The Guardsmen and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more


or
Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Colour:
Image not available

 
Start reading The Guardsmen on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World they Made [Paperback]

Simon Ball
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
You Save: 5.00 (33%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 8 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it Tuesday, 22 April? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 7.10  
Hardcover --  
Paperback 9.99  
Amazon.co.uk Trade-In Store
Did you know you can use your mobile to trade in your unwanted books for an Amazon.co.uk Gift Card to spend on the things you want? Visit the Books Trade-In Store for more details or check out the Trade-In Amazon Mobile App Guidelines on how to trade in using a smartphone. Learn more.

Book Description

14 May 2010

From the playing fields of Eton via the horrors of the Western Front to the pinnacle of political power in 20th-century Britain – a brilliant collective biography of Harold Macmillan, Lord Salisbury, Oliver Lyttleton and Harry Crookshank.

Harold Macmillan, Oliver Lyttleton, Bobbety Cranbourne and Harry Crookshank all arrived at Eton in 1906, all served on the Western Front in the same battalion of the Grenadier Guards and all served in Cabinet under Winston Churchill during World War II. They helped Churchill regain Downing Street in 1951 and once more joined his Cabinet as senior figures. These four men who were lifelong friends (and sometimes enemies), argued and fought their way up the political ladder for over forty years.

The theme of Simon Ball's brilliant book is a race, willingly entered into by these four men, for power and glory. ‘Politics is not a flat race, it's a steeplechase,’ as Churchill once told Macmillan. And through the collective biography, Ball presents an extraordinary portrait of political ambition and intrigue from World War II until Macmillan’s resignation as Prime Minister in 1963, tracing the lives of his four protagonists through the trauma of the trenches, the Treaty of Versailles and the rebuilding of Europe after the Great War.

Ball has based the book on years of original research in many archives and has had exclusive access to the Salisbury papers, closed to the public until 2022. The Guardsmen is a work of significant scholarship that presents a gripping account of British politics in the 20th-century.



Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; (Reissue) edition (14 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006531636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006531630
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 402,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

‘I read every page, every line of this very long book with sustained interest and pleasure…It is a magnificent achievement…A product of superb scholarship and profound insight and written in a style both incisive and flowing, this is a book for every taste and for the politically minded of every age group. I cannot recommend it too highly.’ Peregrine Worsthorne, Spectator

‘“The Guardsmen” is a magnificent achievement. By following the careers of four friends and competitors through Eton, Oxford, the Guards, and into politics, it explores British political and social history in the first two-thirds of the twentieth century. It is a work of consummate scholarship, lightly borne, but above all rendered in a prose that is consistently deft and readable. Simon Ball is a historian at the height of his powers.’ Hew Strachan, Chichele Professor of the History of War, University of Oxford

‘Through skilfull stitching of threads from personal and official papers, Ball has woven a superb panoramic tapestry of 20th-century Conservative politics…Compelling.’ Sunday Times

‘“The Guardsmen” is an accomplished work. Simon Ball has command of his subject matter and demonstrates an assured touch with primary material that has not appeared in previous biographies and memoirs.’ Literary Review

‘“The Guardsmen” is good reading because political warfare is at its centre, and Ball skilfully evokes that inter-war world…A stylish book.’ Daily Telegraph

Sunday Times, 16 May, 2004

'a superb panoramic tapestry of 20th century Conservative politics...compelling.' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Customer Reviews

3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This is a collective biography of Harold Macmillan, Bobbety Cranborne (later Lord Salisbury), Harry Crookshank, and Oliver Lyttelton, who all joined Eton in 1906, served in the Grenadier Guards in the First World War, sat as Conservative MPs, and were all members of Churchill's war cabinet.

It follows them as they collude, strategise, manoeuvre, shirk, govern and fall out, and the overall effect is a fine tapestry of political intrigue. Covering British politics from the late twenties to the early sixties, the book is a good snapshot of British politics over a period of great change, a readable biography of one of our more enigmatic Prime Ministers, and a useful primer on British foreign affairs.

Ball has a good story to tell and he tells it well, his writing coming especially alive when dealing with the strategising and politicking which he clearly relishes. When he's not adopting a tone of wide-eyed reverence (honourable war service, the deft crushing of a political colleague, or the successful execution of any good backroom plot), he adopts one of acrid disgust (incompetent officers, Neville Chamberlain, Labour).

The two main problems with this book stem from its author's values. Firstly, Ball is so preoccupied with what he calls "the

manoeuvre and compromise of professional politicians" that we learn virtually nothing of their personal lives, and the personalities and personas of the men themselves come through only from what they do in their professional lives. As they spend the start of the book in school and the army, that does not tell us much.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the playing fields of Eton 14 Aug 2006
By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
The Duke of Wellington is reputed to have said that the "Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton." Simon Ball's deftly written comparative biography, "The Guardsmen, Harold Macmillan, Three Friends, and the World They Made", examines the lives of four men who may be thought of as being among the last generation for which Wellington's adage has more than folkloric meaning.

The four Guardsmen were: Harold Macmillan, Oliver Lyttelton, Bobbety Cranborne and Harry Crookshank. Cranborne (the future Lord Salisbury) and Lyttelton were members of the aristocracy. Macmillan and Crookshank were from newer wealth, known then as "new men". The four entered Eton together in 1906. They all joined the Grenadier Guards in 1914 and saw service during the First World War. Conservatives all, they each entered politics in the 1920s. They all held Cabinet under Winston Churchill during the Second World War. One of the group, Harold Macmillan served as Prime Minister from 1957 until his resignation in 1963.

