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on 29 May 1999
I bought this book having watched the BBC documentary of Mosley's life. A fiend recommended the book and it's definitely one of the most interesting books I've ever picked up. Skidelsky writes with supreme skill and sensitivity, but there is one impression you get throughout the book. It is written with impartiality, and not once can you perceive any political leaning from the author. From Mosley's attachment to the Labour and Liberal Parties through to the formation of the British Union of Fascists, Skidelsky portrays a man with immense political skill, imagination and enthusiasm. Skidelsky will force you to reconsider your views and opinions on Britain in the 1920's, 30's and beyond and especially the events leading up to the the Second World War. If you are interested in Mosley, right-wing politics, nineteenth century history or just biographical writing, this book should be seriously considered
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 September 2014
A video surfaced on You Tube from the 'We heart Jimmy Saville and little children' corporation (BBC). It's in black and white, probably from the 1960's, and has David Frost interviewing this apparent controversial figure, Sir Oswald Mosley. What was striking was all the comments below the video. They all supported Mosley! These comments were articulate, intelligent and made for an education by old hands with the technology to give their opinion. We all know the mantra of history being written by the victors. Well, judging by the comments, it is very true.

Robert Skidelsky was friends with Oswald Mosley's son, Max, at university. You can tell this by reading the biography. What a refreshing read! Oswald Mosley is portrayed as a human!

Skidelsky is even pro fascists, in the 1930's meaning of the word, and he even hints that Germany was indeed stabbed in the back! Further along the narrative, Skidelsky is back on script but you can tell where his heart is.

I can imagine a teenage Robert Skidelsky and teenage Max Mosley in university, talking about dad and philosophical issues and German literature and how cool dad is. These memories stay in the mind of Robert Skidelsky and this is why he wrote this book.

Skidelsky is even part jewish and that's a lesson that an objective biography is possible and one doesn't have to portray ones opponent as Satan.

The only difference between our system of fascism and Mosley's is that we elect our dictators every 5 years or so. Mosley's system would never have worked anyway because he didn't add a controlled opposition into his eqiasion. Mosley was stuck in the old system of thought. Not even Plato figured out the best form of dictatorship is two masks on the same face. This way the masses will elect one mask and when they boil, the next mask gets into power! The problem of all systems is how to control the opposition.

Our system of fascism have rectified that problem.
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on 11 November 2010
In complete contrast to the previous reviewer (Mrs Measures) I did not find this biography at all pro-Mosley or justifying the BUF. In fact a little basic research would reveal that Skidelsky is in fact half Jewish and was a member of the Labour Party at the time this book was written - so unlikely to become an apologist for a Fascist and anti-Semite. The problem with biographies of any controversial figure, particularly of the 'Right', is that unless the book sets out to either demonise or ridicule it is seen as biased. It is unfortunate that 'academia' is so warped by left-wing ideology that anything written which does not toe the line is attacked as politically motivated. What this biography tries to do is paint a reasonable picture of Mosley, and try to understand why he made the decisions that he did - without the hysterical attempts at a hatchet job which is all most other biographers seem to manage. Skidelsky was attacked when his book was published for not writing a book that was more anti-Mosley. That fact I think speaks volumes about the political motivations of its detractors.
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on 17 August 2012
This is a refreshingly objective and impartial biography, though those people who have been brought up on a gluttonous diet of televised anti-Fascist or anti-Hitlerian dogma may have excruciating trouble digesting that this could be a possibility from a book published by a mainstream publishing house. Those unfortunate souls will simply have to learn to live with the fact that spirit of truth and honour doesn't take residence in the house of the Internationalé. It's built on quicksand anyway.

The only notable bias in Skidelsky's writing is one of a pro-Keynesian nature. He raves about Mosley's supposed debt to Keynesian economic theory, but doesn't provide any evidence that Mosley was indeed influenced by Keynes in his economic policy (surely one can come to similar conclusions as Keynes without having studied the work of Keynes?).

It has often been claimed by detractors that Mosley was a man who changed his political stripes like he changed his socks. However, it is apparent that rather than Mosley acting the chameleon in changing his political `allegiance' every few years, the real chameleon's were the main Parliamentary parties themselves, who promised much and delivered little, shaping their own policy in reaction to the `evolving' intensification of predatory financial practice. To his frustration, Mosley found that the Conservatives were not truly interested in conserving anything, and that the Labour party were full of revolutionary sloganeering and pious talk of social liberation, but had no intention of delivering anything of the kind - a case of `don't rock the boat'. Mosley's early political stance was described by himself as a sort of `social imperialism', which in many ways could be described as a proto-National Socialism on an imperialistic scale minus National Socialism's inherent over-arching considerations of racial conservation, with an economic stance more mainstream than the pillar-policy of the `abolition of the thraldom of interest' of the NSDAP in Germany. In fact, according to this biography even in Mosley's BUF days, his plans were for public works to be financed by loans rather than by government-created non-interest bearing currency pumped into the economy, in the National Socialist method. The origin of these loans and the nature of he institutions providing them in a BUF Greater Britain is not covered by Skidelsky's book. It is also important to remember that Mosley's economic policies never really altered very much at all from his days as a Conservative MP until leader of the post-war Union Movement.

