Edward Heath: The Authorised Biography

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HarperCollins UK, Oct 28, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 672 pages
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The magisterial official life of Britain's complex and misunderstood former prime minister, which offers a fundamental reassessment of his reputation.

Edward Heath was at the centre of British political life for much of the second half of the twentieth century. Entering the House of Commons in 1950, he served as a whip and a minister before becoming Leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister from 1970 to 1974. But today he is largely a forgotten figure, eclipsed by his more celebrated successor, Margaret Thatcher.

In this masterly official biography, distinguished historian Philip Ziegler offers a timely reassessment of Heath's remarkable political career. With exclusive access to personal papers unavailable to previous biographers he presents the first fully rounded portrait of our most enigmatic former prime minister.

Beginning with Heath's early years - his childhood in Kent, student days in pre-war Oxford, wartime military service and short business career before he immersed himself in politics - Ziegler goes on to chart Heath's effortless rise through the ranks of the Conservative Party. He brilliantly captures Heath's rivalry with Harold Wilson and the supreme drama of 1974 - the year of two elections and a hung parliament - with its uncanny parallels for our own times.

Politics consumed Heath's life but he nonetheless found time for other pursuits, becoming an accomplished conductor and an internationally successful yachtsman. The book explores Heath's endlessly fascinating personality and casts fresh light on the financial affairs and private life of this most complex of political leaders.

Heath's later years were blighted by the 'long sulk', as he failed to come to terms with losing the leadership to Margaret Thatcher. But this should not disguise his considerable achievements. He helped to transform the Conservative Party, and by securing Britain's historic entry into Europe, the high point of his career, he arguably changed the lives of the British people more fundamentally than any prime minister since Winston Churchill

 

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Contents

List of Illustrations
ix
Foreword
xi
Acknowledgements
xiii
Abbreviations used in text
xvii
The Child and the Boy 1
593
Balliol 17
594
War 35
595
In Waiting for Westminster 49
596
The Second Round 271
609
Ulster 298
610
Choppy Water 318
612
The Approaching Storm 354
613
Foreign Affairs 374
614
Hurricane 401
616
Defeat on Points 428
618
The Uneasy Truce 443
619

Chief Whip 88
597
The First Round 111
599
Minister 136
600
Leader of the Opposition 161
602
Problems with the Party 189
604
Victory 210
605
Making a Ministry 227
606
The Pains of Office 256
608
Defeat by Knockout 470
620
Adjusting to a New Life 489
621
The Long Sulk 515
623
Filling in Time 550
624
Declining Years 578
626
Notes 593
627
Index
637
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Philip Ziegler was born in 1929 and educated at Eton and New College, Oxford, where he gained first class honours in Jurisprudence. He then joined the Diplomatic Service and served in Vientiane, Paris, Pretoria and Bogota before joining the publishers William Collins, where he was editorial director for fifteen years. His many books include biographies of William IV, Lady Diana Cooper, Louis Mountbatten and Harold Wilson, as well as the classic history of the Black Death.

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