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All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class
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All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  1,784 ratings  ·  175 reviews
'Tim Shipman's dispatches from the political front line are a must read’ NICK ROBINSON

Politics was turned upside down during 2016. This book by Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman is the first to tell the full story of how and why Britain voted to leave the European Union and how the vote shattered the political status quo.

Based on unrivalled access to all the key
Hardcover, 688 pages
Published November 3rd 2016 by William Collins
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Alex It's still the most detailed set of contemporary accounts available, so if you need the detail, this is the place to get it.

I don't think it's…more
It's still the most detailed set of contemporary accounts available, so if you need the detail, this is the place to get it.

I don't think it's "useful" as such, though. The sequel, Fall Out, talks about Theresa May's government during 2016-17, and as she's still in power that has much more bearing on the debates going on at the moment. Having read All Out War, I mostly feel like the possessor of many new facts which are now out of date.(less)
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Reading AOW underlined what is for me the main problem with a kindle: throwing it at a wall to relieve your feelings rapidly becomes expensive. Consequently this book took me the best part of eight months to get through, and I still hate everybody in it.
Gumble's Yard
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This book seems already likely to stand as the definitive account of the political events before, during and after the Brexit vote.

The book explicitly concentrates on the actions and thoughts of the key UK political players. It “begins from the premise that the actions of key individuals, at hinge moments of history, are magnified out of all proportion” and argues that the thoughts and deeds of (particularly) Cameron, Osborne, Gove, Johnson, Farage, Banks and Dominic Cummings “in the 13 months
Andy Walker
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you want to get a handle on Brexit, how it came about and the campaigns to leave and remain in the EU, this book by Tim Shipman is an absolute must-read. The author gets under the skin of perhaps the most important political issue of recent times, with impeccably sourced insights both on and off the record. This is one of the most exciting political books I've ever read and I lost count of the number of times I read an extra chapter, so engrossed was I. All Out War explains how the Leave ...more
Kumar Ayush
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I considered leaving my job to be a political strategist
Will Once
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a hard book to rate. On the one hand, it seems to be a pretty thorough account of a turbulent time in British politics. As far as I can tell, Tim Shipman does a good job and chronicling who did what. We get to peak inside Number 10 and hear about David Cameron's discussions with George Osborne. And for balance we see what was happening in the Labour party and UKIP.

A few pages in and I was thinking that this was an excellent book. A solid 5 stars. The definitive account of Brexit. And
Simon Howard
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Had I realised that this was nearly 700-pages long before I bought it, I would probably not have picked it up - how can a single referendum be interesting enough to fill all those pages? Especially when I've already lived through it?

Yet this turned out to be an extraordinary book, and certainly the best I've read on any modern political event. It is balanced, thoroughly researched, funny, thrilling, and gives deep insight into both sides of the referendum campaign - warts and all. I already knew
Balanced. Focused. Well researched. Three ways of describing this book. Without assigning blame on any part (a task which I must admit, looks Herculean), this rather long book takes you through the process of how, why, when and who made Brexit happen. It looks at media coverage, campaign financing, politicians who were involved (and why they were involved). It covers the things we've seen on the telly and the ones we're not really supposed to know, the back stabbings, the ruthlessness, the power ...more
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a comprehensive account of the debacle that was last years referendum and it's fast paced, interesting, humorous and insightful throughout. Despite the moments of levity, it's hard not to feel some anger at the approach of the main players to the issues - from all sides. Reading about just how pro-European Osborne and Cameron actually are, for example, was frustrating given the strident anti-EU tone they both adopted and played to throughout their political careers. No one really comes ...more
Jessica Wilkins
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is with good reason that Tim Shipman has won rapturous praise for this book. Witty, engaging and detailed, I would be surprised if anyone had questions about either the Leave or Remain campaigns after reading this. This book is imperative for anyone who wants to understand the biggest crisis facing the UK since the end of WW2. What I was not expecting was a jolly good laugh along the way!
Joe O'Donnell
Before telling you how good a read “All Out War” is, it is important to tell you what it is not. The author and veteran political journalist Tim Shipman is at pains to say he is “not a sociologist or political scientist” and that readers looking for an analysis of the long-term socioeconomic factors behind the vote for Brexit should probably look elsewhere. He declares that “All Out War” is “not the story of the little guy … it is unashamedly ‘elitist history’”. But, as an insider’s account of ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting description of how the current mess came about - he seems to somehow know everything that everyone said and did to everybody so it makes for much more interesting reading than you would think, given the subject. Must be the best book on this subject and it's very topical reading right now ! Will definitely also read his other book about the disastrous for Teresa May general election that followed.
Joy  Finlayson
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really informative exploration of the lead up to the referendum, the vote itself and its aftermath.
Katie Bayford
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tim Shipman seems to have written the definitive account of the period before, during, and after Brexit with his masterful first book, All Out War.

