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Attlee: A Life in Politics Paperback – 30 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: I.B.Tauris; New edition (30 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780762151
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780762159
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.7 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 221,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nick Thomas-Symonds was elected as the Labour MP for Torfaen in May 2015. He was born in Panteg Hospital and brought up in Blaenavon, where he attended St. Felix R.C. Primary School. He then went to St. Alban's R.C. High School, Pontypool, at which he later served as a Governor (2007-2015). He read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, graduating in 2001 before working as a Tutor/Lecturer in Politics at his old college (2002-2015), specialising in twentieth-century British government. He also trained as a barrister, and was a practising tenant at Civitas Law in Cardiff, Wales's first specialist civil and public law Chambers. He served as the Secretary of the Blaenavon Branch of the Labour Party and Secretary of the Torfaen Constituency Labour Party. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2012. Nick Thomas-Symonds lives in Abersychan with his wife Rebecca and his daughters Matilda and Florence.

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Review

'a thoroughly impressive piece of work - authoritative, reliable andperceptive ... This is rightly billed as a 'political biography' and in the realm of politics it is remarkably sure-footed' --Anthony Howard

[a] brisk, well-written and admirably clear-sighted biography --Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

'Very interesting and well researched. The reader gets a real sense ofAttlee's life and politics, and the portrait of him is well-rounded andnuanced. This biography will be very useful for students seeking to gain a clear understanding of Attlee and marks a useful addition to the canon of Labour history' --Matthew Worley, Lecturer in History, University of Reading

'... to paraphrase Churchill, this was unquestionably Labour s finest hour. But how much of this can be attributed to the leadership of Clement Attlee himself? This is the question at the heart of Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds excellent biography.' --Guy Lodge, LSE Review of Books

'... goes a long way towards explaining the Attlee enigma' --Vernon Bogdanor, New Statesman

About the Author

Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds is Lecturer in politics at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a practising barrister.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By HBH on 3 Dec. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Attlee by Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds is a very good book about one of the great British Prime Ministers. It is well-written, fast-poaced and informative but lacks detail and therefore should be regarded as more of an introduction to Attlee. The Attlee who emerges from this work is a very interesting character who is a most unlikely Labour Prime Minister given his background and his quite reserved personality. However, the work also shows that Attlee was undoubtedly a very effective leader whose government achieved a great deal because of the approach and consensus building of the Prime Minister. Nevertheless, it also shows that this great strength was also a flaw in certain circumstances and especially in the 1950s. All in all though this is a very good book about a great Prime Minister and although not very detailed is still undoubtedly a very good introduction to the life of this most unlikely leader.
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Oxyrinchus on 1 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Having seen the review of this work by Roy Hattersley in Saturday's Guardian, I felt moved to add my own, admittedly much smaller voice. Mr Hattersley's criticism of Thomas-Symonds is unrelenting, but it seems to proceed on the false assumption that A Life in Politics is another revisionist attempt to 'patronize' Attlee and belittle both his political talent his achievements. For myself, I found the work to be both meticulously researched and politically aware. The most serious accusation that Mr Hattersley levels in his review, which is that Thomas-Symonds apparently believes that 'dumping' Attlee would have made Labour more likely to be 'the natural party of government', appears to have no basis within the text whatsoever. It is simply not a claim that I picked up from reading the work.

Perhaps, from his position as, for want of a better phrase, a 'Labour grandee' concerned quite rightly with protecting the legacy of the postwar movement, Mr Hattersley assumes that any of the new breed of left-leaning academics who are in any way critical must in fact be seeking to destroy that legacy. That was clearly the very opposite of Thomas-Symonds' inetntion. While the book does point out his subject's limitations, this is obviously a work which makes a positive case supporting Attlee's billing as Britain's greatest post-war Prime Minister, without reading like a sycophantic tribute piece.

The picture presented of Attlee is nuanced, perceptive, and above all detailed.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. C. Cajal-lawson on 9 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Well researched and thoughtful. Balanced analysis. Very readable. One of the best books on the period. Highly recommended for students, academics, politicians or just a layman reader interested in Attlee in politics, the rise of Labour, the development of the Welfare State etc.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By AJ Hunt on 17 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover
I very much enjoyed reading this well researched, thoughtful analysis of Attlee and his political life. The respect of the author for the subject does not impede an in-depth analysis of his charachter, his decisions and those around him, especially in the post-war Labour Government. Highly recommended reading for students of the period or those with an interest in politics, and an especially aptly timed study of leadership style, as Labour prepares to elect its next one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. N. Wood on 26 May 2012
Format: Paperback
One of the qualities of Thomas-Symonds biography is its kinship with the subject. The style is Attlee's. Plain prose, no fireworks, yet thoroughly worthwhile. It is hard to enliven the picture of someone so low key. Yet this is done, and done well. One reads on with pleasure.

Attlee was a modest man, as Churchill remarked, and he had much to be modest about. He was at, or near the centre of British politics from 1931 until his resignation as Leader of the Labour Party in 1955. It is interesting to imagine how a biographer might fare, attempting to write a personal rather than, as in this case, a political biography.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Pepys on 21 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
What I like about Mr Thomas-Symonds' book is his selection of material. Too often biographies are immense, dull, tedious works (particularly those multi-volumed ones), the reading of which becomes an exercise akin to wading for miles through thick treacle before one collapses exhausted barely a third of the way through, very enlightened on the exact experiences Sir X had in the spring term of his year 9 history lessons but none the lighter for the meaty stuff later on. A life in politics avoids these issues, first and foremost, because Mr Thomas-Symonds is a very good writer. He is concise, the structure is excellent, and he sticks to what is necessary and what is interesting. Attlee was a fascinating man and this is an immensely enjoyable book. I am very much looking forward to seeing more of this writer's work.
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