Cit­i­zen Clem

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN MEAGHER

John Bew

River­run, 668 pages, €20 As UK Prime Min­is­ter in the im­me­di­ate post-war years — 1945 to 1951 — and as leader of the Labour Party for 20 years, Cle­ment At­tlee was one of the most sig­nif­i­cant fig­ures in UK pub­lic life in the 20th cen­tury.

This ex­haus­tive bi­og­ra­phy — which won the Or­well Prize for out­stand­ing writ­ing on pol­i­tics — is a cra­dle-to-the­grave ac­count of At­tlee’s life and times.

It ex­am­ines how this quiet man from the Lon­don sub­urbs be­came Labour’s un­likely hero and how he helped sta­bilise Bri­tain af­ter the horror of the World War II. Bew — pro­fes­sor of his­tory at Kings College, Lon­don — painstak­ingly doc­u­ments his achieve­ments and fail­ings and shows how his sub­ject was very dif­fer­ent to the cold and aus­tere fig­ure of rep­u­ta­tion.

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