'Being a political habitue, my library is full of biographies and autobiographies of the great, their good, their evil and their failed plans. All have left an impression of the addiction of walking the corridors of power, with their 15 minutes, or years, at the helm and the explanations and apologies that inevitably follow. Some of the more visionary - Disraeli, Salisbury, Churchill, Kissinger, Thatcher - have passages marked for rereading, but the overall impact is invariably lost in their personal frailties.
For the discerning reader, few political life stories leave the hero on a pedestal.
There is one well-thumbed book in my library that does not suffer from the clay-feet syndrome - the Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations, a true masterpiece of research edited by Antony Jay. Here you can rejoice in moments of inspiration and occasionally genius. Incisive bons mots, humour that lasts, understandings and insights that survive generations.
From Caesar to Blair, they all offer mind-expanding morsels. And if tempted to get the book, do re-read Alexis de Tocqeville.'