In This Review

Labour in Power, 1945-1951
Labour in Power, 1945-1951
By Kenneth O. Morgan
Oxford/Clarendon Press, 1984, 546 pp

A superb interpretative history of Attlee's administration, one of the few governments to have "wrenched the course of British history into significant new directions." A massive work, describing Labour's success in establishing a welfare state and charting a new foreign policy for a country that was still regarded as a world power with world-wide responsibilities. The heroes are Attlee and Bevin, but after 1947, that "annus horrendus," Cripps emerged as the dominant leader: "He was the best of his time." Morgan is good on the cultural changes as well, on the mood of postwar Britain: it veered away from the "classless ethos" that had been a wartime ideal; it was "a conservative, cautious land. . . . But it did not feel itself to be a declining one." Morgan has written a first-rate work of detached yet passionate scholarship.