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A JOURNEY by Tony Blair Kirkus Star

A JOURNEY

My Political Life

By Tony Blair

Pub Date: Sept. 2nd, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-26983-6
Publisher: Knopf

Long-awaited, uncommonly candid memoir by the former British prime minister.

Politics isn’t needed to liberate people, Blair writes; it’s the other way around. “An odd thing for a politician to say,” he admits, “but then…it has never been entirely clear whether the journey I have taken is one of the triumph of the person over the politics, or of the politics over the person.” Regardless, Blair is a political animal to the core. There are few personal details here, in the manner of Bill Clinton’s My Life (2004), Clinton being one of Blair’s heroes. There are, however, plenty of personal opinions about the people with whom he has served, from his successor Gordon Brown (who might still have his job “had he pursued New Labour policy”) to George W. Bush, who, the author insists, is anything but stupid—though his political intuition “wasn’t expressed analytically or intellectually.” Blair is famously both analytical and intellectual, and he provides a careful rationale for having bought the weapons of mass destruction canard and committed British troops to Iraq—it boils down mostly to the argument that Saddam was a bad guy and needed to go, or “the region needed a fundamental reordering.” The region got that reordering, of course, which was one of the causes of Blair’s being invited to leave office by the ungrateful electorate of Britain, for which the author seems to have a touch of impatience, if not thinly veiled contempt: “We were like two people standing either side of a thick pane of glass trying to have a conversation.” Blair concludes with an argument for further reordering, including the West becoming closer to China and the European Union’s “adopting a common energy policy,” among other things.

A vividly rendered account of life in office, with plenty of beneficial pointers to aspiring politicos on either side of the Atlantic.