Britain and Joseph Chamberlain

Michael Balfour
Date Published
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After all the endeavours that combined to make Britain the first great industrial nation, that dominant position was then relinquished. Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914), the driven and self-made Birmingham businessman who shifted his energies formidably into politics, might have appeared to be one leader well equipped to help Britain stay competitive in the global race for economic growth. But, as Michael Balfour suggests in this absorbing study, Chamberlain’s personality and temperament were not suited to the challenge.

Determined always to have his way, animated by ‘the business man’s love of getting things done’, Chamberlain lacked the gift of persuasion and made enemies too well, it being his unique achievement to split both major parties in the space of twenty years. Had it been possible for one man to arrest Britain’s slackening growth then that man, Balfour contends, was not the erstwhile ‘Radical Joe.’


Michael Balfour (1908-1995) was a writer, historian and public servant. Educated at Rugby and Balliol College, Oxford, he held various senior civil servant posts before becoming Professor of European History at the University of East Anglia. He wrote nine books on modern history, three of which are being reissued in Faber Finds, The Kaiser and His Times, Propaganda in War,…

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