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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An insight into 50 years of politics
Having had a high regard for Enoch Powel despite being as far from him in political terms as it is possible to get it did not surprise me to find from this book that he was also regarded the same way by many of his political opponents.
He and Tony Benn were two sides of the same coin - alas extinct in modern politics - honourable, intelligent men and real...
Published on 17 Aug 2003

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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but could have been great.
Enoch Powell remains one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th Century British political scene: outspoken and forthright, a man of integrity, ever constroversial. As such, a figure suitable for a lengthy and in-depth tome. And in many ways, Heffer has produced a passable biography. However, as a long-standing friend, Daily Mail journalist Heffer could surely have...
Published on 3 Dec 2002 by R. Burin


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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An insight into 50 years of politics, 17 Aug 2003
By A Customer
Having had a high regard for Enoch Powel despite being as far from him in political terms as it is possible to get it did not surprise me to find from this book that he was also regarded the same way by many of his political opponents.
He and Tony Benn were two sides of the same coin - alas extinct in modern politics - honourable, intelligent men and real politicians.
Simon Heffer's excellent biography is not to be started lightly but once commenced is difficult to put down. It captures the man from his speeches, writing and broadcasting and, for one who lived through the era in question, brings it all back to mind.
Despite being uncritical about the correctness of Powell's economic theories the book lays out a fascinating study of a great man.
Anyone who harbours the opinion that Enoch Powell was a racist will be sadly disabused if they read this.
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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soldier, academic, poet, philosopher, politician., 29 April 2003
By 
D. Boulton (Bristol) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Enoch Powell was many things to many people; not least because he was many things. An esteemed academic, Powell was the authority on Greek language and literature - a master scholar; a genius.
To the ill-informed, he was, above all a racist and a fascist. It is only when one realises that he staked his life, with millions of others, in the defence of democracy and the defeat of Nazism in World War II, that it is possible to see just how wrong this perecption is.
This book chronicles Powell's life from his unremarkable uprbringing in the West Midlands, through a highly remarkable academic career, a distinguished service of Britain in her Armed Forces, through to his time in Paliament as a Tory, Ulster Unionist, and elder statesman.
Two minor criticisms would be that there is simply too much detail, especially of Parliamentary exchanges, that is too procedural, and too impersonal, and that, secondly, too little emphasis is given to his later years and an analysis of his political legacy.
Certainly, this book is far too detailed for the casual reader: if you merely want an overview of Powell's life, his motivations, his impact, this is not it. As an 18 year old Conservative, this book was both fascinating and surprising. The fact that I expected not to be impressed with a man labelled 'racist', 'fascist', 'out-dated' etc., perhaps bears testament to Powell's dire predictions of the rise of the Political Correct classes' influence. I certainly was impressed, and anyone bringing a remotely Conservative mind - or, I suggest, open mind - to this book would struggle to be otherwise.
Powell is undoubtedly best-known for his 'Rivers of Blood' speech. The scourge of the Left, the hate figure of the race relations industry, Powell predicted apocalyptic consequences of an open-house immigration policy. It will, again, surprise many that he didn't even use the phrase 'rivers of blood' in this, or any other speech. He warned, with justification, that mass-immigration was risky; his warnings resound today as greatly as ever.
Simon Heffer is undoubtedly sympathetic to Powell. The author savages the liberal elite on Powell's posthumous behalf, sympathising with his bitter dislike of so-called Conservative like Ted Heath, but this is by no means sycophantic.
That he is remembered as a one-issue crusader is unfortunate. Powell understood how economies work thirty years before the Conservative Party. He invented monetarism and set out the principles of Thatcherism decades before Britain had its first female PM.
He was an arch-capitalist, defender of the Union, and opponent of a federal Europe. His views are held now, almost in their entirety, by mainstream Conservatives, whilst the ex-PM Margaret Thatcher openly cites his as a major influence. His economic analyses are shared by politicians of all colours today, his concern for immigration by the mass of the population, and his Euro-scepticism by the majority of 'Europeans'.
When he died, a floral tribute placed outside read simply "You were right". I suspect Heffer agrees with this, but he is not blinded by his personal affection for a great soldier, academic, poet, philosopher, and politician.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good book about a very influential and important figure in late 20th century Britian., 25 April 2010
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Like the Roman by Simon Heffer is a very interesting biography of a man who only held office for a few years in his career but is one of the most influential and well-remembered figures in late 20th century Britian. He is most famous for his Rivers of Blood speech which made him both a much loved and much loathed figure but this biography shows that he was much more than one speech. It shows a man who was an academic genius, a poet, a brigadier, a professor, a man dominated by a cold logic but also a romanticism and a man of principle and ideas who was expounding the economic theory of the 1980s decades before. All in all it is a very good book if a little long and perhaps a bit biased but it shows the man beyond the public caricatures.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but could have been great., 3 Dec 2002
By 
R. Burin "royal_film" (Harrogate, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Enoch Powell remains one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th Century British political scene: outspoken and forthright, a man of integrity, ever constroversial. As such, a figure suitable for a lengthy and in-depth tome. And in many ways, Heffer has produced a passable biography. However, as a long-standing friend, Daily Mail journalist Heffer could surely have delved deeper into the motivations for and reasoning behind Powell's speeches on race and on economics (his thinking on economic policy formed the basis for Thatcherism), rather than focusing primarily on Powell as a politician. The inevitable centring on Powell's 1968 'Rivers of Blood' speech (from which the book borrows its title) actually works well, but Heffer's style often grates, and he distracts from his subject by frequently going into depth where he needn't, at other times neglecting to study further apparently important concerns regarding Powell's life. He also appears obsessed with Powell's sexuality in the early stages of the book. A good read (and apparently well-researched) in many ways then, but this is probably more a result of the subject's fascinating life than the author's contributions. Worth a look.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars BUY THE HARDBACK (but a good book), 23 Jun 2009
I bought the Paperback, mistake, not the right format for a thousand page book with some 33 pages of important notes.

