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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthy historical study of Michael Foot's life and works
This is, on the whole, an interesting book by an established political historian and biographer (and Labour peer in the House of Lords). While many people are familiar with the scornful newspaper stereotypes of Foot from the early 1980s when he led the Labour Party, this biogaphy provides a detailed assessment of both his party political activities and his 'hinterland',...
Published on 15 Mar. 2007 by kingofwessex

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7 of 72 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy work
Kenneth Morgan's bibliography lists me as Clyde Rollyson, not correctly as Carl Rollyson. He lists my book as TO BE A WOMAN and leaves off the important subtitle, A LIFE OF JILL CRAIGIE (Michael Foot's wife). He lists the publisher of my book as Ashgate. The publisher is, in fact, Aurum Press. Worst of all, he appropriates the story of Foot's affair with "Lamia"...
Published on 27 Mar. 2007 by Carl Rollyson


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthy historical study of Michael Foot's life and works, 15 Mar. 2007
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This review is from: Michael Foot: A Life (Hardcover)
This is, on the whole, an interesting book by an established political historian and biographer (and Labour peer in the House of Lords). While many people are familiar with the scornful newspaper stereotypes of Foot from the early 1980s when he led the Labour Party, this biogaphy provides a detailed assessment of both his party political activities and his 'hinterland', especially his early years as a journalist and author (either writing columns for or editing, the Evening Standard and Tribune, amongst other publications, and his co-authored book, Guilty Men, written at the outbreak of World War Two)

It is, on the whole, sympathetic in tone, but is honest about Foot's noticeable illiteracy on matters of economic policy (which his political opponents gleefully exploited as a result of the commitments contained in the 1983 Labour General Election manifesto). While some readers may find the internal politics, personality clashes and left-right tribalism of the Labour Party tedious, this forms an essential backdrop to any serious assessment of a major post-war Labour politician. There is also a wealth of detail on the other members of the Foot clan, and their individual life and works.

A dry, but rewarding read.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A groud breaking biography, 24 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Michael Foot: A Life (Hardcover)
This is a fascinating and well written insight into the life of Michael Foot where I learn't not just about Michael Foot the politician but also about Michael Foot the man and literary polymath. The best biography I've read in a long time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars AN EXTENSIVE BIOGRAPHY OF MICHAEL FOOT, 2 July 2011
This review is from: Michael Foot: A Life (Paperback)
This is a well written book which reveals,I believe,the true personality of Michael Foot. Inevitably he becomes very dretailked about ncertain important political events in his life. The detailed workings of industrial relations, and the creation of legislation in relation to trade unions, for me were rather dry and turgid, but nonetheless needed to be dealt with, if one was to understand the man. The book devoted,obviously, space to the role of Jill Craigie, who I knew very little about.The coverage of his literary achievements were covered well, and gave a good insight into another side of his personna. I have always believed that Michael Foot was a very principled man, who believed and held strong views about particular issues, although I did not agree with them, I admired someone who could hold such strong, and in most cases loife long held views and opinions.
This book covered all aspects of Michael Foot,s life, although slanted more to the historical/political/social aspect rather than the scandal that occured in his life, and much could be made of the ones that did occur, Kenneth Morgan avoided making them a central and integral part, they were events that happened in a long and eventful life. A good solid read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Michael Foot - The Authorised Biography: By Kenneth O. Morgan., 14 May 2011
This review is from: Michael Foot: A Life (Paperback)
This book contains all the essential facts about the eminent British leftwing politician - Michael Foot (1913-2010). Kenneth Morgan (Baron), is an Oxford academic who writes extensively on the subject of British politics and Welsh history. A member of the Labour Party, he was asked by Michael Foot to compile this authorised biography of his life. Morgan sets a stunning pace from start to finish, and yet still manages to present the chronological facts of Foot's life without confusion or lose of clarity. The text engages the reader to such an extent, that it is often difficult to put the book down.

The paperback (2008) edition contains 568 numbered pages and is separated into 12 chapters that follow a Preface and a List of Illustrations. There is a concluding chapter (distinct from the rest) entitled 'Envoi: Toujours L'audace' - which translates from the French as 'Send Always The Audacitious', and serves as a retrospective and summation to Michael Foot's long life and political career. It is the entire book encapsulated in a few pages. Morgan does well to trace Foot's life from Plymouth to Parliament, and in the process makes clear the complex strands that defined Michael's political ideas. Morgan describes Foot as an 'undoctrinaire ethical socialist', who disliked the Soviet Union (despite UK rightwing media speculation that Foot was infact 'Agent Boot', working for the KGB!), who, whilst preferring a 'pacifist' stance, nevertheless backed the war against Hitler, and the later war against North Korea and China, and who, whilst being opposed to the death penalty, supported the execution of Charles I and was an admirer of Cromwell. Morgan does not hid the contradictions in Foot's life, and neither did Michael Foot. This man of the left, was part of the great 1945-51 Labour Government of the UK that created the National Health Service, the Welfare State and Universal Education, vestiges of which still survive today, some 60 years on, despite ideological attacks from the Tory rightwing.

