‘Entertaining and insightful’ — Evening Standard
‘One of the most important books of the year… Compelling’ Jamie Bartlett, Literary Review
‘Timely’ — New Statesman
As the world becomes better connected and we grow ever more dependent on technology, the risks to our infrastructure are multiplying. Whether it’s a hostile state striking the national grid (like Russia did with Ukraine in 2016) or a freak solar storm, our systems have become so interlinked that if one part goes down the rest topple like dominoes.
In this groundbreaking book, former government minister Oliver Letwin looks ten years into the future and imagines a UK in which the national grid has collapsed. Reliant on the internet, automated electric cars, voice-over IP, GPS, and the internet of things, law and order would disintegrate. Taking us from high-level government meetings to elderly citizens waiting in vain for their carers, this book is a wake up call for why we should question our unshakeable faith in technology. But it’s much more than that: Letwin uses his vast experience in government to outline how businesses and government should respond to catastrophic black swan events that seem distant and implausible – until they occur.
After decades of peace and prosperity, the international order put in place after World War II is rapidly coming to an end. Disastrous foreign wars, global recession, the meteoric rise of China and India and the COVID pandemic have undermined the power of the West’s international institutions and unleashed the forces of nationalism and protectionism.
In this lucid and groundbreaking analysis, one of Britain’s most experienced senior diplomats highlights the key dilemmas Britain faces, from trade to security, arguing that international co-operation and solidarity are the surest ways to prosper in a world more dangerous than ever.
Chief of Staff
BOOK OF THE YEAR, The Times, Guardian and Prospect
‘Fascinating and instructive… his decency and pragmatism shine through.’ The Times
‘Candid, valuable and insightful.’ Observer
Since the EU referendum of 2016, British politics has witnessed a barrage of crises, resignations and general elections. Theresa May’s premiership was the most turbulent of all. In her darkest hour, following the disastrous 2017 election, she turned to Gavin Barwell to help restore her battered authority. He would become her chief of staff for the next two years – a period punctuated by Brexit negotiations, domestic tragedy, and intense political drama.
In this gripping insider memoir, Barwell reveals what really went on in the corridors of power – and sheds a vital light on May, the most inscrutable of modern prime ministers. He was by her side when she met Donald Trump, heard about the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury, and responded to the Grenfell Tower fire. He was also at the centre of Brexit talks with foreign leaders and MPs from across the house, including Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer. Revealing how government operates during times of crisis, this is the definitive record of a momentous episode in Britain’s recent political history.