In his foreword to this comprehensive study the author, an English political historian, states that the book is an attempt ""to tell the story of an age, especially as it was the setting for one of its greatest figures"". Although the age, like our own, was one of change and unrest, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, a brilliant general and a prejudiced autocrat, ""hated change and ignored unrest"". Born in Dublin in 1769, as a boy the future-Duke survived the horrors of 18th-century Eton and as a young army officer knew the luxury and debauchery of India in the days of the East India Company. (One of the best parts of the book is its account of 18th-century India.) As Duke of Wellington after his victories over Napoleon in the Peninsula and at Waterloo, Wellesley returned to London to spend the rest of his life opposing political and social changes and detesting the lower classes. Endowed with an unbending devotion to duty, as a general he disliked his soldiers, saw to their welfare, never praised them and flogged them incessantly. A disastrous Prime Minister, his incredibly stupid opposition to the Reform Bill brought about his own fall and that of the Tory Party. Erect and trim, obstinate, humorless and efficient, Wellington died in 1852, a great man and to the last a symbol of reaction in an age of upheaval that saw the final flowering of privilege and autocracy. Based to a considerable extent on the Greville and Creevey memoirs, which it supplements, this excellent book is one for students of the period rather than for casual readers; it will be more at home in historical collections and classrooms than on bedside tables.