Most politicians write autobiographies to 'set the record straight' and provide retrospective justification for their careers. That is not the case with this book. 'It occurred to me that to track down myself would enable me to discuss an issue that had begun to intrigue me, namely the relationship between politics and identity, the things that had shaped me and whether and how they had come to reflect my life and opinions. As I wrote, the question of identity moved from the wings to centre stage, and roiled politics and nations on both sides of the Atlantic.'
Chris Patten's career has taken him from the suburbs to the House of Commons, last Governor of Hong Kong and Chairman of the BBC. About all of these he is enlightening and entertaining. But more, Patten uses each phase of his life as a spur to reflect upon its contemporary situation - education, America, conservatism, Ireland, China, Europe and finally the question of links between violence and religion. Wise, funny and opinionated, First Confession is a different sort of memoir, a meditation on personal and political identity which, in an age of simplification, reminds us of the complexities of both
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