Talk:A Journey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Featured article A Journey is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on May 6, 2013.
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Books (Rated FA-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Books. To participate in the project, please visit its page, where you can join the project and discuss matters related to book articles. To use this banner, please refer to the documentation. To improve this article, please refer to the relevant guideline for the type of work.
Featured article FA  This article has been rated as FA-Class on the project's quality scale.
 
WikiProject Politics of the United Kingdom (Rated FA-class, Top-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Politics of the United Kingdom, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Politics of the United Kingdom on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Featured article FA  This article has been rated as FA-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Top  This article has been rated as Top-importance on the project's importance scale.
 
WikiProject Socialism (Rated FA-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Socialism, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of socialism on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Featured article FA  This article has been rated as FA-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.
 

International reviews[edit]

Writing for Australia's The Sydney Morning Herald Alexander Downer, who served as Foreign Minister in the Government of John Howard gave A Journey a favourable review: "His commitment to humanity is sincere and convincing, and his personality infectiously amiable with a delightful sense of self-deprecating humour."[1] Konrad Yakabuski, a senior political writer for Canada's The Globe and Mail was also positive: "If Tony Blair has not continued to agonize over the tough decisions of his prime ministership, he does a pretty good job of persuading otherwise in A Journey."[2] India's English language daily The Hindu said of the book, "It is by no means a confessional memoir but a brave attempt with only patchy success at self-justification."[3]

Possible section on analysis of A Journey in comparison to other memoirs[edit]

As part of the FAC nomination it has been suggested that this article could include a section on how the content of A Journey compares with that of memoirs written by some of Blair's contemporaries, e.e, Peter Mandelson, Alastair Campbell, etc. With this in mind, I have collected the following articles. However, such a section would need careful consideration so that it does not end up looking like a piece of original research.

Paul MacDermott (talk) 11:48, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Below are some relevant passages from some of the sources.

Proepect Magazine[edit]

In both Peter Mandelson’s memoir The Third Man and Alastair Campbell’s Diaries (1994-97), their own roles in the new Labour project loom very large. Blair is important, but a rather weak figure buffeted by events and by Gordon Brown. In Blair’s own account, A Journey (in which Mandelson features hardly at all, and Gordon Brown only at the end) it is of course very different. Almost everything is driven forward by him; the new Labour project was not imminent in Britain’s political history—it had to be shaped and moulded.

London Review of Books[edit]

The answer is that digging down was Blair’s weakness, not his strength. He was always on the lookout for the key that would unlock a political problem, and make all the pieces fit together. But there was no such key to the Brown problem, and no neat solution. There were only more or less unpalatable alternatives, each of them ugly and messy, with plenty of loose ends. What was required was the ruthless political calculation at which Brown excels, and that Blair seems to find too shallow. Instead, he preferred to toy with paper solutions so wishful that even Neville Chamberlain might have blushed. We learn this not from Blair’s memoirs, but from Peter Mandelson’s, which provide a much more complete account of the Blair/Brown relationship (they are also much easier to read, since Mandelson has no problem telling his story in chronological order).[*] Mandelson reveals that Blair frequently pledged to ‘do something’ about Gordon, only to shy away when the moment came to act. Finally, in the summer of 2003, he commissioned Mandelson to draw up a plan to neutralise Brown’s malign influence by splitting the Treasury in two: on the one hand, a reduced Ministry of Finance, restricted to matters of macroeconomics with Brown still in charge; then a separate Office of Budget and Delivery, which would be placed in the Cabinet Office and subject to control from Number Ten, and would deal with all government funding and spending. They christened this plan Operation Teddy Bear. As you read about it, you immediately think: there is no way Gordon is going to agree to this. Then you think: they must know that, so the plan must include a strategy for dealing with Brown’s refusal to accept it. But Blair has no such strategy. After months of dithering, he takes the plan to Brown, who responds with a flat no. At which point Blair decides it would be too dangerous to proceed, and shelves it.

