Thursday, September 02, 2010

Blair's Book JOURNEY Begins
Tony Blair garners considerable coverage on both sides of the Atlantic following the release today of A JOURNEY: My Political Life.
The book is expected to rank as the bestselling UK political memoir ever. Released at the steep fake list price 25 pounds, the press is yet again surprised that the book is already deeply discounted. (Blooomberg has an amusing typo, listing the 720-page book as weighing 25 pounds.)

As promised, the book offers the closest thing to candor you can expect from a former leader, as he admits to deep emotions over the UK's participation in the Iraq war though cannot concede any errors, writing "I can't regret the decision to go to war." He says: "I ... regret with every fiber of my being the loss of those who died. Tears, though there have been many, do not encompass it." He adds "on the basis of what we do know now, I still believe that leaving Saddam in power was a bigger risk to our security than removing him and that, terrible though the aftermath was, the reality of Saddam and his sons in charge of Iraq would at least arguably be much worse."

Also on the topic is this circular bit of reasoning: "the blunt and inescapable truth is that though Saddam definitely had WMD, since he used them, we never found them. The intelligence turned out to be wrong ... We admitted it. We apologised for it. We explained it, even.
"The mistake is serious; but it is an error. Humans make errors. And, given Saddam's history, it was an understandable error.
"So the aftermath was more bloody, more awful, more terrifying that anyone could have imagined. The perils we anticipated did not materialise. The peril we didn't materialised with a ferocity and evil that even now shocks the senses."

Bloomberg says that overall "the tone is respectful, in keeping with the Teflon nonchalance that got Blair through 10 years at 10 Downing Street," with Blair coming across "as the bemused head of a dysfunctional family." Six hundred pages into the book he criticizes Gordon Brown--easy enough to do now that he is out of office as well. They add that "some wondrous insider anecdotes grace these pages: Brown getting locked in a bathroom when the two were having it out over who would become Labour leader in 1994; Blair tripping over a Buckingham Palace carpet and stumbling into Queen Elizabeth II's arms when being appointed prime minister in 1997; and Blair lunging for a 'stiff drink' to recover from a 60-second bear hug by Russia's Boris Yeltsin in 1999."


While at The Daily Beast:

Blair Throws Brown Under the Bus

 Could this actually help former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown? The one man whom Brits seem to dislike more than Brown, his predecessor Tony Blair, says in his new memoir that he knew Brown would be a disaster. "It was never going to work," Blair writes in A Journey, which is published in Britain on Wednesday. He calls Brown “maddening,” and says that Brown threatened to bring him down over the cash-for-honors scandal. Blair says he was so distraught that he turned to drink. “The difficulty is when he was my number two, in sense, the chancellor to my prime minister, people maybe overestimated his capacity to be prime minister,” Blair says in an interview set to air on Wednesday.
Read it at The Telegraph

Other publication day stories:  Independent, Daily MailFinancial Times, Daily Express, Sun, Daily Mirror.

NZ details:

Published by Hutchinson/Random House; RRP: $75.00
Released in New Zealand September 02, 2010

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