As a distinguished diplomat and for ten years the Queen's widely respected Press Secretary, Michael Shea had a privileged insight into the lives of the truly famous and powerful. In this book, he interweaves personal experience, anecdote and reflection to create a different perspective on recent history and on the celebrated individuals who have ástrutted their stuff on the public stage over the last forty years'.
Taking as his framework diplomatic postings to Berlin, Ghana, Bonn, Bucharest and New York, and later his unexpected secondment to Buckingham Palace, Shea regales us with vivid behind-the-scenes encounters with awesome dictators like Nicolae Ceaucescu as well as minor tyrants like media magnate Robert Maxwell; spies and counter-spies in a Cold War Europe straight out of Le Carre; glittering banquets with US presidents and desert potentates; and the pleasures and perils of áminding' the great and the good, from Harold Wilson to Princess Diana, from Margaret Thatcher to the Queen.
We remember the famous and the infamous for their great public moments but, as Michael Shea demonstrates, it is the tiny incidents, the facial expression or remark caught off camera, that really define the wisdom or weakness of those who have impressed or shocked us. Witty and incisive, A View from the Sidelines takes us right up close to our icons, sometimes revealing their feet of clay.