As the title suggests, the story really begins not on Eton's playing fields but on the killing fields of World War I France. Lyttleton, Macmillan and Crookshank fought with valor and distinction. On the same day, September 15, 1916, fighting with a mile of each other in the trenches, Macmillan and Crookshank were horribly wounded and Lyttleton was awarded a DSO (a medal for valiant service) for his heroic acts. Macmillan and Crookshank's injuries were catastrophic. Macmillan right arm and left leg never worked properly again. Crookshank was castrated by shrapnel. Cranborne served only briefly at the front.

Following the War the Guardsmen made their way into Parliament.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He writes well 1 July 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having had Simon Ball as a tutor a few years ago, I bought this out of general interest. It is a very well written study- full of entertaining asides.
Well worth the money!!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the playing fields of Eton 7 Aug 2006
By Leonard Fleisig - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Duke of Wellington is reputed to have said that the "Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton." Simon Ball's deftly written comparative biography, "The Guardsmen, Harold Macmillan, Three Friends, and the World They Made", examines the lives of four men who may be thought of as being among the last generation for which Wellington's adage has more than folkloric meaning.

The four Guardsmen were: Harold Macmillan, Oliver Lyttelton, Bobbety Cranborne and Harry Crookshank. Cranborne (the future Lord Salisbury) and Lyttelton were members of the aristocracy. Macmillan and Crookshank were from newer wealth, known then as "new men". The four entered Eton together in 1906. They all joined the Grenadier Guards in 1914 and saw service during the First World War. Conservatives all, they each entered politics in the 1920s. They all held positions in the British cabinet under Winston Churchill during the Second World War. One of the group, Harold Macmillan served as Prime Minister from 1957 until his resignation in 1963. Although Macmillan may be the only one of the group familiar to American readers they each were very well know figures in Britain during their time.

The Guardsmen's story really begins not on Eton's playing fields but on the killing fields of World War I France. Lyttleton, Macmillan and Crookshank fought with valor and distinction. On the same day, September 15, 1916, fighting with a mile of each other in the trenches, Macmillan and Crookshank were horribly wounded and Lyttleton was awarded a DSO (a medal for valiant service) for his heroic acts. Macmillan and Crookshank's injuries were catastrophic. Macmillan right arm and left leg never worked properly again. Crookshank was castrated by shrapnel. Cranborne served only briefly at the front.

Following the War the Guardsmen made their way into Parliament. Ball's exploration of the parallel lives of the Guardsman enables the reader to get a bird's eye view of British political life from the 1920s through the 1960s. Ball's treatment of the saga of these men is intriguing in many respects. Ball's examination of the parliamentary experiences of these four men in the 1930s, for example, provides a unique perspective on British political life in the years leading up to the Second World War. It is easy to forget that during the premiership of Neville Chamberlain that it was not Winston Churchill who stood out as a threat to Chamberlain's appeasement policies but Anthony Eden. Churchill was thought of by all as a has been. The Guardsmen were considered "Edenites. Eden, for all his intelligence, comes across as a timid and vacillating political rival notoriously incapable of making tough political decisions. Referred to by his foes and friends as Hamlet he reminded me more of Leon Trotsky in that both managed to fall ill or absent themselves from the center of action at critical moments in time and were made to look like political amateurs by men who, though perhaps less talented, had no compunction about grasping for power.

The Guardsmen, all on the anti-appeasement side of the aisle, found roles in Winston Churchill's war-time cabinet and the book takes us through their (second) war years. The Conservative Party's return to power in 1951 saw the Guardsmen reach the peak of their achievements. The story here centers around Macmillan, who served as Minister of Housing under Churchill and Chancellor of the Exchequer under Eden until becoming Prime Minister in 1957 after Eden's Suez Canal fiasco. Macmillan fought his fellow Conservatives and insisted on an economic policy that promoted employment rather than monetarist policies likely to create higher unemployment rates. Macmillan's tenure was also marked by the commencement of independence for former British colonies in Africa. He angered white settlers in Rhodesia and South Africa and their English allies (including a profoundly bitter Cranborne) by noting with no small degree of accuracy that " The Africans are not the problem in Africa, it is the Europeans who are the problem." This was followed in short order by his famous "Winds of Change" speech in which he noted that: "The wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact."

As he notes in his conclusion, by the end of their lives the notion of public service (at least by the upper classes) was quaint at best and worthy of scorn at worst. These men are thought of, to the extent they are thought of at all, as antiques from an age long gone by. However, even while showing us their many flaws, Ball makes it clear that there was a certain sense of honor and integrity about these men. (This is particularly true of Macmillan.) It was once said sarcastically of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that she was not noblesse and was disinclined to oblige. Ball takes us back to a time and place where the concept of noblesse oblige still had some residual meaning.

In the hands of a lesser writer "The Guardsman" might have come across as merely a wistful yearning for "the good old days" of Conservative Party aristocratic rule. Instead, "The Guardsmen" paints a literate and informative portrait of the lives of these men and the impact the searing experiences of the First World War had on their public lives.

"The Guardsmen" left this reader wondering why and when we stopped expecting our leaders to possess core values of honor and integrity and as such it has value far greater than a mere look back in time.
Was this review helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews
ARRAY(0xaed8fb28)

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


Look for similar items by category


Feedback