personal and family life from someone with a history of stress and depression. Good gossip on the blair years too
Oct 26, 2009 Max rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You need to have a good knowledge of British politics to fully understand this book, and I don't. However, it is really good, and no doubt sanitized, look behind the scenes in government. Even if you aren't British, it still offers general insights on power and politics.
Apr 08, 2015 Toby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-and-diary
It is obviously biased, and this edition significantly abridged, but compulsive reading nonetheless and an insight into a time when many people really did think that things could only get better.
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