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Castlereagh: A Life Hardcover – September 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199931593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199931590
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #906,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"A magisterial guide to Castlereagh's life that should inform the general understanding of international politics today." --Brendan Simms, Foreign Affairs


"In a totally different genre, the best political biography of the year for my taste is John Bew's Castlereagh, a penetrating account of this supercilious and depressive Anglo-Irish nobleman who directed English foreign policy with consummate skill and intelligence in the final years and immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic wars, making himself the most hated man in England and ending up by killing himself." --The Spectator


"Bew's book is not only unparalleled in its size and sweep; it is also drenched in the Irish dimension, enriched by the author's own Ulster heritage, as well as the sagacity, scholarship and charm that make this a Life so nearly complete that it need never be written again." --Ferdinand Mount, Times Literary Supplement


"In this well-researched and judicious book, John Bew successfully readjusts the picture...this excellent biography tells a cautionary tale."--Literary Review


"John Bew has some heavy lifting to do in this consciously revisionist take. It is a great testament to his skills as a scholar and writer that he manages to do so with such aplomb ...stellar."--Tristram Hunt, Daily Telegraph


"More than simply a biography of Castlereagh, it is a fascinating review of the war against Napoleon and authoritative assessment of the personalities involved in the Congress of Vienna and the issues they wrestled with in remoulding the face of Europe.... This is a book that offers insights not only into its subject but the nature and practice of diplomacy, statecraft,nationalism and internationalism."--Irish Independent


"In a formidable biography, John Bew has addressed the reputation of Castlereagh, one of the dominant political personalities of Regency Britain."--Rt. Hon. Keith Simpson MP, Total Politics Books of 2011.


"Monumental." --Mark D'Arcy, BBC Political Books of the Year.


"John Bew is the outstanding historian of his generation. His biography of Castlereagh displays a knowledge of character, a grasp of political intrigue and a talent for story-telling any writer would envy. He brings magnificently to life one of the most enigmatic, and influential, statesmen in Britain's history." --Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP, UK Education Secretary


"Bew is above all a very fine historian, very thorough and an extremely good writer -- he tells a damn good story." --Rt. Hon. Stephen Pound MP, BBC Booktalk


About the Author


John Bew is Reader in History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King's College London. He is also Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence and runs the Foreign Policy Research Group at King's. He writes for the Irish Times, London Review of Books, Spectator, Parliamentary Brief, Standpoint and Times Higher Education Supplement. This is his fourth book.

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Customer Reviews

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This is a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in diplomatic history.
Book Mark
I came away admiring a man who more than anything wanted to serve and made great personal sacrifices to do so!
ptdojaica
And it's a darn good read about the Congress of Vienna and the politics of post Napoleonic Europe.
J. P Spencer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on January 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A favorable yet balanced biography of the controversial British statesman and leading foreign minister of the early 19th century, Lord Castlereagh.

Why invest the time to read this doorstop book? To know more about how Ireland was politically joined to England; as a reminder of the stupidity of George III; to see how the Great Powers organized themselves to corral Napoleon and deal with his chaotic aftermath; to discover how Wellington was placed in command; to gain insights into the workings of the parliamentarian politics of the day; and, to be made aware of the details of the life and death of its subject, a now somewhat forgotten figure.

John Bew, the author, with his well-researched book, has provided me with a fine history of Castlereagh and, indirectly, to a better understanding of the political antecedents to some of the stresses within today's European Union.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Book Mark on February 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed Kissinger's account of Castlereagh's role "A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-22" but learned much more about the man from this biography.

After reading Castereagh I can say that I am no longer afraid of biographies! Sure, they can be dense, but when the work is complete, they can offer an unexpected window into complex periods, which author John Bew captures superbly. It was a complicated, violent time in Europe and Castereagh navigated as best he could. The tragedy of his desperate, paranoid end is stunning for such a tough, seasoned politician.

This is a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in diplomatic history.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By david l. poremba VINE VOICE on February 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Those students of the Napoleonic Era will surely recognize the name, Castlereagh, as he was perhaps the greatest British Foreign Secretary to hold the post, beginning in 1812 and continuing for the next ten years until his death by suicide in 1822. As the principle diplomat at the Congress of Vienna in 1814, he was the first to approach peace building with a cold and calculating perception of the relations between countries and the power behind the redrawn map of Europe.
Author Bew has produced a doorstop of a book full of well researched facts concerning Castlereagh's early career as Chief Secretary of Ireland, his repression of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 (for which he is still hated there) and his instrumental role in the successful and controversial passage of the Irish Act of Union of 1800. After the passage of the Union Act, Robert Stewart, Lord Castlereagh, became Minister of War and Foreign Minister during the most active years of the Napoleonic Wars and his total support for Lord Wellington and the growth of the British Army proved the keys to victory. After the aforementioned Congress of Vienna in 1814, Castlereagh had the extremely difficult task of maintaining the peace and balance of power in Europe, no mean feat at practically any period of history. The book ends with the much maligned statesman's suicide in 1822, the result of a nervous breakdown.
If the reader has the resolve to stay with this book, John Bew's writing style will inform and enlighten from first page to last. A rewarding journey.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wabbit98 on October 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Few people outside of England will recognize his name. Outside of history students even fewer would recognize his name. Yet he was one of the principal architects of the Union between Ireland and Britain, he helped bring together the countries of Europe to defeat Napoleon twice, he helped shape the post-war European world that maintain stability for a good portion of the 19th Century. His name was Castlereagh, he was born in Ireland as Robert Stewart. In time the Irish came to hate him for what he did in 1800; and still have not forgiven him. After his death he name was vilified by the British press and his peers. His name became a word for non-intervention and realpolitik , Henry Kissinger would write his dissertation on Castlereagh. John Bew, with this book, helps to rehabilitate the image of Castlereagh. Exploring his early upbringings his short stint at College and his early entry into politics. After he entered politics he would rarely leave it, being War Secretary, Foreign Secretary, and the man for the government in Parliament. He was attacked unmercifully by the press during this time period, and always under a lot of pressure until his death. Mr. Bew does an excellent job, though his writing can become a bit stale after awhile.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maura Mallory on January 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very thorough, well researched, well written history of Castlereagh. It includes personal details of his life that answered many questions for me as to his personality, his relationship with his wife, etc. It also covers in great detail his journey from Whig to Tory and why he made that change.

The book also gives Castlereagh well-deservered credit for the fine work he did in Vienna and in Paris on behalf of his nation and Europe. This book is a must have on the research shelf for anyone interested in the Penninsular War, the Napoleonic Era, the Irish Rebellion and other great moments at this turning point in history.
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