Citizen Clem
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Citizen Clem : A Biography of Attlee: Winner of the Orwell Prize

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**WINNER OF THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL WRITING****WINNER OF THE ELIZABETH LONGFORD PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL BIOGRAPHY***Book of the year: The Times, Sunday Times, New Statesman, Spectator, Evening Standard*'Outstanding . . . We still live in the society that was shaped by Clement Attlee' Robert Harris, Sunday Times'The best book in the field of British politics' Philip Collins, The Times'Easily the best single-volume, cradle-to-grave life of Clement Attlee yet written' Andrew RobertsClement Attlee was the Labour prime minister who presided over Britain's radical postwar government, delivering the end of the Empire in India, the foundation of the NHS and Britain's place in NATO. Called 'a sheep in sheep's clothing', his reputation has long been that of an unassuming character in the shadow of Churchill. But as John Bew's revelatory biography shows, Attlee was not only a hero of his age, but an emblem of it; and his life tells the story of how Britain changed over the twentieth century. Here, Bew pierces Attlee's reticence to examine the intellect and beliefs of Britain's greatest - and least appreciated - peacetime prime minister. This edition includes a new preface by the author in response to the 2017 general election.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 688 pages
  • 136 x 198 x 45mm | 580g
  • Quercus Publishing
  • Riverrun
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 178087992X
  • 9781780879925
  • 7,525

Review quote

John Bew's survey of Labour's post-war hero Clement Attlee resurrects the idea of the political biography almost thought lost: encyclopaedic, analytical, massive in scope but intimate in understanding. * Waterstones Weekly * Both a magnificent renewal of the art of political biography and a monument to the greatest leader the Labour party has ever had. It presents us with a man whose socialism was learned, not acquired * Jonathan Derbyshire, Judge of The Orwell Prize * Winner of the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography His true political genius and unflinching moral purpose are brilliantly reappraised in John Bew's Citizen Clem . . . This book is a rare beast - political biography at its finest, yet one that is deeply moving -- David Bell * Times Literary Supplement * This is a big book in scope and depth and is a very good read besides. It is not just a political biography, but an explanation of the man, what made him, the roots of his patriotism, his military experience in the First World War, his love of literature . . . in a way Citizen Clem is a history of the twentieth century * Tablet * Bew is particularly good on the dynamics of his close relationship with Churchill . . . Bew's revelatory biography explains that achievement. But it also brings us a 3D, flesh and blood Citizen Clem, and boy, does he make him shine! -- Gordon Marsden * Times Higher Education * The best book in the field of British politics. Book of the Year. -- Philip Collins * The Times * Bew has the detachment of a professional historian, but an understanding of politics and personalities. Book of the Year -- Kwasi Kwarteng * Evening Standard * The author sets out to claim a place among the greats for his subject and succeeds . . . The lessons for modern politics are made clearly. Book of the Year -- Daniel Finkelstein * The Times * Attlee was a distant and austere figure by reputation, but the book sweeps that away from the start, recalling Clem the street agitator and war hero. Book of the Year -- Roland White * Sunday Times * 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 * 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 * 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 * 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 * 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 * 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 * 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 * 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 * The brilliant young historian John Bew urges Labour to recapture something of the ethos of the Attlee period * Telegraph * 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 * 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 * Winner of The Orwell Prize for Political Writingshow more

About John Bew

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.show more

Rating details

117 ratings
4.44 out of 5 stars
5 59% (69)
4 29% (34)
3 9% (11)
2 3% (3)
1 0% (0)
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