His apparent omnipotence and familiarity with everyone involved means he not only creates a brilliantly encyclopaedic portrayal of the events that unfolded, but is also able to either confirm or discredit insider's accounts (for example, whether they were guilty of certain leaks to the press, or losing a key figure through not sending out a tweet
John McDermott
An absolute must read. If you have any interest in politics and if you want to try to understand how Brexit came about, then All Out War is the definitive account of the Referendum and its aftermath.
At times, and particularly in the final third of the book,All Out War is as compelling as the best political thriller. A big important book which I highly recommend.
Umair Khan
Forces of globalisation, regional integration, and neoliberal economic policies have been increasingly on the rise since the end of the Second World War. Winston Churchill, the ageing servant of a dying empire, took the world by surprise in September 1946 when he suggested the creation of a “United States of Europe” in a speech at Zurich. Then, the speech of the United States’ secretary of state George Marshall at Harvard University for the economic uplift of Europe (popularly known as the ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"At 6am exactly, David Dimbleby announced that Vote Leave had secured more than half the votes cast. 'Quite an extraordinary moment'. he said. Britain had voted for Brexit. David Cameron had bet the farm - and he had lost the lot."

When I picked up this reservation from the library, I was quite dismayed to find that it was SO MASSIVE. It is a hefty tome that took me about a month to read (slowed by the fact that it was too impractically huge to take on my commute). However, I'm glad I ploughed
Oliver Clarke
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Halloween has passed without us leaving the EU (thank goodness) and appropriately enough I finished Tim Shipman’s ‘All Out War’ today.
It’s a compelling and meticulous account of the Brexit Referendum that’s extremely readable despite the complexity of the events being relayed. It’s a fascinating book and achieved for me the author’s intended aim of giving readers on either side of the debate a better understanding and appreciation of the motives of the other side.
Perhaps unsurprisingly (given
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wild read. Works really well as both fiction (even though it's factual) and non-fiction. Fiction, in that it is a fascinating story with a crazy plot and great characters, and non-fiction in that it gives you a really good insight into how political campaigning works, and the types of decisions and strategies that help make history.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I thought the U.K. would ultimately and begrudgingly vote to say in Europe. A less than perfect institution but one with enormous potential. Mr Shipman explains why I was entirely wrong. In doing so confirmed some of my worst fears about squabbling public school Tory boys who displayed an amazing lack of talent in what was a race to the bottom in terms of incompetence. Happily for fans of political even handedness the labor party could not even manage to be incompetent. Read it and gnash the ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a behemoth. I'm glad I read it, but some advice to people who are not intense politics buffs:
- skip the first two chapters. They cover too many years and people in too little time, and they are the first 5-8% of the book, so highly likely you'll stop reading at that point. Skim after you've read the rest of the book of you're keen.
- read this on Kindle rather than as a paperback. I found the X-Ray feature very useful, along with highlights, and never even realised this book was a mammoth
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I’m not a sociologist or a political scientist. This is not a study of the decline of the post industrial working class, ‘post-truth politics’ or the psychology of anger….It is not the story of the little guy….If this book in any way goes beyond journalism…it is unashamedly elitist history.”

