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The Third Man: Life at the Heart of New Labour

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  359 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
The revelatory memoir of one of New Labor’s three founding architects isdevoted to the "soap opera" years of Labour government and the breakdown of relationshipsbetween Mandelson, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown

Drawing heavily on detailed diary notes he took during the events that shaped the British government for more than 25 years. Peter Mandelson tells his story of a life
Hardcover, 566 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by HarperCollins UK (first published January 1st 2010)
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Oct 19, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read, albeit a long one. I found Mandelson a much more sympathetic character than I expected. One good thing - compared to the autobiography of another 'Labour' leader, he did not hold his constituents in complete contempt. Indeed, he respected them and was grateful for their votes. It's also extremely interesting to learn what goes on behind closed doors, and how policy is formulated.

OTOH this book reaffirmed my belief that politicians live in a totally different univers
Aug 07, 2014 Blair rated it really liked it
Before I start this review, I have a confession to make: I like Peter Mandelson. I'm aware this puts me in a (probably extremely small) minority, but I do. In fact, in my early teens, when I was an unapologetic New Labour fangirl, I practically hero-worshipped the man. While my perception of politics and the modern Labour party have definitely matured since then, and there are elements of Mandelson's beliefs I absolutely cannot get behind (mainly to do with privatisation), it's undeniable that h ...more
Tom Coates
Mar 13, 2012 Tom Coates rated it really liked it
I read Tony Blair's book a while back, and found it a reasonably interesting read that articulated his positions on the large decisions very well. Even if you didn't agree with them, at least they were clear.

Mandelson's book is a better written affair, has a pretty clear focus and puts over his personality pretty well. It's definitely insightful, it's fascinating to see how such a skilled political operator functions, and it's true that it slightly makes you feel like his potential was rather wa
May 03, 2011 Steve rated it liked it
I cannot be bothered to review an unremarkable book that hundreds of others have already reviewed before me. Unlike many people, I have always quite liked Peter Mandelson, but for such an engaging man the book is slightly disappointing in its ordinariness and lack of truly revelatory content.

I might have given it four stars for readability, but for the mind-numbingly dull 'extra chapter' included for the paperback version which is nothing but an ultra-wordy commentary on the coalition's first fe
Apr 20, 2015 Adrian rated it it was amazing
Those who knew me from my student days would undoubtedly be raising a quizzical eyebrow at the favorable review I am granting to Lord Mandelson's The Third Man. Such a review and realization is undoubtedly a sign of personal progress, and a re-examination of progressive politics, something the much maligned Third Man at the Heart of New Labour quintessentially embodies.
The Third Man is not quite the kiss and tell memoir people may be expecting, but rather an expose and chronicle of the New Labou
Rachel Tyndall
Oct 14, 2012 Rachel Tyndall rated it it was amazing
I loved this book as it was something of a learning curve for me and a real insight into Labour politics and the Blair-Brown relationship. I couldn't put it down and was a great read. I would recommend it to anyone interested in British politics!
Nov 16, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now this is a massive read. It's thick enough but then you realise how small the typeface is.

It is a book I'm glad I gave the time to though. It's a fascinating look at modern politics and New Labour. It's a no holds barred look at both those subjects. The big surprise was the lack of bitterness and bitchiness. The book is startlingly fair. I couldn't quite understand how he could be so fair but maybe the nasty environment of power grabbing they call politics gives you a thick skin.

No one comes
Mar 09, 2011 Dianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: politics
I remember the fuss when this book first came out in serial form in The Times. The problem with newspaper excerpts is that they concentrate on the more 'sexy' pieces.

It is a well written absorbing read (if the subject interests you) of the rise and fall of New Labour. Of the three young men responsible for the development of New Labour policies which kept Labour in power for three terms, Mandelson is the background figure who co-ordinated campaigns and acted as mediator and sounding board for bo
Colin Luker
Interesting book filling in the gaps about New Labour, both before an during their 13 years in government.It is very strange that what politicians presumably dream of most, to be in government, that they spend all of their time trying to destroy what they have achieved.