New Zealand Listener[edit]

“History as ever will be the judge,” says Blair. And yes, of course, it will. But when it comes to New Labour, the cruellest twist for the former prime minister, as indeed for Campbell and Mandelson, was played out at last month’s Labour Party conference. All three backed David Miliband, and however much Miliband tried to distance himself – I’m not New Labour, I’m Next Labour – these three books and the publicity that surrounded them showed he had New Labour dye all over his hands. David was beaten to the leadership by his younger brother, Ed (a man who lacked, as Blair himself might put it, the New Labour baggage), by a whisker – just over 1%. And at a stroke, it’s clear these great, vocal proselytisers of New Labour have unwittingly written its epitaph.

Proposed new section[edit]

This is a draft of the proposed new section. As ever, your thoughts and comments are very welcome. Cheers Paul MacDermott (talk) 21:38, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Other accounts of the Blair years[edit]

Some commentators offered comparisons between A Journey and accounts of the Blair years written by other senior members of his government, particularly on Blair's relationship with Gordon Brown David Goodhart of Prospect Magazine wrote that in both Peter Mandelson’s memoir The Third Man and the first volume of Alastair Campbell’s Diaries (1994-97), "Blair is important, but a rather weak figure buffeted by events and by Gordon Brown. In Blair’s own account, A Journey (in which Mandelson features hardly at all, and Gordon Brown only at the end) it is of course very different. Almost everything is driven forward by him; the new Labour project was not imminent in Britain’s political history—it had to be shaped and moulded."[4] A similar theme is echoed by David Runciman in The London Review of Books, where he reflects that Mandelson's memoirs "provide a much more complete account of the Blair/Brown relationship", including details of an aborted plot from 2003 to curb Brown's increasing influence as Chancellor by dividing the Treasury to create a separate Office of Budget and Delivery that would be controlled directly by the Cabinet Office.[5] The New Zealand Listener, on the other hand, suggested that A Journey and other memoirs written by prominent architects of New Labour had helped to seal its doom after David Miliband – the preferred candidate of all three as Brown's successor – failed to be elected to the position: "All three backed David Miliband, and however much Miliband tried to distance himself – I’m not New Labour, I’m Next Labour – these three books and the publicity that surrounded them showed he had New Labour dye all over his hands. David was beaten to the leadership by his younger brother, Ed (a man who lacked, as Blair himself might put it, the New Labour baggage), by a whisker – just over 1%. And at a stroke, it’s clear these great, vocal proselytisers of New Labour have unwittingly written its epitaph."[6]

Comments[edit]

I like it. It gives a much better shot at placing the book in context of the politics of the time, and also links it to post-Blair events. It helps show the reader how and why the book is notable and its place in the Bigger Scheme of Things. Casliber (talk · contribs) 21:59, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the feedback, shall I add it? Paul MacDermott (talk) 22:01, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
most certainly. Casliber (talk · contribs) 00:31, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

Also - I couldn't figure out which source you had trouble getting - I can see if I can get it through my uni? Casliber (talk · contribs) 00:57, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

I think it probably does need university access, so that would be great if you can get to it. Paul MacDermott (talk) 13:03, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
Information added. I've also tweaked the lead slightly. Paul MacDermott (talk) 13:25, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
I added a Blair quote from "Tony Blair in Conversation with Jonathon Gatehouse" - trim if you like. Casliber (talk · contribs) 20:19, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, I like it. The source I was having trouble with was this one. I can read an abstract from it but nothing else. Paul MacDermott (talk) 20:26, 21 June 2012 (UTC)
Hmmm, same problem as below - it won't let me get fulltext either :( - I am in Australia though and someone with a UK institution might have a better chance. Maybe asking at Wikipedia:WikiProject Resource Exchange/Resource Request? Casliber (talk · contribs) 21:12, 21 June 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. Must confess I didn't actually know we had anything like that. :) I've added them both to the page anyway, so hopefully someone can get into them. Paul MacDermott (talk) 21:57, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

