Who holds power? How do they use it? Are they accountable?: the questions addressed in this unflinching exposé of power in Britain.
These familiar questions are now far more topical and urgent. The peaks of both government and finance have become far more concentrated and isolated; checks and balances have become much weaker; the costs of wrong decisions have often proved disastrous to the public.
Anthony Sampson has spent forty years dissecting the power-structure, with unique access to people at the top, to produce his best-selling Anatomies of Britain. Now in this intensely topical book, he surveys a much more troubled scene with more anger and impatience. He looks at the whole panoply of power, from an embattled Number Ten to the murky intelligence spooks, from corporate boardrooms to banks and pension funds. Everywhere he talks to the people who really know their inside workings.
Who Runs This Place? is written not just for those inside the Westminster Bubble. It is addressed in fresh and vivid terms to those who need to understand the institutions and careers they are choosing, and the bosses who will influence their whole future. And it comes at a time when the British people are clamouring to comprehend the secretive groups that pull the levers, behind the facades. It is essential reading.
Anthony Sampson was educated at Westminster and Oxford, and after a spell as a naval officer he went to Johannesburg and edited the black magazine Drum, becoming a friend of young ANC revolutionaries. He then joined the Observer, but left to write The Anatomy of Britain and became a full time author, writing best-sellers investigating oil companies, arms dealers and bankers. He was editorial adviser to the Brandt Commission, director of the New Statesman, trustee of the Guardian and chairman of the Society of Authors, and he wrote the authorised biography of Nelson Mandela.
No one has matched Sampson's combination of analysis, networking and sharp drafting ... A model of its kind — Times Higher Education Supplement
A compelling analysis of power — The Times
An exhilarating air of authority... [thanks to] its author's happy and unusual combination of wisdom and research — Mail on Sunday
An impressive and immediate air of gravitas.. Sampson is a clear thinker who manages to gently ease the reader throuh a vast and complex subject — Scotland on Sunday
Many shrewd and informative chapters — Sunday Telegraph
A superb diagnosis... enormously readable, containing a wealth of entertaining apercus and digressions... [and] a wit that is as sharp as his scalpel — New Statesman
A coherent critique about the nature of political power in British society — The Scotsman
He has stood back from the trees and given us a view of the wood. He is right to find it rotten — Sunday Times
This is a wise, perceptive and not unduly pessimistic book — Spectator
Sampson sees power clearly and calmly, as Trollope or Galsworthy did; and it is not a pretty sight...He comes shrewdly at Mr Blair from an unprotected flank — Daily Telegraph
An important book, raising an increasingly urgent set of questions about who has the power in Tony Blair's Britain, and for whom they exercise it. — The Spokesman Manifesto 50
His lucid prose dissects the new centres of power ... A bracing read — JG Ballard, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year
Brilliantly written and deeply sobering — JG Ballard
Indefatigable... in researching information and marshalling facts — The Evening Standard
Sampson succeeds in providing an exhaustive answer to the question he has set himself in the title — The Guardian
The leap this books asks us to make - the comparison between the Britain of 1962 and that of 2004 - is useful and hugely instructive. — Guardian
Britain's anatomy is...illuminated by the unmatched politico-social lucidity of a fine mind...a wonderfully dismaying book — Nadine Gordimer, Times Literary Supplement
Sampson's overview of today's corrupt, nepotistic, celebrity-obsessed Britain makes for fascinating, if depressing, reading — Daily Telegraph
'A superb field-guide to "the masters of the marketplace" — Independent
A contemporary history with a strong sense of historical change — John Hudson, BBC History
This anatomy dissects an old organism still alive and diseased with new secrets — The Times
Sampson's last book is up there with his best — Evening Standard
Sampson blows away the smoke that obscures British democracy and ...dissects an old organism still alive and diseased with new secrets. — The Times
Anthony Sampson's Who Runs This Place? Asks New Labour's central question. — Observer