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Exceeding My Brief: Memoirs of a Disobedient Civil Servant

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From the tragic massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, to signing the Treaty of Rome when Britain entered the Common Market, Barbara Hosking was there.This is the story of a Cornish scholarship girl with no contacts who ended up in the corridors of power. It is also the very personal story of her struggle with her sexuality as a bewildered teenager, and as a young woma From the tragic massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, to signing the Treaty of Rome when Britain entered the Common Market, Barbara Hosking was there.This is the story of a Cornish scholarship girl with no contacts who ended up in the corridors of power. It is also the very personal story of her struggle with her sexuality as a bewildered teenager, and as a young woman in the 1950s, a time when being gay could mean social ostracism.Born during the General Strike in 1926, Barbara Hosking worked her way through London’s typing pools in the 1950s to executive posts in the Labour Party, then to No. 10 as a press officer to Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. Between working on a copper mine in the African bush, pioneering British breakfast television and negotiating the complexities of government, hers has been a life of breadth and bravery. Looking back at the age of ninety-one, this is Barbara Hosking’s unheard-of account of the innermost workings of politics and the media amid the turbulence of twentieth-century Britain.


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From the tragic massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, to signing the Treaty of Rome when Britain entered the Common Market, Barbara Hosking was there.This is the story of a Cornish scholarship girl with no contacts who ended up in the corridors of power. It is also the very personal story of her struggle with her sexuality as a bewildered teenager, and as a young woma From the tragic massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, to signing the Treaty of Rome when Britain entered the Common Market, Barbara Hosking was there.This is the story of a Cornish scholarship girl with no contacts who ended up in the corridors of power. It is also the very personal story of her struggle with her sexuality as a bewildered teenager, and as a young woman in the 1950s, a time when being gay could mean social ostracism.Born during the General Strike in 1926, Barbara Hosking worked her way through London’s typing pools in the 1950s to executive posts in the Labour Party, then to No. 10 as a press officer to Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. Between working on a copper mine in the African bush, pioneering British breakfast television and negotiating the complexities of government, hers has been a life of breadth and bravery. Looking back at the age of ninety-one, this is Barbara Hosking’s unheard-of account of the innermost workings of politics and the media amid the turbulence of twentieth-century Britain.

30 review for Exceeding My Brief: Memoirs of a Disobedient Civil Servant

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julian Tooke

    I read this book because I was very impressed by the speech that Barbara did at the Stonewall Conference in London. At her best, she has a warm, self-deprecating and humane authorial voice. At its worst the book can feel like a self-indulgent account of events which, although not humdrum, are not particularly fascinating either. It’s hard to be too critical of the book though because the writer is so likeable.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Karen Keane

    Not a book I would normally read, I read it as part of a book challenge and this one was the book on a topic I would not normally read. It really surprised me, it’s a book about politics and journalism, wrote by a very interesting, indeed pioneering woman, who is now in her 90’s. Spanning from 1927 to the present time, Barbara Hosking tells her story as a gay woman working in a male dominated world and work force, it was really interesting and well worth reading.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sukru Haskan

    Having met Barbara for few hours during the 150th year celebration of Political Committee at Reform Club, I found herself and this book fascinating and a guide to British history in the 20th and 21st century! It only took me less than a day to read the whole book as the events flows through so smoothly.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    Interesting woman and life - lots of adventures

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paul Dickson

    A great read - an amazing career

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katie Stanton

    Absolutely fabulous! A must read for public sector press officers or anyone interested in UK politics

  7. 5 out of 5

    Beth Evans

    largely interesting (excluding the nuances about public broadcasting) autoobiography from a 90+ year old, British, civil servant who spent time in Labour govt. and 10 Downing street

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jo O'Riordan

    I gave up on it, it was rather slow.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Celine Jacobs

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ms Susan Jennifer Robertson

  11. 4 out of 5

    gregory allen

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jane Hopkins

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sadie

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sanne

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mr Keith Brettell

  16. 5 out of 5

    Robin

  17. 4 out of 5

    Frances Miller

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nigel Wright

  19. 5 out of 5

    rachel cooper

  20. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Lamagni

  21. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

  22. 5 out of 5

    Clarer

  23. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Pope

  24. 5 out of 5

    Liz Nelson

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Kent

  26. 5 out of 5

    TW Greenaway

  27. 5 out of 5

    fiona Blake

  28. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jo

  30. 4 out of 5

    Miss Deborah J Newbound

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