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Nye Bevan: A Biography [Paperback]

John Campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Sep 1997
An unauthorized biography of Aneurin Bevan, this work depicts him as a man of deep humanity and generous anger, and as the most compelling orator of his generation, who preached and fought for true socialism. The author argues that Bevan's life highlights the rise and fall of the idea of democratic socialism in Britain. He traces the development of Bevan's ideas from his early experiences as a militant young miner in South Wales, up to his election to Parliament as MP for Ebbow Vale in 1939 and onwards to his appointment by Attlee as Minister of Health, thereby being instrumental in the creation of the National Health Service.

Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Metro Books,London; New edition edition (29 Sep 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860661149
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860661143
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.5 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 482,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding political biography 6 May 2004
Arguably, Aneurin Bevan, the miner-turned-politician who became in roughly equal measure the darling of the British labour movement and the bÍte noire of the right-wing establishment, is better remembered than any other member of the historic 1945-51 Labour government - better than his colleagues Ernie Bevin (part-architect of NATO), Stafford 'Austerity' Cripps and even the Prime Minister himself, Clem Attlee. This is because Bevan's name will be forever linked in the public consciousness with the NHS, which, as Minister of Health, he brought into being in 1948.
Unlike every other political issue of that era (it pre-dates serious squabbles over Europe by more than a decade and outlasted the Cold War), the health service continues to excite debate and controversy today. In this splendid biography, John Campbell examines the pertinent issues: the extent to which the NHS was Bevan's own creation; his dealings with interested parties such as the BMA; the administrative and financial structures put in place to support this audacious social experiment; and the post-1948 political fallout.
Tellingly, however, Campbell devotes a mere 30 or so pages directly to the NHS - though indirectly it casts a lengthy shadow across the latter half of the book and the final decade of his life - because there was, in fact, so much more to this remarkable figure, a combustible mix of self-taught intellectual, instinctive rebel, eager, ambitious minister and charismatic leader. Campbell provides us with a fully rounded portrait of the man as well as analysing his impact on the Labour Party.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On giants' shoulders? 6 Aug 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Darren Waterworth's review is absolutely right. I can't improve on what he has already said about this book, so I'd only add this.

Maybe it's nostalgia, but it seems to me that in my youth political figures were larger than life - "they don't make them like that any more." This can't be just because they didn't have to appear on television - my recollection is that they had to appear on the radio, and that they had to demonstrate that they could talk about more than just the political issues of the day.

Nor can it be because they were not subjected to an intrusive scrutiny by a hostile Press - as the book brings out, Bevan had first to distance himself from Beaverbrook, who tried to buy him, and then to spend years portrayed as the hate-figure on the Left, before miraculously being translated into a revered elder statesman, the inheritance of whose broad-church "mantle" was for years the objective of every subsequent Labour leader.

During the war, Bevan was up against Churchill, and the book brings out how surprisingly well-matched as orators they were (and that both of them had overcome speech impediments to become so). The fact remains that (as it turned out) Bevan was "barking up the wrong tree" all his life, and yet the absence of figures like him has made our present politics much the poorer. It pays to be reminded of this - perhaps it's the reason politicians today are generally held in such contempt.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great seller, great book. 7 Jun 2013
By John T
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I want to recommend the seller (Hampi) as much as the book. After waiting 2 months for the book to arrive from a previous seller, and claiming a refund from Amazon, I was delighted that my purchase was with me within 3 days. Also it was in even better condition than described, being second hand. As for the book itself, Nye Bevan a Biography, I found it informative and engrossing. Great pity that it is out of print.
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5.0 out of 5 stars good stuff 21 Mar 2013
By Topher
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
arrived all in good time and in good condition and interesting read for sure - where are the real workers in office today? no where to be seen psychopaths rule it seems
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