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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Historical Overview of Post-War Prime Ministers
Hennessy provides a succint and enlightening history of British Prime Minister's since 1945. Beginning with Clem Attlee, through Churchill, Macmillan, Eden, Douglas-Home, Wilson, Callaghan, Thatcher, Major and Blair, he covers each premiership with amazing depth, revealing the way in which they dealt with this high office.
A tremendous book - highly interesting and...
Published on 12 Feb. 2001 by Steve P Taylor

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dry and repetitive- glimpses of promise
Whilst I appreciated the fresh approach that Hennessy follows, in exploring how each Prime Minister operates the political machinery of his day, I would have liked to feel some of the personality of each subject, which Hennessy offers tantalisingly (Clem Attlee and his butchery at reshuffles) but not in any great amount. Left the book reading in a dry manner, that could...
Published 17 months ago by James L. Higginbottom


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Historical Overview of Post-War Prime Ministers, 12 Feb. 2001
Hennessy provides a succint and enlightening history of British Prime Minister's since 1945. Beginning with Clem Attlee, through Churchill, Macmillan, Eden, Douglas-Home, Wilson, Callaghan, Thatcher, Major and Blair, he covers each premiership with amazing depth, revealing the way in which they dealt with this high office.
A tremendous book - highly interesting and at times entertaining. Someone once described the political biographer Ben Pimlott as 'The X-Ray' - in Peter Hennessy he has a rival!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must buy for anybody interested in heavy weight Politics, 3 May 2001
By A Customer
This book is a fascinating, well-written and immensely detailed insight into the office of prime minister in the U.K. The author paints superb behind the scenes pictures and focuses on major issues in recent history. It is well researched, with former senior politicians and Whitehall mandarins providing Mr Hennessy with the authentic details from source. I found this book both an eye opener and thought provoking, a must buy for anybody interested in heavy weight British Politics.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like history, or current affairs - an absolute must!, 25 Sept. 2001
By 
Jennifer Okonkwo "SteveP" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Prime Minister: The Office And Its Holders Since 1945: The Job and Its Holders Since 1945 (Paperback)
In general, this is a well constructed, and arresting analysis of the office of the PM, and its holders. The reason why it "hits fifth gear" is based on the level of personal contact with the incumbents, and the depth of reasoning; this raises the book from genuinely interesting to absolutely compelling.
When read thoroughly, the central fact is absolutely shocking: Britain never really came to terms with its post-war status. Whilst measures where taken, the economy/city/markets repeatedly forced action on a reluctant government, which comprised a set of people living in a state of perpetual denial. Collectively, the judgement on the office holders is therefore harsh - they were led by events, they did not lead - this is the central fact, even it is not spelled out explicitly. There are a couple of great stories, of which I mention the funniest: "Mrs Thatcher was both self-aware and quite unrepentant about these traits. One one occassion she opened a ministerial meeting by banging the celebrated bag on the table declaring 'Well, I haven't much time today, only enough to explode and have my way'."
Buy it - you will not regret it!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect guide to the eleven post-war Prime Ministers, 9 July 2004
This review is from: The Prime Minister: The Office And Its Holders Since 1945: The Job and Its Holders Since 1945 (Paperback)
Peter Hennessy is an expert on post-war political history and has written an excellent account of post-war Prime Ministers. The author attempts to introduce the varying challenges of the British premiership and the relative success and failures of Prime Ministers such as Attlee, Churchill, Wilson and Thatcher. This book looks in detail at the ranging personalities and abilities of the previous eleven Prime Ministers and accounts for extra-parliamentary matters such as diplomatic crises like the Suez affair, the Cold War and European integration. Throughout the book, the reader should be able to compare varying styles of the premiership and judge what constitutes an effective Prime Minister. Hennessy allows the reader to make such judgements as he regularly displays each PMs strengths and weaknesses. Also, many examples of quotations, interviews and information from the PRO ensures that the book includes credibility to Hennessy's arguments. Illustrations throughout the book enables the reader to understand each PM's character and situation in greater detail as they are placed particularly following each PM. Prior to introducing the various Prime Ministers, special attention is directed at the powers of patronage, the state of the premiership prior to 1945 and the ongoing conflict following WWII including the possibilities of WWIII with nuclear weapons which would inevitably involve the PM; this introduces the reader to the wide ranging capabilities of the Prime Minister, which is shared by every post-war PM. The main problem is that the book only contains the first government of Tony Blair so if you are searching for a more recent analysis of the premiership, it would be better that you look elsewhere. Nonetheless, I believe 'The Prime Minister' by Peter Hennessey is an intriguing and well written account, which must be read by anyone studying politics, history or is generally interested particularly in the Prime Minister
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 20 May 2004
By 
This review is from: The Prime Minister: The Office And Its Holders Since 1945: The Job and Its Holders Since 1945 (Paperback)
A simply excellent piece of writing. Hennessy rattles along at a fair pace in his analysis of the individual PM's, with amusing anecdotes and truly engaging and pithy analysis, which never fails to capture the reader. You can quite easily be drawn in, and feel totally compelled; it really is a 'just the next few pages' sort of book. Don't expect a full analysis of every policy from top to bottom under each PM; that is not the purpose of it all, but rather, to give readers a real 'feel' of the individuals involved - which Hennessy never fails to do.
The history of the office, and in particular Hennessy's prescriptions for the future are probably the most dry and inaccessible of the sections of the book; I found them a fairly hard slog, even being a self-confessed Politics geek who usually loves that sort of thing. Also, a (slightly obvious.) warning; a generally high level of familiarity with post-war British politics is expected throughout - in these two senses, the book is rather more academic than it is immediately accessible to the lay reader.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A invaluable resource, 5 Nov. 2002
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This review is from: The Prime Minister: The Office And Its Holders Since 1945: The Job and Its Holders Since 1945 (Paperback)
This book is an amazing piece of work. My only regret is that it only covers prime ministers since the war as I would have preferred it to cover many prior to 1945.
The first part deals with the actual role of the prime minister and his/her powers rather than dwelling on any one holder of the office. I never appreciated exactly how many pies a prime minister has his/her fingers in until I had read the book.
The second part of the book deals with individual prime ministers since 1945 and varied in how ineteresting it was. This was down primarily to the individual prime minister and not the author's prose which is first class throughout.
Any student of politics should own a copy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Primi Inter Pares, 21 Dec. 2012
By 
T. T. Rogers - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Prime Minister: The Office And Its Holders Since 1945: The Job and Its Holders Since 1945 (Paperback)
Unlike most of the British prime ministers studied here, the author Peter Hennessy delivers more than he promises, giving us not just an adept biographical survey of the prime ministerial office-holders in modern Britain and their ministries, but also a learned reflection on the office of Prime Minister itself, the origins of cabinet government and related constitutional matters.

