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on 4 September 2013
The Great Rivalry; Gladstone and Disraeli, A Dual Biography is the successor to Dick Leonard's excellent trilogy of the lives of British Prime Ministers from the eighteenth century to the present day. Leonard is a leading authority on politics and elections in the UK and EU, and was Assistant Editor and then Brussels Correspondent of The Economist after a term as an independent-minded (Labour) MP himself, and he has brought to the project the freshness of a political journalist skilled in the arts and the pragmatic compromises required in politics and the day-to-day political necessities of finding allies and dealing with dissidents, as well as establishing popular identity as leaders and achievers. The Great Rivalry, building on the individual biographies in the trilogy, describes the political drama of the most fascinating personal rivalry in British political history, between the magisterial Gladstone and the eclectic, mercurial Disraeli, an unlikely Victorian as we imagine them but unexpectedly a favourite (and flatterer) of the Queen. History as it was no doubt seen by contemporary commentators as it happened, and an insight into an age.
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on 11 January 2015
A fun read and a good outline history of the period. Does a great job at making their personalities come to life. I would have liked a bit more about the social context of the times and more depth and detail in the handling of the political history - the history of ideas aspect of the story is rushed by comparison to the personality politics aspect. But I still found it thought-provoking and illuminating as well being a quick and entertaining read.
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on 14 April 2016
This book takes an unusual approach for its biography, although not without precedent given that Plutarch wrote comparative biography back in antiquity.

The book reads well and takes a mainly chronological approach through the rival adventures of the two former chancellors of the exchequer who both went on to be prime minister in their turn. There is an index to assist with finding, particularly, references to characters and an illustrated section in black and white.

Relative to the efforts of Plutarch, the biographies are longer with the final comparison being relatively brief and set out in the final chapter.

A bibliography is provided to give a starting point for those who would read further.

I believe that hard cover and soft cover editions of this book exist but I have seen only the hard cover edition.
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