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Attlee Hardcover – 23 Sep 1982

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 630 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson (23 Sept. 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297779931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297779933
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 16.6 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 506,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
In 1883, the most destructive of the critics of capitalist society died and the most constructive of its critics was born. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 18 Aug. 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Clement Attlee was leader of the Labour Party for 20 years. During that time he was Deputy Prime Minister for most of World War II and was subsequently Prime Minister for 6 years.
During his time as PM he oversaw the introduction of the National Health Service, The Independence of India, the attempted settlement of the Palestine question, the early stages of Britain's Atomic programme, the ending of the Marshall Aid plan and subsequent devaluing of the pound, not to mention countless internal power struggles within the Labour Party. Yet despite all this he remains a rather unknown figure among 20th Century Prime Ministers. This fact is emphasised by the absence of any photographs in the book.
A mere cursory glance at the number of books available on other such PM's: Churchill, Lloyd George & Thatcher being the most notable; compared to the few on Attlee demonstrates how little information on the man and his career is in the public domain.
On reading this well-written biography it becomes apparent that one of the main reasons for this is the man himself, in that he never sought the limelight at any stage. He seemed to regard himself as being in the position of having to be leader of the Labour Party in order to ensure that others didn't do damage to the Party and the causes he held dear, rather than any overwhelming desire to be the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Ultimately this natural modesty comes across in Harris's book. The impression of a hard-working, decent, family-loving man is also portrayed very strongly. Clearly Harris is a fan, and is writing from the perspective of an acquaintance of Attlee's, but nevertheless you are left with the impression that the subject is one who had nothing but the soundest of motives and the strongest of values at heart.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By MarkK TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 July 2004
Format: Hardcover
Often overshadowed by the massive historical figure of Winston Churchill, with whom he both served and faced across the dispatch box, Clement Attlee was one of the most important figures in twentieth century British political history. Leader of the Labour Party for twenty years, he took it from its nadir in the early 1930s to electoral triumph a decade later, and successfully managed the talented and fractious group that realized Britain's postwar embrace of socialism. Understanding how this was accomplished is one of Kenneth Harris's many achievements in this biography, which illuminates Attlee's personality while chronicling his role in transforming his country.
Born in 1883, Attlee enjoyed an almost impossibly idealistic childhood. The son of a diligent, prosperous solicitor, he grew up in a comfortable and loving household. Some of this may have been reflected in his education; his time at both Haileybury and Oxford was undistinguished academically, as Attlee focused more on social pursuits than on his studies. Though he followed his father into a career in the law, Attlee found legal work tedious, and was drifting through life when he accepted an invitation from his elder brother Lawrence to visit the Haileybury Club in Stepney, a social and educational organization run along military lines. The visit was to prove to be the turning point of his life, as Attlee soon agreed to participate in the running of the club. The commitment inaugurated his new career as a social worker and led to his embrace of socialism.
After service in the Army during the First World War - a period Harris covers only briefly - Attlee returned to the East End and began his career in politics, first as a councilman from Limestone, then (in 1922) as a member of the House of Commons.
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Format: Hardcover
As Labour's postwar Prime Minister, someone I felt I ought to know about so I read this excellent biography. The author did know him. It couldn't have been better. Well-rounded portrait and the research was deep. Quite a serious read and you'd need to enjoy biographies and want to learn more about the politician. Well written and I'd give anything else by this author a go.
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