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Truss, Sarkozy and the art of the political memoir. – POLITICO


Welcome to Declassified, a weekly humor column.

Everyone loves a good political memoir. At least they would if the overwhelming majority of them were not utter horseshit. Dishonest and not wanting to annoy the big-money paymasters they now have at a think tank, it’s rare to find a post-politics book that’s a real page-turner.

The journalist Walter Bagehot once asked readers about former British Prime Minister Robert Peel: “Was there ever such a dull man? Can any one, without horror, foresee the reading of his memoirs?” (Peel did indeed write his memoirs, in three parts, with the clickbait title Memoirs by the Right Honourable Sir Robert Peel.”)

But that could be about to change with the news that Liz Truss is bringing out a book next year. Readers with a particularly good memory will recall that Truss was British prime minister for just 44 days (and it might have been shorter had the queen not inconveniently died just after she took office).

Truss’ book — and you might want to sit down for this part — will be called “Ten Years to Save the West.” That title has, understandably, been the subject of much mockery along the lines of “she brought a country to its knees in less than seven weeks, imagine how much damage she could do in a decade!” So far, the lettuce that famously outlasted Truss is stuck in negotiations with major publishing houses. My suggested title for its memoirs: “Iceberg, right ahead: How I defeated a prime minister and enjoyed my salad days.”

While we wait with bated breath for Truss’ magnum opus, there’s another political book to read. Nicolas Sarkozy’s latest — “Le temps des combats” (The time of battles) — is a monster 560 pages long (stop making “it’s so that he can stand on it when he wants to kiss Carla Bruni” jokes). Sarko’s an old pro and he knows that to sell copies, you’ve got to have a bit of controversy, which is why he used an interview to promote the book to defend Vladimir Putin and call for Ukraine to accept the Russian occupation of Crimea and other disputed territories.

Doubling down on the controversy, Sarkozy used an interview this week to say “there is no such thing as police violence,” adding that these are “two incompatible words.” Of course he has to say that as the police regularly come round to his house to make sure he hasn’t removed the electronic tag he has to wear after being found guilty on corruption charges.


“So when I find the wolf that killed my beloved Dolly, I’m going to crush its skull in my hands like this. And that’s all for the State of the Union speech.”

Can you do better? Email [email protected] or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Last time we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag — there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze.

“I know my hand’s been shaking lately, but I’ve always wanted to see if I’d be a good surgeon. Plus it will make for a great news story,” by Ewelina Załuska.

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.

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