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Disraeli: The Victorian Dandy Who Became Prime Minister

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2007

    Perhaps a little too focused...

    The name Benjamin Disraeli, for me, was one that existed in metaphor or vague reference. Seeking to rectify this, I made an effort to locate what, I hoped, would be the defining biography on the man many of my more knowledgable friends regarded as utterly fascinating. And while this particular biography embarks on the ambitious trail of piecing together the man behind the publicity, it overachieves its goals, focusing a little too stringently on the dandy, the self-indulgent orator, the consumate rascal, that it tosses in the more globally important issues like scraps. The Crimea, the Indian Mutiny, and other matters whose scope extends beyond Benjamin writing or being written to about the glory and splendor of his last speech are left to the history-minded reader to piece together for themselves from other sources. The gargantuan cast that presents itself throughout the book provide charm and more than a little bit of confusion you might want to keep a notebook of who is who and why. I think the author had a very clear idea of what he wanted and he handily accomplished it. But, despite some very interesting moments and insights into the titular historical figure, you're not likely to learn anything useful in political discussion or as gain a reference for Victoria politics. Then again, that might not have been the point of the book. A good read, but do not look to it for all the information.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    good bio

    If anyone should never have made it to the elite of Victorian England¿s political power that person was Benjamin Disraeli. That is the premise of Christopher Hibbert¿s superb biography of the late nineteenth century prime minister. Everything about Disraeli marked him as an outsider who should have remained in the ooze below the political food chain. He was from a Jewish middle class ancestry yet somehow he became Queen Victoria¿s favorite politician as his ability to spellbind the House of Commons with his oratory skills and his overall strategic brilliance made him a force though also a cynical idealist.--------------------- This is a fantastic biography of an individual that brings to life one of key figures of the latter half of the nineteenth century as well as a feel for the period. Though born in 18804 (died in 1881), the emphasis is on his political career, which brings out the traits of a complicated person in vivid detail. This is must reading for biography fans as Mr. Hibbert brings Disraeli and late Victorian England to life.------------ Harriet Klausner

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