Disraeli (Lost Treasures Series) Paperback – April 1, 1998
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- Publisher : Prion Books (April 1, 1998)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 819 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1853752754
- ISBN-13 : 978-1853752759
- Item Weight : 0.035 ounces
- Dimensions : 4 x 2.25 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,497,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Blake approaches his subject with evident admiration, but does not fawn or unquestioningly accept the revisionist, self-aggrandizing autobiographical anecdotes that Disraeli was fond of circulating after becoming a "great man." What really sets this work apart is Blake's willingness to take a side, share an opinion, or offer an (extremely) educated guess. As a result, readers have the privilege of becoming intimately familiar with both Disraeli's political genius, and the vast intellect of his biographer. The reader will benefit from keeping Lord Blake's Tory political leanings in mind (regarding Disraeli & Gladstone: "...like most men of genius operating in a parliamentary democracy, they inspired a great deal of dislike and no small degree of distrust among the bustling mediocrities who form the majority of mankind."), yet it would be a mistake to write this biography off as a Conservative paean. To the contrary, Blake goes out of his way to expose false and self-serving political narratives built around the historical figures he profiles - be they Conservative, Liberal, Radical, or otherwise.
This isn't a biography suited for someone new to British history. It's a bit dated, makes generous use of French expressions, and (despite its generally excellent footnote citations) the amateur historian will spend a lot of time looking up names, movements, philosophies, places, wars, and legislation. But that research (i.e., skimming Wikipedia) will only enrich the experience.
This book is full of so many amazing quips that I actually took the time to write some of them down. Many are from Disraeli, but there are plenty of entertaining and insightful one-liners from the author himself:
• "People who are ill-treated do not become any nicer for the experience. Oppressors are often more pleasant to meet than the oppressed."
• "Conservatives are still wondering what they should conserve. Many in recent times must have felt that only a slight variation was needed in Mr. Taper's famous words, to fit their own situations - 'a sound Conservative government, I understand: Tory men and Whig measures.'"
• "The British People being subject to fogs and possessing a powerful Middle Class require grave statesmen."
• "Free trade is not a principle; it is an expedient."
In short, this is a wonderful, masterful biography of one of the most fascinating individuals in British (or any other) history. It's too good to be relegated to a dusty bookshelf in a library that nobody will ever find. If you have a passion for history, a bit of patience, and are willing to learn from a man who knows his business, do yourself a favor and track down this classic.
This book is well written and meticulously researched. I like having the documentation at the end of every chapter instead of it at the end of the book. Blake cover in depth Disraeli’s writing career as well as his life as a politician. The author discussed Disraeli’s faults as well as his strengths. I think Blake did a fairly good job of presenting a neutral view of Disraeli.
I have wanted to read about Disraeli for years because I was constantly coming across him in other biographers such as that of Queen Victoria, Peele and Gladstone. I find this period of British history most interesting.
I read this as an e-book downloaded from Amazon to my Kindle app on my iPad. The book is 860 pages originally published by Faber and Fare in 1966.
Top reviews from other countries
Disraeli was born into middle-class Italian Jewish stock. His father wrote books which collected literary sayings and was a respected figure. For much of his early life Disraeli was a dandy whose hero was Byron. He was a radical who gradually came to feel he belonged in the Tory party, but kicked against the conscientious positioning of Peel, seeking a more flamboyant image for himself. He was not afraid to lampoon and ridicule others and he had the gift of the gab, in speech and in the written word. His first published novel made him many enemies, and for several decades he seemed anxious to add to their number by the opportunist invective he employed to get his way in the House of Commons. However Disraeli had a real feel and appetite for parliament and hung on in there through two or three decades of tough times for the Tories, supporting his senior colleague the Earl of Derby all the way.
He wasn't far off 70 when he became premier and followed the Tory tradition in the Victorian era of passing radical legislation which for one reason or another the Whigs never managed to when he saw through the second Reform bill, allying his party with radical elements to outmanoevre Gladstone.
His rivalry, even according to Blake hatred for Gladstone was a feature of his later years and the combination of their rivalry and the widening suffrage saw in the kind of party politics and electioneering which we are so used to today, replacing the interminable wheeling and dealing in coffee-houses of bygone days.
Blake sees his halcyon days as his foreign policy in outflanking European rivals in managing Turkish-Russian opposition, and flair in managing distractions in Afghanistan and South Africa.
Another feature of this book is a considered view on his novels, his long and successful marriage and his close relationship with Queen Victoria, all of which put him in a sympathetic light.
This book is as good as Gash's biography of Peel; different man, different writer, but equally good.
What is of even greater interest is the classic parliamentary duelling between Disraeli and Gladstone - like chalk and cheese
There is a slight bias towards Disraeli here, especially in Robert Blake's obvious liking for some of Disraeli's novels, which most literary critics dismiss as trashy potboilers. Still, Blake is in the same high Tory mould as his subject