Herbert Samuel's extraordinarily long political life coincided with the long drawn-out sunset of Liberalism as a dominant political force in Britain. His career in the Liberal Party began in the age of Gladstone and ended in the era of Grimond. At the turn of the century Samuel played a vital role in the formulation of the `New Liberalism', and later helped translate that doctrine into legislation that laid the foundations of the welfare state. He played a
central role in the history of Zionism, serving as first British High Commissioner in Palestine from 1920 to 1925. He returned to office in the National Government of 1931, and led the Liberal Party between 1931 and 1935. In later life Samuel won a broad public audience as a philosopher, a respected elder
statesman, and a much admired broadcaster. Bernard Wasserstein assesses Samuel's importance in British politics and in the emergence of the state of Israel. This accessible and scholarly biography, based on extensive research in all the available sources, provides a revealing portrait of a leading twentieth-century statesman.
`It is much to Wasserstein's credit that he has brought Samuel to life in these pages, and told with utmost readibility the story of a man whose career was intimately bound up with the creative days of Liberalism before 1914 ... the great strength of this book is that it weaves together the author's extremely wide-ranging archival trawlings and delvings into a seamless and fascinating narrative.'
Martin Gilbert, The Times.
`Bernard Wasserstein has made a valiant and scholarly attempt to present as warm and interesting a man who was basically a cold fish ... Wasserstein explores an impressive array of sources, writes lucidly, and shows a sure grasp of all the relevant major historical debates.'
Patrick Buckland, Times Higher Education Supplement.
`an exemplary account ...'
Peter Clarke, Times Literary Supplement
`meticulously researched biography ... [a] model of an academic biography'
Anthony Howard, Sunday Times
`Professor Wasserstein has written a flawless study of Samuel, bringing out all his strong points without failing to explain why even people who quite liked him, and certainly admired him, nevertheless found him rather hard to take.'
John Grigg, Sunday Telegraph
`This is a classically good life and times ... This stylishly written biography is a a fine memorial to him [Samuel].'
Ian McIntyre, Independent
Roy Jenkins, Observer
Martin Gilbert, The Guardian
`Wassertein, used to breakfast every morning under Samuel's portrait. This slight but prolonged acquaintanceship may have fostered the sympathetic understanding he has brought to this lively account of a complex subject.'
Chris Gray, Oxford Today
'Professor Wasserstein's account of Samuel's Zionism is eminently full and fair.'
London Review of Books
'This carefully researched book yields a vivid image of the man.'
David Krivine, Jerusalem Post
'Bernard Wasserstein has put us all in his debt by producing the first full-length biography of the Liberal statesman, Herbert Samuel, and by doing so on the basis of prolonged search among the archives which this most meticulous of politicians left behind him, as well as other sources, for a career that touched at many different junctures the high politics of the United Kingdom and its Empire and the concerns of Anglo-Jewry. Professor Wasserstein presents
this long story effectively and sometimes eloquently ... a most absorbing book.
Max Beloff, The Jewish Journal of Sociology, Vol. 36, No. 1, June 1992
'A new life of Samuel, based on the comprehensive use of sources, has been long overdue. Bernard Wasserstein has filled the gap, providing a most erudite and immensely readable volume that will surely stand the test of time.'
Geoffrey Alderman, University of London, Political Studies, 1992
`After extensive research in primary sources, Wasserstein has written an exemplary political biography. In clear prose he explains the developments, many of major historical importance, that engaged his subject's attention. ... this excellent work of scholarship will also guide readers through the mazes of British politics during the first half of the 20th century.'
M. Swartz, Choice
'He has certainly brought Samuel to life in these pages, a considerable achievement in view of Samuel's own remoteness and aloofness. Bernard Wasserstein has served Samuel well.'
Midstream, December, 1992
'Bernard Wasserstein, though by no means blind to Samuel's limitations, plausibly shows him to be a decent, fair-minded and kindly man, as well as an able and conscientious administrator ... a biography resting on an impressive body of archival research, which is also well written, admirably proportioned, calmly authoritative, and, like Samuel himself, unfailingly judicious and sane. It is difficult to imagine it ever being bettered.'
G.R. Searle, University of East Anglia, Parliamentary History
'Herbert Samuel and the causes he embraced are well served by this excellent account.'
John D. Fair, Auburn University, American Historical Review
well-researched and well-written biography ... Bernard Wasserstein's first-rate biography of this twentieth-century liberal politician will be of considerable interest to scholars of modern British history and politics.'
Neil L. Kunze, Northern Arizona University, History, Fall 1993
'a sympathetic but not indulgent biography ... Professor Wasserstein's book is thorough and well researched throughout. His tone is mildly austere and his judgement astute. It is a biography of which his subject would have approved.'
Michael Hart, Exeter College, Oxford, History, No. 252, February 1993