“Politics on the Edge” by Rory Stewart
Rory Stewart’s autobiography, “Politics on the Edge,” is a riveting insight into the life of one of the most multifaceted figures in modern British politics. Having been an ardent follower of the podcast “The Rest is Politics,” this book felt like an intimate continuation of the stories I had already been privy to.
From his service in the UK Cabinet to his notable run against Boris Johnson for the Conservative Party leadership, Stewart’s political journey is as varied as his life outside politics. Whether it’s his initial days in the British Army, his diplomatic endeavours spanning Indonesia, the Balkans, and Iraq, or his notable 6,000-mile walk across Asia documented in the bestseller “The Places in Between,” every chapter of Stewart’s life makes for a gripping read.
This memoir seamlessly captures the contradictions of Stewart’s personality, as he oscillates between profound confidence and introspection. We see an Eton-educated individual who distances himself from the stereotypical mold of his alma mater, an advocate for Theresa May’s leadership juxtaposed with his utter skepticism and disdain of Boris Johnson, and a deep-rooted affection for his constituency, Penrith.
One of the most revealing anecdotes in the book is the portrayal of Liz Truss. Stewart recounts a deeply personal and heart-wrenching episode of losing his father. The response he receives from Truss, who at the time was his boss, is a startling revelation of the lack of emotional intelligence in some leadership quarters.
Stewart’s memoir is not just an account of a life lived on the fringes and in the center of power but also a critical commentary on the state of leadership in contemporary politics. “Politics on the Edge” stands as both a testament to Stewart’s tumultuous journey and a reflection on the challenges and paradoxes of modern political leadership. For anyone interested in the intersection of personal narrative and political commentary, this book is a must-read.