Edward Heath: A singular life
By: Michael McManus
Sir Edward Heath KG MBE MP (1916–2005) was the first leader of the Conservative Party to come from a working-class background; he was also the first leader to be elected by the party’s MPs, rather than ‘emerging’. His time as Prime Minister (1970–74) was marked by industrial unrest, an upsurge of violence in Northern Ireland and severe economic turbulence, exacerbated by a world oil crisis. He was famously responsible for taking the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community (now the European Union). After Margaret Thatcher deposed him as Conservative leader in 1975, his bitter public feud with her lasted for over two decades.
In this landmark book Michael McManus, Heath’s one-time political secretary, gathers reflections and contributions from an unprecedented range of sources, including Margaret Thatcher, Michael Heseltine, Roy Jenkins, Jim Prior and Steve Redgrave, to shed new light on the personality and politics of Sir Edward Heath.
The Heath that emerges from this consistently insightful, briskly paced, even-handed and unexpectedly entertaining book is an acutely shy man whose bluff exterior hid a fundamental lack of confidence
- John Preston, Daily Mail
[McManus] has written something far more important … ‘Edward Heath: A Singular Life’ is not a narrative history of Heath’s times, nor does it set out to replace the pre-eminent biographies by John Campbell (1993) and Philip Ziegler (2010). McManus attempts, and achieves, something different: an assessment of Heath’s motivation and psychology. Since Heath deliberately built around himself a carapace thicker than a rhinoceros’s hide to protect his privacy and rebuff intimacy, this is no easy task. McManus writes it very well. Movingly, and often comically …The skill he demonstrates is closer to that of a novelist or portrait painter than that of a journalist
- William Waldegrave, Daily Telegraph
This biography of the PM responsible for taking Britain into the EU could not be better timed … In this lucid, often amusing, compilation of anecdotes and insights, McManus captures extremely well what a strange and self-contained man Heath was … McManus’ book is far from being a hagiography; precisely because he worked for Heath for many years, he is admirably clear-sighted about his employer’s monumental insensitivity and self-absorption
- Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
Many witnesses contributing to this interesting new book … Flashes of humour, of great warmth and kindness … revealing
- Richard Ingrams, Spectator