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This Boy [Format Kindle]

Alan Johnson
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

"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)

Présentation de l'éditeur

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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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Amanda 23 août 2013
Par Amanda
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
I wasn't sure how my mother would like this book as she is a staunch conservative but she thoroughly enjoy it and her respect for Alan Johnson has gone leaping up! I haven't read it but it seems it is worth a read.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.7 étoiles sur 5  24 commentaires
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Extraordinary! 27 juin 2013
Par F. S. L'hoir - Publié sur
My interest in British politics prompted me to buy this book, since I recalled that Alan Johnson had been a cabinet minister in the Labour government. I was absolutely unprepared for the incredibly moving story told from the point of view of a little boy, growing up in the 'fifties in a now-demolished Victorian slum in Notting Hill.

Alan Johnson offers his readers a glimpse into a post-war Dickensian world of poverty, hope, and loss that is unimaginable to the average visitor to twenty-first century London, who never ventures past the London Eye or Westminster Palace.

Mr Johnson never mentions politics, nor does he ever allude to his future career. Nevertheless, in the very simplicity of his story, "This Boy" speaks eloquently about the plight of the working poor, who might as well be invisible, as they scramble from day to day just to get by, in an otherwise thriving world capital. With simple prose, Mr Johnson sprinkles the account of his childhood with humour, nostalgia, and suspense.

I simply could not put the book down!
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This Boy - And Mine 11 juin 2013
Par Lars Dalman - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
With increasing age my reading tends to put heavier demands on eyesight and endurance. I start reading more books than I finish and that feels like a defeat. Or maybe my sense for self preservation is beginning to function. Anyway, with Alan Johnson's book, This Boy, I had no such problems at all. I read it straight through in one night. And marvelled at how this boy could find the strength from his backgound to step up the ladder to recognition and service in Her Majesty's Governement. As should be obvious to anyone reading this, English is not my mother tongue, but I must say that Alan Johnson gave me no problem in reading the story of his early life (other than a purely emotional sensation). The standard of his early east London education could really not have been that poor. The absence of any hint of self pity is extraordinary and adds to my admiration of him.
Lars Dalman
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An interesting memoir! 20 mars 2014
Par A. E. Thomas - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
It is rare that I choose a book written by a politician, but I’m very glad that this one caught my eye. I had seen Alan Johnson being interviewed about this memoir of his early years in London and wondered how he eventually became a cabinet minister in the Labour Governments of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He described his home in Southam Street in North Kensington; it is hard to believe that slums like this still existed in the mid 20th century. However, what really piqued my curiosity was the fact that Alan Johnson began, in his interview, to mention places that I had known as a child. I had to read this book!

I was enthralled by this memoir. Johnson’s writing flows and he has the ability to paint pictures with his choice of vocabulary. It was easy to imagine him, as a young boy, battling with the poverty that surrounded him. His father abandoned his wife, daughter and son for another woman, leaving Lily Johnson to wear herself out, trying to provide for her young family. Linda, Alan’s older sister, offered real strength and support to their mother and one has to admire her, especially after the death of their mother. Linda’s fight to maintain a home with her brother, Alan, is quite amazing.

There are no real indications in this memoir that Alan Johnson will go on to be a prominent politician, but it is such an interesting book. As I said earlier, I have a personal interest and there were many times that I exclaimed at the mention of another occurrence or place that I knew so well. There is also much to interest anyone studying the social history of London life in the 1950s and 1960s.

All in all, I thoroughly recommend this absorbing memoir.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A marvellous piece of family and social history 8 juin 2014
Par Ralph Blumenau - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle

This is Alan Johnson's immensely evocative and touching account of his childhood in a poor family in North Kensington slum in the 1950s. They lived in Southam Street, which no longer exists: its houses had been condemned in the 1930s and were demolished by the 1960s. There are graphic descriptions of the conditions in their appalling accommodation, and of the ways of life of the people living in the area.

