His book is a treasure trove of maxims: One reason why Blair lasted as long as he did was that he employed Powell to help keep the show on the road. Powell avoided the limelight: This somewhat Pooterish Polonius has a highly developed sense of how to keep himself, and his boss, alive. What Machiavelli could teach Obama. Robbie told me to check various lights, which I did, but Tony soon got bored of relaying instructions and said he thought it would probably be all right and rang off.
But Powell is fair-minded to a fault and goes on: To be consciously indiscreet would pain him deeply. Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Powell provides an insightful account of his tenure in the Blair government and the lessons he learned from those experiences. While not quite the "New Machiavelli", this book is a great read and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in modern British politics.
One person found this helpful. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. The most "political" thing I've read since the "Yes Minister" scripts and for someone like me who is definitely not a political animal, an easy read. A life in politics comes across as an ongoing, lifelong war with outbreaks of peace.
Political Veil"Positioning For Power" is a better read! This book lingers on before the power punch is giving. It was pretty bad.
Powell simply gives a history of his tenure with Blair and peppers his story with "Machiavelli said this Then he drones on for 10 pages of unsubstantive material. If you're looking for an updated "The Prince" or something along the lines of "The 48 Laws of Power," don't bother with this book. Waste of time and money. Well narrated but probably better as a book.
One key difference between listening to a book and reading a book is that you can skim read a book, whereas skim listening is a more tricky art. This book is a case in point as, probably unbeknown to the author, he has a habit of using the same phrases over and over again. A particularly annoying example that must have occured at least 10 times is starting a sentence with "I wrote in my diary that As with all good narrators, you can easily be seduced into thinking that the narrator is what the author would sound like were he reading the book - something of a rare talent.
The content is also compelling.
If you, like me, are a politics junkie then this book is a compelling insight into the Blair years. One other thing that Powell should be credited with is that he uses Machiavelli with skill and wisdom whilst exalting Machiavelli's ideas rather than his own. So many times have I read imitations of Machiavelli that are like some sort of cynical parody e. As Powell critiques early in the book, these lesser books are written by authors who write of Machiavelli "whom only 'The Prince' hath read".
So, although the audio book version is slightly spoiled by various annoying and repetitive phrases, the insightful analysis and measured tone of the book fulfil its promise to apply the precepts of Machiavelli to the New Labour government whilst avoiding pretension or fawning over Blair. It is my fond hope that one day a chief of staff in the United States will replicate Powell's efforts and use a scholarly understanding of Machiavelli to analyse the work of Obama.
Although Machiavelli is thought of as espousing a politics of deviousness and treachery, in Powell's recounting, his writings have direct application to the practical realities of modern politics. Powell, Tony Blair's chief of staff from to , provides an insider's look of the twists and turns - and there are so many - of governing in England. With all the constant tumult, the pressures exerting themselves from all directions, it's amazing that anything ever gets done.
Powell presents incidents from his bird's eye view of the Prime Minister's office, along with the presentation and discussion of relevant excerpts from both Machiavelli's best known book, The Prince, as well as from the Discourses.
Abundant detail is sure to please even the most committed politics junky. I really did enjoy this book.
It is founded on Machiavellian concepts in a relevant manner to today's world. Waste of time and money. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? By this I mean that politicians are not titanic personalities who are doing superman work, but flawed, fragile and ego-centered human beings struggling to a job they have been given to do - and more often than they would like, having a bad day. Your choice of two articles a week Unlock quality journalism on the topics that you decide matter most. Not once did I feel bogged down nor was I struggling through chapters.
Dissatisfaction with the total resourcing available for education, social care and the rest of it will soon overwhelm arguments about the merits of foundation hospitals or academy schools. Powell, whom Peter Mandelson dubbed Jeeves, echoes his master's recent identification of Freedom of Information and the hunting ban as his great blunders.
On the first, Powell makes a more reasoned argument than his boss — about the confused job spec of the information commissioner — for the arch-insider's perspective. On hunting, he adds extraordinary detail about the lengths to which No 10 went to thwart the ban, including a suggestion from Blair himself for fitting hounds with electric collars that could stun them just before the kill.
Amusement aside, one of Blair's few supposed regrets is revealed as a sham — an apology for something he fought against. If Powell falters in salvaging two reputations, he is persuasive in shredding a third — that of Gordon Brown. There are some tribal judgments: Blair's courting of Murdoch was shrewd, whereas Brown should have "saved his dignity" with Paul Dacre.
There is also some hammed-up history, with Brown's aide Ed Balls likened to "Quintus Fabius, who fell under the influence of the tyrant Appius". But Powell is more devastating when he calmly tells tales about the neighbour from hell: The boss, however, was not psychologically capable of a Machiavellian response, and there is a rare Blairite admission that Tony had indeed "given Gordon to understand" that he would soon take over. When Powell asked Blair why he wasted so long talking to someone who makes his life miserable, Blair asks whether his top aide has ever been "in love". A joke, perhaps, but one that reveals Blair's shortcomings as a Machiavellian prince.