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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.
|Publication date:||1st January 1999|
|Author:||Geoffrey Treasure, Roger Ellis|
|Publisher:||Shepheard-Walwyn (Publishers) Ltd|
|Categories:||Politics & government,|
Geoffrey Treasure was Senior Master at Harrow School. He is general editor of the Who's Who in British History series and has written about French and European history, notably Seventeenth Century France (revised ed., John Murray, 1981), The Making of Modern Europe (Routledge, 1985), Mazarin (Routledge, 1955) and Louis XIV (Longmans, 2001). He has contributed articles to the Encyclopaedia Britannica on Europe and the Enlightenment and to the New Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004). Roger Ellis has had a long and distinguished career in education as Housemaster at Harrow School, Headmaster at Rossall School and Master at Marlborough College. He served as Chairman of ...More About Geoffrey Treasure, Roger Ellis