Edward Heath: The Authorised Biography

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9780007247400: Edward Heath: The Authorised Biography

The masterly official biography of Britain's former prime minister, which captures all the political drama of the 1970s, so relevant for the present day

Distinguished biographer Philip Ziegler offers a timely reassessment of Edward Heath's remarkable political career. With exclusive access to personal papers unavailable to previous biographers he presents the first fully rounded portrait of our most enigmatic former prime minister.

Beginning with Heath's early years - his childhood in Kent, student days in pre-war Oxford, wartime military service and short business career - Ziegler goes on to chart Heath's effortless rise through the ranks of the Conservative Party. He brilliantly captures Heath's rivalry with Harold Wilson and the supreme drama of 1974 - the year of two elections and a hung parliament - with its uncanny parallels for our own times.

Politics consumed Heath's life but he found time for other pursuits, becoming an accomplished conductor and an internationally successful yachtsman. The book explores Heath's endlessly fascinating personality and casts fresh light on the financial affairs and private life of this most complex of political leaders.

Heath's later years were blighted by the 'long sulk', as he failed to come to terms with losing the leadership to Margaret Thatcher. But this should not disguise his considerable achievements. He helped to transform the Conservative Party, and by securing Britain's historic entry into Europe, the high point of his career, he arguably changed the lives of the British people more fundamentally than any prime minister since Winston Churchill.

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Review:

Harold Wilson (1993):

'Ziegler is technically very impressive. His ability to drive a narrative along at a spanking pace while weaving in brief, balancing judgments on Wilson's performance and always providing enough (but not too much) explanatory material … is very professional.' Roy Jenkins, Observer

'Ziegler's particular strength lies in his understanding of the complex character, psychology and lifestyle of Harold Wilson … This admirable and entertaining study captures the feel of Wilson and his entourage far better than any other I have read.' John Torode, Independent

About the Author:

Philip Ziegler was born in 1929 and educated at Eton and New College, Oxford, where he gained first class honours in Jurisprudence. He then joined the Diplomatic Service and served in Vientiane, Paris, Pretoria and Bogota before joining the publishers William Collins, where he was editorial director for fifteen years. His many books include biographies of William IV, Lady Diana Cooper, Louis Mountbatten and Harold Wilson, as well as the classic history of the Black Death.

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