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Radical Joe

Denis Judd
Date Published
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Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914) was a towering personality in an age of political giants. Disraeli, Gladstone, Lord Salisbury, Winston Churchill and Lloyd George all flourished during the span of his career, but he was not outshone by any of them.

Possessed of enormous energy he made a profound mark on Victorian and Edwardian politics; his pugnacious, demagogic style aroused either adulation or hatred, never indifference. But he was a man of abundant contradictions as Denis Judd skilfully illuminates: the wealthy industrialist who espoused Radicalism; the luxury-loving Nonconformist who championed the downtrodden; the architect of organized Liberalism who left Gladstone and split the Liberal Party in 1886; the scornful critic of privilege and peerage who became a vital vote-winner for Lord Salisbury and the Tories; a creator of Unionism who helped to send the Unionist party to the electoral massacre of 1906; the alleged Republican who became the greatest Imperialist of his time.

In short, Joseph Chamberlain is one of those fascinating larger-than-life figures about whom the final word can never be written but who need to be frequently reassessed. In this biography, Denis Judd not only provides the best account so far of his extraordinary life but casts new light on such key issues of the time as electoral and social reform, Irish Home Rule, the Boer War and tariff reform.

‘. . . the best short study of Chamberlain that has so far appeared . . .’ Asa Briggs, Guardian

‘. . .an excellent book, readable, clear, cool, scholarly, realistic and based on careful documentary research. . . Denis Judd’s first class biography reveals as much of the truth as we are ever likely to get.’ Robert Blake, Sunday Times

‘Denis Judd writes easily and with humour, presenting Chamberlain through the eyes of both his critics and admirers. No significant aspect of Chamberlain’s work or personality is omitted.’ Julian Amery, Sunday Telegraph