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  • Published: 24 September 2024
  • ISBN: 9781529922868
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • RRP: $24.99

Politics On the Edge

A searing insider's account of ten extraordinary years in Parliament from former Cabinet minister Rory Stewart

Over the course of a decade from 2010, Rory Stewart went from being a political outsider to standing for prime minister – before being sacked from a Conservative Party that he had come to barely recognise.

Tackling ministerial briefs on flood response and prison violence, engaging with conflict and poverty abroad as a foreign minister, and Brexit as a Cabinet minister, Stewart learned first-hand how profoundly hollow and inadequate our democracy and government had become. Cronyism, ignorance and sheer incompetence ran rampant. Around him, individual politicians laid the foundations for the political and economic chaos of today. Stewart emerged battered but with a profound affection for his constituency of Penrith and the Border, and a deep direct insight into the era of populism and global conflict.

Politics On the Edge invites us into the mind of one of the most interesting actors on the British political stage. Uncompromising, candid and darkly humorous, this is his story of the challenges, absurdities and realities of political life. Instantly praised as a new classic, it is an astonishing portrait of our turbulent times.

  • Published: 24 September 2024
  • ISBN: 9781529922868
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • RRP: $24.99

About the author

Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart OBE was born in Hong Kong in 1973. He is the author of four books, including bestsellers The Places in Between, which describes the last section of his 6,000 mile walk across Afghanistan, and The Marches, about a walk with his father in the borderlands between Scotland and England. His books have sold over half a million copies, been translated into multiple languages, and been awarded several prizes including the Ondaatje Prize of the Royal Society of Literature.

From 2010-2019 he was the Member of Parliament for Penrith and The Border. During his career as a politician he served in several ministerial roles, including as Secretary of State for International Development in 2019. He has been awarded the Order of the British Empire (for his work in Iraq), the Gold Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (for his work in Afghanistan), a Scottish BAFTA (for the documentaries he has made and presented with the BBC) and honorary doctorates from Stirling University and the American University of Paris. He tweets at @RoryStewartUK.

Also by Rory Stewart

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Praise for Politics On the Edge

A no-holds-barred account of what's gone wrong with modern politics, from the outspoken former Conservative minister

Guardian, *Books to Look Out For 2023*

If you want to know what it's like-really like-to be a politician, read Rory Stewart's intense, funny, savage and profound account


Enthralling, appalling and occasionally hilarious

Tom Stoppard

Engaged but objective, candid but not gossipy, and braced with strong conviction while accepting limitation. Rory Stewart has written a book that breathes life back into the cliché 'essential reading

Andrew Motion

Any combination of insight, humanity, self-awareness and style in a political memoir is valuable. To achieve them all, as Rory Stewart has done, is exceptional

Rafael Behr, author of POLITICS: A SURVIVOR'S GUIDE

How Not to be a Politician is one of the most enjoyable and revelatory political memoirs to appear in ages - beautifully written, self-mocking but insistently principled. Stewart manages to make a life in professional politics seem laughable, entirely indefensible, and yet ennobling. This is a book that will be read for decades, as a document of its time and as timeless literature

Steve Coll, author of GHOST WARS

Brilliantly written, completely gripping, and darkly funny - this is one of the most devastating insider accounts of Westminster I have ever read. An instant classic of political memoir.

Marina Hyde

An excoriating picture of a shamefully dysfunctional political culture - idle, entitled, ignorant and frivolous. I hope it will make its readers angry enough to work harder for something more honest and effective

Rowan Williams

At last a politician who can write. In a decade at Westminster, Rory Stewart worked alongside - indeed for - most of the con-artists and dimwits of recent governments. The problem is not just one of personal calibre, however. The book suggests it is the party political system itself that tends to stifle innovation and practical change. Opinionated, lucid and thought-provoking

Sebastian Faulks

Rory Stewart's book is essential reading for our times. Stewart manages to whisk us into the antechambers of power, and provide a "behind the scenes" look at politics, in the manner that the best science and medicine books reveal insider's views of those realms. Like his previous books, this one is also the chronicle of a journey - and it's unputdownable

Siddhartha Mukherjee

An illuminating and excoriating insight into politics and power. Candid, angry, funny, and self-revelatory

Jonathan Dimbleby

Very good… the book is often entertaining. Stewart vividly records his encounters with the key figures of his time…it’s enjoyable to read fresh evidence of it

Sunday Telegraph

Stewart… is a writer and his first loyalty is to his readers. Most of them will share his despair at the small-time mediocrities who dominate modern politics. Almost all will appreciate the book’s viciousness, eccentricity, wit and intelligence

The Times, *Book of the Week*

This fine, perceptive book shows just how much British politics needs someone like Rory Stewart: incisive, thoughtful, far more concerned with the business of good government than with the small-time idiocies of party politics. And how typical that he should have been driven out of government, and out of politics altogether

John Simpson

Every page has something beautifully and memorably expressed and something interesting I haven't come across before

Rev. Richard Coles

In which clever, reasonable officer-class virtue witnesses close up a historic outbreak of unreason and irresponsibility - and takes the subtlest of revenges. By producing the best-written account there will ever be of what has happened to the Conservative Party since 2010, Rory Stewart ensures that his version of events will endure when Boris Johnson is only the mouldering memory of a fright-wig

Francis Spufford

A superbly readable book. Former Tory minister Rory Stewart exposes the ‘shameful state’ of recent Conservative rule in this brilliant and blisteringly frank account of dysfunctional government