Students of politics and modern history will benefit most from this book as it acts as a quick and accessible reference guide to key figures and events in recent British history as well as a solid introduction to Britain's most important political office. This book is also of obvious interest to anyone who simply likes reading about British history and politics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dry and repetitive- glimpses of promise, 12 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Prime Minister: The Office And Its Holders Since 1945: The Job and Its Holders Since 1945 (Paperback)
Whilst I appreciated the fresh approach that Hennessy follows, in exploring how each Prime Minister operates the political machinery of his day, I would have liked to feel some of the personality of each subject, which Hennessy offers tantalisingly (Clem Attlee and his butchery at reshuffles) but not in any great amount. Left the book reading in a dry manner, that could easily have been livened by more personality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As expected, 27 Aug. 2012
By 
Paul Howell - See all my reviews
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Goods as advertised,book a good history, should have got later version, this finished before Blair finished. Earlier history provides good overview with some easily forgotten detail colouring the characters more than their popular press contexts
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Curious Book, 27 Nov. 2013
The Prime Minister by Peter Hennessy is a difficult book to make a judgement on. When it is good it is interesting and informative but unfortunately there are sections which are just not up to the standard of others. In the most part it is well-written and detailed but it is just too dry and technical at times which it does not make it the most interesting of reads. All in all it is a book of varying quality which does not live up to my expectations (although these were perhaps misplaced).
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