All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

To make it easier to purchase books you may read about on the blog, I've linked to through The Cats and a Book Bookstore, which is located on the bottom of this page. Your purchases are fulfilled and handled through Amazon. To assure your privacy, Cats and a Book doesn't handle any of your payment or contact information.

Happy reading!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cats and a Book Virtual Book Club Selection: A Journey, by Tony Blair

A Journey: My Political Life by Tony Blair is a hefty tome, more than 700 pages, which chronicles his rise to Britain's political pinnacle through his election in 1997 to his departure from office in 2007.

Blair recounts his role in monumental world events, including Princess Diana's death, the peace agreement with Northern Ireland, 9/11, and the Iraq War. In addition, he describes in great detail the inner workings of the party and the political system in Britain, including the Prime Minister's relationship with the Queen and the royal family. But Blair writes with candor, even if it's difficult to judge how significant his role really was in some of these events, writing that after the election--the Prime Minister role being his "first and only" government job--"I was scared." With a true sense of political realism, he wrote, "I realised I knew nothing about how government really works, most of all nothing about how I personally would react when the mood turned against me, as I knew it would."

Having served while three U.S. Presidents held the highest office in the United States, the Introduction seems to have been written for a U.S. audience, who might have been asking him to compare their leadership skills. And it also kowtows to U.S. book buyers through his praise of "the American ideal" which he describes as "about values: freedom, the rule of law, democracy. It is also about the way you achieve: on merit, by your own efforts and hard work." Although Blair was a "new" Labour leader, the book is diffuse with references to less socialist policy than one might imagine from a Labour leader, with many references to what appears is Blair's personal philosophy of working for what you get.

In addition to being history book, A Journey is also a textbook on leadership. From his discussion on the difference between being on the team and being the team's leader, to handling his calendar, to selecting his staff--all are lessons applicable to a political or corporate leader. A Journey: My Political Life, published by Knopf in 2010, is a book that requires time to read and absorb, but is well worth the effort.

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