Alan's father Steve worked intermittently as a painter and decorator, and played the piano in pubs and at parties; but the money he earned was mostly spent on betting on horses. He often came home drunk, and there were furious rows between him and his wife Lily. It was mostly what Lily could earn as a charwoman and various other jobs that, together with borrowing from the Provident or Prudential, that paid the rent and put food on the table and clothes on Alan and his older sister Linda. Lily did a remarkable job bringing up her children. She insisted on them having good manners, and she inscribed them at the local library almost as soon as they could walk, and they could read reasonable well before they went to school. She encouraged them to go to the museums in South Kensington. She was also liberal and did not share the racism which was shown towards the West Indian immigrants in the area. Already as an eleven-year-old, Alan was strongly ani-racist.

In 1958, when Alan was eight and Linda eleven, Steve abandoned the family and went to live with a barmaid. Alan and Linda were delighted. Lily secured a divorce and even a weekly maintenance payment of £6 10s for a couple of years before Steve began to default; she and the children were moved to a slightly better Victorian slum in Walmer Road, also in North Kensington; Linda, a strong-minded girl and mature beyond her years, won a place at a grammar school, and so in due course did Alan. Linda left school at 15 and worked as a nursery nurse, for which she was paid £5 a week, £3 of which she contributed to the housekeeping.

Lily had suffered for years from a heart condition and was often in hospital. She couldn't take it easy, as she was advised, because she needed her small earnings, and she turned down heart-surgery because it would mean giving up work for up to six months. But then, in the winter of 1963, in a freezing, damp and dark house - the electricity had been cut off because she had not been able to pay the bills - she became so ill that she had to go to hospital for a long spell anyway - and for the operation two months later. There were complications, and she died. The descriptions of all this and of the days that followed are heart-rending.

While Lily was in hospital, Linda, just sixteen, had taken charge. She had negotiated with all the places where money was owed and had managed to get the electricity restored and all debts either settled or forgiven. Now she completed all the formalities, and she turned down invitations for her and Alan to go to live with Lily's relatives in Liverpool, and she was equally determined that she and Alan would manage on their own and would not be taken into care. Two weeks after Lily's death, the Council had written that the house in Walmer Road was due for demolition and, as a medical priority, she was offered a house in Welwyn Garden City (after having been on a waiting list for seventeen years). This offer was no longer available to her under-age children, and the Council now proposed to put the children into care. Astonishingly, Linda's fierce resistance to the Council and to the kindly social worker bore fruit: they were rehoused in a flat in Wandsworth, with facilities such as they had never had in their lives before. Taking responsibility for Alan, she even attended parents' evenings at his school - to the discomfort of his teachers.

Alan had decided he wanted to be a writer as well as a rock star - throughout the book there is a lot about Alan's love of pop and folk music (he played the guitar) and of football. In his ambition to become a writer he was encouraged by the English teacher, and though his early attempts to pace short stories and poems in various magazines failed, this book certainly shows that he developed the gift to write in a wonderfully straightforward way.

But he left school at 15 without taking any exams. He worked first as a postal clerk, then at Tesco as a stockman, all the while playing the guitar with a group in pubs and clubs. Twice the instruments of the groups he played with were stolen, and after the second time he gave up his ambition to become a professional musician. By then he was 18; Linda had married and moved to Watford; he had left the flat in Wandsworth, first to move in with old friends in Notting Hill and then as a lodger in Hammersmith. He had become engaged and found work at the Post Office.

The book ends with his marriage in 1968. We know how important a part in his life the Post Office was to play. He would become a trade union organizer, become the union's general secretary, go into politics, become a Labour MP and would successively hold five Cabinet posts. I eagerly await any succeeding volumes of his autobiography, though I cannot imagine that any of them will be able to compete with this volume in charm, warmth, and the evocation of a vanished age.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A wonderful book 28 septembre 2013
Par Angela Macaulay - Publié sur
This book reveals what "below the poverty level" really meant in the 50s and 60s. Such misery and suffering is hard to credit. However, Alan Johnson's revealing insight into his childhood is written without bitterness or rancour; rather he lends to the narrative good humour, honesty and love. "This Boy" is dedicated to his sister Linda who was hardly more than a child herself. It is a lasting tribute to her and their mother Lily - the two females who cherished and nurtured him throughout his childhood. It leaves one longing to know the journey he travelled eventually to become a shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. A wonderful book and enormously recommended. It is a glimpse of social history most of us do not remember or would rather forget. It should be compulsory reading for those who think that today's benefits might be inadequate.
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