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The Time of My Life Hardcover – 16 Oct 1989

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph Ltd; Fourth Impression edition (16 Oct. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718131142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718131142
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 69,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Dennis Healey was a leading politician and held the major cabinet posts of Defence Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is the author of Healey's Eye, a charming record of his photographic career, My Secret Planet, a linked anthology of his favourite books and poems and When Shrimps Learn to Whistle, a collection of his writings and speeches. In 1945 he married Edna, a distinguished writer in her own right. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
In his autobiography Denis Healey does not pause to ponder whether, as in the opinion of so many, he is the greatest prime minister Britain never had. But he holds in low regard almost all of those who held the office during his own time in Parliament. Of the leaders whom Healey himself served, the woolly, short-termist Wilson is held in contempt, although Callaghan is admired both for his management of the cabinet and for his integrity: "once prime minister, he had no ambition except to serve his country well".
And evidently one of Callaghan's great services to his country was to retain Healey as his Chancellor - a role in which Callaghan himself had failed a decade earlier. The chapters dealing with Healey's labours at the Treasury are at the heart of the book. He figures himself as Hercules cleaning the Augean stables, as he restores stability to the UK economy after Tony Barber's calamitous superintendence of it under Heath. Healey arrived the Treasury in 1974 with no grounding in economics, as he admits, and therefore with an open mind - sceptical in economic theory, as in ideology, of all dogma. But he is a layman with a truly giant intellect, and the book is at its most illuminating as he applies his voracious mind to the evils conjured up by Barber's credit boom and by OPEC's trebling of the world oil price in 1973.
A layman in economics, Healey's political training had been in international affairs and defence. The book was written in 1989, unknowingly on the very eve of the revolutions in eastern Europe, and its long treatises on nuclear strategy appear today somewhat dated.
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By A Customer on 16 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
Throughout this autobiography the personality of Denis Healey is luminous. He is a very attractive as a politician as well as a man. There is a decency and genuiness that is difficult to write about, but it is invested in every chapter of this book. Healey is an hard-working school boy, an intelligent scholar, a brave, honest soldier, a generous, ambitious, loyal politician, and a witty and stylish autobiographer. He appears to be the type of man who we would wish to run the country and, unusually for a Labour man, appears to have attained the gentlemanly ideal of easeful excellence - he spoke French, German, Italian, Latin and Ancient Greek. He does not appear to suffer some of the inferiority complexes that his Labour colleagues did. Add to this what he has called his 'hinterlands' which with the reading that he does quote extend far both into the terrain of British and European literature, then we know we are perusing the words of a truly remarkable man.
He did not become Prime Minister: he is not perturbed. He only wanted to be leader of the Labour Party to save it from extremists and no-hopers which in light of the proceeding history is warranted. His life is a success from the point of view that he is recognised as the ablest defence secretary in the post-war years; he saved the British economy, and he was a great family man, which is a point often referred to and appears to be most important to him. I can't help but like and admire Denis Healey. However, and there is always a 'but' in any life, his view of the world is remarkably secure and certain. His beliefs are wide and allow him to absorb mostly everything, and he never appears to be out of his depth no matter who he is with.
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Format: Paperback
Denis Healey was known as a political bruiser. At the Labour Party Conference in 1945, still dressed in army uniform, he thundered, "The upper classes in every country are selfish, depraved, dissolute and decadant" a comment which led a future Speaker of the House, George Thomas, to comment, "Denis, you have the most wonderful gift of vituperation". He never lost it, even as he moved to the Right of the Party, accusing the Bevanites of "a flight from reality into dogma" and abandoning nationalisation and class policies based on "soaking the rich". Yet he warned the 1973 Labour Conference, "there are going to be howls of anguish from those rich enough to pay over 75% on their last slice of earnings" adding in a later speech that he would, "squeeze property speculators until the pips squeak" It was all good knockabout politics reminiscent of his first electoral campaign when he "spoke with total confidence, based largely on total ignorance." Yet ignorance is no excuse for failure and Healy's bombastic assumption that he would succeed Callaghan as Labour leader was a failure on his part and that of the Labour Party itself.

Healey was a man of unresolved contradictions. A product of the grammar school system he waxes lyrical about the importance of learning Latin and Greek yet joined Crosland, a contemporary at Balliol, in systematically destroying grammar schools in favour of bog-standard comprehensives where neither Latin nor Greek were welcome. Thus Healey, a keen photographer, lover of arts, especially poetry, music and painting, studying ancient civilisations while happily preventing later generations from doing so. Like many intellectuals Healey failed to appreciate the difference between equality as sameness and equality as the opportunity for individual and collective progress.
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