Luke Harding, Observer

An unsparing and brilliant portrait... The lying, incompetence, and treachery he depicts are all so blatant that the book should be assigned to bright young things to rid them of any remaining illusions before they put their name on a ballot

The Atlantic

A significant book – candid, beautifully observed, written by someone with a questioning intelligence and a burning desire to make the world a better place

Chris Mullin, Spectator

Anyone with the slightest interest in politics should get a copy of Rory Stewart's political memoir... In terms of the quality of writing, there has been nothing to approach it since the diaries of Alan Clark

Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail

A truly absorbing and fascinating book

Peter Hennessy, Politics Home

One of the best books on politics our era will see… a book of astonishing literary quality

Matthew Parris, Times Literary Supplement

Few political memoirs last for long. Rory Stewart’s Politics on the Edge may be an exception… Stewart’s memoir is a brilliant portrait of the Cameron-May-Johnson era. It is likely to become a classic on a par with Clark’s diaries

Financial Times

The most compelling account I have read in recent years of the ways in which the British political system makes good government nigh-on impossible

Charlotte Ivers, Sunday Times, *Book of the Week*

Genuinely eye-opening stuff, always riveting, often horrifying… this is one of the most captivating political books in recent memory


Stewart writes with humour, elegance, sophistication, and style...he is unfailingly honest

Irish Independent

One of the most excoriating political memoirs of modern times... Hugely entertaining, Politics on the Edge, is hard to dismiss

Evening Standard

An eye-opening (and highly enjoyable) read for anyone interested in understanding the realities of political power in the age of populism

Yuval Noah Harari, author of SAPIENS

Rarely before has the life of a government minister been described in such granular detail or with such literary flair... This book is a vital work of documentation: Orwell down the coal mine, Swift on religious excess. We should be grateful it was written and that Stewart never stopped being interesting.'

Alan Johnson, Guardian, *Book of the Day*

It is the sheer sharpness, originality and truth-telling grace of Stewart’s prose, along with the vital importance of his subject, that makes his new book a truly exceptional political autobiography, both a pleasure to read, and a vital wake-up call


A far more compelling political memoir than many of those written by others. Anyone thinking about a career in politics should read this first


Extremely well written and a genuine pleasure to read… For anyone with an interest in politics it is well worth looking into

John Stevenson MP, News and Star

Stewart is eloquent and indignant about duplicitousness and incompetence in modern politics


So well and often so wittily written, and so revealing about British politics from top to bottom, that it is destined to become a classic of the genre

Literary Review

Compelling… Stewart's book is so well and often so wittily written, and so revealing about British politics from top to bottom, that it is destined to become a classic of the genre

Literary Review

If you’re looking for a curtain lifter on the arcane and at time obnoxious world of Westminster…this more than fits the bill

City AM

The most exceptional political memoir I’ve ever read

Alan Johnson

A brilliant insider’s account of the Cameron-May-Johnson years

FT, *Books of the Year*

Full of sharp observations and often funny… a portrait of a country where power is wielded by empty careerists, working in a broken system

Financial Times, *Books of the Year*

If you want to better understand the catastrophe that has been our government since 2010, or you just want to bask in Stewart’s beautifully formulated prose, read this book

New Statesman, *Books of the Year*

It is the sheer sharpness, originality and truth-telling grace of Stewart’s prose, along with the vital importance of his subject, that makes his new book a truly exceptional political autobiography, both a pleasure to read, and a vital wake-up call

Scotsman, *Books of the Year*

Few books on politics are worth reading, but this is riveting. Beautifully written, with a highly personal, deeply felt slant, it really does make one want to turn over the page

Church Times, *Books of the Year*

[Stewart’s] memoir of his time in politics is valuable as a slice of entertainment, as an enjoyably catty takedown of his former colleagues, and as perhaps the most helpful recent account of the failings of the British state… a valuable contribution to the historical record

Sunday Times, *Political Book of the Year*

Highly amusing

Daily Telegraph, *Books of the Year*

Both a riveting and painful read, which, frankly, exposes the glaring inadequacies of the dysfunctional way in which Britain is governed

Church Times

There’s no denying that Rory Stewart stands almost alone among British politicians: he’s one of a handful who can actually turn a phrase. That talent is put to good use here — no other account of how Cameron Toryism curdled into May and Johnson is likely to be as evocative or amusing as this one

The Times, *The Times Political Book of the Year*

A fascinating account of power, corruption and lies

i, *Books of the Year*

The sharpness of the character sketches and the restless nature of the author, buy turns self-loving and self-loathing, make it burst with life

Craig Brown, Observer, *Books of the Year*

Beautifully written... You glimpse how transformative government could be

Gaby Hinsliff, Guardian, *Books of the Year*

The moral and technical seriousness of this book should not be ignored: in his time in parliamentary politics, Stewart discovered a lot that needs mending—and he has plenty of ideas for doing so

Prospect, *Books of the Year*

Stewart writes beautifully and is brilliant at describing both the theatre and insanity of life in politics

Daily Express, *Books of the Year*

Eminently readable, often funny…but also deeply depressing – [Politics on the Edge] is an excoriating denunciation of the way our country is run

Daily Mail, *Books of the Year*

There have been very few political memoirs that have the forensic honesty about politics than Politics on the EdgeA terrific read: readable and funny

Methodist Recorder, *Books of the Year*

A serious study of government as well as a fly-on-the-wall account of ministerial life, full of hair-raising anecdotes

Guardian, *Summer Reads of 2024*



[Stewart’s] elegant book is a discouraging sketch of the current state of British politics

Daily Mail