British PM Neville Chamberlain, best remembered as the sorry figure with the umbrella futilely proclaiming peace at hand, was actually a tough politician in the middle-class Tory mold, says historian Fuchser--with, moreover, a coherent policy to prevent war. This brief political biography establishes only the first. The son of maverick statesman Joseph Chamberlain, and half-brother of Conservative leader Austen, Neville rose quickly in the Tory Party after embarking on a political career at age 42. During WW I he had suffered the loss of a cousin; subsequently, he combined a horror of war with a commitment to preserve the Empire. So, when he became Chancellor of the Exchequer in a 1920s Tory government pledged to a balanced budget, he advocated building up the air force and cutting expenditures elsewhere. He held to that position into the '30s--insisting, in the face of the German threat, that massive armaments were either ineffectual or provocative. That Chamberlain was able to drag his party along despite demonstrable failure-when Hitler broke each successive agreement, Chamberlain persisted in seeing the German people as trustworthy--is only partly explained by his political strength. What is also needed is what Fuchser does not provide: a full picture of the political sympathies of the acquiescent Conservatives. As it is, Chamberlain looks more than ever the appeaser--only not a passive bumbler, an active one.