As a small boy in Epping Forest, Jack Straw could never have imagined that one day he would become Britain's Lord Chancellor. As one of five children of divorced parents, he was bright enough to get a scholarship to a direct-grant school, but spent his holidays as a plumbers' mate for his uncles to bring in some much-needed extra income. Yet he spent 13 years and 11 days in government, including long and influential spells as Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary. This is the story of how he got there. His memoirs offer a unique insight into the complex, sometimes self-serving but always fascinating world of British politics and reveals the toll that high office takes, but , more importantly, the enormous satisfaction and extraordinary privilege of serving both your constituents and your country. Straw's has been a very public life, but he reveals the private face, too and offers readers a vivid and authoritative insight into the Blair/Brown era and, indeed, the last forty years of British politics.