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Sir Robert Peel: The Life and Legacy (Library of Victorian Studies) [Hardcover]

Richard A. Gaunt
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 22.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

12 July 2010
Sir Robert Peel - paragon or pariah? Peel was the greatest statesman and political leader of mid-Victorian Britain, a titan of Conservative politics, whose legacy has inspired generations in his party and in British political life. In a career spanning forty years he held the greatest offices of state including Chief Secretary to Ireland, Home Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer and was twice Prime Minister. He was the first acknowledged leader of the Conservative Party and the Founder of Modern Conservatism. Yet Peel's seemingly peerless reputation has never been secure. The Repeal of the Corn Laws split his party, his 'Peelite' supporters joined the Liberals and the Conservatives remained in opposition for thirty years. Richard Gaunt, drawing on a huge archive of state papers, contemporary writings including Peel's own Memoirs and the latest historiography, paints a convincing picture of Peel as an exponent of effective government in the modern industrial state and a calculating practitioner, supremely self-confident, who dominated both his Party and the House of Commons. Gaunt's revisionist life of Peel will be essential reading and the standard work for students and general readers interested in Conservative and mid-Victorian political history and historical biography.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: I B Tauris & Co Ltd (12 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848850352
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848850354
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 16.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 671,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'For anyone interested in a concise yet scholarly account of Sir Robert Peel s career, and in mid-nineteenth-century Conservative dilemmas over political reform, this short new study cannot be bettered' --Robert Carver, The Tablet

'[Gaunt] covers the whole of Peel s career and he summarises the sometimes technical debates with authority' --Eric J. Evans, History Today

'The writing is clear and historically sound, covering both Peel's career and the historiography of his reputation, and should appeal to a wide readership' --Professor David McLean, King's College, University of London

About the Author

Richard A. Gaunt is Lecturer in Modern British History at the University of Nottingham and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has contributed to The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and edited the diaries of a major Ultra-Tory politician of the period in Unhappy Reactionary: The Diaries of the Fourth Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne and a book of contemporary texts concerning Benjamin Disraeli. He is currently writing Conservative Politics in the Age of Reform 1780-1850 (I.B.Tauris).

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lean, and not Hurd 23 Sep 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This doesn't claim to be a biography and so may be of limited interest to a casual reader, but would be a good addtition to a sixth form library, or even a university library, should such an institution still allow any books to appear on its shelves. It is easy then to pick up on an aspect of Peel's life, say, Peel's fiscal policy, for an essay, rather than to read the complete book. The style is erudite and assumes the reader has some knowledge of the great man already, though it can occasionally become laboured - the "ripening" image after O'Connell's "Orange Peel" jibe is done to death. The author can also be a little harsh on his subject - Peel's attempts to alleviate the Irish famine seem dismissed somewhat ungenerously - but that is better than a fawning acceptance of every move which is a fault of some biographers. An excellent source to dip into for essays and seminars, perhaps not one to be read at once as a whole.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An appealing account 4 Aug 2010
Format:Hardcover
Richard Gaunt's study is a welcome addition to the growing literature on Sir Robert Peel, one of the most problematic of modern British politicians, and one of the most popular subjects in AS and A2 level exam courses. The book will be of particular value to stronger A level candidates and undergraduates who need something more than the short article, textbook or topic book but who want to avoid the large-scale biographies.

The book consists of eight chapters which treat major aspects of Peel's career thematically. They include sections on both his contemporary and posthumous reputation. They are copiously referenced and the bibliographical material is particularly full and up to date.

The book covers just about every possible perception one could imagine on its subject. However, whilst the author's views are clear and cognetly argued, the reader is ultimately left with plenty of material, sufficient to decide for themselves. A must for all serious students of the topic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent study 16 Dec 2010
Format:Hardcover
This is an excellent study of the key moments in Peel's career. It is both well researched (the notes are very extensive) and well-written. It effectively summarises the current historiography and provides a jumping off point for further reading, not only with regard to the specific policy issues discussed but also in respect of broader questions, such as how the pressures of office interact with decision-making and principle, what Gladstone called in 1845 "the immense and uncheered labour of their position".
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