This is a fine book about a fine man. Possibly a bit long to be always enthralling, and sometimes it gets bogged down in economics and inconsequential political trivia, but it nevertheless gives a clear picture of this enigmatic character - an atheist whose father was a Canon, and the Eton boy who became a ferocious and unyielding left wing Socialist and who played a part in creating today's society. Two episodes are handled particularly well - the influence of George VI to prevent him getting the Foreign Office in 1945, and his resignation for blabbing a Budget secret or two in 1947, and the book does not dodge the issue of his possible homosexuality (although it hints oftener than it states) and his strange relationship with his wife which was loving, but sexless after the tragic death of a young daughter. In many ways an unhappy man, but a powerful and an influential one, and Mr Pimlott does him justice.
Hugh Dalton by Ben Pimlott is a very good book examining the life of one of the pivotal figures in the 1945 Labour Government. While largely forgotten these days, Dalton was one of the key intellectual drivers - as well as political figures- behind the reemergence of Labour as a viable party of government after the debacle of 1931. It is a well-written, informative and detailed work.
As an academic economist, specialising in the area of economic inequality, he played a key role in helping to shape the Party's offer to the electorate at the end of the war. Unfortunately, however, Dalton was always regarded by both his colleagues - let alone his opponents - as a schemer and an intriguer, with a regrettable tendency to rub people up the wrong way. It was, arguably, these flaws that contributed to his fall from grace, but his shortcomings as an individual must be balanced against his actions as both a Minister in the wartime coalition and then as Attlee's first Chancellor.
This is just about the finest political biography that I have read. A genuninely fascinating account of one of the most significant and in many ways unusual politicians of a crucial time in this country's history. Ben Pimlott is the master biographer. Impeccably researched, balanced and sometimes moving this is written with great lucidity and excellent pace.It is rare that a 640 page biography is as unputdownable as this.