NB: I found this which I should have full access to, according to my uni, but frustratingly can't see more than public access. If someone else here can get it it looks like a very good thing to add. Casliber (talk · contribs) 20:24, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

I have copies of both articles now and have added some material. Let me know if you need a copy. Paul MacDermott (talk) 20:31, 23 June 2012 (UTC)
No that's fine. Happy for you to add as I am somewhat strapped for time...Casliber (talk · contribs) 22:54, 23 June 2012 (UTC)
ok, think I'm happy with it now, but will have one last read through. Cheers for supporting the nomination. Paul MacDermott (talk) 20:49, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

Extra material[edit]

Writing for the journal British Politics Mark Garnett provided a detailed analysis of the Blair and Mandelson memoirs, observing that while A Journey gives a more in-depth account of what he termed "contemporary British government", The Third Man is a more satisfying read: "The Third Man was a worthwhile effort for Peter Mandelson's reputation, while Tony Blair has journeyed in vain."

"Tony Blair dismisses any idea of his 'wanting to be a president' as 'complete tosh'. Yet throughout his recently-published memoirs, Tony Blair: A Journey (Hutchinson, 2010), he writes as if he embodied the executive power in the United Kingdom, with the right to have the last word on every major policy decision; as if he were, indeed, a British equivalent of the US president."

Archie Brown, History Today

"Blair's role in the Northern Ireland settlement was perhaps his single most noteworthy achievement. His account of it is also the best chapter in a book which, even by the standards of memoirists who fancy themselves to be remarkable leaders, is strikingly egocentric."

Archie Brown, History Today

References[edit]

  1. ^ Downer, Alexander (1 October 2010). "Tony Blair: A Journey". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Yakabuski, Konrad (10 September 2010). "Politics, God and Tony Blair". The Globe and Mail (The Globe and Mail Inc). Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Bhadrakumar, M. M. (11 January 2011). "Blair has a story for Indians". The Hindu (Kasturi and Sons Ltd). Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Goodhart, David (27 October 2010). "The leader we deserved". Prospect Magazine (Prospect Publishing). Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Runciman, David (7 October 2010). "Preacher on a Tank". London Review of Books (Nicholas Spice). Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  6. ^ Manhire, Toby (16 October 2010). "Journey’s end". New Zealand Listener (APN News and Media). Retrieved 19 June 2012. 

TFA draft[edit]

Below is a draft of this article's TFA nomination. Paul MacDermott (talk) 13:53, 27 April 2013 (UTC)

A Journey is a 2010 memoir by Tony Blair discussing his tenure as leader of the British Labour Party (1994–2007), and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1997–2007). Under Blair's stewardship the party was rebranded as New Labour and secured a party record of three successive terms in office. Two of the book's major themes concern Blair's strained relationship with his Chancellor Gordon Brown, and his controversial decision to participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Blair discusses Labour's future after the 2010 general election, his relations with the Royal Family, and how he came to respect President George W. Bush. A Journey received mixed reviews; some criticised Blair's writing style, but others called it candid. Blair donated his £4.6 million advance, and all subsequent royalties, to the British Armed Forces charity The Royal British Legion. It became the fastest-selling autobiography of all time at the bookstore chain Waterstones, but promotional events were marked by antiwar protests. (Full article...)

quotation marks[edit]

I can see why its presented like this, but the choice of quotation marks in this passage can be initially confusing.

Writing in The Washington Post, Leonard Downie, Jr., former editor of that paper, called the work a "notably wistful memoir" and is generally positive about its content: "Toward the end of this well-written and perhaps unintentionally self-revealing memoir, Tony Blair, who was Britain's prime minister during an eventful decade from 1997 to 2007, insists he is "trying valiantly not to fall into self-justifying mode—a bane of political memoirs." But he has done just that."

Might the inner pair be of single inverted commas? almost-instinct 10:55, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Seems sensible to change it if you want to do that. Paul MacDermott (talk) 15:31, 6 May 2013 (UTC)