Whitehall, By Colin Brown

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The Independent Culture

With a cast ranging from Cardinal Wolsey, renowned for his "powers of persuasion", to his seedy counterpart Alastair Campbell, this guide to the well-guarded bastions of power glitters with interest on every page.

The author, who is The Independent's deputy political editor, notes that security has been much tightened since the Eighties when he encountered Geoffrey Howe taking Budget, his Jack Russell, for a walk at the back of No 11 Downing St. In 1991, the IRA launched mortars at No 10 during a Cabinet meeting.

"I think we'd better start again," said John Major after "a huge splinter... stabbed the wall like a dagger". Other dramas on this street include the execution of Charles I by axemen with false beards.