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Journey: My Political Life

Tony Blair’s engaging memoir lauds George W. Bush and defends the difficult decisions that politicians must make.

By Steve Weinberg / September 14, 2010

Readers interested in British politics might find Journey: My Political Life, the memoir by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, surprising. At times, the 700 pages seem aimed primarily at an American audience, with the primary emphasis looking something like “recent and current US presidents I have known and admired.” Labeled as a political “progressive,” Labour Party leader Blair might be supposed to find much to like in the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations. Blair shatters the stereotype, however, by turning George W. Bush into an approximation of a Greek god.

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So, the memoir covering Blair’s 10 years as prime minister (1997-2007) is, on its face, unpredictable. Fortunately, whether readers agree or disagree with Blair’s policies and character assessments, they are unlikely to find the book boring. Blair writes well, practices transparency, and on almost every page explains his decisions in detail. I cannot recall a previous memoir by a head of state that is intellectually and emotionally engaging on so many pages.

The breadth of the book is impressive: the impact of a public life on a family’s private life, including Blair’s wife, Cherie, and their four children; Blair’s efforts to broker peace between warring religious factions in Northern Ireland; his worries about the explosiveness of the Middle East and how far to push Israel toward the negotiating table; questions of what to do about ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia and on the African continent; the best way to find accord with continental nations so that the European Union might function well; seemingly endless debates about British domestic politics/policies; and, always, US-British alliances and divisions, especially during an emotionally charged war on terrorism declared after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

The book’s dominant controversy, however, is the invasion of Iraq by the United States and British governments based on the desire to overthrow the brutal Saddam Hussein and to disarm the alleged weapons of mass destruction within Iraq’s borders.


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