From a successful and charismatic individual’s autobiographical account of how he came to the cusp of a possibly great political career (Obama’s Dreams From My Father), to the autobiographical account of a successful and charismatic individual looking back on a great, if flawed, political career: Tony Blair’s A Journey. Like Obama’s book, Blair wrote the whole thing himself, with a fountain pen on paper. This, in itself, is a great achievement, bearing in mind that most modern political autobiographies are written with the help of researchers and draftsmen, if not ghostwriters. Also as with Obama, this book, although obviously written with the benefit of hindsight, is authentic. Many reviewers derided Blair for his almost folksy and at times gauche writing style, but it makes for a fascinating read, full of insights (‘I got over the onslaught and became used to the derision, began to develop the carapace of near indifference to dispute that is so dangerous in a leader yet so necessary for survival’) and an at times aphoristic style (‘the first rule of politics is that there are no rules’; voters have two votes: ‘the one they cast in the booth, the other they cast in their mind’). I read all the reviews I could find but none picked up on his very early revelation that his ambition hardened when his mother died tragically young just after he had completed his finals at Oxford; ‘that was when the urgency took hold… the recognition grasped that life was finite and had to be lived in that knowledge.’ And nor did they really pick up on his honest admission that he came into office full of deep-seated fear and apprehension. For, whilst ‘the country is on a high and you are up there with them’, at a deeper level ‘you quickly realise that though you are the repository of that hope and have in part been the author of it, it now has a life of its own… soaring far beyond your control.’ Whilst Blair was waving to those 1997 South Bank crowds, he was inwardly recognising that the power that lay beyond that victory was not a continuum of what had gone before. It is easy to forget that the Prime Ministership was the first and last government job he had. Under those circumstances, just how do you step into such a job and make a success of it? This book cannot tell us exactly how but it does provide a fascinating account and I am not surprised that David Cameron’s front bench are rumoured to have read it as a primer for government. I have just got beyond the first one hundred days. Things, we know, got messy and difficult in the longer run and, at times, wrong decisions were taken. Many of the reviews I read accuse Blair of finessing the ugly bits. I shall see and maybe report in due course. but his book, like his first administration in 1997, certainly makes a strong start.