MUGGERIDGE: The Biography by Richard Ingrams

MUGGERIDGE: The Biography

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This admiring, authorized biography of Muggeridge--a British journalist and gadfly turned crusading Christian--substitutes chumminess for understanding. Muggeridge's endless career changes and his flip-flopping attitudes on politics and religion have confused his friends, critics, enemies, and now, it seems, his biographer. Although Ingrams had complete access to Muggeridge's estate, he merely skims the life, making minimal use of his subject's personal papers to analyze the man's complicated interior life. Muggeridge's childhood of suburban socialism and his Cambridge education detoured in 1924 to a teaching position in India, whose independence he supported. After his stint as the left-wing Manchester Guardian's ""man in Moscow"" and his marriage into the socialist Webb family, he developed an intense, unfashionable anti-Soviet streak. Muggeridge found himself in intelligence during WW II and, in spite of inveterate womanizing and boozing, still achieved more than his colleague Graham Greene. In the postwar era, Muggeridge hit his mercurial stride, and Ingrams has his easiest time. He effortlessly recounts how Muggeridge solidified his reputation as a controversial personality by means of his Punch lampoon of Winston Churchill; his criticism of the BBC's cult of the monarchy while under contract as an interviewer; and his protest against Krushchev's visit to England. Muggeridge's career in television reached its apogee with a documentary on then-unknown Mother Teresa, which also turned him toward evangelical Christianity after a life of agnostic ambivalence, adultery, and general sensuality. Although Ingrams unearths a previous religious interest at Cambridge, his superficial treatment of Muggeridge's twilight conversion is the book's weakest point. With his breezy, clubbish Fleet Street style and muted ""authorized"" tone, Ingrams relies on his subject's notoriety for drama, for the most part glossing over any sign of a complex inner man.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1996
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperSanFransisco