Ernest Bevin was a great figure of British politics in the second quarter of the 20th century. As a trade union leader, minister of labour during the Second World War and foreign secretary in the 1945 Labour government, he fought Nazism and communism. A pro-empire socialist patriot, he knew and loved power, and wielded it in the service of the organised British working class. He is the subject of a new biography by Andrew Adonis. Heavily reliant on previous Bevin biographies, Adonis offers a nice line in comparisons between Bevin’s and his own political experiences and a lot of respect for his subject. The result is a book that is better researched than Boris Johnson’s biography of Churchill by an author who is much less self-obsessed.
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