HAROLD MACMILLAN: Politician, 1894-1956 by Alistair Horne

HAROLD MACMILLAN: Politician, 1894-1956

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From British historian Horne (Napoleon, Master of Europe 1805-1807; A Savage War of Peace; etc.), the first volume of a multivolume, definitive biography of the British statesman. Like Churchill, Macmillan was born of an American mother--although, unlike the promiscuous Jennie Churchill, Nellie MacMillan played a dominant and highly influential role in her son's career. And unlike Churchill, Macmillan did not have an ancestry steeped in English history. Instead, he was born of the prominent publishing finn that bears his surname to this day. Macmillan's first 40 years were laden with ironies that Home blends into a tale of riveting interest. Constitutionally shy, the future PM was forced to challenge his shyness by his mother's persistent goading and her manipulation of him into important contacts as if he were a piece on her personal chessboard. A peaceful man of deep intellect, Macmillan found himself near death on three different occasions on the battlefields of WW I. An awkward speaker, he also found himself, at age 30, propelled into a seat in Parliament. An adoring husband, his dual attentions of his political and publishing careers led his wife to carry on, openly, a lifelong affair with Robert Boothby. Finally, often considered second to Churchill as Britain's greatest statesman, it took Macmillan fully 14 years to reach a position of national leadership, and until his 63rd year to attain the prime ministry. In between, he served as liaison between Churchill and Eisenhower, as treasury director, and as foreign secretary. Intensely researched, detailed, and readable: an excellent biography. Volume II will cover Macmillan's prime ministry.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1989
Publisher: Viking