A Fortunate Life by Paddy Ashdown
No other British political leader of the post-war generation could have written a book like this for the simple reason that no other modern politician has led a life as varied, adventurous and dramatic as its author. He has been, in turn, an officer in the Royal Marine Commandos, a member of the Special Boat Service, a diplomat, an MP and leader of his party and an international peacemaker in war-torn Bosnia. He can, and does, write with authority about topics as diverse as evading water bailiffs while fishing illicitly at night; tracking down and destroying infiltrating Indonesian forces in the jungles of Sarawak; landing a raiding party from a submerged submarine; the difficulties of learning Chinese; winning an apparently hopeless' parliamentary seat; negotiating with Tony Blair; and bringing stability to a country wracked by civil war. He is deadly serious when writing about the things that matter to him - his family, his country, his party, the Bosnian people whose cause he adopted when it was deeply unpopular to do so - but he also has a refreshing gift for seeing the funny side of most situations and illustrates it with self-deprecating wit and a wealth of anecdote. Although this book covers his years in politics it is hard to imagine anything less like a traditional political memoir. This is the self-portrait of a man who has lived life to the full and whose autobiography would be fascinating, even if he had never set foot in Palace of Westminster. Paddy Ashdown was the founding leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 to 1998. From 2002 to 2006 he was the United Nations High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His previous books include two volumes of The Ashdown Diaries, which covered his years as party leader, and Swords and Ploughshares: Building Peace in the 21st Century. He currently sits in the House of Lords.