Roy Hattersley was elected as an MP in 1964 and served in each of Harold Wilson's governments and in Jim Callaghan's Cabinet. He has written his GUARDIAN column 'Endpiece' for the last 20 years
Hattersley, a former Labour MP and cabinet minister as well as a historian (The Life of John Wesley), peels back the layers of a half-forgotten era: the brief Edwardian age, sandwiched between the mammoth Victorian era and the modern menace of World War I. Too often, political movements and scientific advances of this era are swallowed by the history on either side. Hattersley brings them forth, showing how they informed the rest of the century and how the era's modern sensibilities and deeply felt ideals would carry over to postwar British society. Issues such as women's suffrage, Irish independence, the end of the colonial period (in the shape of the Boer War), and even the coming of the automobile were all Edwardian concerns. Hattersley's style of history is deep but never didactic, and the individual sections never lose their collective momentum or cohesiveness. Altogether, he gives a clear sense of the exhilarating, momentous decade and a half and rescues the era from its musty image. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Elizabeth Morris, Illinois Fire Service Inst. Lib., Champaign Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
* Informative and always easy to read . . . Hattersley has done a fine job Andrew Lycett, SUNDAY TIMES Well written and wide ranging book . . . his account of the period is consistently enjoyable Piers Brendon, DAILY TELEGRAPH Hattersley makes a riveting case . . . a bold, sweeping synthesis . . . full of gleaming nuggets and offbeat points redolent of hours hunched over neglected papers. It is no surprise to readers of his journalism that it is superbly written, gleefully but wryly highlighting the absurdities and pomposities of the age . . . Hattersley s prose flows smooth as the port at a Sandringham shooting party. What makes this book is not just the quality of its social and political analysis, but the breadth of detail and the quality of its gossipy anecdotes Colin Donald, HERALD [A] solid book . . . Hattersley writes entertainingly . . . He is a clear and vigorous writer Anne Chisholm, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH The Labour Party s loss is literature s gain . . . Roy Hattersley is now carving a niche as a master of popular history and biography. This splendid popular history will confirm Hattersley s status as one of the most interesting writer-politicians of our time. As an author of non-fiction he continues to be, in racing parlance, one to note Frank McLynn, DAILY EXPRESS This is well-judged narrative history, shrewd and stirring in equal measure . . .
In this intricate, self-assured and insightfully anecdotal account of British social and political history from 1901 to 1914, Hattersley (Nelson, etc.), a former Labour MP and cabinet minister, challenges the notion of the Edwardian age as "a long and sunlit afternoon," instead presenting it as a time of massive upheaval. After dissecting the louche temperament of King Edward VII, Hattersley profiles the period's leading political protagonists, including the "young turks" A.J. Balfour and Joseph Chamberlain (each "handicapped by character weaknesses") and analyzes the politically efficacious if "unlikely partnership" of soldier Winston Churchill and Welsh solicitor David Lloyd George. Pithy chapters delineate the raging issues that fatally divided the Liberal Party: empire and the Boer War, Irish nationalism, women's suffrage, the trade union movement and the rise of the Labour Party. Throughout Hattersley emphasizes the House of Commons' transformation in this period from a "gentleman's Parliament" into a professional legislature. He also summarizes cultural and social highlights, such as the professionalization of sports; new movements in the arts; intellectual life and church politics; and of course the advent of WWI. Illuminating the motivations of individuals and the age-old tensions between prominent elite families, Hattersley also challenges the traditional leftist view of Churchill. A convincing account of a watershed epoch, Hattersley's concise yet comprehensive history casts new light on a much-misunderstood era. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Maggie Pearlstine, U.K. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.