Thrice passed over for Prime Minister, Rab Butler looks back on 40 years of ""serving the establishment with patient, if...

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THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE: The Memoirs of Lord Butler

Thrice passed over for Prime Minister, Rab Butler looks back on 40 years of ""serving the establishment with patient, if unglamorous tenacity"" and with the assurance and unassailable good humor of one who knows he was born to rule -- hence he found it a relatively easy matter to place party unity above personal ambition. Unlike Macmillan and Wilson he is able to vouchsafe his expertise and occasional apologias in a single slender volume which covers his career from 1929 when he first entered the House of Commons to his retirement following the Tory electoral defeat of 1964. The achievements, consistently understated, were considerable -- from the painstaking work toward Indian self-government in the '30's, to the Education Act of 1944, to the post-war renovation of Toryism and the Industrial Charter of 1945 wherein the Conservatives ""accommodated themselves to a social revolution,"" to the Keynsian economic reforms of the '50's and the arduous negotiations on Rhodesian independence in the early '60's. Having served no less than six Prime Ministers -- Baldwin, Chamberlain, Churchill, Eden, Macmillan and Home -- with civility and discretion Butler is not the sort to air intraparty scandals and dissensions in public; thus his assessments of colleagues and superiors, though firm and forthright, tend to err on the side of generosity. As the title indicates, accommodation plus a warm belief in the empiricism and flexibility of the Tory tradition from Peel to Disraeli are the keynotes in this genial reflection which will be read with pleasure by students of British politics and the dignified waning of imperial power. There is a glowing introduction by John Kenneth Galbraith.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 1972

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Gambit

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1972