It appeared to have been (very badly) printed in China(?).

Some pages were angled; on others text was missing.

Amazon's excellent returns system sorted this out, and I bought
the Hardback as I should have done from the start.

That apart, good read on a complex flawed character who with deep irony helped create the bloated public sector with it's cushioned pensions scheme.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Was Powell a racist?, 2 Mar 2007
By 
Concerned Reader (Anchorage, Alaska, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Like The Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (Hardcover)
I must take issue with a previous reviewer, who feels that Powell must have been a racist to have made the speeches where he raised racial issues. But as Powell himself pointed out, these were issues of great concern, and NOT to speak out would have been a dereliction of his duty as a citizen and representative of his constituents.

Powell had the ability to see through a lot of cant and get to the crucial issues and consequences. To bring up one set of consequences for discussion is not to suggest that it will happen, must happen or should happen, and Powell himself pointed this out. But if someone foresees problems ahead, it is a responsibility to present them for consideration and discussion. The almost inevitable downside of this action is to be portrayed as advocating the very consequences that one is warning against.

Has what Powell feared come to pass? In part, yes. The above reviewer clearly forgets things like the race-based and anti-police riots of the early Thatcher years. It is easy to look around Europe and see the disappearance of national sovereignty. (It may be one reason why the IRA and the Basques more-or-less gave it up, as even if you get a separate state, that whole notion disappears in the new Europe.) Powell's fear of the US becoming a major, almost dictatorial, world power has partly come true under Bush. Where else in the 21st century would a nation decide that it had the right to pre-emptive invasions on mere suspicion? Further, the nature of Britain and British society today is most certainly not like Britain in the mid-1960s, and a part of that is a consequence of immigration. And Political Correctness still holds significant sway.

So why didn't Powell get it exactly right? One obvious factor is that he was dealing with a very complex society in transition, and predictions are very difficult. Second, he was looking at the more dire consequences, not for sensationalist purposes, but because they were a possibility and needed to be discussed. Third, the mere fact that he did get the topic into discussion, meant that some people did think about it, and that may have mitigated some of the consequences. Finally, I think he overlooked the homogenising effect of the school system.

