Like almost every mid-20th-century politician of note, Stafford Cripps had the dubious honour of an epigram from Churchill: "There, but for the grace of God, goes God". The wit of the remark is in its accurate summation of Cripps' astonishing talents, and the personal failings that were to deprive him of the highest office. Beginning his professional life as a lawyer, he went on to become Ambassador to Russia in 1940. In 1942 he was sent as special envoy to India and the report he wrote was to prove a watershed on that country's road to independence. In Labour's post-war administration, Cripps was president of the Board of Trade, and from 1947-50, Chancellor of the Exchequer. This authoritative biography was written with complete access to private and public papers.
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Sir Stafford Cripps has not lacked biographers. There have been some half-dozen, including two within the last five years. But Peter Clarke's The Cripps Version is, as the title implies, the first to be based on full access to Cripps' personal papers. Where other books on Cripps have painted portraits from the outside--from public records and from the papers of other politicians--Clarke is able to see things from inside out, using the voluminous personal and unofficial correspondence left by Cripps, as well as a series of his diaries. Cripps was an unusually off-the-record politician, and Clarke's famous forensic skills of reconstruction, used to such great effect in his earlier books on Edwardian "new liberalism" and on JM Keynes, are brought to bear on this complex man, who was a radical hero of the 1930s, war-time shuttle diplomat in the Soviet Union and India, and post-war Chancellor in the era of rationing and devaluation.
The book concentrates on Cripps in and out of office after 1940. We get through the first 50 years of his life in 80 pages, leaving Clarke plenty of space to unpick with great precision the principal events and controversies of the 1940s: the rivalry with Churchill, the coaxing of Stalin, the placating of Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah, and the management of the post-war British economy. This is political biography at its very best. If Cripps emerges as a less colourful character from this definitive work, he is also revealed as a more credible politician, who achieved his ends by a combination of hard work, charm, noblesse oblige, a strong Christian ethic and only a smattering of ideology. --Miles TaylorReview:
This long-awaited biography, by one of Britain's leading historians, is the first to be written with complete access to Cripps's private and public papers.
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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0140286918