Point two is a more relishing reflection for British readers: He had nothing but problems with Gordon Brown, his finance minister, whom he politely excoriates as lacking imagination, whom he considered firing, who purportedly blackmailed him, who blocked his reform agenda, and whose own tenure as prime minister until last May, “was never going to work.”
The root of the problem between Mr. Brown and himself, Blair offers, is that “he thought I could be an empty vessel into which the liquid that was poured was manufactured and processed by him."
Brown’s defenders have jumped into the fray. Former Brown aid Michael Dugher says it is "slightly unkind and unfair" for Blair to brand Brown as a "strange guy" who lacked emotional intelligence. Mr. Dugher told the BBC, "I think Tony Blair was a much better actor than Gordon Brown and maybe in this modern media age that counts for something. I think that is an unfair characterization of Gordon Brown."
The book is naturally getting mined for all it can tell about the quirks and anomalies of life in 10 Downing. The British media are turning single paragraphs into headline stories.
Here is a sampling of some of the sections that have drawn the most scrutiny:
Blair describes a visit with the royal family as “intriguing, surreal and utterly freaky.” Gordon Brown once got locked in a bathroom and had to phone Blair to let him out. Blair was often driven to drink, but at least he wasn’t out with women. Lady Diana and he were both manipulators. In the midst of the Northern Ireland peace process, Blair lied, “stretched the truth past breaking point,” in order to prevent a collapse of talks. Blair’s wife, Cherie, had “this incredible instinct for offending the powerful, especially in the media, who were unfortunately far too well placed in taking revenge.” He would like to have toppled Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. He tripped on the carpet on his first visit to Buckingham Palace – and so on.