Benn's diaries for this period were three and a half million words long in their raw state. This heroic 90 per cent reduction is still a 600-page book, and it is crammed with rich fixes for political junkies. The book has a plot: Benn's heroic efforts to save the Labour Party for socialism during the long winter of Thatcherism. If we know the ending, the story is still unexpectedly gripping, for Benn has a talent for swift narrative and thumbnail characterisation. He himself emerges as a strange composite: at one moment a donnish old buffer proud of his quixotic views, at another a hard-nosed committee-room hustler.