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Who would have thought that about 25 hours of listening about the life of William Pitt the Younger could be so interesting, informative and engaging. I?m interested in history but only had a vague knowledge of the life and times of this historical character associating him in my mind with being the youngest Prime Minister ever and his exhibiting acumen over financial matters. What a life it was and at such a turbulent time in European history. William Hague has produced not only a book of great scholarship, over the details of the political scene, but also a cracking good narrative that had me eager to return to the recording to find out what happened next to this extraordinary man. The biographical side of the book reveals the complexity of Pitt?s character and his interactions with all the famous men (and it was virtually only men) set against a series of crises in Britain, including the ?madness? of George III, and repeated wars in Europe.
The authors writing style is well-suited to being narrated and is ably read by Richard Burnip. The narrative is enriched by the fact that the author is a politician who knows the ins and outs of the parliamentary system and pokes fun at the shenanigans of his predecessors. Events subsequent to the publication of this book show that little has changed over the last 200 years.
I see that there is an abridged version of this book that some may think an easier listen, but I would recommend this unabridged book as there is so much going on during Pitt?s life that is pertinent to current events coupled with the fact, that in my opinion, this is a cracking good listen.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful
William Hague, at the time of this review, is the Conservative member of parliament for Richmond, Yorkshire, (where I was born) and holds the post of Foriegn Secretary in the coalition government. I am not a supporter of the Conservative party and have no pre - disposition to be nice about Mr. Hague or his book.
Having got that off my chest, I have to report that this is a truly excellent book. Hague's enthusiasm for his subject is infectious and although I have always had some reservations about William Pitt, (particularly his introduction of oppressive legislation during the period of panic brought about by the French Revolution) Mr. Hague has thoroughly overcome those resevations.
Biographers do not have the freedom of novellists to create narrative structures that maintain a reader's interest, but Mr. Hague's encycolpaedic knowledge of his subject together with the passion for politics which he shares with the younger Pitt overcome any such problems. Of all the historical biographies I have read, (and I've read many) this is without doubt the best written and the most readable.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
The history is well written and easily followed by history buffs or otherwise. Well read and intoned, bar the repeated mispronunciations. Is it too much to ask that the BBC check pronoucation?
Otherwise very enjoyable.