By Chris Hampson, NBC Director of International News
It's a story as old as history. Two young dreamers meet. They share the same hopes, the same ambitions. Their friendship blossoms into something rather deeper. Lovers, of sorts. Success comes their way in bucket-loads.
Then it all goes very, very sour, and the accusations fly thick and fast. Intimidation, lies, disaster.
As kiss-and-tell memoirs go, Tony Blair's new book – "A Journey" – is a real smacker. (It's also estimated to have made Mr. Blair an estimated advance of around $7 million.)
It's not that it tells us many things we didn't already know. It's his candidness.
On sex scandals, on the Royals, on his need for a strong drink or two.
The Queen was "haughty," Princess Diana "a manipulator," President Clinton not "so very different from most men," he writes.
Jeremy Selwyn / Pool via AP, file
Gordon Brown and Tony Blair in London in 2005.
And behind the curtains of Downing Street a war was going on.
Not between Mr. Blair and his wife (so far as we know), but between the Prime Minister and his powerful Chancellor Gordon Brown, the man who eventually succeeded him.
They were, Blair writes, "a bit like lovers."
We all knew about the rivalry between the two, and the deal they made 16 years ago that Blair would get the first crack at the top job.
Blair says he knew it would test them: "I was scared of the unpleasantness, the possible brutality of it, the sadness, actually, of two friends becoming foes."
But not that scared, at least not any more. Just like any other couple whose love turns sour, Blair's book delivers some brutal views on Brown that will likely finish their friendship for good.
He says he knew Brown would be a "disaster" as Prime Minister (he went on to lose the next General Election).
His rival, while "brilliant and strong," was "maddening" and "difficult" with "zero emotional intelligence."
But he didn't sack him because it was better to keep him "inside and contained" rather than "outside and let loose."
Blair says he wrote his book because he's got "something to say." Even before publication it caused controversy when he said he would give the proceeds to armed forces charities. "Blood money," said his critics, referring to Iraq.
The war gets its own chapter, in which Blair admits to shedding tears over the loss of life. But he maintains the decision to invade was right.
He talks too of arguing with Princess Diana a month before she died, of the night of the accident and his subsequent uncomfortable meetings with the Queen.
"I spoke, with passion, of the need to accept life's lessons," he writes. "I worried she found me presumptuous – she was a little haughty."
Blair describes the 691-page memoir as a "letter to the country I love."
Though it's not, he admits, an objective account.
"There is only one person who can write an account of what it is like to be the human being at the center of that history, and that's me."
Maybe. But Gordon Brown has yet to get around to writing his. Bring it on.