A lot of proofreading errors, and some factual errors, too.
On the positive side, some of the chapters were fairly interesting, and I have to give the...moreA lot of proofreading errors, and some factual errors, too.
On the positive side, some of the chapters were fairly interesting, and I have to give the guy some credit for taking on the tough job of trying to portray George IV as something other than a dissolute and corpulent buffoon.(less)
The author Philip Williams makes the argument that the death of Hugh Gaitskell at the age of 56 in 1963 robbed the Labour Party of Britain of its most...moreThe author Philip Williams makes the argument that the death of Hugh Gaitskell at the age of 56 in 1963 robbed the Labour Party of Britain of its most promising leader of the late 20th century, and robbed Britain of a Prime Minister who might have been able to lead the country successfully through the shoals of decolonization, European integration, and postcolonial delcine.
It's not entirely convincing that one man could have carried Britain into the Promised Land of prosperity and good governance, but certainly if Gaitskell had not died (of complications from lupus!), Britain would have been spared the leadership of Harold Wilson in the latter part of the 1960s - which would have been blessing enough, in my humble opinion!
Gaitskell himself only served one year in one of the important offices of state - he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government of 1950-51. Most of the rest of his political life he spent in Opposition. He seems to have been a principled and appealing political leader with strong intelligence and a moderating personality. 450 pages of small print makes this an extremely detailed biography - and that is 450 pages in an edited and condensed version of what was originally a longer book. It's not really balanced enough to be absolutely reliable, but it "does the job". (less)
The rating is mostly for the photographs which are beautifully reproduced. Sudek (1896-1976) was one of the very greatest of all black and white photo...moreThe rating is mostly for the photographs which are beautifully reproduced. Sudek (1896-1976) was one of the very greatest of all black and white photographers, and his work will have an especially strong impact upon anyone who has had the good fortune to spend time in Prague wandering aimlessly through the streets of the old city. There is also a short but very effective narrative account of Sudek's life and ethos, written by a Czech woman who was one of his curators in the last years of his life. (less)
Marietta Peabody Fitzgerald Tree (1917-1991) never graduated from college nor published a book. Sometimes characterized as the typical "limosine liber...moreMarietta Peabody Fitzgerald Tree (1917-1991) never graduated from college nor published a book. Sometimes characterized as the typical "limosine liberal" of the 1960s and 70s, she was most known as a joiner of committees and as a member of executive boards, an often-seen name in the society pages of the East Coast from the 1940s to the early 1990s, a friend of Jackie Onassis and Bebe Paley. (She also served as an American representative to various United Nations committees in the 1960s.) Yet she clearly deserves her own biography, because her life intersected interestingly with so many currents of 20th century society and culture. She was a scion of the Peabodies, one of the great New England families of wealth and prestige. Her grandfather Peabody founded the archetypal WASP private school of Groton; her father served in an archetypal WASP profession as a member of the Episcopal clergy and eventually became a Bishop in upstate New York.
Marietta lived in the confines of her upbringing, but through her life did her best to establish an identity unique to herself. This is seen most poignantly in her two major extramarital affairs, the first with noted film director John Huston, the second with two-time Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson II. She also had fraught relationships with her two offspring, a daughter from each of her two largely unhappy marriages. Her elder daughter, Frances Fitzgerald, became a noted journalist and wrote one of the best books on the Vietnam War, "The Fire in the Lake." The younger daughter (from her second marriage), Penelope Tree, became a "supermodel" during the "Swinging Sixties."
Caroline Seebohm is at her best in discussing the challenges and constraints of Marietta's largely unsuccessful attempts to balance her emotions with her marital and parental responsibilities. Unfortunately this 420 page book is too long. There are two many extraneous details, too much padding. A strong vigorous editor would have overseen the cutting of 150 pages from the text. (I blame the publisher.)(less)
Interesting to read an anti-Diana account of the Wales' marriage, written in 1988 and thus before the revelations about the Charles-Camilla affair wer...moreInteresting to read an anti-Diana account of the Wales' marriage, written in 1988 and thus before the revelations about the Charles-Camilla affair were made public. (less)