Michael Foot was the Leader of the House in the late 1970's, and Labour Leader between 1980 and 1983, delivery some of the best speeches Parliament has ever heard. Remarkably, he contested 20 general elections between 1929 and 2005 - and started his political life as a Liberal and admirer of Lloyd George. Following time spent in Liverpool however, Foot became aware of the plight of the urban working class of Britain, and this changed him into a socialist of broad definition. He always worked for what he considered the greater good, or that policy which relieved the greater suffering in society. He supported the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and was an early opponent of the European Economic Community (EEC). He was a friend and supporter of Sir Stafford Cripps' Socialist League - a broad leftwing organisation opposing fascism in the 1930's, and remarkably, he was also a personal friend of the rightwing media mogul, the Canadian Lord Beaverbrook - who owned the Express Newspaper group. Indeed, for a time, Michael Foot was employed by the Evening Standard as a writer, before becoming the editor of the leftwing Tribune. He retired from the House of Commons in 1992, but remained politically active until his death.

As a republican, he refused various Royal and Governmental titles, and was a member of the humanist and secular societies in the UK. It is remarkable to think that the Toryite Labour leader - Tony Blair - claims to have been inspired by the work of Foot, and that Michael Foot was apparently close friends with the openly racist Enoch Powell. As with any life story that is not contrived, apparent contradictions abound in the biography of Michael Foot - nothing is hidden or subject to New Labour 'spin'. In the latter years, Foot wrote a biography of HG Wells, whom he knew personally, and was friends with the film producer Stanley Kubrick and the former US Secretary of Defence, Robert McNamara. Rather surprisingly, for an intellectual of the Left, Michael Foot produced no significant writing about Socialism - other than his brief 1980 pamphlet entitled 'My Kind of Socialism'. He opposed the invasion of Iraq, and predicted that Blairite foreign policy would inevitably lead to terrorist attacks on the UK mainland. Despite the obvious differences between the Labour Party that Foot led, and the reconstituted 'New Labour' of Tony Blair, by and large, relations between Michael and the new generation of MPs remained good - with Foot even campaigning on behalf of a New Labour candidate in Ebbw Vale in 2005, a seat that New Labour lost. Morgan has produced a very worthwhile biography of much relevance and credit. Michael Foot obviously chose well, when he asked Kenneth Morgan to compile his life story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent biography., 11 July 2014
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This review is from: Michael Foot: A Life (Hardcover)
Although, as I understand it, this is an authorised biography, it is very fair and balanced. It contains quite a lot of criticism of Michael Foot whilst at the same time being affectionate and positive. Hugely detailed it is a comprehensive account of Foot's life. One of the really decent politicians whilst at the same time adopting some surprising positions. His unwavering support of Indira Ghandi is an example. Whether he should have led the Labour Party is another issue. I wish we had some politicians of the intelligence and integrity of Michael Foot today!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 23 April 2015
This review is from: Michael Foot: A Life (Hardcover)
Very pleased with this
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Splendid Biography, 21 Feb. 2011
By 
E. Kraft (Essex) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Michael Foot: A Life (Paperback)
This is an entertainment and a revelation. I have always seen Michael Foot as a die-hard socialist and a failed leader of the Labour Party but Kenneth Morgan reveals him as a principled and highly literate man who was a campaigner and an intellectual first and a politician second. Indeed most of his life was spent on the fringes as a maverick and critic of Party policies. Thus, while I have no sympathy for most of the causes Foot championed e.g. CND and old fashioned socialism, I can now admire his erudition and his commitment.

Morgan's book is also a history of the Labour Party from the 1930s to Tony Blair and can also therefore be appreciated by anyone interested in British politics.

Enjoy!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A life misspent?, 11 May 2013
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This review is from: Michael Foot: A Life (Paperback)
workmanlike biography by somebody who has a thorough knowledge of his subject but fails to understand that Michael Foot should have devoted his life to writing rather than politics
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7 of 72 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy work, 27 Mar. 2007
By 
Carl Rollyson (Cape May Court House, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Michael Foot: A Life (Hardcover)
Kenneth Morgan's bibliography lists me as Clyde Rollyson, not correctly as Carl Rollyson. He lists my book as TO BE A WOMAN and leaves off the important subtitle, A LIFE OF JILL CRAIGIE (Michael Foot's wife). He lists the publisher of my book as Ashgate. The publisher is, in fact, Aurum Press. Worst of all, he appropriates the story of Foot's affair with "Lamia" recounted in full detail in my book, TO BE A WOMAN, without even citing my book. Indeed he provides no source at all, not even an interview with Michael Foot, who I interviewed extensively for my book. The press has given Mr. Morgan credit for a story that is not his, and I can see why, since he does not acknowledge my work.
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Michael Foot: A Life
Michael Foot: A Life by Kenneth O. Morgan (Paperback - 3 Mar. 2008)
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