Many immigrants have a tendency to cluster together, simply because it is something familiar and safe. This was a concern of Powell's, that segregation was happening in an unplanned way, but happening nonetheless. But the next generation has a tendency to move away from their parents and into the mainstream. Schools help this process by providing phenomenal peer pressure from the students, rather than any intent of the system. The result is the assimilation/integration that Powell wanted, but the net result is not the original society. With the different inputs and the changing times, the result is a new society. It's not just immigration, but also the information age, the age of globalization, and the closer ties with Europe. The next generation of childen of the children is more closely integrated again. And Britain has another advantage, in that it is actually quite accepting of immigrants in many ways, perhaps far more than many other countries, and that seems to be in the culture. (No, it's not universal, but collectively it is better.)

I have watched the process in Australia and the US, as well as the UK. I can see where Powell was coming from, and what he saw. I also know why he spoke out: he personally had no choice, and he had the courage and integrity to do it and face the consequences. But Powell was always his own man, in the best sense of the term.

This biography doesn't really do Powell the man justice. But it does give insight to one part of his mind and gets part of his thinking out for discussion. I hope that history is far kinder to Powell as time goes on than it has been to date.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A grand attempt on a fascinating subject, but falls short., 20 May 2001
By A Customer
Enoch Powell is one of the more fascinating, enigmatic characters of 20th century politics. He was a leading, original and a fearless thinker, a setter of some trends and, for a politician, remarkably true to his beliefs. The author had access to his papers and, until his death, access to Powell himself. It is a grand attempt at the definitive work on an important subject. Almost 1,000 pages! So what's wrong? Perhaps the author himself was as intimidated by his subject as many of Powell's contemporaties were. Perhaps he was overwhelmed by the documentary material available to him. Perhaps the author himself is as "uptight" as his subject. Whatever the reason, this biography falls short of its promise. While it exhaustively anthologises Powell's parliamentary interventions, it rarely manages to get behind the facade into the person. There was a humanity about Powell, but we don't learn much about it from Like the Roman. The result is an often ponderous anthology of speeches, slow-moving and repetitive of subject. The few times it picks up pace and allows the reader to relate to the subject are when Powell is not in Parliament and when, all too rarely, it covers incidents and anecdotes as well as the formally delivered words. When it talks to people who knew Powell and experienced some aspect of the person. Humans inter-acting with each other. A new MP who finds himself sitting in "Powell's seat" in the Commons library, to Powell's discomfort, gains and offers an insight into the human being that is offered all too rarely by Simon Heffer. Was Simon Heffer intimidated by Powell? Was he overwhelmed by the documentary resources available to him? Was he an acolyte too enamoured to be objective? Maybe that should be the subject of academic study into the nature of biography. One hopes that someone else with an eye and an ear for the human attempts the definitive biography of Powell whilst there are still people around who knew him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Man For All Seasons, 7 May 2014
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A remarkable book about a remarkable man. Enoch Powell was an outstandingly clever person and, unlike many academics, appeared to relish the rough and tumble of political life. Liberals, left-wingers indeed, would not approve many of his views then , or now, in this sad politically correct age. Simon Heffer does Mr Powell and his times great credit in what must have been a hugely time-consuming work. Simply, well done on all counts, politician and author. John Mason.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Politics, 13 Oct 2009
By 
Mr. J. Mcgilvray (U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Like The Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (Hardcover)
John Enoch Powell was a highly intelligent man who was maybe treated harsher than the majority of british politicians. His decorated career in the military and enthusiasm for a better Britain may sometimes be seen as racist but in the opinion of this reader, can be nothing more than a patriotic duty. His life in politics is a fascinating lear into 60's conservative thought and since that era, Powell has recieved kudos for his accuracy in predicting the descent into madness that our society has seen. The book really does the Tory and Unionist MP justice if indeed you read before you judge.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating political biography, 5 Oct 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Like The Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (Hardcover)
This is the finest book ever written about one of Britain's greatest politicians. Heffer's superbly detailed account of this remarkable man fills one with admiration. This is the kind of the book that forms and advances political philosophies - anyone wanting to see through today's arguments on Europe or immigration or economics should read this. They will never be fooled again.
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Like The Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell
Like The Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell by Simon Heffer (Hardcover - 23 Nov 1998)
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