Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947) is one of the most significant modern British politicians, but also one of the most controversial and puzzling. As Conservative leader and three times prime minister, Baldwin presided over the beginning of his party's long twentieth-century dominance. He did so in new and difficult conditions: the onset of modern democratic politics, the rise of Labour, chronic economic depression, the General Strike, persistent newspaper attacks, imperial discontent, the Abdication, and the threats from Mussolini and Hitler. This book provides a new understanding of Baldwin's career, including the first serious analysis of the moral and intellectual influences of his early life. Its main concerns are the investigation of a Conservative mind, and its communication with the various audiences that constituted the political nation. This is not a conventional biography, but rather an examination of the nature of political leadership, Conservative politics, and 'national values'.
'Williamson's is the best book on Baldwin yet ... He deserves all possible credit for the diligence of his research, the breadth of his vision and the rigour of his analysis.' Times Literary Supplement '... a masterpiece of craftsmanship, insight and persuasion ... the best book on Baldwin ... Williamson speaks with unrivalled authority ... of general importance about politics in modern societies.' The Spectator 'Williamson argues his case convincingly, with a superb mastery of the primary sources ... His ... study puts the three-times premier back at centre-stage, as the most important politician in interwar Britain.' History Today 'Baldwin is the best book yet written about its subject.' The Times '... outstanding ...' Kenneth O Morgan, The Independent '... ambitious ... Williamson fulfils his intention to demonstrate a more productive method of studying a politician's career than is usually supplied by the standard life.' London Review of Books '... a valuable addition to the literature on pre-1945 politics.' Anthony Howard, New Statesman 'Philip Williamson['s] ... meticulously researched and thoughtful work ... contains many insights and fascinating revelations.' Ben Pimlott, The Guardian