What was it that drove him?

David Runciman

  • My Life, Our Times by Gordon Brown
    Bodley Head, 512 pp, £25.00, November 2017, ISBN 978 1 84792 497 1

Like many recent political memoirists, Gordon Brown begins his story in medias res. Given his rollercoaster time in Downing Street, punctuated by the gut-wrenching drama of the financial crisis, there should have been plenty of arresting moments to choose from. Some, though, are already taken. Alistair Darling, for instance, starts Back from the Brink, his 2011 account of what it was like being Brown’s chancellor, on Tuesday, 7 October 2008, when Sir Tom McKillop, the chairman of RBS, called him to announce that his bank was about to go bust and to ask what the government planned to do about it. ‘It was going to be a bad day,’ Darling says with dry understatement. Brown adopts a different approach. His starting point is Friday, 8 May 2009. He picks it because it was an ordinary day in the life of a prime minister, and he wants us to know how extraordinary that is.

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