Jonathan Powell

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Assistant: Gabriella Docherty

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Jonathan Powell served as chief of staff to Prime Minister Tony Blair from his election in 1997 until Blair's resignation in 2007. After studying history at Oxford and the University of Pennsylvania, Jonathan Powell worked for the BBC and Granada TV before joining the Foreign Office in 1979. In 1994 Mr Blair, then Leader of the Opposition, poached him to join his 'kitchen cabinet' as his Chief of Staff. When Labour achieved its landslide victory in 1997 Powell was at the heart of the Downing Street machine.

He is the author of GREAT HATRED, LITTLE ROOM, THE NEW MACHIAVELLI and TALKING TO TERRORISTS.

Non-Fiction

Publication DetailsNotes

TALKING TO TERRORISTS

2014

The Bodley Head

Should governments talk to terrorists? Should they ‘negotiate with evil’?

Without communication, argues Powell, we will never end conflict. As violent insurgencies continue to erupt across the globe, we need people who will brave the depths of the Mindanao jungle and scale the heights of the Colombian mountains, painstakingly tracking down the heavily armed, faceless leaders of these terrorist groups in order to open negotiations with them.

Powell draws on his own experiences negotiating peace in Northern Ireland and talks to all the major players from the last thirty years – terrorists, secret agents and intermediaries – exposing the subterranean world of secret exchanges between governments and terrorist organizations to give us the inside account of negotiations on the front line. These past negotiations shed light on how today’s negotiators can tackle the Taliban, Hammas and al-Qaeda. And history tells us that it may be necessary to fight and talk at the same time.

Ultimately, Powell brings us a message of hope: there is no armed conflict anywhere in the world that cannot be resolved.

THE NEW MACHIAVELLI: HOW TO WIELD POWER IN MODERN BRITAIN

2011

UK: The Bodley Head; Romanian: Cartier; Russian: AST

Niccolò Machiavelli is misunderstood, argues Jonathan Powell in his twenty-first-century reworking of the Italian philosopher’s influential masterpiece, THE PRINCE. Taking the lessons Machiavelli derived from his experience as an official in fifteenth-century Florence, Powell shows how these lessons can still apply today, illustrating each of Machiavelli’s maxims with a description of events that occurred during Tony Blair’s time as Prime Minister.

Tony Blair’s Chief of Staff from 1994 to 2007, Jonathan Powell recounts the inside story of that period, drawing on his own unpublished diaries. He tackles the critics of Blair’s ‘sofa government’ and gives a frank account of the intimate details of internal political rows. Among the topics he deals with are the failure to join the Euro or hold a referendum on the European constitution, the struggle with the hauliers' strike and the foot-and-mouth outbreak that postponed the 2001 election, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland, relations with Clinton, Bush and Chirac, the banning of fox-hunting, and the triumphs and failures of spin and the scandals and inquiries – ranging from Bernie Ecclestone to the police investigation into ‘cash for peerages’.

GREAT HATRED, LITTLE ROOM

2009

UK: Bodley Head; World English Audio (unabridged): W F Howes

Making peace in Northern Ireland was the greatest success of the Blair government, and arguably one of the great achievements in British politics since World War Two.

As Tony Blair’s chief of staff and chief negotiator, Jonathan Powell was in the front-line of the talks at each crucial stage. Under instructions at all times from his boss “never to give up”, Powell lived and breathed the peace process for more than a decade. Nobody knew the highs and lows of the talks as intimately as he, and nobody knew the strengths and weaknesses of the characters involved. From Adams and McGuinness to Trimble and Paisley, Mo Mowlam and Peter Mandelson to Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, Powell’s job was to know all players on all sides and to win their trust. Now he describes their roles in compelling human detail.

GREAT HATRED, LITTLE ROOM is a document of lasting historical importance that is also a vivid account of fallible men and women working at the limits of their endurance. It reveals the secret meetings and frantic improvisation, the all-night wrangling and last-minute breakthroughs, which vanish in the smooth language of the official communiqués. Pithy, outspoken and precise, Powell gives us that rarest of things, a true insider’s account of politics at the highest level. It is a story of success and failure, bravery and cowardice, risk-taking and down-right stubbornness. But in the end if is a story of human-endeavour – not on the battlefield – but at the negotiating table. GREAT HATRED, LITTLE ROOM is a story of peace-making which can provide hope not only to Northern Ireland but also lessons for negotiators elsewhere in the world.