Clement Attlee The Man Who Made Modern Britain

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2017-03-02
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, Winston Churchill's wartime heroics and larger-than-life personality propelled him to the center of the world stage. To most, he remains Great Britain's greatest Prime Minister, his fame and charisma overshadowing those who followed in his footsteps. Yet while he presided over his country's finest hour, he was not its most consequential leader. In this definitive new biography, John Bew reveals how that designation belongs to Clement Attlee, Churchill's successor, who launched a new era of political, economic, and social reform that would forever change Great Britain.

Bew's thorough and keen examination of Attlee, the former leader of the Labour Party, illuminates how his progressive beliefs shaped his influential domestic and international policy. Alternatively criticized for being "too socialist" or "not radical enough," Attlee's quiet tenacity was intrinsic to the success of his party and highly pertinent to British identity overall. In 1948, he established the National Health Service as part of his "British New Deal"-a comprehensive, universal system of insurance, welfare, and family allowances to be enjoyed by all British citizens. Attlee also initiated key advancements in international relations by supporting the development of both the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and by granting independence to India, Burma, and Ceylon. More controversially, he sanctioned the building of Britain's nuclear deterrent in response to the rise of the Soviet Union and the threat of atomic bombs.

Clement Attlee: The Man Who Made Modern Britain explores his tenure in the years after the war, as he presided over a radical new government in an age of austerity and imperial decline. Bew mines contemporary memoirs, diaries, and press excerpts to present readers with an illuminating and intimate look into Attlee's life and career. Attentive to both the man and the political landscape, this comprehensive biography provides new insight into the soul of a leader who transformed his country and by extension the vast empire over which it once ruled.

Author Biography

John Bew is Professor of History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King's College London. Previously, he was a Lecturer in Modern British History at Cambridge. In 2013, he was named to the Kissinger Chair at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. He is the author of five books, most recently Realpolitik: A History.

Table of Contents


Part One: Patriot, Citizen, Soldier, 1889-1918
1. Introduction: The Red Flag
2. "With apologies to Rudyard Kipling"
3. DDS News from Nowhere
4. The Soldier

Part Two: The Making of a Politician, 1918-1931
5. Looking Backward
6. Building Jerusalem
7. Fame is the Spur

Part Three: Albion's Troubles, 1931-1940
8. The Bullion Family
9. The Anti-Cromwell
10. The Major Attlee Company and the Clenched-Fist Salute
11. A Word to Winston

Part Four: Finest Hour, 1940-1945
12. All Behind You, Winston
13. The Hunting of the Snark
14. The Invisible Man

Part Five: New Jerusalem, New Deal, 1945-1947
15. To Hope Till Hope Creates
16. English Traits, American Problems
17. The British New Deal
18. Empire into Commonwealth

Part Six: After New Jerusalem, 1948-1955
19. In Barchester All is Not Well
20. Taxis, Teeth and Hospital Beds
21. The Pilgrim's Progress

Part Seven: Mission's End, 1955-1967
22. Few Thought He Was Even a Starter
23. Epilogue: The Promised Land


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