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Disraeli: The Victorian Dandy Who Became Prime Minister

Christopher Hibbert.
Publisher Palgrave  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 9.25 x 6 x 1.2 inches
ISBN 9781403978967
Pages/Publication Date 401/2006
Daedalus Item Code 31477
This item is not available.
To Thomas Carlyle he was "not worth his weight in cold bacon," yet to Queen Victoria, Benjamin Disraeli was "the kindest Minister" she had ever had and a "dear and devoted friend." Joining histories and biographies of Napoleon, George III and IV, Victoria, the Borgias, the Medici, and his fellow Englishmen as a race, Christopher Hibbert here focuses on the personal life of one of Britain's most fascinating prime ministers. A superb speaker, writer, and wit, born into a family of Jewish merchants and widely known as a dandy, Disraeli had no intention of being a politician. In 1839 he married a wealthy and eccentric widow 12 years his senior, and it was his grief over her death in 1872 that impelled him toward public office as a distraction.

"Veteran historian Hibbert summons up the ghost of Benjamin Disraeli (18041881), who along with Gladstone dominated English politics in the Victorian era. Hibbert finds Disraeli's character and personal history intriguing, and the reader will agree. Disraeli was the consummate outsider to the English ruling caste: he was from the wrong class, the wrong schools, the wrong ancestry (the scalding remarks of Disraeli's enemies reminded him all his life of his Jewish origins). Yet Disraeli's ambition and brilliance made him prime minister and a favorite of Queen Victoria. The author has chosen hundreds of quotations from contemporary sources; written by, to or about Disraeli, these excerpts bring the era to life. All who wrote about Disraeli's powers of oratory stressed how spellbinding he was in the House of Commons. Disraeli himself joined in this chorus, characterizing each of his oratorical triumphs as his greatest achievement to date. Hibbert plainly appreciates Disraeli's many abilities (self-assurance, eloquence, gregariousness) as well as his deficits (cynicism, vanity). This is an adroitly written evocation of a compelling but enigmatic personality, a man whose ambition, idealism and opportunism would not seem out of place on the political scene today."Publishers Weekly

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