Rating: 5 out of 5
It is a remarkable opportunity to find a man who has occupied every great office of state and yet is humble and honest. Clement Attlee was such a man. This autobiography was, to me, a perfect addition to his biography that I read last year which opened my eyes on this Prime Minister. How this improves on John Bew’s writings is through the personal touch that this medium gives.
Perhaps the most wondrous part of this book was its simplicity of style: there never was a moment where Mr Attlee tried to bamboozle the reader by over-complicating what he was saying. Yet, throughout all this, the language that he uses is complex, the thoughts are nuanced, and a clever mind is racing through history.
Mr Attlee ticks the box for elegance. He talks about very serious matters in ways that make sense. Yet, the reader is not belittled. Some anecdotes are included in nearly every chapter, most of these expanding the story with a humorous take. It is also beautiful to read the numerous tributes to his co-workers which are included in this book. It is clear that the author didn’t bear grudges and saw the potential in everyone.
Mr Attlee’s rule remains one of the more illustrious times in modern British history, and it was spectacular to read the man’s own words on what happened and why. Perhaps the only narrative I found strange was that of Newfoundland, having read the former dominion’s story as written by a local — nevertheless, some good points were made about this such as local poverty and lack of infrastructure. More compelling were the narratives on India and other parts of the Empire.
While a long time has passed since Attlee was PM, I think this book still deserves a read. For me, this was a great window into the soul of the leader though it also offers clarity on what he set out to achieve.