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Biography: historical, political & military
, British & Irish history
, Postwar 20th century history, from c 1945 to c 2000
, Politics & government
, Autobiography: historical, political & military
, Central government
, 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000
Alan Johnson's childhood was not so much difficult as unusual, particularly for a man who was destined to become Home Secretary. Not in respect of the poverty, which was shared with many of those living in the slums of post-war Britain, but in its transition from two-parent family to single mother and then to no parents at all...
This is essentially the story of two incredible women: Alan's mother, Lily, who battled against poor health, poverty, domestic violence and loneliness to try to ensure a better life for her children; and his sister, Linda, who had to assume an enormous amount of responsibility at a very young age and who fought to keep the family together and out of care when she herself was still only a child.
Played out against the background of a vanishing community living in condemned housing, the story moves from post-war austerity in pre-gentrified Notting Hill, through the race riots, school on the Kings Road, Chelsea in the Swinging 60s, to the rock-and-roll years, making a record in Denmark Street and becoming a husband and father whilst still in his teens.
This Boy is one man's story, but it is also a story of England and the West London slums which are so hard to imagine in the capital today. No matter how harsh the details, Alan Johnson writes with a spirit of generous acceptance, of humour and openness which makes his book anything but a grim catalogue of miseries.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"the best memoir by a politician you will ever read" -- Philip Collins * The Times * "a poignant memoir...Johnson writes wonderfully" -- Mary Kenny * Telegraph * "deeply moving and unforgettable" -- Lynn Barber * Sunday Times * "a handsome and eloquent tribute" -- Peter Wilby * Guardian * "beautifully, beautifully written... his style is utterly simple, with a wit so understated that every reader will believe that he or she alone got it" -- John Rentoul * Independent on Sunday * "Neither mawkish nor sentimental, it is an evocative, filmic account on an early childhood... would make a fabulous drama that, for all its squalor, lifts the spirits" -- Judith Woods * Daily Telegraph * "a testament to the power of family love and a tribute to two strong women" -- Ian Birrell * Daily Mail * "Wonderful and moving... unreadable with a dry eye" * The Times * "the biography of a politician like no other - beautifully observed, humorous, moving, uplifting; told with a dry self-deprecating wit and not a trace of self-pity" -- Chris Mullin * Observer * "No ordinary politician's memoir ... wonderful." -- John Grimond * The Spectator *