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Gladstone [Paperback]

Roy Jenkins
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Oct 1996
William Ewart Gladstone stands alone as the only man who was four times Prime Minister. Roy Jenkins examines the manifold activities of Gladstone's life and uses it to relate the political rhythms, travel patterns and religious assumptions of Victorian England to the 1990s.

Product details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Papermac; New edition edition (25 Oct 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0333662091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333662090
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13.2 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 478,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Book Description

Originally published in 1995,this is a biography of William Ewart Gladstone (1809-98), which charts the political career and personal life of the only person who saw four terms as the British Prime Minister and who left behind a long and successful line of legislation. Roy Jenkins examines the manifold activities of Gladstone's life and uses it to relate the political rhythms, travel patterns and religious assumptions of Victorian England to the modern day. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Roy Jenkins was the author of many books, including Churchill and Gladstone, which won the Whitbread Prize for Biography. Active in British politics for half a century, he entered the House of Commons in 1948 and subsequently served as Minister of Aviation, Home Secretary, and Chancellor of the Exchequer; he was also the President of the European Commission and Chancellor of Oxford University. In 1987 he took his seat in the House of Lords. He died in January 2003. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy biogrpahy of a worthy PM 8 Jan 2004
By Jimbo
This is the second book of Roy Jenkins that I have read, having greatly enjoyed his biography of Winston Churchill. Initially I felt that I had read the books in the wrong order - in the introduction to Churchill there are many references to this previous work - how he had thought that Gladstone was the greater Prime Minister until he had written about Churchill's life, but gradually settled down to enjoy this highly readable biography.
There were two things that immediately struck me. The first was the extreme religiosity of Gladstone, especially in regard to sin he felt from his rescue work. He was a man who continually struggled to reconcile his faith to his actions, and through his meticulous diary keeping we are allowed to peer through a large window into his soul, as opposed to the speculation that often litters biographies.
The second was his troubled relationship with Queen Victoria. Whilst I had previously been aware of her preference for Disraeli, I had not been aware of the adverse reaction she had to almost anything that Gladstone did as Premier, especially in later years. The snub she delivered to him regarding a peerage upon the close of his final premiership was particularly vitriolic (and amusing reading!), and the feel of the book is that his struggles were as much with Victoria as with Benjamin Disraeli.
Jenkins succeeds in stripping away completely the layers of Gladstone. He goes into the right amount of detail on the key events of his life, and also critically evaluates them. Jenkins is not in slavish approval of his every action or personality trait. His prose is occasionally witty but always well constructed, though the Latin and French phrases often reveal the pompous character of the author.
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63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Much Acclaimed - Fatally Flawed 1 Nov 2003
This much acclaimed biography was to be my introduction, not just to the great man, but to the Victorian era itself and the history and politics of Britain in the 19th Century. Sure enough, Gladstone has inspired me beyond expectation; his biography has informed me of the rich variety of the Victorian era and of the complexities of British politics.
Roy Jenkins has produced a work which is transparently honest and scrupulous in the richness of detail it unfolds. I can well believe the plaudits which acclaim its scholarship. Yet only a few chapters into it I found myself on an unexpected journey which has proved fascinating and instructive in further feeding my appetite for Gladstone and the Victorian era, but wary of the critics who have acclaimed this book.
Four themes In Roy Jenkins book increasingly unsettled me. They drove me to a second hand bookshop where I found a copy of an earlier biography of Gladstone by Philip Magnus. It was the earlier biography (published 1954) which captivated me and led me to plough my way through both biographies side by side. It was Magnus who proved to be more interesting and rewarding. Perhaps because he is slightly shorter he has also greater clarity. So what was it in Jenkins biography which sent me down this route?