Personally, I felt this biography revealed my own economics knowledge and understanding to be rather infantile, which is a good thing as far as I am concerned. Those without even a cursory interest in general economics and politics will find the vast majority of this biography very hard to comprehend. I would say perhaps 80% of the text deals with discussing the economic policies of Mosley and those of his opponents in Parliament.

However, the chapter entitled `The Faustian Riddle' relates to a more philosophical understanding of Mosley's worldview and, for me, was arguably the most fascinating in the book. It particularly dealt with Mosley's discovery of Hellenic thought (particularly pre-Socratic thought) and his studies of Goethe's Faust, which he became intoxicated by. He embraced a more general European worldview, akin to that of the ideological basis of the Waffen SS, and even took it upon himself to learn German while incarcerated between 1940 and 1943. His main idea in this era was for a united European nation that would provide a `third way' to the USSR-dominated East and the USA-dominated West, an outlet for true `Europa-ism' that bucks the alien ideologies of the USSR and USA. He provided an image of Europe and Africa bound by a vision of European co-habitation among the riches of Africa, which would be partitioned between negroes and Europeans, each race having it's own states within the African continent. Ultimately, Africa was to become "two thirds black and one third white", with the negro nations receiving any assistance they required from European expertise, without any exploitation - something Mosley could not abide. Mosley abhorred the existing policy of apartheid as exploitative and self-destructive, and campaigned for a true apartheid where blacks and whites were segregated into separate nation-states rather than segregated within nation-states. In these European-colonised areas of Africa he envisioned Frenchman sweating alongside German sweating alongside Spaniard, alongside Briton, Italian, Swede etc in a great collective effort to build magnificent European colonies rather than each nation of Europe bleeding each other dry in a literal sense. Mosley knew that the negro simply had no notion or interest in making the best of the rich natural resources nature had given to the `dark continent', and that therefore it was up to the European to make this continent his `back garden' as a means of allowing the Euro-African bloc to become an entirely self-sufficient, autarchic economic unit - something that Mosley advocated from the earliest days of his political career.

The chapters on Mosley's efforts to gain electoral support in the post-war years make tragic reading, revealing the futility of his strenuous efforts (no matter how ingenious) in the face of an ever-expanding, ever-consolidating Financial-Democracy that has become increasingly lenient towards Marxists and an electorate whose minds have become more and more like putty in the hands of the media - a prelude to our flimsical and warped `democracy' today.

This was arguably the best biography I have yet read. It does a fine job of not only offering a picture of Oswald Mosley and his influence, but also the time and atmosphere that Mosley existed in.
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on 25 December 2013
This is the definitive biography of Sir Oswald Mosley, well written and objective, far superior than the hatchet job of Dorril . If you are only ever going to buy one book about Mosley's life then this has to be the book.
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on 21 January 2015
This probably ranks as the definitive book about Mosley. It is well researched and packed with relevant information about his progression through life and through the political wilderness in which he seemed to thrive.
My only real criticisms are that the "Battle of Cable Street" is somewhat glossed over in a few pages and despite the authors denial, I cannot help but feel that Mosley is seen through slightly tinted glasses. The Mosley family - including Oswald - cooperated in the writing of this book and I think this has helped sanitise some of the more obnoxious aspects of his character. The Blackshirts were, in truth, a body of semi-disciplined thugs who latched on to Mosleys populist views and this was a great excuse for a fight. Mosley himself is portrayed as "not quite" anti semitic or racist, but it is not hard to see through this façade.
Otherwise I think it is an excellent and generally well balanced book.

Overall, an exceptionally informative and interesting read.
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on 31 October 2015
A very detailed and through biography of a very complex man.
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on 18 March 2012
Oswald Mosley by Robert Skidelsky is a good book about one of the more interesting and infamous characters in twentieth century British politics. The story of Mosley and his fall from being the great hope of the Labour Party to the leader of an odious band of thugs is a fascinating tale and is dealt with very well by the author. The book itself is fast-paced, interesting and opinionated although it does have to be said that the sections on the post-1930s period is not up to the quality of what has gone before. Overall, it is a very good and interesting book.
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on 20 October 2010
Unlike the previous reviewer I do not consider this book to be unbiased...frankly it appears to have been written by an apologist for Mosley...claiming (on numerous occasions) that the Jews were to blame for everything Mosley and the Blackshirts did....whilst not excusing the fact that some anti-fascists did 'hit first', Skidelsky's view seems to be that the Blackshirts and Mosley were poor and hard done by, and that they merely reacted to being attacked...the reality is that marching through a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood whilst shouting anti-semitic statements is more than a little provocative and it begs the question of just how deliberate such provocation was...
I am very glad that I only borrowed this from the library for a paper I had to write....had I been unfortunate enough to actually buy this then I would most likely have used it for its most useful purpose - lining the cats litter tray...
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