Supermac, By DR Thorpe

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In this massive, measured and absorbing biography, Harold Macmillan emerges as a good, if not a great prime minister and, better still for the reader, a deeply interesting man. "The essence of his persona was as elusive as mercury."

Despite being the apparent quintessence of the Establishment (Eton, Balliol, the Guards), he often went against type. As the grand old man of the Tory party, he not only accused Mrs Thatcher of "selling the family silver" but also took the title Earl of Stockton due to its association "with an earlier age of unemployment."

DR Thorpe deals as deftly with his political achievements as his personal problems, which mainly stemmed from Dorothy Macmillan's "obsessional" desire for Bob Boothby.

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