Michael Foot has been a controversial and charismatic figure in British public life, political and literary, for over sixty years. Emerging from a famous west-country Liberal dynasty, he rose as a crusading left-wing journalist in the late 1930s: ‘The Guilty Men’ (his book on the pre-war appeasers of Nazi Germany) is one of the great radical tracts of British history. He has been the voice of libertarian socialism in parliament, an international socialist and government minister, and was Labour leader for two-and-a-half years between 1980 and 1983. His political friendships with people like Beaverbrook, Cripps, Aneurin Bevan and Barbara Castle were passionate and profound, but he also had a remarkable and quite different career as a man of letters, with Dean Swift, Tom Paine, Hazlitt, Byron, Wordsworth, Heine, Wells and Silone amongst his heroes. Foot’s two-volume life of Aneurin Bevan is a triumph of political biography. Kenneth Morgan’s biography does full justice to both the public and the private side of Michael Foot – no more tellingly than his descriptions of Foot’s long and happy marriage to the filmmaker, feminist and writer Jill Craigie.
Reviews of Michael Foot
‘I was engrossed. Kenneth Morgan’s superb portrait quickly takes shape…This is much more than another Labour biography. It is a portrait in bright oils of a master parliamentary literary-politcal agitator, in a society congenitally hard to rouse.’ Prospect
‘A joy to read, erudite, wry, sensitive and enlightening, packed with juicy items…from nearly a century of tumultuous personal, party and national events.’ History Today
‘Magnificent biography…Morgan has given us a book that is everything an authorized biography should be. It’s compendious meticulously researched with the collaboration of its subject, and contains every fact you are ever likely to want to know about him.’ Guardian
‘A substantial work of history, not shy to explore Foot’s human frailties…Yet it is also affectionate, conveying the warmth of Foot’s generosity of spirit and his passions.’ Scotsman
‘Beautifully written, and with facts and arguments skillfully assembled…a supremely honest scholar.’ Financial Times
‘Morgan’s judgements of Foot are elegantly balanced…accurate narrative and careful analysis.’ Roy Hattersley, The Observer