If all that is said in this book is true about the in fighting and personal one upmanships, particularly about Gordon Brown, then it is very sad that GB could not see that the position of PM he wanted and thought he could do was t
Maurice Frank
Aug 16, 2015 Maurice Frank rated it liked it
A small item is a morally stunning discovery for all survivors of abusively pushy school work and the type of teachers who rave and bellow and scream. At a moment in Mandelson's early career before he was famous, he reveals he had a mini stress crack-up and got medical advice on it from his GP. He had been overworking in his efforts for the party. Needed to take a rest period of limiting what he did. Included in his doctor's orders for it, was: not to bring any work home. For an adult able freel ...more
Aug 28, 2010 Wendy rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, biography
If you're only going to read one book on the rise and fall of New Labour, this probably shouldn't be it. I imagine that there are other books on the topic that are less biased and take a broader perspective. However, if you're a political junkie, this book does offer a vivid first-hand account of the reshaping of the Labour party in the late 80s and 90s, and the government's successes and later unravellings in the 00s. Particularly fascinating is the depiction of the relationship between Tony Bl ...more
Dean MacKinnon-Thomson
Apr 28, 2013 Dean MacKinnon-Thomson rated it liked it
Shelves: politics

A solid read, and very worthwhile. It covers all the key personal disputes, personality clashes in the very same calm, polite yet deadly style so unique to the RH Hon Lord.

In terms of style it flows beautifully, and i even found it a bit of a page turner.

So why not four or five stars?

1. Hard politics

It brilliantly gives insight to the hard edge of new labour spin-politics and yah-boo antics - but it doesn't provide enough info on the hard policies which had me voting Labour during those years
Dec 24, 2010 James rated it really liked it
It turns out that Gordon Brown was a bastard, constantly derailing what Blair was trying to do. Not that we didn't already know this, but it's surprising just what an arse he was being.

No one comes out of the book in a particularly glorious light, apart from this "Peter Mandelson" character. It turns out that he had the foresight, and knew exactly what to do in every situation. Sentences like "I suspected there might be a hung parliament" which were written by Mandelson in retrospect merely rein
Matthew Ball
Jan 06, 2013 Matthew Ball rated it liked it

I found this accessible and enjoyable to read, perhaps partly because I found myself in agreement with most (if not all) of Mandelson's judgements. There are times when the tone is a little more self-serving than is really ideal - he likes very much to point out when he has done something right. But in fairness this is balanced by some refreshingly frank admission of his own failings. Discussion of policy tends to be fairly light, but he exhibits an obvious flair for politics, and for being in t
Gitte Lindberg
Sep 05, 2011 Gitte Lindberg rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
Much more revealing and insightful than Alastair Campbell's diaries, this book explores the relationships between the main movers and shakers of New Labour and the achievements of the party during its years in government. Not surprisingly Gordon Brown comes off worse in the account, which equally unsurprisingly leaves one feeling sorry about Mandelson's somewhat unfulfilled potential. The main surprise of the book is the weakness of Tony Blair's dealings with his cabinet colleagues, his neighbou ...more
Arnold Mukuvare
Jun 20, 2014 Arnold Mukuvare rated it it was amazing
I found this book very enjoyable although long. certainly a must read for anyone remotely interested in politics.
Peter Dunn
Sep 04, 2010 Peter Dunn rated it really liked it

An interesting and easy read, it gave more insight into the man than I expected. As a PR person I was particularly amused by the bits that went along the lines of “I was very surprised that X appeared in the press – I did talk to journalist Y who wrote the story but I didn’t talk about topic X honest really...”

