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John Major: The Autobiography (Inglés) Tapa dura – 11 oct 1999

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The most personal and revealing autobiography to date of any British Prime Minister

The memoirs of the Right Honourable John Major, M. P., is the most eagerly awaited biography of the year. His intention in writing the book is to give as open and accurate an account of his time in office as possible; and he does not pull any punches.

Major’s early life is itself extraordinary, and the opening chapters make for compelling reading in themselves. Thereafter he cut his political teeth in the hurly-burly of metropolitan local council politics in Lambeth, and after entering Parliament he became a Whip. His rise was meteoric; a favourite of Margaret Thatcher, he was soon to become Foreign Secretary and then rapidly Chancellor. When Thatcher fell he fought a brilliant campaign to become her successor, and won. Soon after came the Gulf War, then Maastricht; then he won the General Election of 1992, itself a considerable achievement.

It was, of course, the events of Black Wednesday and the ensuing battles over British engagement, or otherwise, with Europe that were to prove the Major government’s most taxing challenges, and John Major will be frank about what he tried to do and about those who opposed him. But not all was darkness; the first steps on the long road to the Good Friday Agreement were taken by him, and many initiatives in foreign affairs, in the US and over Bosnia, were to prove sound. Under him, too, the economy began to recover; yet the media would have none of it, concentrating instead on the mounting tide of ‘sleaze’ stories, and confusing the central message of the ‘Back to Basics’ campaign.

Faced with growing internal opposition Major routed his opponents with the 1995 leadership election and the challenge to ‘put up or shut up’; yet, as in so many things over that period, almost everything that could go wrong did so, and soon the Mad Cow beef war was upon us. In 1997 a new order was brought to power, and Major acted with a dignity seldom seen in politics; after his demise, the Conservative party collapsed into a furore of infighting, and his incumbency may be remembered as the last time for many years when the party was to look like a real power in the land.

Major oversaw the ending of an era, and this book will be full of personal stories and reflections about those trying times, which were also sometimes good times and entertaining times, and which, written with a certain terse verve, make for very enjoyable, and certainly highly illuminating, reading.

This is a ground-breaking book of its kind.

Biografía del autor

Born in 1943, John Major was a member of Lambeth Borough Council 1968-71, then entered Parliament in 1979; he was PPS to Ministers of State at the Home Office 1981-83, an assistant Govt Whip 1983-4, a Govt Whip 1984-5, Minister for Social Security 1986-7, Chief Sec. to HM Treasury 1987-9; Foreign Secretary 1989, Chancellor 1989-90, and Prime Minister 1990-97.

