Sunday, February 8, 2009

Blair Unbound or Clad in Iron

Blair Unbound

Author: Anthony Seldon

In June 2007, with his approval rating at an all-time low, Tony Blair stood down as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after more than a decade in office. In this riveting account, Anthony Seldon—a recognized expert of British politics—follows the career of Tony Blair starting from its pinnacle at September 11 right up to his handing of the reins over to his arch rival, Gordon Brown. The politics of the post-9/11 Blair government, its policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, its domestic actions, and the true nature of Blair-Brown power struggle are all addressed. Based on hundreds of interviews with key government insiders and individuals close to the Blair camp—many of whom have previously kept their views private—this is the most complete, authoritative, and compelling account yet of the Blair premiership. Blair Unbound serves both as a fascinating “volume two” of this master class in political biography and as a highly revealing and compelling book in its own right.

Publishers Weekly

From its harrowing account of the events of September 11, 2001, to its elegant rendering of Tony Blair's final day at 10 Downing Street, this vibrant, richly detailed look at Blair's second and third terms as British prime minister makes for a riveting, if lengthy, read. Seldon has done a staggering amount of research in reconstructing Blair's tumultuous final years in office and surveying the significant domestic and foreign issues that dominated Blair's later years in office: the Iraq War, the London terrorist attacks, education reform, the Northern Ireland peace process and Blair's effort to push for the adoption of the euro, an issue about which he felt so strongly he may have been willing to sacrifice his political future to achieve his desired ends. The intricate, expansive text returns frequently to the increasingly fraught relationship between Blair and his successor, Gordon Brown, which was loaded with growing political and personal animosity. Aside from Brown, however, personal relationships and scandals play a secondary role in this page-turning political biography, an essential text for anyone interested in contemporary British politics. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


An outstanding work that strives successfully to explain the man and his administration.

The Wall Street Journal

A vivid portrait.

Table of Contents:
Introduction     ix
9/11     1
Finding His Theme     19
Riding Two Horses     47
The Road to Baghdad     80
'Make or Break' at Home     107
Confronting Saddam     135
Iraq: From Agonising to Vindication     172
Losing My Agenda     201
The Descent     232
The Recovery     263
Back in Charge     278
Crafting a Bold Future     302
General Election, 2005     331
Second Honeymoon     351
Promise Fades     382
Losing His Authority     415
Stirrings of Dissent     444
The September Coup     479
On a Knife Edge     500
To the Wire     529
Conclusion: The Long Farewell     554
Acknowledgements     585
Dramatis Personae     589
Note on Sources and Methodology     600
Notes     602
Bibliography     639
Index     644

Book review: The Art and Science of CSS or Building the Perfect PC

Clad in Iron: The American Civil War and the Challenge of British Naval Power

Author: Howard J Fuller

This work addresses many persistent misconceptions of what the monitors were for, and why they failed in other roles associated with naval operations of the Civil War (such as the repulse at Charleston, April 7, 1863). Monitors were 'ironclads'- not fort-killers. Their ultimate success is to be measured not in terms of spearheading attacks on fortified Southern ports but in the quieter, much more profound, strategic deterrence of Lord Palmerston's ministry in London, and the British Royal Navy's potential intervention.

The relatively unknown 'Cold War' of the American Civil War was a nevertheless crucial aspect of the survival, or not, of the United States in the mid 19th-century. Foreign intervention--explicitly in the form of British naval power--represented a far more serious threat to the success of the Union blockade, the safety of Yankee merchant shipping worldwide, and Union combined operations against the South than the Confederate States Navy. Whether or not the North or South would be 'clad in iron' thus depended on the ability of superior Union ironclads to deter the majority of mid-Victorian British leaders, otherwise tempted by their desire to see the American 'experiment' in democratic class-structures and popular government finally fail. Discussions of open European involvement in the Civil War were pointless as long as the coastline of the United States was virtually impregnable. Combining extensive archival research on both sides of the Atlantic, this work offers an in-depth look at how the Union Navy achieved its greatest grand-strategic victory in the American Civil War. Through a combination of high-tech 'machines' armed with 'monster' guns, intensive coastal fortifications and a new fleet of high-speed Union commerce raiders, the North was able to turn the humiliation of the Trent Affair of late 1861 into a sobering challenge to British naval power and imperial defense worldwide.

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