10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A look at the man behind the myth,
This review is from: Disraeli: or, The Two Lives (Kindle Edition)
Disraeli is a complicated figure fully brought to life in this excellent book. The inherent contradictions within his personality and his self-diagnosed hunger for the limelight make for a stimulating read which successfully lifts the curtain on the myth of Disraeli. Without a rose tinted view, it is an extremely effective portrayal of a man at the vanguard of political campaigning for his time and someone for whom politics was about who was up and who was down rather than ideology.
The book is full of fascinating titbits, such as the discovery of Gladstone's markings on a contemporary biography of Disraeli which enable the authors to very effectively sort fact from fiction and Disraeli from the mythical figure who hangs of British politics today. As an example there is an excellent account of his grasp, or lack thereof, of foreign policy. Also, time and again we are reminded that Disraeli's goal was never to unite the two halves of Britain to create the "one nation" of which he is so famous, indeed he never actually said the words, rather his project, or so it seems, was doing justice to his own intellect.
I've seen the book described as an evisceration, but if it is one it is gentle and not without a lot of affection for a man who made parliament popular and was a supreme orator. It also looks in fascinating detail at his successes with the Reform Act including the audacious expansion of the franchise at the last moment.
The book rattles along at a great clip and would be a great read for both a scholar of the period or someone more or less new to it. The last section draws some parallels with the Disraeli of the modern era, Boris Johnson, and effectively argues for the role of such figures in politics to encourage the public to take an interest. Highly recommended.