First the prose. Whilst generally very readable his syntax reminded me of that master of written argument, Bernard Levin. But sometimes for Jenkins the complex and lengthy sentences just didn’t work. Several times I read a multi-clause sentence again and again and still failed to find either the intended sense or the gramatical logic. The prose was at times over ambitious and cumbersome.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Portait of a Victorian 7 Nov 2001
Before I read this book, the only things I knew about Gladstone was that the budget bag UK chancellors' use was his, that he was in favour of Home Rule for Ireland, and that he had a thing about rescuing fallen women.
Obviously I know a lot more about him now - there is a wealth of information in this biography, most of which is written in an informative, accessible style. Occasionally Mr Jenkins becomes precious about politics and the reader is aware of his superior and inside knowledge. Mostly though he is a very considerate and authoritative guide to the life of a man who shaped 20th century politics and attitudes.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Grand Old Man 1 Oct 2005
Gladstone - Roy Jenkins
Gladstone we are told would have chosen a career in the Church of England but his father wanted him to go into politics. Jenkins reckons him to be not only the oldest of prime ministers but also the greatest and the most committed Christian to hold that office.
I found this a fascinating study from which I learned much I never knew. Gladstone was a Scot by descent. His father made the family fortune in part from slave plantations in the West Indies. The great orator, Eton and Oxford educated spoke with a Liverpool accent and there are sound recordings of his voice. A great scholar and reader, he read over 20.000 books in his long life. They included the latest novels of the day.
Gladstone went from Tory to Liberal. This biography tells us much about the development of politics in Britain but I believe it would be improved by the inclusion of a time line relating events to the wider flow of contemporary history. Jenkins tells us little of contemporary events unless Gladstone was directly involved. I think Jenkins assumes the reader knows history and has a very extensive vocabulary. You need a dictionary as companion volume.
The one point where Jenkins is weak is in a sympathetic understanding of Gladstone's faith. But he can be memorable as in, "For Gladtsone, idolatry began at Calais".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful read
I really enjoyed this book. Gladstone's personality comes to life. Beautifully written, with wry humour and affection for its subject matter.
Published 6 days ago by hilary kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars THE Grand Old Man
‘Gladstone’(1996) by Roy Jenkins is a well-written and highly effective single-volume biography. ‘He was the most remarkable specimen of humanity of all the fifty who, from Walpole... Read more
Published 26 days ago by BobH
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable
An extra-ordinary man in many ways - some odd aspects to his behaviour at times.
The authors inclusion of words which required a dictionary lookup is a feature, when brifer... Read more
Published 4 months ago by wurzel
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential for understanding the world of today as the Third World goes...
Mid-century and later in the Victorian era in Britain sounded unpromising as far as entertainment goes, but I found the late Roy Jenkins biography of Gladstone excellent. Read more
Published 6 months ago by S. McHugh
4.0 out of 5 stars Well received present
Gave this to my husband. He has enjoyed reading it. He is interested in reading about past prime ministers and found this book very informative.
Published 13 months ago by GPT
5.0 out of 5 stars Delivery timely, product as new
Very happy with quality and timing of book ordered. Gladstone biography by Roy Jenkins the best I have ever read.
Published on 11 Mar 2010 by Jose C. Borges
5.0 out of 5 stars Gladstone
Brillant biography by a master of political biography. The book is witty, entertaining and offers a real insight into the politics of the Victorian period. Highly recommended.
Published on 2 Jun 2009 by Rlgorton
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and balanced view
Roy Jenkins is able to keep my attention to his subject. He is able to roll up the live and deed of Gladstone. The book is not too detailed but you get an impression of the man. Read more
Published on 17 Feb 2009 by Ole Kvorning
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant biography of a political giant.
Roy Jenkin's biography of Gladstone is a very readable book which provides depth to this interesting character. Read more
Published on 9 May 2007 by HBH
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite Gladstonian - very good indeed!
This is an excellent journey through the life of Gladstone until around 1885 - although after that, I felt that Jenkins, like Gladstone, lost his way for the final two... Read more
Published on 9 Dec 2001 by
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