In this way, Tim Shipman sets out in his introduction to All Out War exactly what this book is not. It is not a work of political sociology, nor is it informed by any other academic discipline. But neither
David Margetts
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Insightful, intriguing, shocking and gripping account of the Brexit referendum. The book illustrates the importance of an effective and dirty campaign, 'spin', deception, politics, ambition etc, answering largely why the public decided to vote to leave the EU. It is only now that we start to see the disastrous consequences of that decision, which were foretold but not believed. Consequences which will impact not just the next 3-5 years, but generations into the future. So why did the Brexiteers ...more
Ian Brydon
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is now almost two years since the referendum on whether or not Britain should remain in the European Union. The resultant decision to leave has proved to be the single most significant political event in Britain throughout most of our lifetime’s, and its reverberations are still being felt.

From the outside it might seem simply to have been a fairly straightforward binary option, with followers of either side campaigning against adherents of the other. Oh, if only it had been that
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I confess I only read about half of this - I may finish it at some point, but I managed enough to give a judgement. It was an excellent, definitive read on the referendum, but the forensic analysis of how the elites essentially play games with the well-being of the nation in order to fulfill their own tedious political agendas is ultimately extremely, dispiriting, wearying and tough to stomach, particularly when you realise that the Leave side basically got the rub of the green pretty much the ...more
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I've been really trying to get my head around Brexit. The daily coverage is difficult to follow from afar and I tend to get bogged down in th the complexities which is where a good contemporary history book can really make sense of things. The author is a political journalist and is clearly extremely well connected. This feels like an attempt at an American-style politics book along the lines of Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin whose books I love however they know what to leave ...more
Ramnath Iyer
Britain’s decision in June 2016 to leave the EU marked a post-War turning point for the Western world – for the first time a large country had decisively turned its back on globalization. The debates in the process of doing so also broadened the definition of what would be politically acceptable in terms of expression of views especially towards foreigners and immigration. This cocktail of populism, visible detest towards the elite, mixed together with the advent of social media and “post truth ...more
Joe Plewes
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With a hint of shame have to say I've enjoyed this a ridiculous amount. Heard it's been called posh gossip etc, and once I'd got over bits where it says Boris popped off for a decent claret etc I couldn't put it down. A staggeringly interesting account of the motivations, thoughts and actions of some of the key players in the leave and remain campaigns. A real feel for how British politics actually works - it's mad how much depends on a tweet or a WhatsApp message... Perfect holiday reading.
David Robertson
This is a fascinating blow by blow account of the 2016 Brexit referendum. It is fair, balanced, informative and well written. It provides necessary background to explain what is now going on - not least the hubris of Theresa May and the brilliance of Dominic Cummings. This is political writing of the finest sort.
Jason Wilson
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating and acute analysis of the Brexit campaign that does its best to be fair. The book is strong on the pressures in the Conservative party that led to s referendum, a campaign which I have to say endears me to neither side, and the aftermath. There is a sensible account of why the leave campaign won despite its disunity: partly local reasons, some glaring faults in the remain campaign, and partly the kind of global anti globalisation and anti normative feeling that swept in Trump and ...more
Gerald Sinstadt
For tose seeking enlightenment on the pros and cons of the UK's membership of the European Union, this is not the book. But for a forensic account of how we came to make the decision - or were persuaded to make the decision - All Out War is the definitive answer.

Tim Shipman has clearly had access, on and off the record, not only to all the major players, but also their aides and assistants, researchers and advisers, friends and enemies. What emerges in a very long book, produced with astonishing
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Tim Shipman has been a national newspaper journalist for sixteen years and has a wealth of experience reporting on British and American politics and international relations.

Currently the Political Editor of the Sunday Times, Tim has covered four British General Elections and three American elections from the US. Well known in the Westminster political mix, he is a trusted confidant of politicians
“There are two sorts of political communications operators in this business. There are people who see the population as they would like them to be, and there are people who see the population, ruthlessly, as they actually are. There is the wishful-thinking element, and there is the winning element.” 1 likes
“In the classic outline of a failed coup, the plotters had sought to oust the president without first securing the support of the military and the civil service, and without seizing the headquarters of the state broadcaster.” 0 likes
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