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Clement Attlee: The Man Who Made Modern Britain


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For anyone with what used to be called “progressive tendencies,” the best, if largely overlooked, book of last year was surely John Bew’s biography of Clement Attlee, the leader of the British Labour Party through the Second World War, and then Prime Minister in the first great postwar Labour government. Titled “Citizen Clem” in Britain (Oxford University Press published it here as “Clement Attlee: The Man Who Made Modern Britain”), it is a study in actual radical accomplishment with minimal radical afflatus—a story of how real social change can be achieved, providing previously unimaginable benefits to working people, entirely within an embrace of parliamentary principles as absolute and as heroic as any in the annals of democracy.

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