Prime Minister by Peter Hennessy
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Prime Minister
By Peter Hennessy

The Prime Minister

The Office and Its Holders Since 1945

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Format: Paperback

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Prime Minister by Peter Hennessy

Book Description

In The Prime Minister: the Office and its Holders since 1945, Peter Hennessy explores the formal powers of the Prime Minister and how each incumbent has made the job his or her own. Drawing on unparalleled access to many of the leading figures, as well as the key civil servants and journalists of each period, he has built up a picture of the hidden nexus of influence and patronage surrounding the office. From recently declassified archival material he reconstructs, often for the first time, precise prime ministerial attitudes towards the key issues of peace and war. He concludes with a controversial assessment of the relative performance of each Prime Minister since 1945, from Clement Atlee and Winston Churchhill to Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, and proposes a new specification for the premiership as it enters its fourth century. 'I really can't praise it too highly: a tremendous achievement instant classic' Antony Jay, author of Yes, Prime Minister 'Supersedes everything else written on the subject. If I were Tony Blair, I'd keep a copy by my bedside' Adam Sisman, Observer 'A must ...far and away the best account of the office of the First Lord of the Treasury, its history, powers and practice, and an independent assessment of the occupants of Downing Street since the Second World War' Tony Benn, Spectator 'Important and extremely readable . ..Hennessy's portrait of the Blair premiership is fascinating ...a major contribution to our understanding of how we are governed' Peter Oborne, Sunday Express Peter Hennessy is Attlee Professor of History at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. Among many other books, he is the author of The Secret State, Whitehall and Never Again: Britain 1945-1951, which in 1993 won the NCR Award for Non-Fiction and the Duff Cooper Prize.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780140283938
ISBN-10: 0140283935
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 32mm)
Pages: 720
Imprint: Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 6-Sep-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions...

Books By Author Peter Hennessy

Silent Deep by Peter Hennessy Silent Deep, Paperback (June 2016)

'The Ministry of Defence does not comment upon submarine operations' is the standard response of officialdom to enquiries about the most secretive and mysterious of Britain's armed forces, the Royal Navy Submarine Service. This title reveals the history of the Submarine Service from the end of the Second World War to the present.

Harold Wilson by Peter Hennessy Harold Wilson, Paperback (March 2016)

Reissued with a new foreword to mark the centenary of Harold Wilson's birth, Ben Pimlott's classic biography combines scholarship and observation to illuminate the life and career of one of Britain's most controversial post-war statesmen.

Kingdom to Come by Peter Hennessy Kingdom to Come, Paperback (April 2015)

Hennessy surveys the constitutional building site opened up for the whole of the UK by the Scottish referendum, offering personal impressions of the time when the 300-year-old Act of Union was called into question and when he, as the UK's foremost expert on our unwritten constitution, became an important voice in what may happen next.

» View all books by Peter Hennessy


UK Kirkus Review » Churchill once likened the Britich prime minister to a sun from which all other luminaries in public life derived their radiance, although the old warriors postwar record dimmed memories of his former brilliance. The achievements of Churchill's 'Indian summer' premiership mingle, however, with more bizarre recollections by contemporaries about the habits of his companions at NO 10: not least Toby the budgerigar prone to opening his bowels on the Chancellor's bald head. This shamelessly personal style of heading a government - and how the role had changed since Churchill had first occupied it - are at the heart of Hennessy's examination of this institution. It is an office that remains unique, a metaphor for Britains's puzzling 'silent construction', shaped by its incumbent and hence a reflection of his or her strengths and shortcomings. The political historian's guided tour takes the reader into the minds if the 11 individuals who have occupied the office since 1945. In doing so, he develops a unique audit of performance: Attlee and Thatcher score highly as 'weathermakers' transforming the British agenda, while the hapless Eden and Major languish in catastrophic and overwhelmed categories of their own. Hennessy's aim is to examine an issue clearly troubling him: the temptation to carve from such a fluid office a presidential style of rule at the expesnse of Cabinet and Parliment. Much of this book would, indeed, appear to be a preface to his examination of Tony Blair's prime ministership, one dogged by criticism of his Napoleonic command and control style - a style which Hennessy himself warned in 1997 usually 'ended in tears'. This authoritative history is by far Hennessy's most significant, yet it is delivered with his characteristic ablility to feed us fascinating titbits that bring wihtin our reach otherwise remote historical subjects. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Peter Hennessy

Peter Hennessy is Attlee Professor of History at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. Among many other books, he is the author of WHITEHALL ('Much the best book on the British civil service ever to appear', Anthony King, Economist) and NEVER AGAIN: BRITAIN 1945-1951, which in 1993 won the NCR Award for Non-Fiction and the Duff Cooper Prize

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Prime Minister by Peter Hennessy
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