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Balfour: The Last Grandee

Arthur James Balfour was born to wealth and position, with intellect and charm to match. His succession of his uncle, Lord Salisbury, as premier in 1902 appeared to be simply another element of his inheritance.

Balfour was a Conservative but never a true-blue Tory like the powerful squirearchy who viewed him with awe but often found him difficult to understand. And no wonder: he was a Scottish laird and an English sophisticate; a ferocious partisan and a celebrated intellectual; a sincere Christianity yet a defender of spiritualism; an Imperialist and a Zionist.

His short-lived premiership was destroyed by party strife, yet in a renewed career he crafted the 1917 Balfour Declaration as well as the 1926 Balfour Definition of the Commonwealth, and at age 73 he dominated the pivotal 1921–2 Washington Naval Conference.

Balfour’s public and private lives were simply remarkable–unimaginable today no matter one’s talents or wealth.


‘Chronicles the triumphs and disasters of a half-century of politics with an easy style and well-researched surefootedness.’

Literary Review

‘Adams is one of those disconcerting Americans who know as much about British history as any Briton. He writes with grace, intelligence and concision.’

Philip Ziegler, THE SPECTATOR

‘Adams is an American historian with a remarkable knowledge and understanding of Victorian and Edwardian politics. As in his previous work, a biography of Andrew Bonar Law, Balfour’s lugubrious successor as Tory leader, he skilfully interweaves his subject’s life with the politics of his age to produce a stylish and readable book.’

David Gilmour, THE TIMES

‘Professor Adams does a grand job of bringing to life the man he calls “the last grandee”, one of the more original Scots who've made Number 10 Downing Street their temporary digs.’

George Rosie, THE HERALD

Buy R J Q Adams