Harold Macmillan

Harold Macmillan

by Charles Williams
     
 

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Harold Macmillan was the British Conservative Prime Minister from 1957 to 1963. A man of civilized, humane conceptions of the purposes of government, he was also a figure of paradox. Beneath the studied Edwardian manner was a subtle and acute intelligence. His reputation for unflappability concealed a temperament of surprising sensitivity. The reassuring father

Overview

Harold Macmillan was the British Conservative Prime Minister from 1957 to 1963. A man of civilized, humane conceptions of the purposes of government, he was also a figure of paradox. Beneath the studied Edwardian manner was a subtle and acute intelligence. His reputation for unflappability concealed a temperament of surprising sensitivity. The reassuring father figure who seemed a guarantee of continuity showed a willingness to change direction matched by few of his predecessors. In the 1930s he was right when his contemporaries were wrong; in the 1950s on his accession to the premiership, he was able to restore unity, morale, and self-respect to his party and his country. In the 1960s, he put Britain on a course to a new role within Europe, withdrew from Empire, and was in part responsible for the Test Ban Treaty which marked the beginnings of a detente between the West and Soviet Russia. Personified as "Supermac" in popular cartoons, he was an early master of the soundbite, and his phrasemaking still occupies any dictionary of quotations—"a little local difficulty" (on the resignation of his entire Treasury team); "a wind of change" (decolonization of Africa); and "selling off the family silver" (his 1984 anti-Thatcherite maiden speech in the House of Lords).

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A fine achievement, fair in tone and spare in style. This thoroughly absorbing book chronicles the tragic odyssey of an almost-great man—INDEPENDENT

[Williams] has produced a biography that...is a model of its kind - diligently researched, gracefully written and never short of absorbing—DAILY TELEGRAPH

Charles Williams's thoughtful and well-informed new life...comes as a welcome treat...he captures better than any other writer the tensions between the different facets of Macmillan's personality—SUNDAY TIMES

Charles Williams' biography is an antidote to nostalgia...a lean compelling narrative with a more detached and critical point of view—LITERARY REVIEW

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780297851943
Publisher:
Orion Publishing Group, Limited
Publication date:
10/01/2009
Pages:
560
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.00(d)

Meet the Author

Charles Williams, Lord Williams of Elvel, former industrialist and banker and now a Labour peer, was appointed to a life peerage in 1985. He served on the Opposition front bench from 1986 onwards and was elected Opposition Deputy Leader in 1989. He is one of Britain's most distinguished biographers.

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