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Eden: The Life and Times of Anthony Eden First Earl of Avon, 1897-1977 Hardcover – 27 Mar 2003

3.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus; First Edition edition (27 Mar. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701167440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701167448
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 4.4 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 571,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"This magnificent biography ... a very necessary book." -- SIMON HEFFER, THE LITERARY REVIEW

"a biography of almost unqualified excellence ...comprehensive, authoritative, balanced and invariably (throughout more than 600 pages) readable ..." -- ROY HATTERSLEY, NEW STATESMAN

"excellent, well-researched, clear and readable" -- PETER LEWIS, DAILY MAIL

Book Description

Masterly biography of one of the most complex, fascinating and ultimately tragic figures of British politics in the 20th century. Anthony Eden served as both Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister. Based on hitherto unseen primary source material, this book reveals the true, inside stories of the Munich crisis (1938) and of the Suez crisis (1956). It also throws new light on Churchill. (2002-10-18)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Few reputations in British political history have suffered more than that of Anthony Eden. A rising young star of inter-war British politics, his career was hindered, if not crippled, by his extended tenure as heir-apparent to Winston Churchill for the leadership of the Conservative Party and the nation. Defined for a generation by his resignation in response to Chamberlain's determined policies of appeasement, his premiership will forever be remembered for the disastrous misjudgment of the Suez invasion. So tarnished has his reputation been that his family has commissioned two official biographies since his death. D. R. Thorpe's is the second, following on Robert Rhodes James' biography from nearly two decades before.

Thorpe's book is a noticeably sympathetic account of Eden's life, one which helps the reader understand the nature of his appeal. Born to a family that Thorpe characterizes as "minor aristocracy," he enjoyed a privileged childhood that was punctuated by service in the First World War. Interested in politics at an early age, he won a seat in Parliament in 1924 where he soon gained a reputation for ability in foreign policy. A little more than a decade after winning his first election, Eden was appointed Foreign Secretary. Over the next three years he faced the rise of an increasingly aggressive Germany, during which time he embraced policies that placed him increasingly out of step with his more conciliatory colleagues but did his reputation much good later on.

After his resignation in 1938 Eden quickly became a focus of Conservative dissent in the House of Commons.
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Format: Paperback
This book is certainly sympathetic to Eden, who will always be associated with the Suez crisis of 1956. Thorpe describes Eden's work with Butler, Churchill, Attlee and Macmillan and his attitude to men such as Benito Mussolini and Gamal Abdel-Nasser. Although the focus of the book is foreign policy, Thorpe also stresses Eden's understanding of the British economy and his belief in a property owning democracy. Very few of the 600 pages are dull and I can recommend this book highly.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent picture of Anthony Eden. It is very sympathetic to him, stressing his social conscience formed by his dreadful years during the First World War. It is shame that he came to self-inflicted grief over Suez (not unlike Blair over Iraq) for the country was thus deprived of a few years of the benign Toryism of Eden. To his eternal credit (and that of Churchill and McMillan as well) he did not dismantle the National Health Service or the Welfare State, and he might have gone down as a really good Prime Minister. This book offers loads of insights into his character and is well worth a read. It remains a pity about Suez though. Even if we had captured the canal zone, how could we have held on to it in perpetuitatem? Imagine the terrorism! Read this book, though, if you want to find out more about Anthony Eden.
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Anthony Eden by D.R.Thorpe is well-written and very interesting work. It is full of interesting facts and stories but never loses sight of its main aim. Although the author is in many ways sympathetic to Eden he does not gloss over the fact that in 1956 Eden made some quite frankly horrendous decisions over Suez. The author also however shows that there was much more to Anthony Eden than just Suez and that in fact a reappraisal is due of his whole career. All in all a very good book about a much maligned Prime Minister who it must be remembered had an almost impossible task taking over from one of the outstanding figures in British history.
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Format: Paperback
I cannot add much to the reviews already presented, except to give a view from someone more accustomed to pre-20th century historical work. I grew up in the shadow of Eden and Macmillan's premierships and found D. R. Thorpe a sympathetic biographer of both men. What really gripped me was the progressive nature of both men's view of the future. Too often portrayed as reactionary old-school Tories, their generation were refreshingly keen to improve the lot of the working class and the long effect of the First World War on their thinking is so evident in this book. The author catches the small issues that get lost in the great sweep of history and the concern that Eden had not just for his constituents, but the wider British public. And then of course Suez, what more can be said except that for a man who worked so assiduously with the leading Americans in the Second World War it is ironic that his downfall was the result of a complete failure of the Americans to give any leadership when they had already become the pre-eminent power in the world, but seemed unable or unwilling to accept their greater role. Eden's frustrations and fears at this pivotal moment are superbly portrayed in this book. For anyone interested in this era this is a superb work with very thorough research and a very light prose that is easy to follow.
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