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Disraeli: A Personal History [Paperback]

Christopher Hibbert
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

5 Sep 2005

Disraeli is one of the most fascinating men of the 19th century. This masterly biography, written by an outstanding popular historian, concentrates on his intriguing private life.

Superb politician, orator, writer and wit, Benjamin Disraeli was – according to Queen Victoria – ‘the kindest Minister’ she had ever had, who ‘reached the top of the greasy pole’ [in his own words] despite considerable antisemitism. He enjoyed many scandalous affairs before marrying a widow twelve years older than himself – an extremely eccentric woman to whom he remained deeply and touchingly devoted for the rest of his life.

Disraeli had never intended to be a politician. He had begun his astonishing career by working unenthusiastically in a lawyer’s office; he had tried unsuccessfully to found a newspaper; he had written a novel which lay unproductively in the publisher’s office. A conspicuous dandy, sprightly, attentive and witty, he was attractive to women, enjoying many liaisons until he contracted a venereal disease in a St James’s Street brothel.

He married in 1839. ‘Dizzy married me for my money,’ Mary Anne used to say. ‘But, if he had the chance again, he would marry me for love.’ They lived in a large country house, Hughenden Manor, near High Wycombe, which he bought with mostly borrowed money, and soon became one of the most gifted of parliamentarians and as celebrated as any politician in England. As an antidote to his grief at his wife’s death in 1872 he threw himself back into the political life, becoming Prime Minister for the second time in 1874, displacing Gladstone much to the Queen’s delight.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (5 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000714718X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007147182
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 309,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christopher Hibbert wrote more than fifty acclaimed books, including The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici and Rome: The Biography of a City. A leading popular historian whose works reflect meticulous scholarship, he was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He died in December 2008.

Product Description

Review

‘One of England’s greatest living historical writers. Reading anything by him is pure pleasure.’ Amanda Foreman

‘Engaging new biography'.’ Guardian

‘A fine new biography…an acute and insightful personal biography.’ Andrew Roberts, Daily Telegraph

‘In this shouty world, Hibbert’s account of the private life of Benjamin Disraeli comes as an immensely dependable relief…Innumerable younger historians owe Hibbert an immense debt, although he is probably too unassuming to allow them to pay it.’ Sunday Times

'…the book is thoroughly enjoyable…What Hibbert does extremely well is to construct a readable, well written narrative…a superbly skilful historical writer.’ Spectator

Literary Review

'a welcome new biography' --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deservedly Popular 21 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Hibbert's biographies are always well researched,
enlightening and entertaining. He was particularly
at home in the 19th century as his books on Disraeli
and Queen Victoria demonstrate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disraeli lives 8 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the usual quality biography from CH. (I have his Dickens, too). He never sentimentalizes his subject but always presents them with sympathy and honesty. This study is funny, vivid, sometimes disturbing, but any fan of Dizzy knows he was a complex character, no saint. Hibbert can make politics fascinating, when TV makes the House of Commons look like a cross between a public school dormitory and a public school playground... Great research, great style.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disraeli 27 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I wanted to read this book after visiting his home at High Wycombe. I didn't read it for the history factor, I read it just because I wanted to know more about the man and his family. It was a little difficult to understand in parts, but on the whole it was good. I shall read it again.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Great Author in his Dotage 5 Oct 2006
By Grey Wolffe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As those before me have said, DONT BOTHER. It's sad that so great an author as Christopher Hibbert was allowed by his publisher to put out this book which is just a rehash of a book he wrote about Disraeli 30 years ago. Except that mostly it's with a lot of additional material that is only excerpt from letters he wrote and those written to him.

Soooo much of the book is wasted on discussions of people who meant nothing to him in his later life and seem like nothing but fill. If this was a student paper it would fail.

There is a very good short bio by Edgar Feuchtwanger, and two monstrous volumes (over 700 pages) by Robert Lord Blake, and Stanley Weintraub.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars There Is No Reason to Read this Book 27 Aug 2006
By Kenneth E. Steinfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is not so much a biography as an itinerary. Benjamin Disraeli went to a country house in High Bascombe-on-Boring, the seat of Lord Irrelevant Nobody, and his wife, the daughter of Viscount Who Cares? and the cousin of the mistress of the architect of another country house Disraeli visited ten years later. Oh, and he was vain and self-promoting, but gave great speeches. Or so he says, in his letters, which (as noted in the other reviews) appear to be the author's exclusive sources. We don't know what they were about, but, boy, did he ever think they were great! I don't know what the author thought, either, about Disraeli, or why he wrote such a book. What puzzles me, and what I have yet to figure out, is, who is the intended audience? Who would ever want an utterly non-political book about Benjamin Disraeli? His only interest to posterity -- which is substantial yet ignored here -- is as a politician and statesman. Everything else -- and especially his travelogue and endless fetes with foreign dignitaries --is unworthy of our attention. This is an astonishingly lazy book by a writer who apparently only wanted to add another impressive title to his bibliography. Fine. But leave us out of it.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars michel wugmeister 10 Aug 2006
By Michel Wugmeister - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An embarrasing and lazy pastiche of quotes from Disraeli's correspondence woven with an old fashioned snobbish viewpoint. There is no historical context and no discussion of what made Disraeli the importasnt figure he was. Disraeli comes off as a self-serving, superficial and useless fop, lusting after high-class recognition. This bojk should have been rejected in manuscript. Whatever reputation Mr. Hibbert may have had, it is vitiated by this piece of sophomoric drivel.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tired, Superficial Work, Unquestioning of Its Own Premises, Poorly Edited 30 July 2006
By Herman Asarnow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A miserably rendered biography of one of the most complex men in British history. Hibbert writes from within his comfortable, unexamined cell of "Britishness." He superficially dismisses Disraeli's Jewish upbringing with a wave of the hand, showing not a whit of insight or interest into how it may have affected Disraeli's adult behavior--his choices of dandyism, novel writing, and even his peculiarly powerful oratory. Hibbert just neatly fits Disraeli into categories he, Hibbert, pulls out of his own experience from within what's normal and usual in British life. Moreover, the book quotes huge, unedited swaths not only of Disraeli's letters and journals (somewhat defensible) but also from other recent biographers. So it reads like the work of an undergraduate. Ultimately, Hibbert is not at all inquisitive about what led this man of many and great parts to find such a singular way to live, and to succeed in what, in the book's only success, we see was a terribly hostile social environment for a Jew(populated by powerful anti-Semites like Carlyle and Dickens, Trollope, etc.). This is poorly done work.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever and Interesting Man 15 Oct 2010
By Joan Vanduzer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I only knew Disraeli was a Prime Minister under Queen Victoria. This book is thought provoking as one learns about his entire life and wonders where his great abilities came from. He masked his genius with a foppish exterior. I would recommend this biography to anyone interested in British politics or the 19th century.
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