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Disraeli (1966)

de Robert Blake

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327259,231 (3.5)2
Reissued as part of Prion's Lost Treasures series, this classic biography details the life and career of Benjamin Disraeli, one of Britain's most famous prime ministers.
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Few prime ministers in British history have been as memorable as Benjamin Disraeli. The son of a prominent literary scholar, he enjoyed success as a novelist before turning to a career in politics, Though elected to the House of Commons at a relatively late age, the split in the Conservative Party over the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 (a split resulting in part from Disraeli’s active campaigning against the measure) catapulted him to the front rank of the party. After several brief periods in office during the 1850s and 1860s, he became the leader of the party in 1868 and served twice as prime minister, where he spearheaded the acquisition of the Suez Canal and won admiration for his role at the Congress of Berlin in 1878.

Disraeli has not wanted for biographers, yet Robert Blake’s work has long been the standard by which they were judged. A renowned historian, his book offers an engaging and insightful look at Disraeli and his times. He presents Disraeli as a Romantic figure whose career was guided by his idolization of the monarchy and an aristocratic order that had long shunned him. While such views may have been more fitting for the political world of the 18th century rather than that of the 19th, his belief in the continuing relevance of these institutions in an increasingly democratic age eventually won the social parvenu the gratitude of the nobility and the devotion of his queen, who mourned his passing when he died in 1881.

In reading Blake’s book, it is easy to understand why it endures as a study of Disraeli’s life and career. Though some of his interpretations have been superseded by subsequent work, Blake’s success in conveying the flamboyance and political ability of his subject makes this a book a rewarding and enjoyable read today for anyone seeking to learn about this unique and fascinating figure. Nearly a half century after its publication, this remains the best single book on Disraeli and continues to serve as an excellent study of the politics of Victorian Britain, one that is essential reading for anyone interested in its subject. ( )
  MacDad | Mar 27, 2020 |
1124 Disraeli, by Robert Blake (read 23 Aug 1971) This 1967 book has been acclaimed the definitive biography of its subject. Disraeli was born in London on Dec 21, 1804, baptized in the Church of England in 1817, led an immoral life as a young man, wrote novels, had much money trouble, finally got elected to Parliament on July 27, 1837 (he received 616 votes and won!), was instrumental in the downfall of Peel in 1846, became Prime Minister in 1868, won a great Tory victory in 1874, lost to Gladstone in 1880, and died on April 19,1881, at his country home, Hughendum. The book deals with all the obscure English parliamentary things, the Berlin Conference of 1878, and much more. I admired Disraeli in power, even though ideologically I would not expect to. But I have a soft spot in my heart for the British Empire, and always will have, and this book suited me fine. I really don't think this is as perfect a biography as the one I read of Asquith (by Roy Jenkins) in January of 1969, because it was not quite as chronological, and it was a little long, and it assumed a little too much familiarity with English mid-19th century facts. But I did enjoy it, and feel the reading to have been well worthwhile. ( )
  Schmerguls | May 17, 2009 |
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Reissued as part of Prion's Lost Treasures series, this classic biography details the life and career of Benjamin Disraeli, one of Britain's most famous prime ministers.

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