A masterly biography of a great Conservative Prime Minister (and publisher) - Harold Macmillan (1894-1986). Harold Macmillan was a figure of paradox. Outwardly, it was Edwardian elegance and civilised urbanity. Inwardly, it was emotional damage from his wife's open adultery and his progressive perplexity at the onward march of time. The First World War showed the courageous soldier. From then on, it was politics, rather than the family business of publishing, which was to be his future. Nevertheless, although he supported Churchill in the 1930s he was deemed boring - and certainly not ministerial material. All changed with the Second World War. Appointed Minister in Residence in North Africa...
These political biographies are intended to analyse in depth the real men lurking behind the personality cults of great contemporary statesmen. Their purpose is to explain how such political leaders as Mao Tse-Tung and Macmillan, de Gaulle and Stalin formed their political outlooks, to examine how they gained power and how they held and exercised it, and to suggest what each has come to epitomize in the eyes of his own nation and of the world at large. The political career of Harold Macmillan culminated in one of the greatest enigmas in the politics of the last hundred years: an intellectual, sensitive, aristocratic Prime minister whose premiership is now remembered chiefly for its profligacy, scandal and vulgarity. In the thirties Macmillan was one of the first to understand the significance of Keyne's economic theories, to apprehend the growing menace of Hitler and to accept Britain's changing place in the coming Imperial revolution. In the sixties as Prime Minister he led a regime notable for Premium Bonds, gaming saloons, "Never had it good", government scandals and a mismanagement of resources which brought England to the edge of crisis.
Universally acclaimed as one of the great political lives, Alistair Horne offers a vivid portrait of one of the twentieth-century’s most complex political figures: the crofter’s grandson and the duke’s son-in-law, the soldier and the scholar, the bon viveur and the devout high churchman. Using extensive interviews and exclusive access to unpublished diaries, letter and private papers, Horne explores the Macmillan hiding behind the showman and reveals the insecure and unhappy man remembered as Britain’s most ‘unflappable’ statesman, one of the most consummate politicians of British history. ‘Alistair Horne has done Harold Macmillan proud ... a superb biography and a major contribution to history’ Robert Skidelsky, Sunday Times ‘Macmillan was essentially an artist in politics, and in Alistair Horne he has found an artist in biography. The result is the most completely satisfying life yet written on any twentieth-century British statesman’ David Cannadine, Washington Post
Harold Macmillan presided over the dissolution of the British Empire and the first stages of irreversible economic decline. It was an unlucky end to a political career which had seen Britain's steady extinction as a Great Power, and his reputation will depend on how posterity judges his understanding of these changes, and his skill in adapting himself and his country to meet them. This short but trenchant study of his aims, abilities and achievements concentrates on the premiership, against the background of his political education and rise to power.
Even 35 years after Harold Macmillan's resignation in 1963, opinions are sharply divided over his achievements as a politician and prime minister. This volume contributes to the debate about Macmillan's political role, his successes and his failures, by examining key aspects of his political life. Biographers, historians, and contemporaries present facets of Macmillan's life, his political visions, his skills, successes and failures in his personal life as well as in his domestic and foreign policies. With most official papers covering his active political life until his resignation now in the public domain, a more considered judgement about his party political and his governmental activities is possible. Taking account of this newly-available documentary evidence, there is much yet to be written on Harold Macmillan's career, but this collection bears witness to the fact that his was a magnificent life.