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Disraeli: A Personal History Paperback – 5 Sep 2005
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‘One of England’s greatest living historical writers. Reading anything by him is pure pleasure.’ Amanda Foreman
‘Engaging new biography'.’ Guardian
‘A fine new biography…an acute and insightful personal biography.’ Andrew Roberts, Daily Telegraph
‘In this shouty world, Hibbert’s account of the private life of Benjamin Disraeli comes as an immensely dependable relief…Innumerable younger historians owe Hibbert an immense debt, although he is probably too unassuming to allow them to pay it.’ Sunday Times
'…the book is thoroughly enjoyable…What Hibbert does extremely well is to construct a readable, well written narrative…a superbly skilful historical writer.’ Spectator
About the Author
Christopher Hibbert was described in the New Statesman as ‘a pearl of biographers’, in the Sunday Times as ‘a gloriously versatile writer’, and in the TES as ‘perhaps the most gifted popular historian we have’. His many highly acclaimed books include lives of Mussolini, Samuel Johnson, Wellington, Nelson, Queen Victoria and Napoleon; biographies of cities such as London, Rome, Venice and Florence; histories of the Cavaliers and Roundheads and The Great Mutiny, and a social history of the English.
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Another two aspects that did not at all exercise the author’s mind were, first, Disraeli’s speeches and, second, what was happening around Disraeli in England at the time. I would have to say that, unless other evidence could be produced to me, the author is no sort of historian, more of a more of an industrious scribbler.
The author makes it clear in multifarious places how the touchstone of Disraeli’s greatness was his oratory. I would’ve thought he might have allowed us a few examples of it! As far as I recall, we get absolutely zero on that score. On the second point, I have already said that Gladstone is given scant attention, but so is the whole unfolding of history, political and otherwise, around this extraordinary man. One begins to wonder if he existed in a vacuum -- we are told more than once, and no doubt rightly, that, although he was brilliant, he would often seem to be quite distant, almost on another planet.
I will however credit the author with this, namely that he gives a very good account of Disraeli’s relationship with Queen Victoria – I don’t feel that I need anyone else to flesh that out for me, but clearly I’m going to have to turn to another book to feel that I have really made contact with Disraeli and his times – I emphasise the last three words.
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