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Contents: Preface; The Chamberlain enigma; Formative influences: from Highbury to Andros; Birmingham and National Service, 1911-August 1917; The frustrated backbencher, August 1917-October 1922; A rising star, October 1922-October 1924; The Ministry of Health, November 1924-May 1929; Opposition and the financial crisis, June 1929-October 1931; The Treasury, tariffs, and economic diplomacy, 1931-34; Depression and recovery, 1931-35; Unemployment, special areas and Lloyd George's 'New Deal', 1932-37; Foreign and defence policy, 1934-37; A new style of Prime Minister, May 1937-February 1938; The road to Munich, March-September 1938; Betrayal, October 1938-March 1939; The coming of war, March-September 1939; 'The Bore War', September 1939-January 1940; Decline and fall, February-May 1940; Epilogue, May-November 1940; Notes and references; A guide to sources; Index.
Robert Self is a specialist in interwar British and international history with extensive experience in historical archives (both private papers and government collections) on both sides of the Atlantic. Among his most recent publications are an edited volume of The Austen Chamberlain Diary Letters to his sisters, and four volumes of The Neville Chamberlain Diary Letters - the latter also published by Ashgate.
'This book is of major importance and will fill the last significant gap in modern British political biography. At last, there will be a life of Neville Chamberlain which is complete, authoritative and based on the most extensive research in government and private archives. Dr Self's lucid study gives a balanced examination of Chamberlain's personal and political life, and a crucial reassessment of this most critical and controversial of 20th century Prime Ministers.' Dr Stuart Ball, Reader in History, University of Leicester 'The author, after immersing himself in the diaries of Neville Chamberlain, has made an authoritative reassessment of a Prime Minister much derided because of his policy of appeasement of the dictators of the 1930s. Self reveals his constructive contribution to public life, in Birmingham's local government, as a social reformer and as a key supporter of Churchill against Halifax in stopping Britain's capitulation to Hitler in May 1940.' George Jones, Emeritus Professor of Government, LSE '... Robert Self's study is by far the most scholarly and well-argued. It provides us with an often incisive and highly detailed account of inter-war Conservative politics with Chamberlain at its centre... Self has done his best to defend and explain Chamberlain. His impressive biography is a substantial contribution to modern political history.' The Tribune 'Self's effort to see Chamberlain as the great talent he was is both useful and necessary.' London Review of Books 'The book is well researched and very readable... Much to be recommended.' Transactions of the Unitarian Historical Society '... (a) highly detailed and engrossing account ... Neville Chamberlain has at last been blessed with the biography he deserves.' History Today '...Chamberlain was always going to need a very good historian to be his biographer; but, in Robert Self, he has assuredly found one. It is not the least of Self's achievements that he covers all areas of Chamberlain's activities convincingly, with a very clear grasp of the secondary literature allied to unusually deep and thorough empirical research on a wide range of archival sources...The product is an authoritative book that is also highly readable...this volume will rightly stand for many years as one of the very best biographies of a twentieth-century prime minister.' History 'The four volumes of Diary Letters and the Biography for a magnum opus which is likely to remain the state of the art on Neville Chamberlain for many years...There is no doubt that this is scholarly biographical writing at its best. All University Libraries should naturally stock the book, whose clear, jargon-free prose will set an example to undergraduates for essay writing.' Cercles, revue pluridisciplinaire du monde anglophone 'Robert Self's Neville Chamberlain: A Biography is an exemplary work, meticulously researched and carefully written, within a manageable 451 pages of text. The acclaimed editor of the four-volume collection The Neville Chamberlain Diary Letters and The Austen Chamberlain Diary Letters, Self is eminently qualified to write this biography which is extensively researched...' British Politics Group Newsletter '[Neville Chamberlain: A Biography] embodies a remarkable feat of primary research, as thorough and clear-sighted as it is extensive. Self not only sifts the most telling evidence from the enormous mass of Chamberlain's own papers and other familiar collections, but has also found revealing material which will be new to historians of inter-war British politics...' English Historical Review 'This exhaustively researched, immensely rich, and layered assessment provides a balanced view of Chamberlain...' Journal of Modern History