on 20 May 2002
John Platts-Mills [JP-M] was a remarkable individual, his career, or careers, spanned the Twentieth Century and he is able to comment authorotatively on many of the key events of the period. From his chancing upon Hitler delivering an oratory in 1933 to his defence of the Krays.
It is for his political activism that JP-M was best known. He was condemned almost universally as a communist, or worse, and as his recollections testify, he took an active role in the pro-Soviet political sphere. While this book allows him the opportunity explain himself, and to gloss over some of his contacts with the Soviet Union, it does appear to be an honest report of his life. It was the way that he saw it, which is all that can realistically be expected.
The one thing that is apparent is that substantial research has gone into this book over recent years. I had the good fortune of interviewing John in 1998, his memory for events and his motivations was fantastic, however there were areas where he admitted having forgotten names, dates and places. Many of these gaps have been filled.
This book is little use to those who have no knowledge of the times and events of which JP-M describes, or who lack an understanding of the zeitgeist of his generation. It is however a fantastic source for historians who seek to understand something of the radical undercurrents in society and the British left wing. John was central to a movement that was an unpopular minority, constantly speaking out against the government and its foreign policy. He failed to change the course of history, but he did make history. Whether history proves him correct or not should be judged by the reader. I recommend the book is read with an open mind, I feel we can all learn something: even from the most idealistic of activists.
on 24 January 2008
I read this book as I am studying Law and I meet people every day that say eventually I will become a greedy, money hungry legal machine and lose the idealism which I currently suffer.
I am delighted to find that there is a place for people who just want to do the right thing, JPM was a truly brilliant man and he paved the way for many more to follow.
I would recommend that this is a must read for anyone studying Law, it will remind you why you're doing it.