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Bonar Law

Perhaps the least known of Britain’s twentieth century premiers, the Canadian-born Bonar Law entered politics in 1900 at the age of forty-two and within two years held government office. In 1911, he was elected leader of the Conservative Party and in the twelve years that followed, reunited and reorganized it, thus preparing the way for the century of Conservative electoral success that lay ahead.

Setting aside party differences, during World War I, Bonar Law cooperated with the Liberal Lloyd George, whose reputation as “the man who won the war” owes much to their alliance. The Conservative-Liberal coalition prospered until Bonar Law’s retirement in 1921, and a year later, the Conservatives turned again to him, and with little more than a year to live, he agreed to take the premiership and lead the Tories from beneath Lloyd George’s shadow.

In this illuminating biography, the author reveals an effective political leader who mastered his contentious party and the House of Commons as few others had done. Bonar Law is also revealed as a complex and tragic man—a passionate husband, indulgent father, and generous friend—who was nonetheless a lifelong depressive whose private life was cursed by terrible losses.


‘Adams has written a scholarly and sensitive book which penetrates some dark corners of Conservative history and helps revive the humanity of one who frequently appears in the literature as a displaced company director lacking both humour and flair.’ - Michael Bentley, English Historical Review

‘Fully informed, clearly written, and fair in its judgments, this is the biography to read to know Bonar Law.’ - George Edgerton, Journal of Modern History

‘This is a fine biography, scholarly, wise and generous.’ - David Gilmour, Financial Times

'A model of lucid and authoritative political biography.' - John Campbell, The Independent

'This is an authoritative book… an essential work.' - John Vincent, The Spectator

Buy R J Q Adams