I see my employer the wonderful University of Warwick gets a mention on page 518 The reference says:
“The interview seemed to give Gordon new confidence as well. Six days later, at Warwick
Lee Scordis
Aug 15, 2014 Lee Scordis rated it liked it
Shelves: autobiography
A good overview of the years of New Labour as well as the years out of power. This autobiography gives an inside view into the heart of the Labour leadership under two different PM's. It also shows the infighting in the Labour party during this time. Mandleson does not hold back when talking about his colleagues and seems to give a fair analysis off all involved.
Steve Gillway
May 15, 2011 Steve Gillway rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
This gives a clear insight into many aspects of the New Labour project. There is a great deal about Blair and Brown and all the shenanigans and petty squabbles which beset them. A great deal of the book is about how the author was mostly right about most things, how he was treated badly on occasions. I think that it was written with the hindsight in mind. What I mean is he kept all his notes and stuff because he knew that he would write a book at a later date. For all that, for anyone of the Tod ...more
May 03, 2011 Kyle rated it really liked it
Peter Mandelson has a way with words. I didn't really expect this book to be a riveting read. I bought it out of curiousity and found it 'unputdownable'. He doesn't do a hatchet job on Gordon Brown, he just tells it as it was. However, it leaves you with a knowledge of the rivalry between Gordon and Tony over many years. Brown's obsessive desire to be PM had a corrosive effect on Blairs premiership and the overall governing of the nation. Gordon was indeed 'mad, bad and dangerous'.
Adrian Hunt
Apr 20, 2013 Adrian Hunt rated it liked it
I felt as though I was there with Peter M, negotiating the rocky relationship of Brown (the villain) and Blair (the hero). His obsession with politics overwhelms the book but, I guess, reflects the man and the purpose of the book. However, his comments on politics were insightful and the importance of selling any project with a positive message is one that I try to apply in my life. Worth reading if only to confirm all your anti-Brown prejudices.
David Highton
Dec 22, 2015 David Highton rated it it was ok
A very interesting autobiography, but I found it hard to read without constantly thinking that it presented a good spin on the facts throughout - although I know most autobiographies do that to some degree. And full of spin doctor language like 'narrative'. And more than other books on New Labour, even Blair's autobiography, it highlights how bad the Brownite onslaught against Blair was.
Aug 02, 2011 Isobel rated it really liked it
Well if you write an autobiograhphy it will be 'all about me' but I feel that this one takes it to extremes. As a politician he had a grandstand view of some earth shattering world events, which only merited a passing sentence before his primary theme was rejoined. Despite this, much of what actually makes him tick seemed to be missing. It seemed that playing to the media was all that really mattered - surely there is more to him than that!
Nov 20, 2011 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly I enjoyed this, partly due to the quality of the writing but also because it filled in a lot of things that I didnt know much about in terms of modern day politics.
What it also did was make it even more clear how much of politics is about personal power despite the fact that politicians say they are serving the people and their country.
Tim Ward
Nov 22, 2012 Tim Ward rated it it was amazing
Very interesting for any political anorak. Gives an amazing account of the Blair/Brown relationship. I remember being puzzled at seeing fear in Tony Blair's face on TV when he won the third election, and this book explains why. Power is never enough, however great, it seems. Only more power is enough!
Aug 12, 2010 Ipswichblade rated it really liked it
If this book is half true then it shines a bad light on a lot of people!! Really interesting part around what happened after May 2010 election and shows what a lot of people thought that Nick Clegg was so desperate for power he was happy to sell himslef and his party to the highest "bidder"
Aug 21, 2010 Leslie rated it really liked it
As one who doesn't usually like autobiographies, I'm finding Peter's rise and fall and rise and fall quite intriguing.... nothing at all unpredictable though and, in the end, I just about felt a little bit sorry for Peter Mandelson and his treatment at the hands of Blair and Brown.
Simon Howard
Nov 14, 2011 Simon Howard rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
This is a very readable political autobiography, and it actually succeeds in making Peter Mandleson a sympathetic figure. It's worth reading for that achievement alone, but there is a lot more in there to entertain too.
Feb 08, 2011 Kitchmo rated it really liked it
Chapters on the early years are interesting, as the chronology moves on things become less interesting just as they should be describing the real workings of New Labour.
Jun 28, 2011 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I expected this book to be scandalous and wow! Mandelson truly gives an insight into the workings of new labour and I found myself very interested!
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