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Bonar Law: The Unknown Prime Minister

By R. J. Q. Adams

‘A model of lucid and authoritative political biography.’ – John Campbell, The Independent

The first UK Prime Minister born overseas, and shortest-serving, Andrew Bonar Law is often overlooked. A Canadian-born Glasgow businessman, he entered politics in 1900 and within four years was a member of Balfour’s government. By 1911 he headed the Conservative Party and in the twelve years that followed he reunited and reorganized it. 

During the Great War, Bonar Law wagered all on co-operation with Lloyd George; he became virtually co-premier with the ingenious Welshman, whose reputation as ‘the man who won the war’ owes much to their alliance. The coalition of Liberals and Conservatives prospered until Bonar Law’s retirement in 1921, when tensions between the parties built to the point of explosion. 

Bonar Law was both complex and tragic; he was a passionate husband, indulgent father and generous friend, as well as a lifelong depressive whose private life was cursed by terrible losses.

This illuminating biography — the first of Bonar Law for more than 40 years — makes an important contribution to the political literature and will appeal to anyone with an interest in British politics and history, and all who enjoy a thoughtful biography.

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