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Opiniones de clientes más útiles en (beta) 15 opiniones
33 de 37 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
Good book, giving insight to the bumpy years of john major 23 de noviembre de 1999
Por William Morris - Publicado en
Formato: Tapa dura
This is an interesting book about John Mayor. I had mixed feelings about John Major before reading the book - he had an image of no backbone and being rather boring. However, the book goes into depth of his own background - which was pretty like most of us and not from a rich family - to his entry into the Conservitive Party, to becoming PM after Margaret Thatcher resigned. I found it very easy to read and well written. He had made a big impact on British politics as PM, but most people did not see this and only could see that the Govenment was bitterly fighting over Europe. That was his downful - that he didn't boot out the groaners and troublemakes on Europe. Altogether a good book for insight into this man. Also read Magaret Thatchers book to show how very different they are in leading. Quite a big contrast.
11 de 11 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
From Major to minor... 28 de mayo de 2003
Por FrKurt Messick - Publicado en
Formato: Tapa dura
As I watched the results from the 1997 General Election from the sidelines of America (remembering that ten years prior I had been in the thick of things, on the floor of a count and being shown on BBC intently staring at the bank teller drafted to count the box in which I had an interest), I was variously amazed, pleased, saddened, and in the end, pleasantly surprised at the good humour of John Major, who said very simply, 'Okay, we lost.'
I met John Major first when he was a rising parliamentary star recruited to come to the constituency of the backbencher for whom I worked. He came to give a pep talk to the local Conservatives on a local radio programme; this constituency (Basildon) was considered a dead loss, so much so that the PM and various other Cabinet names wouldn't waste their time making a stop--but John Major came, and, we won.
Major has put together an interesting account of his time in office. Thankfully he concentrates on his political career (not spending hundreds of pages giving us the sort of childhood information that rarely adds value to a political autobiography), starting with his first victory coming to the House of Commons in 1979 (Margaret Thatcher's first victory as leader) and culminating with the 1997 electoral defeat, which he took with relatively good grace and rather few recriminations. And, whereas many political figures spend a large part of their memoirs in a 'If I were still there' mode, Major only devotes a few pages to the follow-up and future (in a five-page chapter entitled Aftermath) preferring not to speculate on irrelevant imponderables, and avoiding the problem of which he was most critical in his predecessor--that being of not wanting to let go.
It was no secret that one of the things the press and public eagerly sought in this book was Major's opinions on the continued attempts by Thatcher to exert an influence in leadership. His rocky relationship with the former prime minister has many examples through the text, some explicit and some subtle (such as the caption from a photo taken at the 1990 Conservative Party Conference, which reads 'Still on good terms with Margaret following the announcement of our entry into the ERM.').
In general, this is a well-written book, and John Major's tenure of office is rather more interesting than popular memory or the press would have one believe, perhaps understandable due to following a person of such flash and sparkle as Thatcher--who could compete with that? Major did in many ways, and, as his autobiography shows, he won in many ways, and when he lost, he was a gentleman.
4 de 4 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
Refreshingly honest 17 de septiembre de 2001
Por grahamer - Publicado en
Formato: Tapa dura
What struck me about John Major's memoirs was the honesty with which he tackled his subject. I'm a complete politico-skeptic. Always have been; always will be. To me, politicians (no matter what breed) are about as appetizing as burnt toast - and about as useful. But John Major was a man who earned my grudging admiration while he was Prime Minister of Britain. Not that his policies were particularly brilliant, nor that his choice of ministers was very astute; just that he came across as a man doing his best in a difficult situation.
When you read this autobiography, this honesty shines through. He openly recognizes his faults and his mistakes. He continues to stand by political friends and allies who let him down during his years in office. One has the distinct impression that he tells it like it really was.
During his years as Prime Minister, Major had to deal with his predecessor (Maggie) who simply wouldn't let go of the reins of power. He had to deal with rebels in his own party, who were so anti-European that they voted against anything and everything that came from their own government. He had to deal with colleagues who were shown to be less than honest in their dealings. If John Major had one weakness, it was that he didn't get rid of those of his ministers who were stabbing him in the back. He knew who they were, yet he allowed them to continue, hoping that right would prevail in the end.
This book is an excellent read for anyone interested in politics from the inside. Why four stars? Because I think Major spent too long dealing with his early years instead of concentrating on his years in power. Nonetheless, a powerful insight into the Major years in Britain.
8 de 10 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
Crikey. This is a long book. 1 de febrero de 2001
Por "moosifier" - Publicado en
Formato: Tapa dura
At over 700 very indepth pages, John Major goes on a bit. But to be fair to the man, this book is characterised by a fast-paced and detailed narrative. The subject and the effect on British people living through his policies makes it absolutley riveting reading.
As with every autobiography we have the "Where it all began" section. These sections are usually dull, but Major's recollections of his youth are refreshingly different for a politician and extremely unusual for a future Conservative Prime Minister of Britain.
With a lively narrative he goes from schooling to adulthood to Premiership with admirable rapidity uncharacteristic in the world of politics. And with remarkable recall of detail he carries on in a similar fashion throughout the rest of the book. What comes from the pages of this book is that the the man is too nice. He provides an idea of what British politics is like and leaves the reader wondering what he was doing there in such a ruthless, back-stabbing environment.
He shows how his best intentions were consistently undermined by the Tory rebel whilst simultaneously trying to keep at bay an increasingly ridiculous Labour Party and making sure that mainland Europe were happy with the UK's involvement. It sounds a bit tricky and yet he still finds time for his cricket. Throughout this work we hear of Major's achievements as well as his humbling opinions of the times he and his cabinet got it wrong. A breath of fresh air, certainly. Also perhaps unusual in a political autobiography, is that Major refrains from what must be a very tempting practice; namely to bang on about the failings of his "colleagues" and political foes. With a simple ease, Major tells us why someone's policy or behaviour are wrong without resorting to name calling and jingoism as many others would. I find it hard to believe that Major has any enemies at all in the Houses of Parliament now that he has returned to the backbenches.
His retreat from front line politics and the public eye has been managed with considerable composure. This book further indicates the fact that John Major is a "bloody nice bloke".
I am onto Paddy Ashdown's next. I wonder if I will like that as much...
12 de 16 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
Last of a breed 16 de diciembre de 1999
Por Un cliente - Publicado en
Formato: Tapa dura
With honesty and openess, John Major recounts his years in the public service. Most political autobiographies cast blame on everyone else and credit for themselves. Major does not do that. A much better book than even Thatchers books.