The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone Vs. Disraeli

The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone Vs. Disraeli

Hardback

By (author) Richard Aldous

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Paperback $20.24
  • Publisher: WW Norton & Co
  • Format: Hardback | 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 173mm x 236mm x 36mm | 771g
  • Publication date: 30 September 2007
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0393065707
  • ISBN 13: 9780393065701
  • Edition statement: American.
  • Illustrations note: 16 pages of illustrations
  • Sales rank: 780,223

Product description

William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli were the fiercest political rivals of the nineteenth century. Their intense mutual hatred was both ideologically driven and deeply personal. Their vitriolic duels, carried out over decades, lend profound insight into the social and political currents that dominated Victorian England. To Disraeli a legendary dandy descended from Sephardic Jews his antagonist was an "unprincipled maniac" characterized by an "extraordinary mixture of envy, vindictiveness, hypocrisy, and superstition." For the conservative aristocrat Gladstone, his rival was "the Grand Corrupter," whose destruction he plotted "day and night, week by week, month by month." In the tradition of Roy Jenkins and A. N. Wilson, Richard Aldous has written an outstanding political biography, giving us the first dual portrait of this intense and momentous rivalry. Aldous's vivid narrative style by turns powerful, witty, and stirring brings new life to the Gladstone and Disraeli story and confirms a perennial truth: in politics, everything is personal."

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Editorial reviews

Aldous (School of History & Archives/University College Dublin) chronicles the engrossing political chess match between two vastly different British prime ministers in lively prose that delivers the pacing and plot twists of a novel. Aristocratic William Gladstone (1809 - 98) was a stern moralist, Jewish outsider Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 81) an affable orator whose ascendancy to power was hailed as a breath of fresh air by many among his colleagues and the public. Disraeli's foppish charm won him the steadfast loyalty of Queen Victoria, whose admiration was such that she even elevated him to the peerage, an act that only intensified Gladstone's intense dislike for his enemy, who heartily reciprocated his sentiments. Whispers about Gladstone's penchant for prostitutes hurt his reputation less than it might have in today's political arena: Even after he insisted that he sought to "save" these women from their lot in life, opponents and supporters alike merely laughed about his "benevolent nocturnal rambles." The author offers an entertaining look at Disraeli's quirky habits, explaining that the confirmed dandy "was also a parvenu who unnerved his aristocratic colleagues with his unusual ideas (not least in dress) about how a country gentleman lived and behaved." After all the vitriol that passed between the two great leaders, it's oddly touching to know that upon hearing the news of Disraeli's death Gladstone noted in his diary, "There is no more extraordinary man surviving him in England, perhaps none in Europe." Underneath the motherlode of distaste for each other, Aldous suggests, ran a hidden vein of respect.No stunning new information here, but a rousing portrait of 19th-century England's most venomous political rivalry, featuring a highly readable exploration into the dueling natures of two powerful men. (Kirkus Reviews)