This book offers brief portraits of each occupant of the highest political office in Britain. Those who have managed to climb successfully to the top of the 'greasy pole' were sometimes lesser men than contemporaries who slipped from it tantalisingly near their goal. Among the Prime Ministers are several who, by any criterion, must be judged remarkable individuals; several, too, whom the more severe historian might be tempted to dismiss as nonentities. ?That power and its pursuit can be a corrupting influence should come as no surprise. There is a gambling element that has always had appeal. It can be seen notably in the careers of Disraeli and Lloyd George: eloquent, imaginative, high in self esteem, ready to leap the stream where others would look for stepping stones; each in his way an adventurer, though capable of rising to statesmanship; each an outsider willing to challenge convention; regarded at different times as outrageous. ?But it was often the steadier men who proved more successful. Those who lacked this quality, in the eyes of their contemporaries, had to wait long in the wings, a Canning or a Churchill.
Reliability, assiduity, management skills, as demonstrated by Pelham, Liverpool, Attlee and Major, were as likely to be rewarded as flamboyant genius. ?Successful politicians of all types have shared a sustained appetite for power, the sine qua non of ultimate success. A Grafton or a Rosebery rose to the top in favourable circumstances, but they did not stay long, for they lacked this drive.
Publisher: Shepheard-Walwyn (Publishers) Ltd
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 730 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 33 mm
'...for an introduction to the political lives of the 50 Prime Ministers from Walpole to Major (with an envoi on Blair), these elegant essays could hardly be bettered.' Country Life A well-written and handsomely illustrated tome, which includes short essays on each of the fifty-one premiers from Walpole onwards.' The Political Review This impressive, eminently readable tome fills a distinct gap and is to be warmly welcomed. All the entries show evidence of wide, thoughtful and up-to-date reading, and the authors have skilfully woven their findings into a coherent narrative with a succinct, accessible style. Their assessments and conclusions are unfailingly judicious and penetrating... The study succeeds in being comprehensive and detailed without being at all superficial. It is certain to appeal to academics, college and university students and the general reader alike and will undoubtedly stand the test of time.' -- Dr J Graham Jones, Senior Archivist and Head of the Welsh Political Archive, National Library of Wales. Journal of Liberal History Issue 53 Winter 2006-07. Concise biographies of the 50 men and one woman made all the more engrossing by their brevity... The ration of roughly 2,500 words allotted by Roger Ellis and Geoffrey Treasure is more than adequate to provide insight into the sort of individuals whose egos are large enough to persuade them they are fit to lead a country... There is an insightful preface by Lord Butler, who, having served five prime ministers, knows more about the breed than most.' This England