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The Time of My Life Paperback – 25 May 2006
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The inspiring memoirs of a leading politician is also the autobiography of a splendid Englishman, liked and respected across the political spectrum. Denis Healey was born in 1917, a year of revolution, and grew up in Yorkshire. At Oxford he began to test and expand his political views. After a distinguished war career, he travelled throughout a shattered Europe until he became an MP for Leeds in 1952. He rose to the highest political ranks, becoming Defence Secretary, Chancellor and a major player in the Labour government, standing for the party leadership in 1979. The autobiography is also about Denis Healey the man, who has witnessed the great changes that have taken place in Britain since the war. His wide-ranging intelligence brilliantly counterpoints the pace of change, and illuminates his love of literature, art, music and photography. This is the memoir of a man in the round: a great politician, speaker, writer and above all friend and family man - a book which will inspire all who read it with the wit, warmth and wisdom of Denis Healey.
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.
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For one thing, the writing is dull. Clear, yes, but passionless. The wit is laboured. It is monotonous, one thing after another.
For another, DH never, or rarely, expands on the human minutiae of his experiences. The book lacks life.
For another, it is packed, jam-packed, with the names of people he met, people of whom I have never heard and whose contribution to history is minimal.
For another, I found the liberal quoting of poetry sat I'll at ease with his own very prosaic style.
For another, I wondered where the 'ordinary' people were, his constituents, those on whose behalf he worked.
And finally, there is an overall air of complacency. Lord Healey seems at pains to tell us that no matter about the defects of his colleagues, he was always right.
Of course there were elements I enjoyed. In particular his trenchant views on Tony Benn are to be relished, all the more in view of lavish praise that followed the latter's recent death.
Lord Healey has had a long life as a dedicated public servant. His autobiography does not do him justice.
PS I must mention two editorial howlers, both in photo captions. 'Grammar' is spelt 'grammer' and Claudio Abbado is feminised to Claudia!
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