A Biography of Attlee
Winner of The Orwell Prize for Political Writing Easily the best single-volume, cradle-to-grave life of Clement Attlee yet written. Professor Bew updates but also betters all the other biographies with this intelligent, well-researched and highly readable book. Scholarly and perceptive, it tells the story of how quiet determination and impeccable political timing wrought a peaceful revolution * Andrew Roberts * If Labour is to return to power, it is not to Tony Blair and Harold Wilson to whom it should turn for inspiration but to the ethos and example of Attlee . . . Citizen Clem promises to be one of the highlights of the autumn season -- Jason Cowley * New Statesman * The brilliant young historian John Bew urges Labour to recapture something of the ethos of the Attlee period * Telegraph * In this monumental biography, John Bew sets out to explore, not just the scale of the achievement, but to discover what made Attlee tick . . . A good book about a remarkable man -- Chris Mullin * Guardian * Fascinating . . . He writes with flair and considerable intellectual confidence . . . Bew believes that Labour has lost a sense of historical mission . . . This insight seems right to me -- Jason Cowley * Financial Times * This biography makes a strong case for Attlee's greatness . . . Such contradictions deserve a discerning biographer, and in John Bew, Attlee has the man he deserves. He has written with verve and confidence a first-rate life of a man whom he correctly argues has been under-appreciated . . . What a life and what a man -- Daniel Finkelstein * The Times * Outstanding . . . This excellent new life of Labour's greatest leader . . . We still live in the society that was shaped by Clement Attlee . . . Bew's achievement is not only to bring this curious and introverted man to life, but to make him oddly loveable. He steps out like a character from the pages of the social novels of H. G. Wells or George Orwell . . . To read this book in the shadow of the present Labour leadership election is a salutary experience -- Robert Harris * Sunday Times * An absorbing new life of Clement Attlee shows how a quiet man from the suburbs became Labour's unlikely postwar hero . . . So how did a man who was the object of so much private derision by his peers come to preside over Labour's greatest (some might say only) radical government? Bew puts the question at the core of his story. He answers it convincingly by mixing arresting narrative with a thorough study of the people and policies of the Labour movement at a time of hardship interspersed by war and fierce ideological difference . . . The book is replete with amusing vignettes . . . This book will become required reading for the present-day Labour party -- John Kampfner * Observer * Magisterial . . . A great work of personal biography, social history, political philosophy, international relations and ferrets-in-a-sack Labour Party infighting . . . Bew explores in great detail Attlee's pilgrim's progress toward socialism with a thorough critique of his literary, cultural and political reading. . . As the Labour Party retreats towards ideological self-immolation, as Britain stumbles on the world stage, and as European social democracy stands in peril, we need another Attlee more than ever. In the absence of which, we have Bew's brilliant book -- Tristram Hunt * Prospect * Read this book to understand what Labour once was and what has been lost because of its embrace of identity politics and ultra-liberalism. Book of the Year -- Jason Cowley * New Statesman * A masterful portrait of a man who led the Labour Party for 20 years and arguably did more than any other UK politician to shape the postwar world . . . Attlee was a patriot who believed that tolerance was Britain's greatest gift to the world. Now, more than ever, it is tolerance we need. Book of the Year -- Tom Watson * New Statesman * Attlee was a distant and austere figure by reputation,
John Bew teaches History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King's College London. He was the winner of the 2015 Philip Leverhulme Prize for outstanding achievement in Politics and International Studies and previously held the Henry Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. John is a contributing writer at the New Statesman and the author of five books, including the critically-acclaimed Realpolitik: A History and Castlereagh. He was born in Belfast, educated at Cambridge, and lives in Wimbledon, London.