A LIFE AT THE CENTER by Roy Jenkins

A LIFE AT THE CENTER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Jenkins--author (Truman, 1986, etc.); chancellor of Oxford University; former home secretary and chancellor of the exchequer in various Labour governments--engagingly turns his formidable narrative skills to his own fascinating life. The author's father, a coal-miner of Welsh origin, was, we learn, an ardent unionist who attended Oxford on a union scholarship and became a prominent Labour member of Parliament. Jenkins himself, after a brilliant career at Oxford and as a wartime code-breaker, entered Parliament as a member for Southwark, espousing traditional Labour positions. In Parliament, he came under the influence of Hugh Gaitskell, leader of the Labour Party during the 1950's and champion of that party's right wing. Jenkins quickly assumed a position of leadership, so that, when Labour won a majority in 1964, he easily gained an important Cabinet portfolio, that of home secretary. He subsequently was responsible not only for a major revamping of British law but also for an attempted reshaping of the Labour Party. Jenkins was central to the debate on Britain's integration into the European Community, and, as president of the European Commission, he strengthened that nascent organization, assisting notably in the creation of the European Monetary System. Under Thatcher, he played an unwitting role in the perpetuation of Conservative rule when he cofounded the centrist Social Democratic Party--which, allied with the Liberal Party, split the anti-Conservative vote, and which, after Jenkins's resignation, rapidly disintegrated. A substantial feast spiced by warm, vivid accounts of encounters with Johnson, Kennedy, Harold Wilson, and other lesser politicians, and by an insider's view of the hothouse world of Parliamentary politics. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-41311-1
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993




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