Clement Attlee: The Man Who Made Modern Britain by John Bew

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By John Bew

John Bew explores the highbrow foundations and middle ideals of the fellow who defeated Winston Churchill and created the britain we all know today.

summary: John Bew explores the highbrow foundations and center ideals of the fellow who defeated Winston Churchill and created the britain we all know this present day

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It is for that reason that the first act opens on the trenches of Mesopotamia as Britain’s future prime minister stormed towards the enemy carrying the red flag of his regiment. This episode is chosen to illustrate a larger point. It is that Clement Attlee was more heroic than he is often given credit for. In using the word ‘hero’, it stresses not so much his personal bravery as his agency in shaping the course of modern British history. The intention is not to offer a value judgement on what constitutes greatness, but to invoke the spirit of Thomas Carlyle’s ‘great man’ theory: an individual who can shape the course of history, rather than simply introduction: the red flag | 17 being carried along by events.

Here was a man who saw no need for the science of public relations, nor showed much willingness to adapt to the requirements of mass media. 30 More favourably, he also earned comparisons with the level-headed midwesterner, Harry Truman, who never quite escaped the shadow of Franklin Roosevelt, but showed himself to be a leader of steely resolve. These two men’s lives were to converge on some of the most pressing issues of the age, including the atomic bomb, the early cold war, and the Korean War.

In 2004, a survey of British academics listed him as the greatest prime minister of the twentieth century. 48 He has never been an unpopular figure, or inspired much hostility. Even those whom he criticised found it hard to resent him. As the historian A. J. P. ’ 49 Nonetheless, he has been disparaged in subtler ways, which this book seeks to address. Some of the criticisms made by contemporaries – about failures in his leadership in the summer of 1947, for example – were justified, and are dealt with in the course of the text.

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