Powell was Tony Blair's Chief of Staff and deeply involved, for ten years, in the public and private processes of negotiation with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin, and various Unionist leaders including David Trimble and Ian Paisley, along with the Irish government lead by Bertie Ahern.
The story gives detailed insight into how the negotiating processes worked, mainly what was going on in the confidential contacts and the secret meetings that led to the public meetings and public agreements (and disagreements).
There are anecdotes about the people and the circumstances. You get the impression that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness really felt at home in 10 Downing street. Powell tells how on one occasion he urgently had to get Adams and McGuinness in from the back garden where they were playing with Tony Blair's kids and trying to ride a skateboard down the path. A photograph of the incident would have given a totally misleading impression of the public relationship between Sinn Féin and the British Government.
The story of the negotiations is told in a welter of detail. So it seems like an endless process, repeatedly covering the same ground, with progress measured in imperceptible steps, and successes followed by immediate setbacks. It is clear that endless patience and determination were needed. Part of the motivation for writing the book is to explain why and how success was achieved so that lessons can be learned for resolution of conflicts in other regions of the world.
Achieving a lasting peace in Ireland is positioned as a major mission for Tony Blair. He was convinced a settlement was possible and was determined to keep on talking until it was achieved.