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John Campbell's Worst Book - A Real Stinker Of A Biography!
on 2 December 2005
Campbell is usually a great writer, unfortunately here he allows personal prejudice to distort his historical judgement. He spends most of the time trying to rehabilitate Edward Heath as a Prime Minister of note, rather than making a balanced and fair assessment of his record in office. Indeed, this is not so much, strictly speaking, a biography, as a polemic in support of Heath's record.
By any measure, the Heath government cannot be viewed as a success. Four depressing years, followed by defeat in a mis-timed General Election. The economic u-turn, the poor terms under which Britain entered the European Community, the Three Day Week, the power cuts and his dreadful handling of industrial relations are all glossed over here, in this apologia for one of the twentieth century's least successful Prime Ministers. One suspects that Campbell is just attempting to boost the deeply flawed Heath at the expense of his successor Thatcher, who Campbell clearly dislikes.
Above all, Campbell fails to make a critical analysis of his subject's persona. Heath is a fascinating person in this regard, especially with his legendary rude pomposity and sexual repression, but he escapes Campbell completely. This is a pity as his books on FE Smith and Nye Bevan are really impressive.
A detailed, balanced, biography of Ted Heath is eagerly awaited. In the meantime, don't bother with this exercise in hagiography.