ANTHONY EDEN: A LIFE AND REPUTATION by David Dutton

The career of Anthony Eden as British Foreign Secretary before, during and after World War II and his Prime Minister ship during the Suez crisis is fraught with many myths that historians have debated for decades. David Dutton in his monograph, ANTHONY EDEN: A LIFE AND REPUTATION has joined the debate presenting the reader with a work that is less a biography and more so an analysis of Eden’s career from the early 1930s to the debacle over Suez in 1956. The book is very well researched, though it could have used further American sources in dealing with the Anglo-American relationship that dominated English foreign policy during the period. Eden comes across as a political animal that is somewhat disingenuous in dealing with the appeasement issues of the late 1930s that resulted in his first resignation from public office. The major themes of the book include the evolution of Eden’s attitude toward the United States during World War II until his resignation in 1956; his relationship with Winston Churchill over strategy during the Second World War and his endless wait for Churchill to retire and allow him to assume the office of Prime Minister in 1955; and accepting England’s decline from being a major power after 1945. Dutton deals with many other concerns highlighted by Eden’s attitude toward Franklin Roosevelt, his hatred of Benito Mussolini, the onset of the Cold War and relations with the Soviet Union, the integration of Europe after World War II, and his obsession with Gamal Abdul Nasser. The reader is presented with many important insights into the personalities and policies involved during Eden’s long career and is left with the feeling that Eden was not quite up to the roles ordained by British politics and was chosen for his different offices in part because of a lack of talent in the British Foreign policy establishment and Eden’s public persona. The book would be very useful from an academic perspective, though there are a number of areas that the author treats that are not totally accurate; i.e.; Eden’s true attitude toward appeasement, the plight of the Poles during and after World War II, and the Suez Crisis. However, though the general reader might find the material plodding in spots if one is interested in the subject matter the book is a welcome addition the works of Robert Rhodes James and David Carleton.

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