HALIFAX: The Life of Lord Halifax by The Earl of Birkenhead

HALIFAX: The Life of Lord Halifax

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Report repeated from p. 1259, 1965, when scheduled for earlier publication as follows: ""Edward Wood (1881-1959): Lord Irwin, 3rd Viscount and 1st Earl of Halifax; Parliamentarian; Chancellor of Oxford University; Viceroy of India, 1925-30; Minister of Education; Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 1938-39; Ambassador to Washington, 1940-1946...Even in outline the record is impressive. In this massive biography the 2nd Earl of Birkenhead, Halifax's friend, fills in the spaces and reveals the man behind the record. The son of an enormously rich Yorkshire family, reared to wealth and privilege, Edward Wood was born without a left hand, a disability to which he adapted himself in childhood. Falling heir to the family title and estates on the death of his older brothers, he also inherited his father's passionate belief in the Anglo-Catholic faith, a passion equalled only by his own love of foxhunting. Aloof, very tall, endowed with a ""devastating charm,"" as Viceroy Halifax helped lead India to Dominion status and was blasted by Churchill for working with Gandhi. As wartime Ambassador to Washington his charm won friends for England even among isolationists, an achievement now lost in memories of his blunders as Foreign Secretary to Neville Chamberlain. Blinded to reality by his belief that God alone controlled the world and convinced of Hitler's honesty, Halifax agreed to the Munich Pact and worked with Chamberlain to appease Hitler, a fatal mistake for which England has never forgiven him. Based largely on Halifax's private papers, this lengthy and brilliantly documented book pulls few punches, omits few details, and makes few concessions to friendship. American readers may feel that 600 pages of fine print are too many for the subject; historians of 20th century England and India will not share this opinion.

Pub Date: June 9th, 1966
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin