AS IT HAPPENED: The Autobiography of by Clement R. Attlee

AS IT HAPPENED: The Autobiography of

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A segment out of the contemporary history, with the figure of Clement Attlee, Britain's Labor Prime Minister, as chief proponent. There's almost an impersonality about the telling, British underplaying of material that could have been highly dramatized in a comparable case in the United States. For Atlee has been head of his party for two decades, served his country for thirty years, in one capacity or another, and has done his quiet part in shaping history during eventful years that spanned two wars. Attlee might have hewed a very different pattern. Born to comfortable middle class heritage, given an Oxford education and training for the law, he chose instead to go into social work in London's Limehouse district, and won the confidence and liking of the people among whom he lived. As his successive political posts took him up the ladder to deputy prime minister with Churchill during World War II, he came to be the symbol of the socialist labour movement, marking its distinctive character in England. He maintained an objective- sometimes a critical- viewpoint towards the achievements and failures of his own party, as he does today as leader of the Opposition. His relations with the big men and small, in high posts, are almost unfailingly perceptive, appreciative, understanding. Only towards Ramsay MacDonald does a certain scorn reveal itself. Here is autobiography that will appeal to students of the period, particularly of the part Britain played and to Anglophiles -- for this is England at her finest. The very understatement and lack of histronics is integral to the telling- and should be recognized even though it may limit and define the scope of reader interest.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1954
Publisher: Viking