17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
An sympathetic study of a neglected political giant,
This review is from: Salisbury: Victorian Titan (Phoenix Press) (Paperback)
The sheer size of Andrew Roberts' weighty tome might suggest that it consists of a considerable amount of useless information leavened with the occassional anecdote, written in a dry and academic style. Not so. Roberts presents the facts in a clear, entertaining manner which leaves the reader thankful that Salisbury has fianlly got the biographer he deserves. Salisbury's life and achievements are dealt with in exhaustive detail, and Roberts' character sketches of the other major players of the period - Bismarck, Disraeli, Gladstone et al - are hugely informative and entertaining.
It is clear that years of scholarship have gone into this biography. Contemporary sources and letters litter each chapter, allowing an insight into Salisbury's character and views on policy, as well as giving the reader the benefit of the phlegmatic politician's witty and concise style of writing. These sources come in particularly handy in the chapters dealing with Salisbury's foreign policy and his attitude to foreign powers, particularly Bismarckian Germany.
It is interesting to wonder what the most accomplished foreign minister in British history would think were he able to analyse Britain's current situation in the world. On finishing this book it is sobering to reflect on the past acheivements of an age now long in the past, and it might just be possible that some of Salisbury's methods might still be relevent in the 21st century.