British History Roy Jenkins Gladstone

ISBN 13: 9780679451440

Gladstone

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9780679451440: Gladstone

From the New York Times bestselling author of Churchill, a towering historical biography, available for the first time in paperback.

William Gladstone was, with Tennyson, Newman, Dickens, Carlyle, and Darwin, one of the stars of nineteenth-century British life. He spent sixty-three of his eighty-nine years in the House of Commons and was prime minister four times, a unique accomplishment. From his critical role in the formation of the Liberal Party to his preoccupation with the cause of Irish Home Rule, he was a commanding politician and statesman nonpareil. But Gladstone the man was much more: a classical scholar, a wide-ranging author, a vociferous participant in all the great theological debates of the day, a voracious reader, and an avid walker who chopped down trees for recreation. He was also a man obsessed with the idea of his own sinfulness, prone to self-flagellation and persistent in the practice of accosting prostitutes on the street and attempting to persuade them of the errors of their ways. This full and deep portrait of a complicated man offers a sweeping picture of a tumultuous century in British history, and is also a brilliant example of the biographer’s art.
From the Trade Paperback edition.

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From the Publisher:

Random House editor Ian Jackman: Roy Jenkins has taken one of the towering figures of nineteenth century Britain and fleshed him out brilliantly in this biography that has been an award-winning bestseller in the U.K. Roy Jenkins has been one of the most important European politicians of this century, holding two of the three biggest jobs in British politics - Chancellor of the Exchequer and Foreign Secretary as well as the most important position in the European Community. It is as if the Dulles brothers and Henry Stimson had combined to write a biography of Theodore Roosevelt.


William Ewart Gladstone was British Prime Minister four times, a unique accomplishment, and a founder of the Liberal party and the modern democratic Parliamentary system. His were the last efforts made by any British politician that had a good chance to resolve the situation in Ireland. He was a great scholar and linguist, a wonderful orator, a devout Christian, and a vigorous walker and tree-feller. But he was also a deeply passionate man, constantly aghast at his own sexual impulses and the means he sought to relieve and divert them. It is extraordinary to read how the British Prime Minister would stand undisguised in Piccadilly, one of London's busiest streets, and accost prostitutes and try to talk them round from their fallen ways. He was a mild flagellant and enjoyed being disgusted by moderately pornographic books.


In short, he was complicated, and Jenkins, with a delicate, wise, and often funny hand, has rendered this apparently contradictory Gladstone whole - a genuinely interesting and commanding figure whose life forms a great part of the history of nineteenth-century Britain.

From the Back Cover:

“[An] enthralling biography...utterly absorbing.”
—The Atlantic Monthly

“Excellent...wry, urbane, and laced with a gentle, affectionate irony—exactly the right tone for a historical monument who really was monumental....Jenkins makes Gladstone’s life intelligible, affecting...entertaining.”
—The Boston Sunday Globe

“A question that Jenkins’s biography raises for the reader: why is it so much fun to read about Victorian politics?...An exhaustive, permanent biography, whose greatest virtue is its extraordinary worldliness. Jenkins has a bred-in-the-bone sense, almost unique among political biographers, of politics as improvisation, game, and even theatre.”
—The New Yorker

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