I've just finished listening to Tony Benn's More Time for Politics: Diaries 2001-2007. Benn was a long-serving left-wing British Parliamentarian who also served as Secretary of State and has been key in the anti-war movement. I was only vaguely aware of him until I saw his amazing appearance in Michael Moore's fantastic movie Sicko, and since then, I've found him popping up all over the place.
This volume of Benn's diaries covers the 9/11 attack, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Hutton inquiry, and many amazing turns and twists in domestic and global politics. Benn — now 83 — is incredibly insightful, thoughtful, and principled in his analysis of these events, and is an inspiring whirlwind of activity as he packs his days with interviews, position papers, lecture tours, private meetings with everyone from Kofi Annan to Iraqi dissidents. In between, he's absolutely charming with his grumbles about his flagging health and energy, his search for his favorite frozen pizzas, his overwhelming pride in his family, and his ruminations on an extraordinary life in politics.
Benn hails from an era in politics characterized by thoughtfulness, civility, passion and deep commitment to principle. Listening to him narrate his diaries is an education in what politics can and should be, and what it means to give yourself over to public service. The world's a better place for Benn — and I feel like I'm a better person for having lived inside his diaries for a few hours.