Ben Pimlott's biography of Hugh Dalton won the Whitbread Prize, now the author turns his attention to Harold Wilson. The book combines scholarship and observations to illuminate the life and career of one of Britain's most controversial post-war statesmen. Wilson is one of the most enigmatic personalities of recent British history. He held office as Prime Minister for longer than any other Labour leader, and longer than any other premier in peacetime apart from Mrs Thatcher. His success at winning General Elections - four in all - has so far not been matched. His grasp of economic policy was better than that of any other Prime Minister, and he enjoyed a high reputation among foreign leaders. Yet, in retrospect, he seems a master tactician rather than a strategiest - and he is regarded today with more curiosity than respect, when he is not treated with contempt.
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“The rehabilitation of Wilson has begun – and Ben Pimlott, the best British political biographer now writing, has made a hugely impressive job of it…His narrative of the young Wilson, from sickly boy scout to academic pupil of the formidable William Beveridge, and then to chirpy junior minister is quite outstanding – clear, thoughtful and gripping. This early part of the book, is quite central to its larger achievement, since Pimlott shocks the reader out of basic anti-Wilson prejudice by demanding a human sympathy for him. The little, blinking, stubborn boy, hiding his hurt with cocky self-confidence, lives on as a permanent presence within the powerful politician…Some biographers enter the political discourse at once, thanks to their innate qualities and lucky timing. There are so many echoes of the Wilson years in the politics of today that this happy fate must surely belong to Pimlott’s book. Wilson’s sour relationship with the press (and the terrible problems it caused for him) – the conflict within him between national leadership and good part management – even the growing debate about national decline – are all suggestive and worth lingering over. As, indeed, are almost all of these 734 well-researched and finely written pages.”
ANDREW MARR. 'Independent.'
“A masterly piece of political writing.”
BERNARD CRICK, 'New Statesman.'
“The narrative gallops along, sweeping the reader with it in a rush of excitement. A mass of complex detail is marshalled with the art that conceals art.”
DAVID MARQUAND, 'Times Literary Supplement.'
“Fascinating, Pimlott the x-ray has produced another work of formidable penetration.”
ROY JENKINS, 'Observer.'
“Admirable and engrossing…Professor Pimlott’s picture of life at Number 10 and the strife within is vivid and unforgettable.”
ALLAN MASSIE, 'Daily Telegraph.'
“The best biography of the year.”
ANDREW MOTION, 'Observer.'
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1993. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110006379559