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Parting Shots

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  109 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Matthew Parris's Parting Shots is a treasure trove of wit, venom and serious analysis. Up till 2006 a British Ambassador leaving his post was encouraged to write what was known as a valedictory despatch, to be circulated to a small number of influential people in government. This was the parting shot, an opportunity to offer a personal and frank view of the host country, t ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 23rd 2010 by Viking (first published January 1st 2010)
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On this book, I’m totally in agreement with the Financial Times (London, I presume), who intriguingly comment on the back cover “Fascinating, if sometimes uncomfortable reading.”

“Fascinating”; yes, absolutely and utterly. In the course of my reading I discovered so many varied gems and nuggets of interest. “Uncomfortable”, because much of the material within this book was written before the Freedom of Information Act 2000 enabled public requests for disclosure. Many of the Ambassadors, High Comm
...more
Peter Ellwood
Feb 14, 2015 Peter Ellwood rated it liked it

I found myself objecting initially to the superficiality of the approach. It’s true that the first section is headed ‘diplomacy as caricature’; but all the same, the editing smacked a little to me of schoolboys cutting and pasting all the naughty bits out of a book, and then smirking about them behind the bicycle sheds. True, those outgoing ambassadors really did say these dinosaur things: but come on, it was an entire generation ago in most cases, a working lifetime ago. Couldn’t the editors fi
...more
Lucy
Jan 02, 2011 Lucy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010, non-fiction
This was an interesting and entertaining read which took the leaving dispatches of various British diplomatic officials. In essence they are no holds barred thoughts on the customs, practices and people around the globe.

Ranging from post-war to early 90s, the dispatches vary in style, substance and wit considerably; some are clearly written by ageing cantankerous imperialists whilst others are delightfully insightful ditties on life in the diplomatic core.

I thoroughly enjoyed many of the dispatc
...more
Lemon drop
Jan 23, 2012 Lemon drop rated it really liked it
To enjoy this you need some knowledge of politics over the last 40 years, however just to dip into different countries and read the diplomats thoughts is a delight.
Anna
Jul 12, 2015 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the originally classified final despatches from outgoing British Ambassadors have been made public thanks to the Freedom of Information Act and the hard work of the editors of this book. What we learn from the despatches in this collection, ranging from the 1960s to 2007, is hardly shocking: that British ambassadors were from the most privileged backgrounds imaginable and their attitudes arrogant, sexist, racist, some eccentric, some downright bonkers. As recently as in 2000 an outgoing ...more
Patrick Elsey
Jun 10, 2014 Patrick Elsey rated it really liked it
Interesting if outdated.
Edwin
May 17, 2013 Edwin rated it liked it
An interesting book, giving the candid views of diplomats on leaving their posts. As such it demonstrates the attitudes of the writers' times, from colonial arrogance to post-imperial angst, and the shifting focus of British foreign policy.

I think more than a few potential readers might be misled by Matthew Paris' reputation and the illustration on the cover - thinking that this will be a collection of comic extracts. It's not, so be aware! It's not heavy reading, but it's far from light!
Filipa
Um fascinante olhar sobre as várias capitais do mundo, o trabalho dos britânicos por lá, o modo como estes vêem o mundo e como são por ele (e pela pátria) vistos. Obviamente, os telegramas são muito bem escritos e têm ainda humor, e boas observações.
Para rir, para pensar em eventuais semelhanças, na evolução da história e no trabalho. Leitura aconselhada :)
Envoi: E também para pensar na vida, e nos seus luxos e privações.
Ruth Dipple
Sep 08, 2015 Ruth Dipple rated it liked it
Instructive and sometimes amusing. Being a diplomat is clearly not as romantic as it appears to be!
Faisal
Jan 09, 2015 Faisal rated it really liked it
Insightful and interesting.
David Smith
Fun. Possibly a rare insight into the thoughts of people not accustomed to delivering the truth. One would like to think that this book was edited without the help of a PR firm.
Kathlyn
Jun 03, 2013 Kathlyn rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable read - from acerbic and entertaining humour to thought provoking commentary on both world politics and the views of the British government of the time.
Paul Miller
Sep 14, 2013 Paul Miller rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Fascinating and frank insight into Parris and those around him. Particularly liked the stories of his younger days before politics...different times
Ami
Jul 27, 2014 Ami rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed
Very enjoyable (though better for dipping into than a continuous read). I liked both the funny and the serious aspects.
Andrew
Not as entertaining as I hoped: Gave up!
Honor
Oct 06, 2012 Honor rated it really liked it
very funny in parts!a bit repetitive in others
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“Indeed cocktail parties are death as I am sure 99 per cent of DS colleagues would agree. Whoever it was who suggested an international treaty banning National Day receptions should be canonised.” 0 likes
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