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Robert Peel: A Biography Hardcover – Jun 14 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing (June 14 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297848445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297848448
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 15.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 862 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,279,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By John W. Chuckman - Published on
Format: Paperback
Here is a fine biography of a politician written by another politician.

Robert Peel, while a figure of considerable importance to British history, led what many would regard as an unexciting life, and Peel was the kind of aristocratic figure many people today might find relatively unsympathetic. So it is a good measure of Hurd's success with the book that he makes it interesting, and it is very well written.

I use the adjective "aristocratic," because Peel was actually one of the "new men," a rich merchant's talented son, but his political alliances were necessarily frequently with the landed aristocrats who played a large role in the Conservative Party of that time, and his own views were not the stirring stuff of democratic principles and modern conceptions of human rights. Of course, he was given a title for his service, a practice which itself reflects the evolution of British government with the growth of the middle class.

What Douglas Hurd does exceptionally well is to show us the decent and sympathetic man Peel was. Peel was ready when his keen mind perceived that the world was changing in ways that warranted change by government to advocate the needed change, often finding himself opposed by the kind of conservatives who believes little should ever change. We get a nice feel for the stresses and difficulties involved in Peel's various efforts at reform, given his political world and party.

I admired Hurd's effort to give the modern reader some appreciation of the changing nature of Parliament and its rules, often giving comparisons with how things worked then to how they work now. The nineteenth century was a dynamic era of political change in Britain - driven by the forces of the industrial revolution and exploding world trade - as the country developed into a modern democratic state, and the book reflects that.

This is a fine book for students of British or European history or social change or the evolution of modern democratic government.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Hurd's Peel May 4 2008
By Anon - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Well researched biography of one of the most important British Prime Ministers of the 19th century with interesting comparisons to present day politics from a former British cabinet minister. Rather limited view of Peel's social and family life, while the political aspect is covered in depth.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Real good biography Dec 1 2013
By L. Berlin - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I did not know what to expect from Lord Hurd as a writer since so many people of political background prove to be mediocre writers (Roy Jenkins for one) I am impressed. Hurd does a great job of discussing this important man and his role in British history. His discussion of the early career and time in Ireland to his defeat by the Whigs with help by Disraeli is fascinating. He does a decent job making Peel human and more understandable. For somebody interested in England at this time, I highly recommend the book. I also found his insights into modern politics and Thatcher, contained within the book but not more than a digression, appropriate and interesting.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An interesting biography. Sept. 15 2012
By drohan00 - Published on
Format: Paperback
Hurd gives a good account of the founder of the Conservative Party. His Corn Laws made him anathema to England's landed classes, yet people he saved many from starvation. His political genius endeared him to the new Queen Victoria, and helped shepherd the reform bill through the house of commons. Although he was against reform, he helped make it a reality. I had never thought of Peel, but I found him to be a fine man and a real contributor to England's transition to full democracy.

A leader and statesman, all people interested in true benevolent political leadership should attempt this account by Mr. Hurd.

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