Book club: Beyond the Crash

Hannah Langworth lets Gordon Brown explain himself in his new release
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*Beyond the Crash: Overcoming the First Crisis of Globalisation *

Gordon Brown

Simon & Schuster, 2010

Politicians are notorious for using their long recesses to plough through heavy tomes - David Cameron gave every Tory MP a 38-strong list in summer 2008, and Gordon Brown spent that August in Suffolk reading anything relevant to the increasingly troubling developments in the financial sector.

In Beyond the Crash, Brown draws on this reading, showing how it shaped his approach to the crisis he faced on his return to Downing Street. He also uses his extensive economic knowledge to consider the issues in a way in which he did not have the time - or political liberty - to do then.

The result is a thorough work on the financial crisis. Brown focuses on how the world's major economies are connected - his key points are that economic policy must be made with global considerations in mind, and without forgetting moral obligations, particularly to the world's poor. Brown's argument is well-structured, and the focus of each section makes it easy to follow the book's arguments and to locate information.

The work isn't perfect; Brown's style can be clunky, and sometimes swerves into politico-speak. There's a nagging sense than Brown is writing on an episode of his time in government which does him particular credit at the expense of a more honest analysis of his career.

There are no tabloid-worthy details but there are some funny anecdotes, such as Brown's description of how the government's rescue plan came to be known as the �balti bailout" in honour of the takeaways that fuelled those devising it, and his account of his wife Sarah reprimanding one of the couple's young sons for waking her husband up only to find minister Shriti Vadera at the bedroom door. There's also moving moments, particularly Brown's descriptions of how his upbringing shaped his political thinking, and a passage about David Mugiraneza, a 10-year-old victim of the Rwandan genocide.

Such details give a welcome roundness to a largely serious work which, perhaps, is more personal than it might first appear. Brown is a politician obsessed with good economic house-keeping and social justice, and impatient with the media circus of modern politics, which explains both his success in combatting the crisis he faced in 2008, and his subsequent failure to persuade the public that he deserved to keep his job. And since his ousting in May 2010, he has no reason not to write a book which reflects his particular preoccupations.

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