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Salisbury: Victorian Titan [Hardcover]

Andrew Roberts
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct 1999

Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, masterminded the campaigns, alliances, treaties and pageantries which brought the British Empire to its zenith in terms of power and prestige. Prime Minister for all but four years between 1885 and 1902, it was he who, from his Jacobean palace at Hatfield, co-ordinated the subtly interlocking policies over five continents and a quarter of the globe.

A profoundly unconventional aristocrat, Lord Salisbury was witty, ironic and intellectually brilliant, but there was also a ruthless, acerbic and depressive side to his nature. In the course of a turbulent fifty-year career he won over opponents such as Disraeli and Queen Victoria, destroyed others such as Lord Randolph Churchill and Paul Kruger, brought Joseph Chamberlain and King Edward VII to heel, wrecked Gladstone's hopes for Irish Home Rule, offered secret deals to Charles Stewart Parnell and Tsar Nicholas II, saw off Otto von Bismarck and saw through Kaiser Wilhelm II.

In this comprehensive new biography, written with complete access to Salisbury's papers at Hatfield House, Andrew Roberts explores every aspect of Lord Salisbury's phenomenal statesmanship, but also his eccentric family, his journalism, his distinctive philosophy of Toryism, his passion for scientific experiments and above all, his extraordinary, complex, but ultimately hugely attractive character.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 938 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; First Edition edition (Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297817132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297817130
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.6 x 5.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 281,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew Roberts's Masters and Commanders was one of the most acclaimed, bestselling history books of 2008. His previous books include Salisbury: Victorian Titan (1999), which won the Wolfson History Prize and the James Stern Silver Pen Award for Non-Fiction, Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership (2003), which coincided with four-part BBC2 history series. He is one of Britain's most prominent journalists and broadcasters.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Lord Salisbury (1830-1903) was a heavyweight Victorian politician in every sense of the word. Clocking the scales at 18 stone, the owner of a 20,000 acre landed estate at Hatfield and the writer of some two million words of political journalism, he combined the offices of Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister for 12 years at the close of the 19th century, presiding over the expansion of the British Empire overseas and the electoral dominance of the Conservative Party at home. Yet until now Lord Salisbury has been poorly served by biographers. Next to the flamboyant Disraeli and the mercurial Gladstone he is perhaps a less compelling subject, but his impact on Victorian politics and foreign policy was no less decisive. Andrew Roberts' bumper biography goes a long way to restoring Salisbury to his rightful place in the pantheon of great prime ministers. Roberts, whose earlier work has earned him the reputation as a right- wing revisionist, wears his politics lightly in this volume, weaving together a full and complex narrative in an accurate and scholarly fashion. He finds room for everything. The major set-pieces of diplomacy, rivalry with Disraeli, parliamentary reform, Home Rule and the modernisation of the Conservative Party are all there, but so too are fascinating glimpses of Salisbury's happy home life, his tinkering with science and technology and, throughout, a proper appreciation of his political journalism--"Toryism for the clever man". --Miles Taylor

