|About the Book|
Benjamin Disraeli, perhaps the best known & certainly the most colorful of Queen Victorias Prime Ministers, has long merited a full-scale biography. This is it, the 1st since the official & monumental study by Monypenny & Buckle which appeared deecades ago. Blake deals with Disraelis political style & above all with the legend that he was moved by a consistent philosophy of Tory radicalism which he conceived in his youth & later put into practice. In place of this, he presents a man moved far less by principle than by sheer zest for the great game, loving power & skillfully maneuvering to get & hold it. Paradoxically, Blake shows how this may have made him far more effective in steering the Tory party into new paths than any man of principle could have been. Disraeli presents a lively portrait of an extraordinary man & of his age. Without ever deviating far from his subject, Blake illuminates the whole arena of Victorian politics. The character he presents is more subtle & fascinating than the conventional image. Altho his origins were less obscure than he liked people to believe, his youth was extraordinarily disreputable for a future Prime Minister & an aura of raffishness hindered him until late in his career. The book follows Disraelis slow climb to power from the time when the young novelist & dandy failed repeatedly to get into Parliament at all, thru his period as a neglected backbencher until finally achieving the Leadership of the Tory Party in the House of Commons &, late in life, becoming Victorias confidant & perhaps most favored Prime Minister. Many characters crowd into the book: the brilliant young men of Young England- Disraelis family, friends, wife & mistresses- his colleagues & opponents in parliament, including Peel, whom he destroyed as an effective political leader, & Gladstone, who hated him- Queen Victoria, whose relationship with him verges on the comic to those reading it some generations later- & the great landed families into whose society Disraeli was finally admitted. A whole vanished world comes to life in this book. In its center stands the brilliant, enigmatic figure of one who was perhaps the most atypical inhabitant, but who has come to symbolize, for Americans at least, the Victorian Age.