How to be a Civil Servant
The most accurate and detailed description of the modern UK civil service is undoubtedly Edwards Page's and Bill Jenkins' Policy Bureacracy: Government with a Cast of Thousands which is based on numerous interviews with middle-ranking civil servants in a range of departments.
Focusing down a little, Professor Page's detailed description of the work of Bill Teams (originally published in Blackwells' Public Administration) provides a fascinating insight into the world inhabited by those civil servants entrusted with the task of developing primary legislation.
The ESRC's Transforming Government Series contains numerous books, written mainly for academic audiences, which describe the devlopment of Government in the UK and elsewhere. I particularly enjoyed reading David Richards' New Labour and the Civil Service.
Apart from my own How to be a Civil Servant, I know of only two books by a civil servant about the civil service (other than the memoirs of various ambassadors). The Mandarin's Tale by Roy Denman is the first of these - a fascinating history of the author's career from graduate entry into the Department of Trade and Industry in 1948 through to his transfer to to the European Commission in 1977 - and beyond. Although inevitably somewhat dated, it offers an interesting and occasionally disquieting glimpse into the usually hidden world of Whitehall. A definite "must read" for those interested in the development of the modern civil service.
The second and very entertaining memoir forms no more than half a chapter of a book by Stephen Burbridge, who claims to have been instrumental in bringing down the Callaghan government. Click here to read that extract and to find how to buy the whole book.
There is an extensive reading list in the Accountability, Propriety and Audit section of this web site.
Politico's Online Bookshop has a huge range of books on Government and politics, including the following:-
The Civil Service Rifles in the Great War: ‘All Bloody Gentlemen’ by Jill Knight and published by Pen & Sword Books is an excellent read. Although civil servants are not generally renowned for their soldierly qualities, and despite the Government’s reluctance to release them, hundreds of clerical staff from all the main departments volunteered to fight in the First World War and took their place in the front line. The Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles, a volunteer unit comprising two battalions of ‘civil servants and their friends’, fought with distinction as part of the London Regiment in major actions such as Loos, the Somme, Messines and Cambrai, and further afield in Salonika and at the capture of Jerusalem. Using previously unpublished memoirs and diaries to tell their extraordinary story from the men’s viewpoint, Jill demonstrates how these desk-bound clerks and bureaucrats were transformed into a creditable fighting force and developed a strong esprit de corps which endured through years of fighting and heavy casualties. The book includes a superb collection of over 200 photographs