Book Description

Radical biography of the ruthless, aristocratic genius, Lord Salisbury ¿ Queen Victoria's Prime Minister and the mind behind the supremacy of the British Empire ¿ by one of Britain's most talented young historians.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
The sheer size of Andrew Roberts' weighty tome might suggest that it consists of a considerable amount of useless information leavened with the occassional anecdote, written in a dry and academic style. Not so. Roberts presents the facts in a clear, entertaining manner which leaves the reader thankful that Salisbury has fianlly got the biographer he deserves. Salisbury's life and achievements are dealt with in exhaustive detail, and Roberts' character sketches of the other major players of the period - Bismarck, Disraeli, Gladstone et al - are hugely informative and entertaining.
It is clear that years of scholarship have gone into this biography. Contemporary sources and letters litter each chapter, allowing an insight into Salisbury's character and views on policy, as well as giving the reader the benefit of the phlegmatic politician's witty and concise style of writing. These sources come in particularly handy in the chapters dealing with Salisbury's foreign policy and his attitude to foreign powers, particularly Bismarckian Germany.
It is interesting to wonder what the most accomplished foreign minister in British history would think were he able to analyse Britain's current situation in the world. On finishing this book it is sobering to reflect on the past acheivements of an age now long in the past, and it might just be possible that some of Salisbury's methods might still be relevent in the 21st century.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Way For Superb English Prose 1 April 2000
By A Customer
Apropos of P.G. Wodehouse, Evelyn Waugh once wrote that 'One has to regard a man as a Master who can produce on average three uniquely brilliant and entirely original similes to every page.' This just assessment of Wodehouse's analogical inventiveness comes to mind in reading Andrew Robert's biography of Salisbury, for, as Roberts' quotations amply demonstrate, Salibury was himself a master of analogy. Go to the index of Roberts' brilliant book and you can see for yourself his fecundity in this line under the 'views and opinions' entry. Here are some of my favorites: 'Colonial governorships,' he writes, should be looked on as 'convenient almshouses in which political incapables can be cheaply boarded and lodged.' And elsewhere he says, 'The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcasses of dead policies. When a mast falls overboard, you do not try to save a rope here and a spar there, in memory of its former utility; you cut away the hamper altogether.' These and scores of other apt analogies splendidly substantiate Lord George Hamilton's claim that Salisbury was indeed 'the greatest master of compact and expressive language in politics.'
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Jeremy
This biography has the level of research one would expect of the dryest of academic journals, yet the author has managed to make the work come alive. He achieves this both by his own elegant writing style and by his presentation of the man himself.
This book is not just for those interested in the period but for anybody who enjoys history or biography from any period. The book is worth reading either for the joy of reading well argued, well written English, or for the simple pleasure of learning about an otherwise sadly little known life.
The only comparable work I have read is one of Nero by Dr M Griffin - another brilliant biograhy of a historical figure.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling account of a great man. 8 Dec 1999
By A Customer
I really enjoyed Robert's book because it made Victorian politics in the age of Direali, Gladstone and Salisbury come alive that few other biographies do. I especially enjoyed the chapter on his period as Secretary of State for India which shows the great problems faced by a minister with such huge responsibilities and yet it comes across as compassionate and warm. His resistance to voting reform is also written of in an exciting and interesting manner. I enjoyed the authors treatment of the topic in a fresh and novel way so that we want to go on to see 'what happens next' an unusual quality for the casual reader of political biographies. Salisbury is transformed into the character in this almost political thriller for some parts, and I think it will encourage people to view the subject with respect for years to come.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Salisbury: Victorian Titan 16 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Erudite, well researched. A little heavy for the general reader but an admirable academic study.Well worth reading if a little heavy
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 26 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
"The great Lord Salisbury is too little known." Not if this excellent biography gets the wide readership it deserves. Yes, it is a large book, but it is also, surprisingly, a terrific page-turner. Andrew Roberts has done a great job, and I was sorry when I reached p852.
Victorian political history, as taught, often seems to revolve around Disraeli and Gladstone, yet, as this book shows, neither had half as much influence on that era than Lord Salisbury. All sorts of half-glimpsed people and topics are here brought into vivid focus, and clarified. Dilke, Parnell, Lord Randolph Churchill, the acquisition of Cyprus and Egypt, shadowy subjects here come centre stage. It's an exhilarating read, and very highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 15 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A brilliant biography, well researched and sensitively written. A very thorough job. I have now moved onto a biography of Balfour.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Titan of a book in more ways than one!
I am glad I bought the KIndle version; someone gave me the paperback but it is far too heavy to read in bed and too big in the suitcase for holiday reading (you'd need to be away... Read more
Published 11 months ago by J Price
5.0 out of 5 stars Exemplar of Tory values
This is a very long book, and differs in construction from the other political biographies I have read, in that is written more as a diary. Read more
Published on 26 Nov 2009 by conjunction
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good
Salisbury by Andrew Roberts is a masterful work on a giant of the Victorian political scene. It is an in-depth, but not intimidating work which is easy to read and has good pace. Read more
Published on 16 July 2008 by HBH
5.0 out of 5 stars The highest of high Tories
This is Roberts's masterwork, nearly 850 pages every one of which holds the attention. Salisbury was an even greater influence on the Conservative party than Disraeli, and Andrew... Read more
Published on 18 Oct 2007 by A. R. M. Graham
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine biog of ruthless empire-builder
Andrew Roberts has produced a superbly written and wonderfully exciting biography of Lord Salisbury, three times Queen Victoria's Prime Minister. Read more
Published on 5 Aug 2001 by William Podmore
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting work about a typical victorian statesman
It a interesting work about a neglected and forgotten statesman. Andrew Roberts wrote this book in a very interesting way, with some minor incorrections (Marquis of Soveral was not... Read more
Published on 15 Jan 2000
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