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Michael Foot’s two-volume biography of Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan (1897-1960) – arguably Britain’s greatest socialist, indelibly associated with the founding of the National Health Service – is one of the major political biographies of the last century. It is the life of an inspirational politician, written by one who knew and unabashedly admired him.
Volume I, first published in 1962, describes Bevan’s life from his birth in Tredegar in the South Wales Valleys, through his abortive schooling, his employment at a colliery and the subsequent embrace of socialism that would make him a leader among South Wales miners. It follows his path to the House of Commons as a Labour MP with a fast-rising reputation as a defender of the working class; and his marriage in 1934 to fellow firebrand MP Jennie Lee. The volume closes with Labour’s landslide election victory of 1945, and Bevan’s appointment as Minister of Health.
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